NEW YORK (Jul. 9)
A senior official of the World Jewish Congress has cited a report by the Judiciary Committee of the House of Representatives in charging that the State Department “was engaged in a deliberate and callous policy of sabotaging efforts to deport convicted Nazi war criminals from this country.”
Kalman Sultanik, a vice president of the WJC, said he “was shocked” to find that the House Judiciary Committee had in its report confirmed the allegations that the State Department was actively undermining the work of the Justice Department’s Office of Special Investigations, the agency charged with acting against Nazi war criminals living in the United States.
Sultanik said he was also speaking on behalf of the United States Holocaust Memorial Council, to which he was appointed by President Carter in 1980 and subsequently named chairman of its anti-Semitism Commission.
The chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Peter Rodino, Jr. (D.N.J.), states in his report on appropriations to the Justice Department for the coming year that the committee is “deeply concerned about efforts by the State Department to assist the Justice Department in the deportation of war criminals,” adding that the State Department has been “unwilling to pursue the subject aggressively.”
The report charges that the State Department’s posture “seriously undermines the work of the office of special investigations and tarnishes its numerous victories in court.”
CITES CASE OF TRIFA
Sultanik cited the case of Archbishop Valerian Trifa as an example of “the State Department’s continuing policy of undercutting the judicial process.” Trifa, who currently lives in Michigan, was a leader of the anti-Semitic Iron Guard in Rumania during World War II and was responsible for anti-Jewish riots in Bucharest in 1941 in which hundreds of Jews were murdered. Although Trifa, now 68, was stripped of his American citizenship and in October 1982 agreed to leave the United States to any country that would accept him, he still remains in the U.S.
PROBLEM OF FINDING COUNTRY FOR TRIFA
Neal Sher, director of the Office of Special Investigations, in a meeting with the WJC, reported that Switzerland, Italy and West Germany had refused Trifa entry. In a subsequent written report, Sher stated: “Finding a country for Trifa continues to be both a high priority and a nagging problem.”
Noting that at his request the State Department had officially asked Rumania to accept Trifa, Sher added:” We have continually stressed the importance of this matter and have urged the State (Department) in turn, to convey that message to the Rumanian government and to make them aware of the strong public interest in the United States.” Trifa was tried in absentia by a Rumanian military tribunal during the war, and was sentenced to life at hard labor in that country.
“When the actions of one governmental agency — in this case the State Department — seeks to undermine the work of another agency — the Justice Department — the American people have a right to an explanation,” Sultanik said.
EXCERPT FROM COMMITTEE REPORT
Following is the relevant excerpt of the House Judiciary Committee report, “Department of Justice appropriation authorization act, fiscal year, 1985.”
“Despite the excellent work of the Office of Special Investigations, the committee remains deeply concerned about efforts of the Department of State to assist the Justice Department and the Office of Special Investigations in arranging the deportation of war criminals ordered to leave the United States. Although, at the request of the Office of Special investigations, the State Department has made routine inquiries to foreign governments about accepting these individuals, it seems unwilling to pursue the subject aggressively.
“Much of the burden, therefore, has fallen to the Office of Special Invesigations to locate countries where these criminals can be sent. This must not continue to be the case. Only with the State Department’s active and strenuous participation will those foreign governments with a moral or legal obligation to accept war criminals understand that the United States is fully committed to this effort and expects cooperation from other nations. The State Department’s apparent failure to recognize this fact seriously undermines the work of the Office of Special Investigations and tarnishes its numerous victories in court.”