Sol Littman   Letter 25   04-Dec-1999   Early attempt to terribalize a Ukrainian Ivan
"We have about 60 witnesses who can positively identify him." Simon Wiesenthal

"The allegations that were made pertaining to you were untrue." Peter W. Butler

  December 4, 1999

Sol Littman
Director, Simon Wiesenthal Center
8 King Street East, Suite 710
Toronto, ON

Tel: (416) 864-9735
Fax: (416) 864-1083

Sol Littman:

"Outing" War Criminals

After delivering your Tryzub and Swastika Speech of 31Oct97, you give the following answer to a question put by a member of the audience concerning the levelling of public accusations of war criminality:

YOUNG MAN IN THE AUDIENCE:  Uh, have there been naming of names, you know, an outing if you will of the individuals you've identified?

LITTMAN:  Well, it sounds like an easy item, but it isn't.  Let me explain why.  And "outing them" means we should name these war criminals publicly, in the press, and so on, and shame them at least if nothing else.  First of all, the Canadian Government has made it very, very clear to us that the moment we start outing war criminals, they're going to stop investigating.  And our purpose is still to get these people prosecuted.  Second of all, if we name somebody, the likelihood is that they will get support from their community, the Ukrainian community, the Latvian community, and they will sue us for libel.  Now they may be guilty as hell, but they will involve us in one libel suit after another which will drain the funds and the energy of the agency.  It's happened!  You know we've seen it happen to other agencies who tried this, and it didn't work very well for them.  They got sued and they backed off.  Libel in Canada is a much stricter thing than it is here in the United States.  Here in the United States, if you're any kind of a public figure, you can say any damned thing you want about somebody.  It isn't true either in Britain or in Canada.  The libel laws are very strict and very severe and very expensive.

Among the remarkable claims in the above quotation is that the Canadian Government has threatened to terminate a criminal investigation in order to punish a third party for exercising its right of free speech.  You say that the Canadian Government has made this threat "very, very clear" to you, which suggests that you have a written statement of it.  If you were to forward documentation to me that the government had ever made such a threat, I would post it to the Ukrainian Archive the same day, as this would be a most remarkable revelation, comparable to, say, the police threatening to call off a murder investigation if the newspapers published the name of the suspect.  The concept of the government conducting a criminal investigation as a reward for a third party's failing to exercise its right of free speech, or terminating a criminal investigation as punishment for a third party's exercising its right of free speech, is worthy of receiving the widest publicity, as it would constitute a profound corruption of Canada's justice system.

However, your claim that the Canadian government is blackmailing you into not disclosing the names of known war criminals is secondary to the main topic of the present letter, which has to do with suspected war criminals suing their accusers for libel.  The only case that I know of in which this happened is that of John Chrabatyn of Vancouver in 1971-1972.  Your memory of the particulars of the case will be refreshed by a perusal of the following highlights:

Simon Wiesenthal Makes an Early Attempt at Terribalizing a Ukrainian Ivan

'Killer found in Canada'

VIENNA (Reuter)
The Jewish Documentation Centre, an organization devoted to the pursuit of alleged Nazi war criminals, claims to have tracked down in Canada a Ukrainian auxiliary policeman implicated in the mass execution of 10,000 Jews.

Simon Wiesenthal, head of the centre, said he has sent a letter to the Canadian embassy to be forwarded to the Canadian justice ministry giving the man's whereabouts in Ontario.

The centre said in a press release the man took part in the execution of 10,000 Jews in Stanislav Oct. 12, 1941, and personally directed the execution of 300 Jews in the so-called "Rudolf's mill" there.
Vancouver Sun, 09Mar71.


This is our man, say Nazi-hunters

The head of the Jewish Documentation Centre reaffirmed today that Vancouver janitor Ivan Chrabatyn is the man he has been seeking in connection with the execution of 300 Jews during the Second World War.

"We have about 60 witnesses who can positively identify him" Simon Wisenthal said in a telephone interview with The Sun from Vienna.

Wisenthal now seeks a court test of identity.


Wisenthal said that of the 60 witnesses he mentioned, at least one is believed to be in Canada and another 19 in the United States.


The testimonies are now in the files at the special war crimes prosecution centre at Dortmund and the attorney general at Stuttgart, Germany, Wisenthal said.


