Love your writing [Toronto Sun, Nov. 28, 2001]. May not always see eye to eye with you, but I love what you do,
I am Canadian, by birth, of Ukrainian background. Ex-Signal Corps. I used to be very proud of these facts.
Less so today. Of late, I have become progressively concerned at some of the actions of our Nation's Government. The concerns focus on more areas than I would want to trouble you with at this time. To me, the most puzzling issue at present is something closely akin to what I can see as not much more than a vicious, ongoing witch hunt in Canada.
The brunt of this effort is perpetrated against various, now elderly, Canadian citizens. These oldsters, it has been assumed, have "probably lied" about possibly volunteering, or of having been coerced into service of the forces of the occupying armies during the Second World War. That is, if they actually served at all. The "balance of probabilities". Ah yes. There's a concept to warm my heart, make me proud to have served to preserve this sort of thinking. That's even better than the old Q.R. (Army) - Section 118. "Conduct to the prejudice of good order and discipline."
Perhaps we should take a page from the laws of the State of Israel, in dealing with these issues.
During WWII many European Jews, as well as citizens of other nationalities, in various German-run extermination camps, functioned as Kapos -- similar to the Trustees in some North American penal institutions of old. The main distinguishing difference between Trustees and Kapos, is that many of the Kapos reportedly, having been empowered to act as part of the Nazi killing machine, were overly zealous in the administration of brutal corporal punishment, and did not hesitate in the brutalization and mass murder of many men, women and children -- people of many orientations, creeds and races, including Jews.
Recently in Israel, some Jewish survivors of those camps, were frightened to recognize some of their former Jewish Kapos. But now, all were Israeli citizens. Horrors were revisited. Fear-filled flashbacks, terror-inducing nightmares returned. Accusations were made, charges were eventually laid. Trials and painful testimonies were endured. Judgements were pronounced. Appeals were launched.
Eventually, the Supreme Court of Israel handed down a decision declaring that an individual is not culpable of a crime if the actions of that individual were the result of service which was forced, wherein that individual and/or that individual's family had been coerced or threatened.
The "doing" is not a crime in the land of the victims.
Why has it become a crime here to be an inferred part of something so nebulous, so ephemeral as to "probably" have lied about "possible involvement" in the doing/or not doing of something?
Similarly, citizens of Eastern European nations recently attempted to have present-day Israeli citizens extradited to face charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity. The alleged crimes were purportedly carried out by these Israelis when they were still former citizens of various Eastern European countries, acting as functionaries of various Communist Organs, etc. -- circa. and post WWII.
For crimes of this nature, according to present-day Israeli law, the statute of limitations is passed. (And besides, these weren't "crimes against humanity".)
Why is it different in Canada?
I may be somewhat biased because of my background. I like to think that I am not. My sources of information may not be unimpeachable. For these reasons, I have not dumped a bunch of dates, names and times on you. You are the reporter, the investigator. You have the resources. You can be the individual of record to verify the validity of my questions.
Then all we'll have to do is find the answers.
Maybe we can eventually restore some truth and justice to these issues.
Perhaps you would allow me to recommend, as an appetizer, a little film made in Israel, oddly enough -- called "Kapo".
Terry [Oleksiw; 2001-12-03]