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Canadian Jews urge pursuit of German veterans in Canada

MONTREAL, Jan. 12 (JTA) — Canadian Jewish leaders have reacted with indignation to reports that some 300 German veterans of World War II who now reside in Canada are receiving pensions from the German government. “Remember these people wore the uniform of, or collaborated with, the most evil regime in humanity which sponsored mass murder and genocide,” said Eric Vernon, a senior Canadian Jewish Congress official in Ottawa. “These people ought not be rewarded for that service, even 50 years later.” Some 1,800 German veterans in Canada have been receiving the equivalent of $6,000 a year since the war ended — a total of more than $10 million annually, according to a report last month in the Times of London. Hundreds of German veterans in the United States were reported to be receiving the pensions as well. But the German government last month denied a request by the World Jewish Congress to reveal their names. German Embassy officials in Ottawa declined to comment. A senior Canadian Justice Department official acknowledged in an interview late last week that he had received a list of German pensioners in Canada, but said he did not have further details about their wartime records. “The list was a list of people who received pensions, not one of war criminals,” said Paul Vickery, senior counsel for the department’s war crimes division. “We are not in the business of pursuing German soldiers, but rather war criminals from the World War II era.” Vickery denied a Canadian news report that he would not use information contained in the list of pensioners to pursue alleged war criminals. “I did not say we would not use the list under any circumstances,” Vickery said. Canadian authorities have come under criticism for what Jewish leaders here say is a lack of aggressiveness in investigating and prosecuting suspected war criminals. “They just don’t give a damn at the Canadian government level,” said Bernie Farber, the CJC’s national director of community relations. In government circles, Farber added, there is “a lack of the fire in the belly we need from them in tracking these murderers down.” An American private investigator last month handed over to Canadian authorities taped interviews he secretly made with 58 former Nazis who reside in Canada. Steven Rambam said at the time that seven of those he interviewed fully confessed that they had murdered people during the Holocaust. Vickery last week said in an interview that one of the tapes he personally reviewed “contains a series of denials of involvement” in war crimes. “The balance of the tapes are being reviewed. We are not ignoring information brought to us by Mr. Rambam or anyone else.” Rambam has threatened to make the public the names of those he interviewed if the Canada’s Justice Department does not make use of the information by the end of February.