Ottawa to re-examine former Nazi’s past after evidence emerges linking him to 1943 massacre (NATIONAL POST) Stewart Bell 04/26/12)
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Justice Minister Rob Nicholson and Citizenship and Immigration
Minister Jason Kenney told a group of Holocaust survivors on
Wednesday the government would re-examine the case of a Nazi
collaborator living near Montreal, according to a participant in the
The Friends of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre brought the four Holocaust
survivors to Ottawa to urge the ministers to take action against
Vladimir Katriuk after new evidence surfaced implicating the 90-year-
old Quebecer in a wartime massacre of villagers in Eastern Europe.
The survivors, including former prisoners of the Auschwitz and Dachau
concentration camps, asked the ministers to bring Nazi war criminals
to justice within their lifetimes. They gave the ministers copies of
a just-published academic paper that described Mr. Katriuk’s alleged
role in the 1943 Khatyn massacre.
“Clearly the research that we presented is new information and I
think that they have to analyze it but they have committed to us that
they will do so,” said Avi Benlolo, president and CEO of the Friends
of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre. “They will look at it and they will
get the wheels in motion to bring it back to the forefront before
it’s too late.”
Ana Curic, Mr. Kenney’s spokeswoman, confirmed the discussion had
taken place. She would not comment on any specific cases but said the
government was committed to identifying and removing war criminals
from Canada, “including revisiting new evidence on previously
The Holocaust survivors also asked for government action against
Helmet Oberlander, another Canadian long accused of Nazi war crimes.
Mr. Benlolo said Mr. Kenney had committed to revisiting both the
Oberlander and Katriuk cases.
Mr. Katriuk is a former member of a battalion commanded by German
officers in what is now Belarus. He fled to Canada in 1951 using a
false name. In 1999, the Federal Court of Canada ruled he had
obtained his Canadian citizenship by misrepresentation but found
there was no evidence he had committed atrocities. The federal
Cabinet decided in 2007 not to revoke his citizenship.
But a paper published in the Spring 2012 edition of the academic
journal Holocaust and Genocide Studies says recently declassified
documents implicate Mr. Katriuk in an operation in Khatyn, whose
residents were wiped out over their suspected support for partisans
responsible for attacks on German forces.
The paper describes how, on March 22, 1943, villagers of the German-
occupied village were herded into a barn which was then set on fire.
Mr. Katriuk “reportedly lay behind the stationary machine gun, firing
rounds at anyone attempting to escape the flames,” it says.
The paper also quotes testimony by one of the participants in the
attack, who said Mr. Katriuk and another man “were shooting people
lying on the road.” Another witness said Mr. Katriuk was armed
with “a Czech-manufactured machine gun.” Mr. Katriuk “reportedly
gathered a watch, a bracelet, and a small pistol” from a young
woman’s body, the paper says.
Written by historian Per Anders Rudling, a postdoctoral fellow at
Lund University in Sweden, the paper is based partly on Soviet files
unsealed in 2008. The author said that while Soviet archival
materials had to be treated with caution, other evidence also pointed
to Mr. Katriuk’s involvement.
“Katriuk’s participation in the Khatyn massacre is confirmed by
multiple testimonies, and in some detail,” Mr. Rudling, who did his
PhD at the University of Alberta, told the National Post. “The
testimonies are consistent in identifying Katriuk as a machine gunner
at Khatyn, and indeed in other atrocities. Together, the material
produces a compelling evidence that Katriuk was indeed an active
participant in the massacre.”
Mr. Katriuk said he was unaware of Mr. Rudling’s paper. He has
testified in court that he did not join the battalion voluntarily and
that while he guarded villagers and livestock from partisans, he did
not participate in German operations. After serving in the Waffen-SS,
he defected and fought against the Germans.
Last week, the Simon Wiesenthal Centre named Mr. Katriuk as one of
its “Most Wanted Nazi War Criminals” and gave a failing grade to the
Canadian government’s efforts to investigate and prosecute Nazi war
criminals. Mr. Benlolo said despite the passage of time, bringing
Nazis to account remained essential for Holocaust survivors. “For
them it’s deeply, deeply important to seek justice.” (© 2012 National
Post, a division of Postmedia Network Inc. 04/26/12)
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