VANCOUVER, Canada (Oct. 10)
Jewish groups are wondering if and when the Canadian authorities intend to take action on Edwin (Eduards) Podins, a resident of Burnaby, British Columbia, who was denied entry into the United States last month because of his alleged Nazi past.
Peter Kremer, senior general counsel for the Justice Ministry’s Crimes Against Humanity Section in Ottawa, said the Podins case would be “looked into.”
He said news reports that Podins was turned away by U.S. immigration officials when he attempted to board a flight to Hawaii from Vancouver International Airport in September have been “brought to the attention” of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
But Kremer admitted that Podins was hither to unknown to Canadian authorities. They were apprised of his past by the Office of Special Investigations of the U.S. Justice Department, which was notified of his attempted entry.
Podins was one of three alleged Nazis who tried to enter the United States in a one-week period. According to U.S. files, the naturalized Canadian citizen was a guard at Valmiera, a Nazi concentration camp in Latvia.
The Canadian government refuses to say when he became a citizen, claiming that would violate the privacy act.
Canada amended its criminal code in 1987 to allow suspected war criminals to be tried in Canadian courts. The legislation followed an investigation by a federal commission that identified several suspected war criminals said to be living in Canada.
It is not known whether Podins was on the list. He appears, however, on the U.S. “watch list” of 60,000 undesirable aliens believed to have engaged in war crimes during World War II.
Michael Elterman, chairman of the Canadian Jewish Congress’ Pacific Region, said he could not understand “why the Americans were able to pick up Podins on their computer and the Canadians didn’t even know of his existence.”
LEGAL ACTION AGAINST LUFTHANSA
Podins, who spoke to a local newspaper reporter before disconnecting his telephone, denied he was a concentration camp guard.
“I’m not guilty. I didn’t see anything. I worked in a shop. I was just a cog in the wheel,” he was quoted as saying by Steven Binman of the Southam News.
Meanwhile, the Canadian government is taking legal action against Lufthansa, the German national airline, for having transported former Nazi rocket scientist Arthur Rudolph to Canada.
Canadian immigration spokesman Roger White said the Canadian government had been alerted to the fact that Rudolph, who renounced his American citizenship in 1984 rather than face U.S. Justice Department charges against him, was going to try to enter Canada.
“We notified various airlines that it would be illegal under our immigration act,” White said.
Rudolph, who arrived in Toronto on July I with his wife, was arrested at the airport. After nine hours in detention, he was released on bail and a hearing was held to determine his admissibility to Canada.
But rather than continue to face charges, Rudolph returned to Hamburg in August, citing extreme emotional and financial hardship.
Rudolph helped developed the rocket that took Americans to the moon in 1969. During World War II, he supervised the slave labor of thousands, many of whom he allegedly worked to death, at the Dora-Nordhausen camp.
Since 1984, the West German Prosecutor’s Office has rejected calls to arrest and try Rudolph for war crimes.