CASE FILE

Vilis Arveds HāznersKGB Targets Latvian Émigré Leadership, INS Obliges

Two years prior to the proceedings against Hāzners, the INS reached out to the West German government (FRG) with a list of 52 names including Hāzners'. The response? Lack of evidence to tie anyone on the list to a war crime. Note Hāzners appears at the top of the list:

2. FRG HAS PROVIDED US WITH ADDITIONAL DOCUMENTATION RE THE FOLLOWING INDIVIDUALS

A. HAZNERS (TEXTS OF PRELIMINARY PROCEEDINGS AGAINST HAZNERS SUSPENDED IN DORTMUND ON JANUARY 1, 1970 FOR LACK OF EVIDENCE);

Germany terminated possible proceedings against Hāzners in 1970 for lack of evidence. Yet only two years after German authorities confirmed a lack of evidence against Hāzners, the INS filed its motion to deport Hāzners. We also know from declassified cables that the INS had in its possession Hāzners' complete and exculpatory war records, provided by the German authorities. What, then, was the origin and nature of this newly found evidence?

Insofar as identification of Hāzners as a war criminal is concerned, given this previous lack of evidence against Hāzners, we are left with the inevitable conclusion that, per reporter Fred Dicker's original breaking of the Hāzners "story," it was KGB prepared and delivered propaganda and the specific mention of Hāzners by name to Gertrude Schneider which led the INS to pursue Hāzners as a war criminal.

Hāzners had already been in Soviet cross-hairs for at least a decade before the KGB's fruitful propaganda hand-off to Schneider. The U.S.S.R. published its propaganda pamphlet, Daugavas Vanagi, Who Are They? (featuring Hāzners prominently) in 1961 and translated it into multiple languages over the course of 1962 and 1963. Along with publishing the pamphlet in English in 1963, the Soviets also released a "documentary" accusing Vilis Hāzners, Vilis Janums, and Boleslavs Maikovskis of wartime atrocities, and the Latvian ambassador and head of the Latvian government in exile in London, Kārlis Zariņš, of fraternizing with these known war criminals, per this declassified CIA document ("VILIS HAZER"[sic.] is hand-annotated with his CIA cryptonym):

FBIS 55

LATVIAN FILM

MOSCOW TASS IN ENGLISH TO EUROPE 1906 19 FEB 63 L

   (EXCERPTS) RIGA--A FULL LENGTH DOCUMENTARY ABOUT THE ATROCITIES OF HITLERITES AND THEIR HENCHMEN IN LATIVA DURING WORLD WAR II WAS RELEASED BY THE RGA FILM STUDIOS.

   THE FILM PROVIDES IRREFUTABLE EVIDENCE OF BRUTAL CRIMES COMMITTED BY SOME OF THE PRESENT LEADERS OF LATVIAN EMIGRE ORGANIZATIONS WHO FOUND REFUGE IN SWEDEN, WEST GERMANY, BRITAIN, THE UNITED STATES, AND OTHER COUNTRIES. AMONG THEM IS BOLESLAV MAYKOVSKIY, (NOW RESIDING IN NEW YORK) (BRACKETS AS RECEIVED), AND FORMERLY AN OFFICER OF THE HITLER POLICE AND ONE OF THE MASTERMINDS OF THE MASSACRE IN AUDRINI AND THE EXTERMINATION OF JEWS IN THE SUBURBS OF REZEKNE.

THE FILM ALSO INDICTS VILIS JANUMS, THE PRESENT CHAIRMAN OF THE CENTRAL COUNCIL OF THE LATVIAN EMIGRE SOCIETY, WHO FOUND ASYLUM IN FEDERAL GERMANY, VILIS HAZER, THE LEADER OF THE LATVIAN LIBERATION COMMITTEE IN NEW YORK, AND PAUL KOVALEVSKY, WHO LIVES IN VEST GERMANY AND PUBLISHES HIS WRITINGS UNDER THE NAME OF PAVILS KLANS. THE FILM ALSO EXPOSES THE CLOSE CONNECTIONS BETWEEN WAR CRIMINALS AND HARLIS ZARINSH, "AMBASSADOR IN EXlLE" IN LONDON.

19 FEB 1148A FTB/NRR

The aforementioned cable indicating lack of evidence regarding Hāzners nevertheless also states:

THE FONOFF[1] HAS ALSO PASSED US AN ENGLISH LANGUAGE COPY OF "DAUGAVAS VANAGI" PUBLISHED BY THE LATVIAN STATE PUBLISHING HOUSE IN RIGA IN 1963. THIS PUBLICATION INCLUDES ACCUSATIONS DIRECTED AGAINST SOME OF THE INDIVIDUALS INCLUDED IN THE US REQUEST (LAIPENIEKS, MAIKOVSKIS, KARKLINS, SPROGIS, DETLAVS, TRUCIS, DANCIS, MACS, VASERIS, AND HAZNERS; THE FONOFF NOTE POINTS OUT THAT "THE ACCUSATIONS CONTAINED IN THE PUBLICATION DAUGAVAS VANAGI ARE, NEVERTHELESS, BASED ON STRONG SUSPICIONS IN THE OPINION OF THE CENTRAL AUTHORITY[2]."

Ominously, the State Department indicates the KGB's propaganda has gained traction with Germany's Nazi hunters. Note that 10 of the 52 individuals on the INS list appear in Daugavas Vanagi, Who are They? — however, rather than conferring legitimacy on the KGB's propaganda, this only confirms that the names of the Latvian suspects came from KGB propaganda.

