Newly uncovered research has shed light on Canada’s post-war immigration screening and policies, revealing unsettling details about how the nation dealt with suspected Nazi war criminals and collaborators.
Key Findings from the Inquiry
- A person suspected of involvement in WWII Jewish murders in western Ukraine sought Canadian admission in 1951. This individual’s application was processed without consulting potential witnesses.
- In the 1950s and ’60s, a Slovak leader, with a history of war crimes, was repeatedly allowed entry into Canada.
- The RCMP, in 1962, became aware of a Soviet trial that implicated two individuals residing in Canada in the execution of civilians during WWII.
These details emerge from a recently disclosed version of a 1986 study, originally released in a censored format under the Access to Information Act.
David Matas, senior legal counsel for B’nai Brith Canada, remarked, “There was no reason not to disclose it originally.”
Push for Transparency
The insights from researcher Alti Rodal’s study have renewed interest in the transparency of Canada’s approach to suspected Nazi war criminals and collaborators. The study was designed to provide a comprehensive understanding of the post-war strategies of the Canadian government in relation to immigration, refugees, and war criminals.
Rodal pointed out the extensive co-operation the Nazis received from non-Germans in Europe, stating, “While many may very well have been forcibly conscripted into Waffen-SS units, a considerable number did volunteer to assist in the Nazi campaign, not only against Communism, but also in the destruction of populations deemed undesirable.”
Relaxed Screening Protocols
Throughout the 1950s, Canada saw a considerable easing of security-screening guidelines. This permitted the legal entry of ex-Nazis and collaborators — the groups most likely to include those involved in war crimes.
Rodal’s research also highlighted that the primary security concern post-war was not identifying Nazis, but to counter potential Communist infiltrators and spies.
The study further claims there was “ample opportunity” for Nazi war criminals and collaborators to enter Canada, pointing out the inclination was towards “leniency rather than rigour.”
Screening measures were often inadequate, and screening officers in Germany mostly checked only “suspicious characters” for Nazi connections. Surprisingly, directives were even issued to overlook SS tattoo marks for certain cases as early as 1948.
In light of the findings, the recent invitation of Yaroslav Hunka, a Waffen-SS Galicia Division member, to the House of Commons to hear a speech by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has caused an uproar.
Liberal MP Anthony Rota, who invited Hunka and hailed him as a hero, resigned from his position as Speaker of the House following the incident. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also expressed his apologies on behalf of Parliament, further igniting calls for the full release of records from the Deschênes commission inquiry on war criminals.
The Way Forward
Prime Minister Trudeau mentioned last week that public servants are meticulously examining the potential release of additional records from the Deschênes commission and will soon make recommendations to the government.
The unfolding revelations and their implications will likely steer public discourse on immigration and war crimes in the coming months.