Jacob Luitjens has become the first person in Canada to have his citizenship revoked for having lied about his wartime past.
Luitjens, who in 1948 was sentenced to prison by a special Dutch tribunal for being a Nazi collaborator, was formally stripped of his Canadian citizenship Nov. 7.
The move clears the way for Immigration Minister Bernard Valcourt to initiate deportation proceedings against the retired University of British Columbia botany instructor.
The federal Cabinet decided to move against the Vancouver man after a recommendation from Gerry Weiner, minister of state for multiculturalism and citizenship.
Luitjens, 72, was officially informed last Friday night.
“The Cabinet, upon reviewing the recommendation of the minister, concurred that citizenship had been obtained by fraudulent means,” Len Westerberg, an official in Weiner’s office, said.
The Cabinet move followed an Oct. 23 ruling by Justice Frank Collier of the Federal Court of Canada that Luitjens had obtained citizenship in 1971 by making “false representation, or by knowingly concealing material circumstances.”
Collier, who had come under criticism for the 29-month delay in his ruling in the denaturalization case, noted that Luitjens had failed to tell immigration officials he was tried in absentia in 1948, convicted of aiding and abetting the enemy in time of war and sentenced to life imprisonment.
A NEW EXTRADITION TREATY
Luitjens was a former member of the Dutch Nazi party and the Landwacht, a paramilitary unit which assisted the Gestapo in rounding up Jews and resistance fighters in occupied Holland.
He operated in the Groningen and Drenthe provinces in northeastern Holland. He surrendered to Allied troops in 1945 rather than face the wrath of his own countrymen but escaped from a military prison in 1946. He lived in Germany until 1948, and sailed for South America in May 1948 using the name Gerhard Harder.
Luitjens lived in Paraguay for 13 years before immigrating to Canada in 1961. He claimed that he did not know about his conviction until informed by a reporter in 1983. But Justice Collier concluded it was “highly probable” that Luitjens knew of the Dutch tribunal’s sentence in absentia through correspondence with his family.
Gerrit Kulsdom, the Dutch consul general here, said Luitjens could be deported under the new extradition treaty between Canada and the Netherlands, which takes effect Dec. 1.
At the time the treaty was passed by the Dutch Parliament, the Dutch justice minister said the government intended to pursue the extradition of Luitjens.
In 1981, the Dutch government requested that Luitjens be returned to Holland, but Canadian Justice Department officials ruled at that time that the Canada-Netherlands extradition treaty did not cover the crime of collaboration.
Representatives of Jewish groups hailed Luitjens’ citizenship revocation, seeing it as paving the way for further such actions and calling for his speedy deportation.
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.