Vancouver Sun, 11Mar71.  The spelling "Wisenthal" is in the original Vancouver Sun article.

But as is Typical of Simon Wiesenthal, Performance Falls Short of Promise

Having trusted Simon Wiesenthal, and in doing so having destroyed John Chrabatyn's reputation and his peace of mind, the Vancouver Sun begins to check its facts:


Witness 'never knew' city janitor

A man named as a prime witness by Jewish Nazi-hunters who have accused Vancouver janitor Ivan Chrabatyn of war crimes said Thursday he never knew Chrabatyn until they met recently in Vancouver.

Another man who collected evidence about a Jewish massacre in the Ukraine in which Chrabatyn is alleged to have taken part said he had never heard of him.

And an official of the Canadian Jewish Congress, conceding that the janitor may be the wrong man, said today the congress will not pursue the case further.

Simon Wiesenthal, head of the Jewish Documentation Centre in Vienna, told The Sun Thursday that Matt Zajac of Vancouver could provide positive identification of Chrabatyn as having participated in Jewish executions in Stanislav in 1941 and 1942.

But Zajac told The Sun: "I never knew a Chrabatyn in Stanislav.  How can I identify anybody?"

Zajac, 75, of 737 West Sixty-ninth, said he has met Chrabatyn since the janitor came to Vancouver about two years ago but knew nothing about him in Stanislav.

Now retired, Zajac operated a sawmill about 20 miles from Stanislav in the 1940s.

He said he saw Gestapo officer Hans Krueger bundle Jews into trucks near his sawmill.  He heard shots and later the Jews were found dead.

Zajac was one of the witnesses interviewed by Dr. William Yashan of Saskatoon in compiling evidence against Krueger, who was convicted in 1968 of killing 10,000 Jews in the Stanislav executions.

And Yashan told The Sun Thursday: "Although I lived there all those years and knew most officials, I never heard of an Ivan Chrabatyn."


When the accusations were first published this week, Wiesenthal was quoted as saying that Chrabatyn was a Ukrainian police chief when he took part in the executions.

But Yashan said there was no police chief named Chrabatyn.

"I don't know how the Jewish Documentation Centre can say there was a police chief with this name.  I was in a position to know there was no Chrabatyn."

Yashan said he was a lawyer and helped run a department which administered hospitals, highways and police department expenses.

"The Nazis supervised, but we handled the administration," he said.  "The two chiefs of the Ukrainian police were called Banach, who handled the city, and Stefan Hlushko, who covered the surrounding area.

Saul Hayes, executive director of the Canadian Jewish Congress in Montreal, said today the congress which has been asked by Wiesenthal to seek Canadian government action is not going to take the case any further.


Vancouver Sun, 12Mar71.  The spelling "Wisenthal" is in the original Vancouver Sun article.

Matt Zajac writes to the Vancouver Sun, but apparently his letter is not published.  If this is the case, then it would constitute further evidence for the proposition that Canadian newspapers readily publish Jewish slanders against Ukrainians, but are reluctant to publish Ukrainian attempts at self-defense:


Editor, the Sun, Sir

    In connection with my interview with reporters of the Vancouver Sun on March 11, 1971 regarding Ivan Chrabatyn, I wish to point out some relevant facts which were not reported in the press.

1)   As a former director of a sawmill in Nadvirna near Stanislaviv, and later internee of a German Prison in Stanislaviv, I express my complete loss to understand on what legal and moral facts Simon Wiesenthal, head of the Jewish Documentation Centre bases his information that I am one of the living witnesses, in Vancouver, who can give evidence against Ivan Chrabatyn in connection with his alleged participation in the massacre of Jews on October 12, 1941.

2)   I again state resolutely that the person of Ivan Chrabatyn, nor his alleged participation in the massacre of Jews, is not, nor was known to me at the time I managed the sawmill in Nadvirna and later during my internment in the German prison in 1943.

