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Special to the JTA Spotlight on Accused War Criminals

January 7, 1980
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Accused Nazi war criminal Tacherim Soobzokov, now facing denaturalization proceedings for allegedly concealing his Nazi collaboration from government authorities, lets slip some well-known anti-Semitic code words when he blames “pressure of a small minority group” for the Justice Department’s action against him.

His remarks will be aired as part of a television documentary entitled “ABC News Close up — Escape From Justice: Nazi War Criminals in America.” Sunday, Jan. 13 (7-8 p.m. EST) on the ABC Television Network. This reporter previewed the special at on ABC-TV studio in New York City.

Soobzokov is a resident of Paterson, N.J., where he is the chief of the Purchasing Department for Passaic County. On Dec. 5, 1979, the U.S. Attorney General’s Office and the justice Department’s Office of Special Investigation (OSI) served him with a denaturalization notice, accusing him of concealing his collaboration with the Waffen SS and his participation in Nazi atrocities in and around Krasnodor, in the Transcaucasus.

Of the 16 alleged Nazi war criminals now under litigation, Soobzokov is the only one who agreed to an interview for the ABC documentary. Perhaps this is the reason he is granted what seems an inordinately large portion of the program to profess his innocence.


The case of Archbishop Valerian Trifa, head of the Rumanian Orthodox Church in America, headquartered at Gross Lake, Mich., is also examined at length. (A date for his denaturalization hearing had been expected imminently, but reliable sources have indicated that presiding U.S. Justice; Cornelia Kennedy said last week in Detroit that Trifa’s case would not come to court until the spring or later.)

Rabbi Moses Rosen, Chief Rabbi of Rumania say. on the ABC special that he remembers hearing Trifa on the radio in Bucharest in 1941. Trifa’s remarks were “a death sentence for us,” Rosen says.

Trifa a accused of complicity in the January 1941 Bucharest program, staged by the fascist Iron Guard. At least 600 Jews were murdered, including 200 who were hung on meat books and stamped “kosher meat.” When Trifa was tried in absentia in Rumania in June 1941, he was identified as “commandant of the student Iron Guard corps; he has organized this corps and supplied it with arms.”

Trifa entered the United States in 1950 and became a citizen in 1957. Denaturalization proceedings against him began in 1975, when the government filed a complaint against him to cancel his citizenship on the grounds it was illegally procured “by the concealment of material fact and … misrepresentation.”

Trifa and Soobzokov are among the more’ than 200 alleged Nazi was criminals and collaborators currently being investigated by the OSI headed by Walter Rockler. According to ABC, the more than 200 alleged Nazi war criminals living in the U.S. are collectively responsible for the deaths of two million Jews, Gypsies and anti-Nazi partisans.


Other alleged Nazi war criminals to be discussed on the ABC documentary include: Feodor Fedorenko of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., a former guard at the Treblinka concentration camp; Edgars Laipenieks of Son Diego, Calif., accused of Nazi complicity in Riga, Latvia; Andrija Artukovic of Surfside, Calif., the former Minister of Interior of the Nazi puppet state of Croatia; and Villis Hozners of Dresden, N.Y., accused of atrocities against the Jews of Rigo.

For the first time Americans will have the opportunity to see on network television actual documents implicating the Central intelligence. Agency (CIA) for having intervened on behalf of an alleged Nazi war criminal, Laipenieks. Charles Allen Jr., author and journalist, shows copies of CIA letters that he secured in 1975-76 revealing at least a 14-year relationship between the accused moss murdered and the CIA.

Although concern or action by the major American Jewish organizations is not presented in the documentary, a peaceful demonstration of the Hozners’ home in rural upstate, New York portrays the involvement of rank and file members of the American Jewish community.

Led by Rabbi Paul Silton, education director at Temple Israel in Albany, and Lyn Light, director of the Jewish Students Coalition-Hi Hel at State University of New York at Albany, some 50 SUNYA students are shown praying, singing and carrying posters outside Hazners’ home.

The program also interviews experts on the issue of Nazi war criminals in America to determine why alleged Nazis were “recruited, protected, even employed by the United States government.”


Rep. Elizabeth Holtzman (D. NY) calls the presence of alleged Nazi criminals in this country “a sordid chapter” in American history. As chairperson of the house Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Refugees, and international Law, she has been instrumental in exposing the issue and prodding the Justice Deportment to take action.”

In addition to Holtzman and Allen, famous Nazi-hunter Simon Wiesenthal; Holocaust surviver and author Elie Wiesel; former Immigration and Naturalization Service employee Vincent Schiano; former Nuremberg prosecutor Telford Taylors OSI head Rockier; and 82-year-old retired dentist Dr. Charles Kramer, who has worked on the Trifa case for more than 20 years, also offer their views on the presence of Nazi war criminals in America.

Billed as “the most comprehensive examination of Nazis in America ever televised,” the documentary is narrated by ABC news correspondent Tim O’Brien with investigative reports by “Close up” correspondent Michael Conner.

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