Canadian Government Accused of ‘cover-up’ of Destruction of Files on Nazi War Criminals

The author of a book about the only Nazi war criminal extradited from Canada has accused the Canadian government of a “cover-up” of the destruction of hundreds of thousands of immigration files containing evidence for possible use in deportation proceedings against Nazi war criminals.

Sol Littman, who wrote a book about Albert Helmut Rauca, made the charge after Minister of State for Immigration Walter McLean stated that the file destruction was routine and the files did not contain information that would have aided the search for Nazi criminals.

The destruction of the immigration files came to light during hearings of the Deschenes Commission, which is conducting an inquiry into Nazi war criminals living in Canada. Former Solicitor General Robert Kaplan testified at the hearing that he had been informed by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) in April 1984 that immigration case records for the letters A through E had been destroyed some time between February 1982 and September 1983.

It was during this time period that Canada was involved with its first and only action against a suspected war criminal, Rauca. He was arrested in June 1982 and extradited in May 1983 to Germany, to stand trial for participation in the murders of 10,500 Jews in the Kovno ghetto during the war. He died that November before the trial could be held.

The RCMP became aware of the file destruction while investigating a small number of persons believed to havelied about their war time activities when they emigrated to Canada. Evidence from these files could have been used to remove the citizenship of war criminals, Kaplan told the hearing.

Following Kaplan’s testimony, Minister of Employment and Immigration Flora MacDonald ordered an investigation into the destruction of the files.

Last week, McLean said that the destruction of the files had been conducted in accordance with disposal schedules approved by the Public Archives of Canada. It “was not a wholesale destruction of files, but part of an ongoing program,” he said.

McLean added in his announcement that the destroyed files did not contain any documentation that could have aided the Deschenes Commission in its search for Nazi war ciminals living in Canada. He stated that the key documents of interest, applications for admission to Canada, were kept at posts abroad and destroyed abroad — also in accordance with normal procedure.

Charging a “cover-up,” Littman challenged this explanation. He told reporters he could not believe the files did not contain any evidence that could have helped the Commission’s inquiry. He further maintained that the destruction of the files could not have been a routine procedure because the documents in question had originally been scheduled for destruction 30 years ago. The government, he said, must have had a reason for keeping the files. Littman heads the Wiesenthal Center here.

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