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Cjc Leader Says Canada Has No Interest in Prosecuting War Criminals Living in the Country

May 16, 1983
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Prof. Irwin Cotler, outgoing president of the Canadian Jewish Congress (CJC), charged that Canada had the worst record among all the democracies of admitting wartime Jewish victims of Nazism and asserted that the present Canadian government has no interest in prosecuting Nazi war criminals living in Canada.

Cotler addressed 1,500 delegates attending the CJC triennial plenary in place of Solicitor General Robert Caplan who had been scheduled to speak on “Mass Murderers Resident in Canada,” Caplan cancelled his appearance.

Cotler cited the case of Albert Helmut Rauca, a 74-year-old retired hotel manager, who gave up a fight to prevent his extradition to West Germany to face trial on charges of murdering 11,584 Jews in German-occupied Lithuania between 1941 and 1943.

Cotler said the Rauca case reflected the Canadian government’s lack of interest in prosecuting Nazi war criminals because Rauca’s extradition is on the basis of a West German initiative.

“Most of the Nazi criminals in this country are not extraditable because we have no extradition treaties with some countries or because we will not extradite them for internal political reasons,” Cotler said.


Declaring that bringing Nazi criminals to justice is directly connected with the victims of the Holocaust, Cotler said the principle should be that the murderers should not go unpunished anywhere. Adding that there are various legal remedies for the problem, he said “what is important is the political will. It is the right of the government to revoke the citizenship of and extradite Nazi criminals.”

Cotler listed international legal opinions and the charter of Canada to support his view there are enough means at present to prosecute Nazi criminals, adding it is not his intention to act in any way which would infringe the principle of non-retroactivity.

“So long as the government does not exercise its legislation to punish war criminals, it will not fulfil its international obligations,” Cotler said, “We must continue to make political representations to the Minister of Justice so that criminals are prosecuted and sentenced.”

Asserting that the Holocaust was a Jewish experience but that it has a universal connotation for defending human rights, Cotler said it was the duty of the media to sensitize public opinion and of the community to mobilize scholars and lawyers for action that will make it impossible for the government not to react.


“We ask the government to set up immediately a special unit to investigate, apprehend and bring to justice Nazi criminals in Canada,” Cotler said. “If the government does not, it will show that it is not interested in bringing such criminals to justice.”

He said “we want to bring the criminals to justice by all available means, such as revocation of citizenship, extradition, sentencing. The government must inquire whether there was any collaboration between Canadian officials and Nazi criminals which enabled those criminals to enter Canada.”

Cotler said it was easier to get into Canada during wartime as a Nazi than as a Jew, Cotler added: “if this country has the worst record of all democracies during World War II” in admitting Jewish refugees fleeing Nazism, “it has a special responsibility to bring the criminals to justice.”

Milton Harris, a Tononto industrialist, was elected the new president of the CJC, and Dorothy Reitman was elected the new chairperson, both by acclamation. Prof. John Humphrey, former dean of McGill University’s law faculty and direct or of the human rights division, was presented with a special award for his fight for human rights in Canada.

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