Denaturalization hearings in the case of alleged Nazi war criminal Wolodymir Osidach began here today in Federal Court. If convicted, he could lose his U.S. citizenship and be subject to deportation.
H. Ronald Klasko, chairman of the Committee on Nazi War Criminals of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Philadelphia, called the hearings “a solemn and serious judicial occasion in our community, part of the process of educating new generations of Philadelphians about the obscenity that was the Holocaust.”
Osidach is accused of lying on his U.S. visa and citizenship applications by failing to give certain information about his activities during World War II. He is alleged to have beaten, shot and killed unarmed Jewish civilians while serving as commandant of the Ukrainian police in Rave-Ruska, Ukraine between 1941-45 and to have rounded up and transported Jews to extermination camps during the war. He also is alleged to have gained U.S. citizenship by covering up convictions for acts stemming from his leadership role in the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists, a collaborationist group which assisted German authorities during World War II.
EYEWITNESSES TO BE PRESENTED
Approximately 10 eyewitnesses to the atrocities will be presented by government attorneys from the Office of Special Investigations of the Department of Justice, the special unit created for the purpose of prosecuting Nazi war criminals residing in the United States. Some of the testimony will be in the form of videotape depositions taken from survivors. The remainder will be from live witnesses from Israel who have traveled to Philadelphia for the trial. Presiding at the hearings is Judge louis Bechtle of the Federal District Court for Eastern Pennsylvania.
Klasko, a local attorney, has called the hearings “a unique opportunity to see firsthand the United States government’s attempt, after 35 years, to bring to justice a man charged with being a participant in some of the worst atrocities the world has ever seen. It is especially important that the people of this city and country know that the Holocaust has not been forgotten and that the perpetrators of these horrors are being revealed and, when found guilty, are being punished.”
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.