TORONTO (Oct. 21)
A list of 81 previously undisclosed names of suspected Nazi war criminals who may have immigrated to Canada after World War II was turned over to the Canadian government last week by the Simon Wiesenthal Center.
The list given to Peter Kremer, of the War Crimes Prosecution Unit of the Justice Department, names persons who allegedly participated in the torture and murder of about 90 percent of Lithuania’s 250,000 Jews and committed various other atrocities during the Nazi occupation.
Many of them were Lithuanian police or members of pro-Nazi vigilante squads. But some were professionals, artisans, academicians, farmers and former friends and neighbors of their victims, according to Sol Littman, Canadian director of the Wiesenthal Center.
The data, which could lead to prosecution under Canada’s amended Criminal Code, comes from the archives of Yad Vashem, the Holocaust memorial and research center in Jerusalem.
Efraim Zuroff, head of the center’s Israel office, said it is not known how many, if any, of the named suspects are in Canada or still alive.
Of the 81 persons named in the case histories turned over to Kremer, 17 are under 70 years old, 25 are over 80 and the remainder are between 70 and 80.
The list of persons who committed war crimes in Lithuania is based on previously inaccessible testimony. It was gathered by Leib Kunichowsky, a retired civil engineer from Lithuania who conducted Yiddish interviews with about 200 survivors of Lithuanian villages and towns.
He spoke to them in displaced persons camps in Germany and Austria between 1945 and 1949.
These survivors’ recollections are especially valuable, according to researchers, because they knew the names and occupations of the perpetrators and where they lived.
The material was so long in coming to light because Kunichowsky kept it in two valises which he carried with him over the years, intending to use it to write a book.
But 10 months ago, at age 79, while living in a retirement village in Florida, he apparently realized he would never write his book. He was persuaded by an Israeli university professor to turn over his material to Yad Vashem.
Wiesenthal Center researchers found that of the 284 names listed by Kunichowsky, no more than 163 were previously known.
In addition to the names given to Canada, the Wiesenthal Center’s Israel office has submitted another 49 names gleaned by Kunichowsky to the Australian government’s Special Investigations Unit.