ejpress.org | 12Sep2007 | AFP

Lithuania wants to grill top Israeli historian over war crimes

AFP Updated: 12/Sep/2007 07:43

VILNIUS (AFP)---Lithuania wants to grill leading Israeli Holocaust historian Yitzhak Arad over his alleged role in war crimes against civilians and prisoners during World War II, a prosecutor said Tuesday.

"We have dispatched a request to Israeli prosecutors for legal help," prosecutor Rimvydas Valentukevicius told AFP.

"We want to send Mr Arad a notice on our suspicions and to interrogate him in the framework of a preliminary probe on his possible participation in crimes against humanity in Lithuania during the Second World War," he said.

The 81-year-old Arad, who served as the director of Yad Vashem, Israel�s Holocaust Remembrance Authority for 21 years, rejected the allegations in an interview to Poland�s Rzeczpospolita newspaper.

A probe launched in May 2006 showed that Arad, who was a member of the Soviet NKVD secret service, may have been involved in the killing of Lithuanian resistance figures at the end of World War II.

Lithuanian-born Arad, who was active in the underground movement before joining the Soviet partisans to fight the Germans, has rebuffed suggestions that he was guilty of the cold-blooded murder of civilians.

"I have never killed a civilian," he said. "It could have happened during battle but I have never killed a civilian or a prisoner of war in cold blood."

Arad said the allegations could be part of a vendetta campaign as he had painstakingly listed atrocities committed by Lithuanian collaborators.

But Lithuanian prosecutor Valentukevicius said suspicions against Arad are based on his own memoirs and documents provided by the Lithuanian Genocide and Resistance Research Center.

"We have many documents, which allow us to think that Arad participated in criminal activities," Valentukevicius said.

Lithuania was home to some 220,000 Jews before the war and was known as the "Jerusalem of the North."

[W.Z. The English language transcripts of the John Demjanjuk show trial in Jerusalem, 16Feb1987 - 24Apr1988 contain some self-serving background information of several witnesses for the prosecution. Below we summarize such information for Yitzhak Arad (Yad Vashem historian), Miriam Radiwker (policewoman who orchestrated the false eyewitness identification of John Demjanjuk by five "survivors") and Martin Kolar (policeman who replaced Mrs. Radiwker). This information is archived at /fc/transcripts/transcriptsindex.html .

A. Yitzhak Arad = Isaak Rudnicki: born in Sviecionys, Lithuania, on Nov. 11, 1926.

The testimony of Yitzhak Arad on 17-19Feb1987 summarized at


(T000170 - T000171) "I was born on November, 1926 in Sifrana, which is now in Lithuania, the Soviet Union. When I was born, it was still in Poland. In 1937 I moved to Warsaw and when the war broke out I was in Warsaw. Three months later I escaped from Warsaw, which was by then occupied by the Germans to my town, my hometown, where the Soviet Army was stationed. My parents remained in Warsaw. And their fate was similar to the fate of all Jews. In June, on the 24th of June, 1941, the Germans invaded the Soviet Union and within 2 days my hometown was conquered. It was the 22nd of June they invaded, and on the 24th it was conquered. So again we were subject to German rule and within 2 months all of the Jews of that town were evacuated from the city and were shot. Just before then, I escaped from that town - I wandered through various towns, through the forests of Russia, I returned to a small ghetto in Svinjahna with 230 craftsmen - Jewish craftsmen - where I was among those who established an underground group - we got hold of some ammunition and in the spring of 1943 we set out for the forests as partisans. I fought in the ranks of the Soviet partisans until the summer of 1944 when the Soviet army reached our area. I continued to fight until the end of the war. At the end of the war, in May 1945, through various routes I managed to escape and to come by illegal immigration into Palestine. By '45, by July 1945 I was in Israel. Two months later I joined the Palmach fighting forces. I was an officer. I was a pilot. I continued in the War of Independence."

