The names of at least three alleged Latvian Nazi war criminals now living in the United States were known to immigration authorities before the men entered this country, Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal charged here. In a taping for “Heritage and Destiny,” a television program produced by the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith and the local Jewish Federation on the Albany ABC affiliate, Wiesenthal said that the names of Vilis Hazners, Karlis Detlavs and Edgars Laipenieks were on a list of 50 criminals from the Baltic countries that he published in 1949.
“We were searching in some displaced persons camps in Germany, because these people in 1944 escaped with the Germans,” he said. “I sent this list to an American newspaper, and they sent it to the immigration authorities.”
Hazners, 73, now lives in the Washington County town of Dresden, New York, 60 miles northeast of Albany. He is charged by the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) with having entered the country illegally in 1956 from Hamburg, Germany, by failing to disclose his participation as a senior military official in Nazi-sponsored war crimes in the vicinity of Riga. It has been established that he was employed by the CIA-funded Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty.
Detlavs, 67, of Baltimore, Maryland, entered the U.S. in 1950 and is also charged with failure to disclose his participation in Nazi war crimes. He allegedly served as a guard in Salaspils death camp, and took part in shooting and selection of Jews in Riga. Both Hazners and Detlavs are in the midst of court procedures, represented by the same attorney, Ivars Berzins. The Hazners case has been inactive since spring.
The INS has not yet brought formal charges against Laipenieks, the third Latvian that Wiesenthal named. Now residing in San Diego, California, Laipenieks, 65, allegedly killed Jews in the central prison in Riga. According to a journalist and Nazi war criminal expert Charles R. Allen, Jr., the CIA Laipenieks’ employer for more than 14 years, has intervened on his behalf.
“The guilt of the Nazi helpers in the occupied territories, especially the Eastern countries, is, in my opinion, greater than the guilt of the (German) Nazis,” Wiesenthal said. “They were perfect criminals; they were voluntary. They were living in the same places as the victims, going to the same schools, knew each other. Sometimes they had common businesses, and in the end they had a profit from the profiteers.
“During the Cold War in the 1950s,” he continued, “these people entered the U.S. and now they are here. For me, there is not any doubt that these people are guilty.”
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.