Anne McLellan   Letter 16   04-Apr-1998   Deluged by war crimes

April 4, 1998

The Honourable Anne McLellan, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada
Room 360, Justice Building
239 Wellington Street
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0H8

E-mail: [email protected]

Dear Ms. McLellan:

I see from the newspapers that Federal Court Justice William McKeown has found that Wasily Bogutin, age 88, was on the balance of probabilities a member of an auxiliary police unit in Ukraine in 1941, but that he was not involved in any crimes.  Why your war crimes unit should have concerned itself with Bogutin, then, constitutes a mystery.

In the first place, I have already outlined for you in my letter of 27 February 1998 that the degree of collaboration involved in being a police auxiliary, or in being a camp guard, is one that falls short of culpable, and in many cases may be praiseworthy.

In the second place, even during the course of the Bogutin proceedings, Canadians are deluged with other information concerning horrendous war crimes which Canada's war crimes unit seems to be ignoring, as I will outline below.  In each case below, I ask you to compare the magnitude of the crimes being described to the magnitude of Wasily Bogutin's crime of no more than being a member of a police auxiliary:

Japanese war crimes were of exceptional savagery and volume, even in comparison to those of the Nazis.  I have already recounted some of these Japanese war crimes in my letter to you of 6 February 1998.

Jewish war crimes are of particular relevance, as the pressure upon your Department of Justice to pursue current war crimes proceedings seems to come predominantly from Jewish sources.  I have outlined several categories of Jewish war crimes in my letters to you of 20 Feb, 28 Mar, 30 Mar, and 31 Mar, 1998.  Many of these crimes are mind-numbing in their extent and their brutality.

American war crimes could become a rich source of work for your war crimes unit, as there are possibly a number of American immigrants presently living in Canada who participated in the Vietnamese war.  I was reminded of American war crimes in Vietnam by a recent CBC documentary titled Return to My Lai.  I recommend this documentary to your war crimes researchers, as its conclusion is that the slaughter of civilians perpetrated by American soldiers at My Lai was not an isolated incident, and as well that such slaughters have gone largely unpunished.  In this CBC documentary, you will find among other things a US serviceman confessing to killing a number of unarmed Vietnamese villagers, and afterward scalping them, and cutting off their ears and hands.

German war crimes have up to this point needed no elaboration, as they are frequently featured in the mass media.  However, one such German war crime is little known and particularly relevant because it was conducted against Canadians, and because the claim is made that the crime was insufficiently punished.  This war crime is described in Howard Margolian's book Conduct Unbecoming, recently reviewed in the Globe and Mail by John D. Harbron:

Only days after the Normandy landings on D-Day, June 6, 1944, 156 defenceless young Canadian prisoners of war were shot and bayoneted by their equally young German captors; only three of the murderers ever paid for their crimes.


None of [Kurt Meyer's] officers, who ordered their NCOs and soldiers to shoot unarmed prisoners of war, was ever punished.

Given the chronic past and present bunglings of the department of national defence (DND), such as last year's sudden cancellation of the Somalia inquiry before its findings were concluded, one is not surprised to read the immediate postwar Canadian War Crimes Investigation Unit (CWCIU) was ordered closed by DND long before the demobilized 12th SS Panzer Division killers could be tracked down in a chaotic postwar Germany and brought to trial and justice in Canada.  (John D. Harbron, Horrifying war story needs telling, Globe and Mail, March 14, 1998, p. D15, which is a review of Howard Margolian, Conduct Unbecoming: The Story of the Murder of Canadian Prisoners of War in Normandy, University of Toronto Press.)

Canadian war crimes during World War II is a subject that one does not see often broached but it was broached recently in a letter to the editor concerning the book review of Conduct Unbecoming mentioned immediately above:

Atrocities in war

Howard Margolian must have done very one-sided research in his writing Conduct Unbecoming (March 14).  Otherwise he would have been aware that Canadian soldiers were guilty of the same atrocities they were accusing the Germans of.

Many Canadian military men believed back in 1945 that SS Major-General Kurt Meyer should never have been charged in the killings of Canadian PoWs shortly after the D-Day landings.

The matter is dealt with in the book Meeting of Generals, by Tony Foster, son of Canadian Major-General Harry Foster, who presided over Meyer's trial.  Foster quotes his father as saying: "What struck me as I sat in my comfortable chair looking down at this hardnosed Nazi was that not one of us sitting on the bench ... could claim clean hands in the matter of war crimes or atrocities or whatever you want to call them.  It hadn't all been one-sided.  Our troops did some pretty dreadful things to the Germans.  Didn't that make all of us who were commanding officers just as guilty as Meyer?"

Some members of Meyer's division went berserk and killed the Canadians after they learned that German soldiers who had surrendered had been shot in cold blood.  A Canadian officer captured by the Germans also carried written orders that no Germans be taken prisoner.

After Meyer's conviction, the Canadian government was not particularly keen in pursuing the matter any further lest atrocities committed by its own troops be revealed.  Meyer's death sentence was commuted because he never gave the order to massacre the Canadians and was unaware of what had occurred until later.

Reviewer John Harbron should have pointed out these flaws in Margolian's book, which sounds like propaganda posing as solid war history.

Harry Foell, Dundas, Ont.

Wasily Bogutin, then, is not known to have engaged in beheading competitions the way the Japanese were.  Wasily Bogutin is not known to have shot Jewish children the way that Israelis today shoot Palestinian children.  Wasily Bogutin did not slaughter villagers and then scalp them and cut their ears and their hands off the way Americans did in Vietnam.  Wasily Bogutin did not murder POWs the way Germans murdered Canadian POWs.  And Wasily Bogutin did not murder POWs the way Canadians murdered German POWs.

It would appear, then, that the role that your war crimes unit has resolved to play is one of disregarding the abundance of war crimes documented all about them, as well as one of demoting their labors to those of an immigration-impropriety unit.  More than half a century ago, Wasily Bogutin falsely claimed that he had been born in Romania, and that false claim, according to your Justice Department, is why he should be denaturalized and deported today.  A consideration that does not seem to be carrying much weight, however, is that as Bogutin's admitting that he had been born in Ukraine would have resulted in his being forcibly returned to Soviet jurisdiction and there in all probability being executed for his participation in the auxiliary police unit perfunctory though that participation may have been he had an understandable motive to lie, and a motive that in some civilized countries might have provided the foundation for his being granted political asylum.

The appearance grows stronger each day that the work of your war crimes unit is politically motivated, that it is discriminatory, and that it violates the
Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.  The appearance grows stronger each day that your war crimes investigators are either blind to the information concerning grievous war crimes that rains down upon Canadians in a torrent, or else that they are aware of this information, but have been instructed to direct their energies exclusively toward discovering crimes committed by non-Jewish East Europeans and if no such crimes can be found, to then allocate their remaining energies to discovering immigration infractions.  And the appearance grows stronger each day that you have become a tool of groups interested in fomenting inter-ethnic conflict, and that your neglecting to reply to my letters results from your finding yourself unable to articulate any justification of your role.

Yours truly,

Lubomyr Prytulak