3)   On the other hand, I am well aware of the fact, that massacres and executions of local people, not only Jews but Ukrainians and Poles, were conducted by Hans Krueger, the Nazi Kommander of S. D. Einsatzgruppe, Komando Stanislaviv.
As evidence of this I cited the event of a purge against prominent Ukrainians, members of the Ukrainian Resistance Movement, who fought against the Nazi aggressors, and for the Independence of Ukraine.  As a result of this purge 50 Ukrainians were executed in public view on the grounds of the City Hall in Stanislaviv on the 17th of November, 1943.  These facts were stated by me in testimony against Hans Krueger at the time of his trial in 1968.

    In 1942 I witnessed Hans Krueger leading some 300 Jews past my sawmill to their execution.  On that same day, I risked my own life, sheltering, on the premises of my sawmill, some 200 Jews who could also have been liquidated by the Gestapo.

    I am fully aware that Jews suffered immeasurable human torture and material losses during the Second World War.  But is it only the Jews who were victims of tragedies of world history?  Other people did not suffer less, as for example, during Stalin's Collectivization, Ukrainians lost 6 million people in an artificially induced famine, deportation, slave labor camps in Siberia, and mass executions.  Millions of Ukrainians lost their lives during the Second World War.

    I understand the dedication of the Jewish Documentation Centre to seek out and bring to justice all persons who committed atrocious crimes against the Jewish people.  But how long can this process of historical revenge continue 30 years, 50, 100 or 200 years?

    Would it not be more objective and desirable for the Jewish Documentation Centre, when revealing the identity of war criminals to also reveal the names of the thousands of Ukrainians who participated in the defence of Jews, sheltering and protecting them physically, for which they themselves were often prosecuted and shot by the Gestapo along with the Jews.

    Having personally lived through the horrors, tragedies and persecutions of the First and Second World Wars, I feel very deeply, that rather than sentimental, nationalistic revenge, be it even justified, that we should all strive to foster the loftier ideals of tolerance, world brotherhood, and the spirit of forgiveness ideals that should be the basis or our present human society.

  Matt Zajac,
737 West 69th,
Vancouver, B. C.

John Chrabatyn Sues for Slander

Citing that he has "in consequence been seriously injured in his character, credit, reputation, and health and has been brought into public scandal, odium and contempt," John Chrabatyn sued Simon Wiesenthal and the Sun Publishing Company for slander, claiming general damages, punitive damages, and costs of action.

Simon Wiesenthal summonsed to appear within 30 days.  As Simon Wiesenthal lived in Vienna, John Chrabatyn asked leave to issue a writ summoning Simon Wiesenthal to appear within thirty days in Vancouver.  Leave was granted, attempts were made to serve the summons upon Simon Wiesenthal, but it appears without success, and with the ultimate result that Simon Wiesenthal neither made an appearance in a Canadian court, nor produced any of the 60 witnesses that he had claimed could substantiate his accusations, nor condescended to remit his regrets for the damage inflicted, and certainly did not offer compensation.

John Chrabatyn wins a tepid apology.  After a delay of one year more painful to John Chrabatyn than to Simon Wiesenthal or The Sun Publishing Company the latter offered the following tepid apology for John Chrabatyn's enduring any "inconvenience" (the word "any" suggesting that there may have been none) of having the world think that he had murdered 10,000 plus 300 Jews:

John Chrabatyn gets $5,500 for losing his good name.  Part of the same out-of-court settlement package, if we may so conclude from a comparison of dates, was a remittance by The Sun Publishing Company of $11,000 Canadian $5,500 as compensation for John Chrabatyn's "inconvenience" and $5,500 for his lawyer:

The above accumulation of evidence occasions the following half-dozen reflections:

(1) You didn't give your Tryzub and Swastika Speech Audience an Accurate Account of What Happened

The impression you created in your Tryzub and Swastika Speech is one of Jews having conclusive evidence concerning war criminals, but with Canada's libel laws being so perverse that such conclusive evidence cannot be put before the public.  Litigious Ukrainians, apparently with inexhaustible resources, would tie up their righteous but impecunious accusers in endless litigation, which the accusers would not be able to afford.

However, the impression created by the John Chrabatyn case is somewhat different here is revealed the picture of Simon Wiesenthal destroying an old man's life when the best available evidence proclaimed his innocence.  Blue-collar worker John Chrabatyn did not have the resources to pursue Simon Wiesenthal with wave upon wave of law suits, and in fact settled his single law suit against The Sun Publishing Company out of court only because of depleted resources, and in fact was ultimately unable even to serve Simon Wiesenthal with a summons because of depleted resources.  Chrabatyn's false accuser Simon Wiesenthal paid not a cent in damages or compensation.

