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Wjcongress Probing Moral, Legal Issues of Returning Trifa’s Body for Burial at Grass Lake

The World Jewish Congress has begun an investigation into the possible role played by the State Department in facilitating the transport of the body of Rumanian Orthodox Archbishop Valerian Trifa from Portugal where he died of a heart attack last month for burial in Grass Lake, Michigan, in a church cemetery on Episcopate property.

Trifa, who was stripped of American citizenship in 1982 for concealing his Nazi past, fled in 1984 to Portugal under the threat of deportation. American courts found he had secured entry into the U.S. in 1950 by hiding his role in anti-Jewish pogroms as a leader of Rumania’s fascist Iron Guard movement.

Trifa’s body was accompanied to the U.S. by officials of the Rumanian Orthodox Episcopate of the United States in Grass Lake where Trifa was the head of a large congregation.

The WJCongress said it was concerned that Trifa’s burial place might become a Shrine on American soil by his remaining followers. In addition, the WJCongress said that allowing the body of a non-American former Nazi to be buried here raises “disturbing moral questions and a serious legal issue.”