Mr. Arad's written submission (dated Sept. 15, 1998) for the Wasyl Odynsky denaturalization trial in April 1999 indicates:

Born in Sviecionys, Poland now Lithuania, on Nov. 11, 1926 as Isaak Rudnicki. From 1942-44 was member of anti-German partisan detachment. Went to Palestine in Dec. 1945, joined "Haganah" military underground, was in Israeli Army until 1972.

B. Miriam Radiwker: Born in Latske, Ukraine in 1906. Maiden and first married names unknown.

Willem Waagenar in his book "Identifying Ivan" states that "Mrs. Radiwker was born in 1906. She was trained as a lawyer at the University of Krakow, and graduated in 1930. Subsequently she practiced law in Poland and the Soviet Union, with an interruption during the war. In 1964 she emigrated to Israel,..." (W127)

The English-language transcripts of the Demjanjuk trial indicate that she was born in a Ukrainian village called Latske (near Ivano-Frankivsk, Ukraine). Her parents fled to Vienna during WWI to escape the Russians but returned until 1923. From 1930 she served at the District Court in Pinsk (Byelorussia). On Nov. 7, 1939 after the partition of Poland according to the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact, she crossed into the Russian-occupied zone and practiced law in Tismanitsia (near Ivano-Frankivsk, Ukraine) until June 22, 1941 when Hitler invaded the Soviet Union. She fled with her first husband to near Stalingrad, where her husband was first conscripted and later deported to and perished in Novosibirsk for having been in the Austrian and Polish armies. She returned to Tismanitsia in 1945, remarried Yifsay Radiwker in 1946 and practiced law until 1957, when she emigrated with her husband and daughter to Poland. (T02677)

There is a particularly puzzling piece of testimony regarding INS use of the German language: "When it came to America, they did not give us any negative response, on the contrary they sent their instructions in German and in German as well as English." (T02778)

C. Martin Kolar: Born in Czechoslovakia in 1920.

Willem Waagenar in his book "Identifying Ivan" states that "Martin Kolar was born in 1920 in Czechoslovakia. He did not receive any legal training, but had some experience with investigating Nazi crimes in the years 1945-47. He came to Israel in 1965 and was hired by the Division for the Investigation of Nazi Crimes almost instantly." (W129)

The English-language transcripts of the Demjanjuk trial indicate that during WWII "All of my (Kolar's) relatives from the closest to most distant were exterminated by the Nazis in the camps. I was in forced labour camps in Slovakia." (T03063) From 1945 to 1947 he worked in Division 7 of the Regional Ministry of the Interior of Slovakia, Bratislava in a special Department for the Investigation of War Crimes: "I would be sent as part of the Czechoslovakian military mission to the American-occupied zone of Germany in order to help in locating those war criminals ..." (T03050). In 1947-48 he was editor of a monthly publication Hashomair Hazair (a socialist Zionist youth organization) concerning Israel and the state of affairs in Palestine. During the Slansky Trials of Nov. 1952, he worked in a coal mine. From 1954 to March, 1965 he worked in the official government forestry services.

Mr. Kolar speaks a multitude of languages: Slovak, Czech, Hungarian, German, French, Russian, Serbian, Hebrew, English. In referring to the language used in investigations, he states: "I took it in German as was our wont in this Department for the Investigation of Nazi Crimes." (T03017) His intimate relationship with the INS-OSI and, in particular, Norman Moscowitz (who was the trial attorney in the Demjanjuk Cleveland Trial in 1981) is typified by the statement: "This is a letter of the unit after we reorganized the unit or rather the Justice Department of America, it's not the Immigration Office any more, but the Office of Special Investigations, which is directly addressed to me." (T03023)

In reading the English-language transcripts of the Jerusalem trial of John Demjanjuk, one gets a distinct impression that many of the witnesses and participants themselves participated directly in war crimes or were complicit therein. The judges were very careful not to allow any questioning of the witnesses with regard to what they did during and after WWII.]