Vilis Arveds HāznersPress Coverage
Hāzners—a career military officer in the independent Latvia—was one of the most honourable, brave, accomplished, and loyalty-inspiring officers of the Latvian Legion, fighting on the Eastern Front against the re-invading Red Army—a loyalty which led his men, many still teenagers, to risk their lives to haul him to safety when he was gravely wounded in a heavy fire-fight.
As a leader of the exile Latvian-American community and later head of the Daugavas Vanagi, a post-WWII organization of Latvian Legion veterans indicted by Soviet propaganda as a nest of Jew-murdering Nazis and fascists created solely for the purpose of providing haven and escape to the West, Hāzners became a lightning rod for Jewish activism and demonizing following his identification as a war criminal by so-called U.S.S.R. "authorities."
The simple and incontrovertible facts are that Hāzners did not participate in the Holocaust, and that Daugavas Vanagi is a self-help welfare association of Legionnaire veterans founded in the Zedelgem POW Camp, where they were being shot for sport as live target practice until the guards were informed the Latvians weren't Nazis. No conspiracy. No sinister plot. No harbouring of fugitive war criminals.
Indeed, for all the inflammatory press and fulminating morality one encounters today surrounding observance of the Latvian Legion Day of Commemoration, not a single individual has ever been accused, let alone convicted, of any war crime in the service of the Legion. The Legionnaires' sole hope, wearing Latvian flags under their uniforms—their only allegiance—regardless of their mostly illegal forcible conscription by Nazi Germany under pain of death, was to rid Latvia of the Russians then Germans, in a replay of the Latvian War of Independence, as enshrined in Legion song.
We have commented on a representative sampling of press coverage, commencing with the article which "broke" the Hāzners story and news of the INS proceedings instituted against him.
Updated: October, 2016
- Presumed Guilt
- Next Nazi probe's shadow, by Frederic U. Dicker — Dr. Gertrude Schneider's 1971 trip to Soviet Latvia marked the penetration of Soviet-fabricated anti-Latvian accusations into the mainstream. Frederic Dicker breaks the story of the first case brought against a Latvian so accused.
- War Criminal, by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, unattributed — The Soviet KGB origins of the spurious charges against Hāzners are revealed.
- Hearing Against Accused, by JTA, unattributed — Witness testimony accuses Hāzners of crimes including herding Jews to their deaths in a burning Rīga synagogue.
- Wiesenthal Says, unattributed — "Escaping with the Germans" is Wiesenthal's bar for war crimes guilt. Wiesenthal posits that only criminals and sympathizers would choose to escape in the direction of the Nazis. That criterion includes all peoples of the Baltic states who escaped to Germany ahead of the advancing Soviets and found themselves in Displaced Persons camps after the war.
- Nazi Deportation Hearing, by Rochelle Wolk, JTA — After devoting 2½ years to the case, Rabbi Paul Silton bemoans that the Hāzners case may fade from view and that results of Nazi criminal prosecutions are not improving.
- Quiet Army Pleads, by Donald Strickland — Student association and Albany area rabbi organize and bus students wearing DEATH TO HAZNERS T-shirts to protest on Hāzners' doorstep.
- Students Protest, unattributed — Over 50 protesters arrive at Hāzners' doorstep. The ABC network comes to tape a documentary on Nazis living in the U.S.
- ABC News Show, TV section — ABC's "searching investigation" is already rife with conspiracy theories.
- Justice Lost, by Joel Rosenfeld, letter to the editor — Outrage over Hāzners' acquittal—rather than conclude the witnesses proved unreliable, conclude that Judge Anthony DeGaeto is incompetent and all humanity now weeps over Hāzners' glee at his acquittal.
- Holocaust Survivors Still, by Linda Barnas — Silton says judge declared Hāzners guilty of atrocities but let him go on technicalities.
- Post-trial Postscript