National Post | 07Nov2007 | James Cowan
Page A7

Bring ageing war criminals to justice: CJC

Canada needs to abandon its widespread search for Nazi war criminals and instead focus on the seven already facing legal proceedings, the Canadian Jewish Congress will say today.

[W.Z. It is heartening that Mr. Farber admits that Canada should abandon the search for non-existent "Nazi war criminals", since the denaturalization and deportation process (which fraudulently equates immigration infractions with war criminality) has proven beyond all reasonable doubt that none of the accused victims was guilty of perpetrating war crimes. Furthermore, the government should apologize and provide financial recompense to the four victims still facing legal proceedings, as well as all others who were targetted by the d&d process.]

Bernie Farber, the organization's CEO, will argue during a speech at a Toronto synagogue that there is scant time remaining to bring ageing Nazis and their collaborators to justice. Rather than searching for new cases to pursue, Canadian officials should resolve those already before the courts and then turn their attention to the perpetrators of more recent atrocities, such as genocide in Rwanda and Sudan, Mr. Farber said in an interview yesterday.

"The youngest Nazi enabler that we know about is 83 years old, the oldest ones are well into their nineties. We're concerned that precious resources are being used by the government for investigations that will clearly bear no fruit at this late stage," he said.

Mr. Farber blamed inaction by successive federal governments for allowing Nazi war crime cases to become stuck in the "quagmire" of the legal system. He said Holocaust survivors can no longer afford to wait 10 to 15 years as cases work their way through the courts.

"Any resources that the government has on this issue should be geared towards ensuring justice be done for the men who are currently before the courts," Mr. Farber said. "We think any further investigations will deplete the much needed resources for dealing with those cases."

Mr. Farber acknowledged it has been a "hard decision" to advocate officials focus on a few investigations to the exclusion of others.

"I've discussed it with Holocaust survivor associations, and I think we've all come to realize that Canadian authorities are just spread too thin on this," he said. "There are people who were directly involved in the machinery of death and have come to live a very comfortable life here in Canada and their hope is that the Grim Reaper will catch up with them before the Canadian justice system."

Other groups support Mr. Farber's call for a new strategy.

"We have to deal with what we have," said Sidney Zoltak, co-president of the Canadian Jewish Holocaust Survivors Association. "If it was so difficult to get to this point with the ones we have, how difficult is it going to be to gather new evidence in order to have other ones brought to justice?"

Estimates suggest that between 750 and 2,000 Nazi war criminals made their way to Canada following the Second World War [W.Z. This is pure fantastical speculation with no basis in fact], but only a handful were ever prosecuted [W.Z. and none of which had perpetrated war crimes]. Among the alleged Nazi war criminals currently facing legal proceedings in Canada are Jacob Fast, an 97-year-old accused of being a Nazi collaborator in the Ukraine and 83-year-old Helmut Oberlander, who served as a translator for a Nazi killing squad. Both men were stripped of their Canadian citizenship this year and now face deportation.

Once these remaining cases are addressed, Canada can apply the lessons learned from dealing with Nazi war criminals to hunting criminals from countries such as Rwanda, Sudan, and the former Yugoslavia.

[W.Z. How did Mr. Farber avoid mentioning Israel, which has been guilty of war crimes in Palestine for decades and more recently during the 34-day Lebanese war of 2006? I would submit that the personnel within Canada's War Crimes Unit have been compromised beyond redemption. People who have perverted justice by implementing the fraudulent d&d process should be fired or sent to early retirement, rather than be unleashed on other innocent victims.]

"We intend to work with these new immigrant communities and help them advocate for Canada to deal with those alleged war criminals from their home countries. We don't want governments to fail these communities as our government has been failed up until now," Mr. Farber said.

Mr. Farber's address is part of the United Jewish Appeal Federation Holocaust Education Week.


Josef Furman [Photograph] Accused of participating in the liquidation of the Bialystok ghettoes, he was found to have misrepresented his wartime activities to enter Canada by the federal court last year.

[W.Z. Josef Furman passed away on Aug. 31, 2007.]

Jura Skomatchuk [Photograph] An alleged guard at forced labour camps, the federal court ruled in 2006 that he misrepresented his wartime activities to gain admission into Canada.

[W.Z. The select cabinet committee known as the Governor in Council decided on May 17, 2007 not to revoke the citizenship of Wasyl Odynsky and Vladimir Katriuk.]

Vladimir Katriuk Eighty-six-year-old living in Quebec accused of collaborating with the Nazis in his native Ukraine. The government began proceedings to strip him of his Canadian citizenship in 1997. He has denied any involvement in the crimes.

Wasyl Odynsky Eighty-three-year-old living in Toronto accused of serving as a guard at two forced labour camps and in an SS battalion. While a federal court ruled in 2001 that he lied to gain entry to Canada, it also found that it was unlikely he participated in a massacre of Jewish captives. The federal government announced this year that [he] would keep his citizenship.

Jacob Fast [Photograph] A resident of St. Catharines, Ont., the 97-year-old was accused of being a Nazi collaborator in the Ukraine. A federal court ruled in 2003 that he misrepresented or failed to disclose his ethnicity in order to gain entry to Canada. The government revoked his citizenship this May [2007].

Michael Seifert [Photograph] Accused of murdering, raping and torturing Jews in an Italian concentration camp, the 83-year-old was found guilty of war crimes by an Italian court in 2000. The Canadian government is seeking to extradite Mr. Seifert, who lives in Vancouver.

Helmut Oberlander Accused of working as a translator for a Nazi death squad, the 83-year-old living in Ontario has been the subject of lengthy legal proceedings. A federal court ruled in 2000 that he entered Canada by fraudulent means and the government ordered his citizenship revoked. However, that order was subsequently set aside. In May 2007, the federal government revoked his citizenship once again.