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Holocaust Survivors Examine Growing Phenomenon of Holocaust Deniers

May 2, 1985
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The growing phenomenon of Holocaust denial and the “moral obscenity” of the presence in Canada of as many as 2,000 Nazi war criminals, more than a few of them naturalized citizens, was examined at a day-long forum of the Gathering of Holocaust Survivors and their children here this week.

The three-day gathering, which began Sunday and ended yesterday, heard speakers representing the Canadian government, academics, parliamentarians, jurists, leaders of the Jewish community and the survivors themselves.

The gathering marked the 40th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi death camps. The occasion was fraught with irony because four decades after the event commemorated, the victims have come under attack in many quarters.

Addressing the forum, Manuel Prutschi, national director of community relations of the Canadian Jewish Congress, observed that Holocaust denial is the newest of the intertwined strands of anti-Semitism which include the age-old stereotype of Jews as crooked financiers, an international conspiracy by Jews to rule the world, and anti-Zionism.

The latter, according to Prutschi, “is the cutting edge and the point of the knife of anti-Semitism.”


Irving Arbella, a professor at Glendon College at York University and co-author of the book, “None is too Many,” which dealt with the exclusion of Jewish refugees from Canada before, during and after World War II, referred to this situation in his address to the Gathering. “We live in a society that is not racist, but, in fact, had racism written in black and white in (its) immigration rules long before the war with ‘preferential and non-preferential’ immigrants,” he said.

Bernard Ostry, Deputy Minister of Culture in the Ontario government who chaired the afternoon session, contrasted the exclusion of Jewish refugees with the open door for Nazi war criminals, among whom are the Holocaust deniers. He reminded his audience of several thousand that the late Prime Minister William McKenzie King signed an Order in Council permitting three war criminals to remain in Canada after the Supreme Court had ordered them deported.

“You could not enter Canada if suspected to be a Communist — and Jews were suspected of sympathizing with the Communists. But nobody asked the 5,000 members of the Waffen SS Galicia division what they did during the war,” Ostry said.


Sol Littman, Canadian representative of the Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center, called Canada today “a heaven for Nazi war criminals.” He noted that it took 20 years to deport the notorious Albert Helmut Rauca, an accused mass murderer of Lithuanian Jews, although everyone knew where to find him. “Why did it take so long? Because nobody really cared,” Littman said.

Rauca, a gestapo officer in Kaunas, Lithuania during the war, became a Canadian citizen in 1956. He was arrested in June, 1982, subsequently denaturalized and deported in 1983 to West Germany where he was tried by a Frankfurt court on charges of murdering 11,583 Lithuanian Jews.

Littman noted that the Rauca episode sent a “shudder” through the Lithuanian, Ukrainian, Estonian and Slovakian communities in Canada. Members of those ethnic groups were among the most vicious Nazi collaborators during the war, serving as death camp guards and in some cases operating the extermination machinery for the Germans.

Littman affirmed that there are as many as 2,000 war criminals living in Canada, by no means all German, who should lawfully be prosecuted.

Irwin Cotler, a professor of law at McGill University, declared that “The presence of Nazis in Canada is a moral obscenity. The Canadian government should understand that one Nazi war criminal is too many.”


Milton Harris, president of the Canadian Jewish Congress, spoke about the denaturalization procedure as a possibility. He said Justice Minister John Crosbie will soon introduce new legislation to speed up prosecution. “But to pass such a law, a lot of political pressure will be needed,” he added.

Edward Greenspan, a Toronto lawyer, explained that war criminals are not brought to justice in Canada because the 1949 Geneva Convention covers only future crimes, not crimes of the past. “The honor of Canada is diminished by the fact that many war criminals got Canadian citizenship,” he said.

Cotler expressed the prevailing sentiment at the gathering when he said “We must bring war criminals to justice if we wish justice to reign in Canada.”

Svend Robinson, a member of Parliament for the New Democratic Party, said “if the evidence is strong let us put them on trial. If a criminal gets old he is still a criminal.” Robinson also urged Prime Minister Brian Mulroney to call on President Reagan “not to make peace with the murderers” by going to the German military cemetery at Bitburg Sunday where members of the Waffen SS are among the German war dead buried there.

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