We have not been able to uncover the original full list of 52 names the INS submitted to German authorities. Nonetheless, Hāzners' name at the top the list confirms his prominence in Soviet efforts to discredit the troublesome exile Latvian community and its leadership.

Moreover, the INS reached out to Soviet authorities multiple times regarding Hāzners' and other cases. Three cables of interest we have uncovered:

  • 15 OCT 1976 — The INS maintains it launched actions on October 13th against multiple Latvians solely on the basis of western, not Soviet, evidence (!), however, the INS's October 14th announcement intentionally fails to mention reaching out for evidence from the U.S.S.R.. The cable goes on at length, also including new allegations against Hāzners:

    B) VILLIS ARVEDS HAZNERS BORN JULY 23, 1905 IN VIRCACA, LATVIA, ALLEGEDLY RESPONSIBLE FOR EXECUTION OF 300 CIVILIANS WHILE POLICE CHIEF IN ABRENE DISTRICT.

    as well as noting the Soviet Foreign Ministry can be notified verbally of the launch of proceedings. However,

    EMBASSY SHOULD OF COURSE CONTINUE TO BE CAREFUL NOT TO GIVE MFA IMPRESSION THAT EMBASSY IS LEADING THEM TO BELIEVE THAT ANY OF THESE INDIVIDUALS WOULD BE PHYSICALLY REMOVED TO THE U.S.S.R. IN THE FORESEEABLE FUTURE.

  • 19 OCT 1976 — The message was delivered verbally to the Soviet MFA, including the part about no extradition to the U.S.S.R.. USA Division First Secretary V. I. Trifonov confirmed requested evidence on individuals including Hāzners would be forthcoming via diplomatic pouch. Lastly, if we had any doubts about Soviet motives:

    3. REFERRING TO TEXT OF NOTE[3], TRIFONOV ASKED WHY IT IS NOT POSSIBLE TO TAKE STRONGER ACTION THAN "DENATURALIZATION OR OTHER ADMINISTRATIVE PROCEEDINGS" AGAINST WAR CRIMINALS. CONSOFF REPLIED THAT HE WAS UNABLE TO PREDICT OUTCOME, BUT NOTED THAT SINCE ALLEGED WAR CRIMES HAD NOT OCCURRED IN US, PROCEEDINGS WERE NECESSARILY LIMITED TO WHETHER OR NOT ENTRY TO US HAD BEEN ILLEGALLY EFFECTED BY CONCEALING OR LYING ABOUT CRIMINAL RECORDS.

    It appears that the Soviet Ministry of Foreign Affairs was upset that they weren't getting more severe persecution of Latvians out of their propagandistic efforts. Recall, it was now 15 years since the publication of Daugavas Vanagi, Who Are They?.
  • 21 MAY 1977 — The following spring, the Soviet authorities finally come through with evidence on Hāzners. If there were any doubt as to its fabrication, simply note Hāzners' Russo-patronimicized name and erroneously transliterated alias:

    FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
    TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7688
    INFO AMCONSUL LENINGRAD

    LIMITED OFFICIAL USE MOSCOW 7118

    E.O. 11652: N/A
    TAGS: CGEN, CFED, PFOR, UR, US (HAZNERS, VILIS DAVOVICH)
       AKA KHAZNERS[4])
    SUBJECT: SOVIET WAR CRIMES EVIDENCE

    REF: (A) STATE 55628, (B) 76 STATE 256272, (C) 76 MOSCOW 16435

    1. EMBASSY RECEIVED WAR CRIMES MATERIAL FROM MFA UNDER COVER OF NOTE DATED MAY 19, CONCERNED ALLEGED WAR CRIMINAL VILIS DAVOVICH HAZNERS AKA KHAZNERS CITED IN REFTELS.[5]

    2. EMBASSY POUCHING MATERIALS AND COPY OF NOTE TO EUR/SOV UNDER REGISTRY NO. 3222092.

    3. WITH INFORMATION PROVIDED ON HAZNERS, MFA HAS NOW SENT REPLIES IN 20 CASES OF 29 REQUESTED BY DEPARTMENT.

    MATLOCK

At the very least, the above trail points to incredible naïveté at the INS:

  • Believing its list of names was from "western" sources — This is akin to European Union regulations which brand country of origin according to country of export. So, butter from Spanish cows grazing Spanish grass sent to Ireland for packaging and export becomes (premium) "IRISH BUTTER." That the last Nazi-hunter holding the list was "western" indicates nothing of the list's true origin and confers no legitimacy.
  • Believing anything the Soviets had to offer — Considering that the Soviets were the perennial champions at hard-ball diplomatic "linkage"—never giving anything without getting something in return—why would anyone believe the Soviets would freely provide evidence for U.S. authorities and not expect something back? Of course they expected something, per the Soviet Foreign Ministry's grousing that the INS wasn't going to inflict more severe punishment on the KGB's victims. We can't begin to imagine the Kremlin's utter delight at Elizabeth Holtzman's declaration that "all Latvians are Nazis."

Having gathered their Soviet-fabricated evidence believing it to be genuine, the INS now went in search of witnesses to corroborate the charges against Hāzners.


[1]U.S. State Department short-hand for Foreign Office
[2]Refers to Germany’s Central Office of the State Justice Administrations for the Investigation of National Socialist Crimes located in Ludwigsburg.
[3]Regarding Detlavs evidence
[4]"Hāzners" transliterated into Russian is "Хазнерс." However, in transliterating back to English, both "Hazners" and "Khazners" are valid. This means that any materials quoting "Khazners" are Soviet fabrications created by individuals with no connection to Hāzners or to actual records concerning him.
[5]REFTEL is State Department nomenclature for Reference Telegram.

Updated: May, 2017

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