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Letter 08   18-Mar-2002   Publicity Stunt 7: Irving Abella SS-Tattoo Hoax


"We know that one of the ways of getting into the country of Canada during this period was by showing the SS tattoo." Irving Abella

  18 March 2002
Irving Abella
Department of History
York University
2140 Vari Hall
4700 Keele Street
Toronto, ON   M3J 1P3


Irving Abella:

In the 60 Minutes story Canada's Dark Secret of 20-Jul-1997, featuring the creative work of Steven Rambam, you appeared in the supportive role of university professor lending Rambam's statements intellectual respectability and historical credibility.  In that 60 Minutes broadcast, you made the claim that following World War II, possession of an SS blood group tattoo automatically guaranteed entry into Canada:

WALLACE:  (Voiceover) After World War II came the Cold War and Canada was worried about Communists.  The Nazis had fought the Communists, so Nazis, even war criminals apparently, had an easy time emigrating to Canada; this according to Canada's York University history Professor Irving Abella.

Professor IRVING ABELLA (York University):  We know that one of the ways of getting into the country of Canada during this period was by showing the SS tattoo.  This proved that you were an anti-Communist.

WALLACE:  And what was the chore of the SS?

Prof. ABELLA:  The SS was obviously the charged with the responsibility of murdering Jews, so it was no question that these were war criminals.

However, your statement that a demonstration of Schutzstaffel (SS) membership, as by showing a tattoo, was sufficient to trigger automatic admission to Canada clashes with other information:

Security Screening, 1945-March 1947

According to immigration regulations in effect immediately following the war, prohibited classes included: persons [...] who assisted His Majesty's enemies in time of war; and enemy aliens.

Government officials, particularly at External Affairs, were aware that persons who had been involved in Nazi war crimes or who had collaborated with the Nazis, might seek to enter Canada with the DP immigration stream.  During this period restrictions in immigration guidelines on enemy aliens and hence on a major category of persons amongst whom war criminals may have been found appear to have been very tight [...].
Alti Rodal, Nazi War Criminals in Canada: The Historical and Policy Setting From the 1940s to the Present, Prepared for the Commission of Inquiry on War Criminals, September 1986, p. 175.

Other information suggests that although the Canadian government was continually accommodating screening policy to shifting needs, it never lost sight of the desirability of excluding former Nazis from Canada, as is captured in the following 1946 Security Panel listing of prohibited persons.  Please note the explicit identification of Schutzstaffel membership as grounds for exclusion:

Persons who are, or at any time have been, members of the Nazi Party or of the Fascist Party or of the Gestapo or of the Schutzstaffel or of the Sturm Abteilung or of any organization or party auxiliary to or supporting Nazism or Fascism or persons classified as war criminals by the United Nations War Crimes Commission.
Security Panel formulation cited in Alti Rodal, Nazi War Criminals in Canada: The Historical and Policy Setting From the 1940s to the Present, Prepared for the Commission of Inquiry on War Criminals, September 1986, p. 179.  Blue emphasis added.

Again, in her section Rejection criteria, 1948-1949, Rodal includes in a list of "criteria for rejection of applicants on security grounds" the following item:

Member of the SS or German Wehrmacht; Found to bear mark of SS Blood Group (Non German since Germans were already excluded as enemy aliens).
Alti Rodal, Nazi War Criminals in Canada: The Historical and Policy Setting From the 1940s to the Present, Prepared for the Commission of Inquiry on War Criminals, September 1986, p. 196.  Blue emphasis added.

Rodal does describe a case in which 20 individuals with the SS blood group tattoo were discovered among a group of "832 DPs who had signed labour agreements to take up employment in Canadian lumber camps" (p. 201) and who were nevertheless permitted to disembark in Canada.  However, this does little to support your position that the SS tattoo was a positive criterion, as it is offered as an isolated incident, and one which took place in a context where "immigration guidelines clearly prohibited admission of persons who had served in the enemy forces" (p. 192).

A second problem with your Canada's Dark Secret statement is that it leaves the impression that everybody with an SS blood type tattoo was a member of the SS and so must have been involved in killing Jews.  Perhaps you would have been more accurate to say that many people who had the SS blood type tattoo were members of the Waffen-SS, a combat group not involved in the SS management of camps, and were sometimes conscripted-at-gunpoint members at that.

In view of the incongruity between your views and those of Alti Rodal, I wonder if it would not be advisable for you to disclose the source of your information that SS membership, as evidenced by an SS tattoo, ever guaranteed entry into Canada.

In the alternative, if 60 Minutes misrepresented your opinion, your reputation would be somewhat redeemed by your disclosing your correspondence with CBS protesting its misrepresentation.

In the case that you are unable either to substantiate your claim, or to document that you have protested CBS misrepresentation, one question that must leap to the fore is whether York University approves of your mixing the roles of history professor and Canadian Jewish Congress hoaxmaster.

Until I hear otherwise, I will append this SS-tattoo claim of yours to the list of Canadian Jewish Congress publicity stunts that I have been calling to your attention:

  1. Littman-Blumenthal Mengele Scare

  2. Littman-Wiesenthal Thousands of War Criminals Scare

  3. Commemorating the Deschênes Commission Hoax

  4. Rambam-Abella Fifty Confessions Hoax

  5. Rambam-CJC Guaranteed Flip

  6. Abella-CJC Neal Sher Will Show Us How Hoax

  7. Irving Abella SS-Tattoo Hoax

Although you may have passed the point where you still care about your reputation as a historical scholar, there are other considerations that might persuade you to take corrective action with respect to this and other of the hoaxes that you have participated in, and that might persuade you to abstain from participating in future hoaxes such other considerations as that you bring discredit upon York University and upon Jews, and that you promote inter-ethnic conflict and destabilize Canada, and that in your support of the CJC portrayal of Canada as the Nazi-harboring "Argentina of the North," you lower Canada's standing in the international community.




Lubomyr Prytulak


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