Had you presented this contrasting image of Simon Wiesenthal as a false accuser deficient in both competence and integrity attacking an innocent victim deficient in resources to defend himself had you presented this contrasting image of the strong persecuting the weak you would have been informing your audience instead of hoodwinking it.  Had you drawn a parallel between Simon Wiesenthal persecuting the innocent Ukrainian John Chrabatyn in Canada and Simon Wiesenthal persecuting the innocent Pole Frank Walus in the United States, you would have been taking a step toward reining in Simon Wiesenthal's recklessness instead of letting it run wild.

(2) Slander may be profitable

Who knows if the increased sales of the Vancouver Sun resulting from the Ivan-the-Terrible Chrabatyn stories did not exceed the small costs of being wrong, such that the Vancouver Sun bean counters were left with the bottom-line conclusion that publishing Jewish slanders against Ukrainians is profitable even in the unlikely event that the Vancouver Sun is sued and loses.

(3) The greater fault was Simon Wiesenthal's

The fault of the Vancouver Sun was lesser it understandably passed along information that it acquired from a source that it judged to be reputable.  The greater fault was Simon Wiesenthal's he was in a position to know that he did not have even a single witness let alone the claimed 60 witnesses able to connect John Chrabatyn to 10,000 plus 300 murders.  If the less guilty Sun Publishing Company lost $11,000 Canadian, then one may imagine that if the more guilty Simon Wiesenthal had been brought before the bar of justice, the court might have required him to lighten his pockets by a considerably greater amount.

(4) Vienna provides a safe haven from which to slander Canadians

Smart move for Simon Wiesenthal to broadcast his calumny from Austria and not Canada.  If Simon Wiesenthal were to broadcast a similar calumny today through you, the Director of the Canadian branch of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, then of course the victim would be able to sue the pants off you.  Broadcasting the calumny from Vienna, though, made the calumniator relatively inaccessible, and to an aging man of modest means like John Chrabatyn, totally inaccessible.  This way, the calumny cost the less guilty of the defendants The Sun Publishing Company $11,000 Canadian, and cost the more guilty of the defendants Simon Wiesenthal not a cent.  Congratulations to Simon Wiesenthal on his street savvy!

(5) Canadians have short memories

After the fiasco of smearing John Chrabatyn, one might have expected that Simon Wiesenthal's name would be anathema in Canada forever, and his credibility zero till the end of time.  However, to all appearances, Simon Wiesenthal viewed the Chrabatyn case as demonstrating his personal impunity, and rather than feeling chastised, was emboldened, because some ten years later up he pops again with similar groundless accusations, this time levelled not against a single Ukrainian, but against a whole Division of Ukrainians.  The amnesic Canadian government was so impressed with Wiesenthal's veracity that it set up a commission of inquiry to dwell upon and further disseminate his fresh accusations.  Thus did the Chrabatyn fiasco become the prototype for a string of later fiascos, thus was the Chrabatyn suffering multiplied manyfold, thus was Simon Wiesenthal's repute dragged deeper into the mud, and thus was reinforced the conclusion that because Canadians cannot remember the past, they are condemned to repeat it.

(6) Simon Wiesenthal is the enemy of Holocaust remembrance

Simon Wiesenthal is the enemy of Holocaust remembrance because he joins ranks with Holocaust fabulists who by means of their palpably false assertions encourage some to the conservative conclusion that while the Jewish Holocaust did indeed take place, today's accounts of it are somewhat exaggerated, and encourage others to the more radical conclusion that while some sort of Jewish Holocaust must indeed have taken place, today's accounts of it are largely fabricated.

Please Resign

Mr. Littman, the evidence accumulates that Simon Wiesenthal is a man of small competence and dubious integrity.  For you to continue to work in his name is to expose both yourself and the Jewish people to further discredit.  Were you as an act of protest to resign your directorship of the Canadian branch of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, you would be taking a step toward asserting truth, and toward redeeming reputations which you have helped shatter.

Lubomyr Prytulak
cc: Simon Wiesenthal