Nazis in Canada? A Secret List With Answers May Soon Be Released.
For 37 years, Canada has kept close guard on an explosive roster of names.
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The classified report lists 883 possible Nazi war criminals who found harbor in the country after World War II, and many believe it offers insights into exactly what the government knew about how they got there, the extent to which they were investigated and why most escaped prosecution.
Canada’s strong privacy laws and government secrecy have keep the report confidential, but a recent political blunder may crack it open.
Last September, Canadian lawmakers used the occasion of a visit by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to honor Yaroslav Hunka, a Ukrainian Canadian man who volunteered for the Nazi Waffen-SS, a combat group that also oversaw concentration camps during the Holocaust.
Now, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government is discussing whether the time has come to unseal the report. The deliberations began before the celebration of Hunka, said Anthony Housefather, a member of Trudeau’s Liberal Party caucus who has been the primary political proponent of declassification. But the episode has increased pressure on the government to finally act.
In brief remarks to reporters after Hunka was feted in Parliament, Trudeau said “top public servants are looking very carefully into the releasing the secret list, including digging into the archives.”
He added: “We’re going to make recommendations.”
Precisely why the report, the second part of a 1986 inquiry into war criminals in Canada, was classified — even as the first part was released that year — has never been made clear. But some Ukrainian Canadians, whose communities included some former Nazis, bitterly opposed the inquiry, viewing it as a witch hunt and a smear.
The United States has steadily declassified millions of pages of documents related to Nazi war crimes and their perpetrators under a special 1998 disclosure law.
In Canada, Jewish groups and scholars have been seeking the release of the report for decades.
Of four former Nazis charged by Canada with war crimes and crimes against humanity since 1986, when they became crimes under Canadian law, none were convicted. Prosecutions and deportations failed largely because of problems with evidence.
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