A great hullabaloo is being made by the ruling circles and their monopoly media about the trial and conviction of a single former concentration camp guard who worked at Auschwitz-Birkenau camp in Nazi-occupied Poland during the Second World War. The former guard, a member of the Nazi SS, was convicted on June 16 in a German court and sentenced to five years in prison as an accessory to the murder of 170,000 Jewish prisoners during 1943-44. No one expects he will spend a single day in prison due to the long appeal process and the fact that he is 94 years old.
This whole charade helps conceal the truth about the fate of Nazi and fascist war criminals. In reality, due to the active intervention of the U.S., U.K., Canada and various European states, including the Vatican, tens of thousands of war criminals were protected, hidden, given new identities, brought both openly and secretly to countries like Canada as legitimate immigrants, and hired by governments and private industry, even though their backgrounds were well-known in official circles. A huge number were brought into countries like Canada directly following the Second World War, while others who took up Nazi and fascist causes following the war (and who were even trained by Second World War war criminals through organizations such as the World Anti-Communist League) were brought in after, later perpetrating hideous crimes in countries such as Guatemala in the interests of U.S. imperialism.
A special system of escape routes called “ratlines” was set up for Nazis and fascists fleeing Europe after the defeat of the Hitlerites. A prominent role in facilitating those escapes was played by the Vatican. The escape routes mainly led toward havens in South America, particularly Argentina and Paraguay, but destinations also included the U.S. and Canada. Not only individuals but whole groups of Nazis were openly brought in, often for specific purposes. Here are a few examples. The entire Nazi spy agency, still led by General Reinhard Gehlen, was hired to work for U.S. intelligence. Gehlen derived much of his intelligence from torturing Soviet prisoners of war. The U.S. government’s Operation Paperclip brought about 1,500 Nazi scientists and engineers to work on the U.S. missile program. Similarly, Canada’s post-war Operation Matchbox brought Nazi scientists and engineers to Canada. In 1950, Canada admitted 2,000 members of the 14th Volunteer Waffen-SS Grenadier Division, aka the Galicia Division, largely comprised of Ukrainians who served with Nazi police battalions and death squads. In November 1997, the Jerusalem Post published a series of articles calling Canada “a near blissful refuge” for Nazis.
Overall, Canada provided a safe haven for thousands of Nazi war criminals, even after thousands of Canadians sacrificed their lives fighting Nazism. Beginning with the Mackenzie King Liberals, successive Canadian governments have protected war criminals, hidden them in Canada as “deported persons,” and claimed that they were actually legitimate patriots of their countries of origin who just “opposed communism.” This kind of statement reveals the underlying reason that so many Nazi war criminals were protected, which was that as soon as the Second World War ended, the so-called wartime allies of the Soviet Union began rebuilding Germany as a bulwark against the Soviet Union, the country which had done the most and suffered the most to defeat the Hitlerites. Today, reconstructed Germany is the strongest country in Europe, with its economy once again led by the very same monopolies that backed the Hitlerites and were given a mere slap on the wrist at the Nuremburg trials. One typical example of a Nazi war criminal who escaped to Canada was Latvian collaborator Alfred Valdmanis. Valdmanis served as special assistant to Reichsbank President Hjalmar Schact and became Latvian Minister of Finance under the pro-Nazi Ulmanis government where he helped deport Jews to concentration camps and form the Nazi-commanded Latvian Waffen SS to fight the Soviet Union. Valdmanis moved to Canada in 1949 and became an advisor to the Canadian Department of Immigration, where he called for 20,000 Waffen SS members to be admitted to Canada. In 1950 he became Newfoundland’s Director-General for Economic Development where, true to his Nazi roots, he negotiated a number of economic projects with German monopolies that had backed the Nazis such as Krupp and Hoechst. In 1951 he was accused of being a war criminal but denied the charges and was never arrested or tried for war crimes.
Another example of a Nazi war criminal who found a safe haven in Canada was SS Rottenführer Helmut Rauca who came to Canada in 1950. He acquired Canadian citizenship just six years later. On October 29, 1941, Rauca selected over 11,000 men, women, and children at the Ninth Fort in Kaunas, Lithuania, and ordered their execution, the largest mass murder of Lithuanian Jews during the Second World War. Evidence against Rauca was overwhelming, yet he lived peacefully in Toronto until 1982 when the public outcry forced the Canadian government to deport him to Frankfurt, Germany. He died the following year before he could be brought to trial. The cases of Valdanis and Rauca represent the reality of the complete lack of consequences for the many war criminals of their ilk who have found a cosy niche under government protection in Canada.
It should be noted that the current posturing about “bringing war criminals to justice” is not unique, including in Canada. At times through the years, in order to try to pacify the people’s outrage at the ruling circles’ blatant collaboration with Nazis and fascists, Canadian governments have also pretended to take a strong stand against Nazi war criminals. One major example is the Mulroney government’s Deschenes Commission which carried out an investigation in 1985-86, after the public outcry that followed a claim that Nazi doctor Joseph Mengele might be somewhere in Canada. The result was a complete whitewash. Although thousands of names were submitted to the Deschenes Commission by citizens and citizen groups and millions of dollars were spent on the investigation, in the end the Commission reported it had found prima facie evidence against only 20 individuals, of which exactly zero were ever successfully prosecuted. Most of the documentation compiled by the Commission is still secret and inaccessible to independent researchers.
Since the publicity about the trial and conviction of the former Nazi war criminal in Germany has nothing to do with rooting out war criminals, what is it really about? In essence, the whole charade is supposed to convince people that those who perpetrate war crimes will someday be brought to justice, as well as imply that the era of the Nazis is gone and that only a few creaky old men remain who pose no threat to anyone and should be allowed to die in peace. Meanwhile, under this facade, the modern-day Nazis are reorganizing, especially in Ukraine and the Baltic Republics. In Ukraine, they hold positions in government and seats in the Parliament, and command their own private armies. This is no surprise since during the Second World War the Nazi-funded criminal groups Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) and Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) posed as “patriots” in order to massacre Jews, Russians and Poles. In the Baltic states, Nazis and neo-Nazis hold annual parades to commemorate the crimes their predecessors committed during the Second World War. In other European countries, such criminals organize “nationalist” parties that spread violence, racism and anti-immigrant propaganda.
The trial and conviction on June 16 of the former Nazi war criminal is also a ploy to divert attention from the fact that the world’s biggest war criminals are now the U.S. imperialists and their allies such as Israel. The U.S., which took up the mantle of the Hitlerites following the Second World War, routinely commits war crimes around the world, including invasions of other countries, use of weapons of mass destruction, killing of civilians, targeted assassinations, organization of coups d’état, financing of fascist and racist groups, and the list goes on. The U.S. also protects its war criminal allies such as Israel, ensuring that they too are never held to account for their crimes against the world’s people. At the same time, across the globe people are both openly denouncing U.S. crimes and actively fighting back against U.S. domination. In the end, the U.S. war criminals will suffer the same fate as their role models, the Hitlerite Nazis, a resounding and final defeat at the hands of the world’s people.
2. For more information, see War Criminal on Trial: The Rauca Case, by Sol Littman (Toronto: Lester and Orpen Dennys, 1983).