NEW YORK (Aug. 21)
The 87-year-old dentist, Charles Kremer, who has been involved in the years-long efforts to have Archbishop Valerian Trifa deported from the United States for his wartime activities as a leader in the Rumanian Iron Guard, said today that he was “deeply shocked and disappointed” that Trifa has been allowed to gain legal entry into Portugal.
Trifa, who is held responsible with the deaths of thousands of Jews and other citizens in wartime Rumania, left the U.S. last Monday under the escort of Justice Department officials. He had been stripped of his U.S. citizenship for having concealed his past activities when he entered the U.S. in 1950.
At the news conference last week announcing that Trifa had left the country, Neal Sher, director of the Justice Department’s Office of Special Investigations, cited Kremer’s activities before the legal proceedings began as one of several people who had sought to bring Trifa to public attention. Kremer was the only one cited by name.
Besides his activities in the fascist Iron Guard, Trifa wrote inflammatory newspaper articles, and gave speeches that incited pogroms against the Jewish community in Bucharest. The government’s legal efforts to have Trifa deported ended after eight years when he boarded an airplane for Lisbon at Kennedy International Airport.
In an interview with the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Kremer questioned the propriety of the government in Lisbon for having allowed a man with Trifa’s past enter the country. “On what basis did the Portuguese government give him a visa?” Kremer asked, noting that the Lisbon government said it did not have previous knowledge of his wartime activities.
Kremer was born in the village of Braila, Rumania in July, 1897. He studied medicine in Rumania until he says an increase in anti-Semitism caused him to leave his homeland. He stowed away on board a boat to Port Said, Egypt, and eventually made his way to New York, where he finished his medical training and was a dentist in New York until just recently.
Despite his bitterness that Trifa has been allowed to enter Portugal, Kremer said he is relieved that he is now out of the United States. “At least the United States got rid of a man who poisoned the minds of many people,” Kremer said, and who “maligned American democracy.”
Kremer feels that Trifa should be brought up on war crimes charges, in perhaps Rumania, or even Israel. The Justice Department had reportedly asked Israel to accept Trifa. No former Nazi or Nazi collaborator has yet been deported by the United States to Israel.