Vilis Arveds HāznersPress Coverage
War Criminal Faces Deportation
ALBANY, N.Y. — (JTA) — Vilis A. Hazners, 71, a nationally prominent Latvian emigre, denied in a U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) court here that he committed war crimes while an officer in the Nazi-backed Latvian SS Legion during World War II.
Hazners, who is facing deportation proceedings, has been accused of responsibility for the deaths of an estimated several hundred to 1,000 Jews in Riga, Latvia, in July, 1941, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency was informed by Frederic U. Dicker, a reporter for the Albany Times-Union who first wrote an expose on Hazners in the newspaper last November.
HAZNERS, who lives in Dresden, N.Y., is president of the Committee tor a Free Latvia and made broadcasts for the Voice of America in the 1960s, Dicker told the JTA.
He is charged with entering the U.S. from Germany in 1956 in violation of the anti-war crimes proviso of the Refugee Relief Act of 1953. He was served with a deportation notice on Jan. 28.
Dicker, in his investigative report last November, wrote that the accusations against Hazners came from official present-day Latvian publications and from Dr. Gertrude Schneider, a City University of New York professor, Latvian history scholar, survivor of the Riga ghetto and a naturalized U.S. citizen.
DURING a visit to Latvia in 1971, Schneider, who had been deported from her native Austria to Latvia by the Nazis at the beginning of World War II. recalled a discussion with the Latvian culture minister in which he spoke of alleged atrocities committed during the war by persons now living in the U.S. and mentioned Hazners.
THE DEPORTATION notice states that Hazners participated “in the collection of a group of Jews in Riga and detaining them in the Big Synagogue (Choral Synagogue) on Gogol Street, Riga, after which said synagogue was set afire and the detained Jews burned to death therein.”
The report's all Waffen-SS are criminals bias is immediately apparent. "Nazi-backed" is easily inferred as willing Holocaust collaboration organized by the Latvians themselves with the Nazis in a supporting role.
The origins of the slanderous charges against Hāzners are revealed:
- "official Latvian publications" — these would have prominently featured the fictional KGB propaganda tome, Daugavas Vanagi, Who Are They?, attributed to E. Avotins, J. Dzirkalis, and V. Petersons, pen names of Nazi-cum-Soviet propagandist Paulis Ducmanis and his nameless KGB co-authors;
- specific mention of Hāzners by a Soviet "minister" — then KGB Lieutenant Imants Lešinskis—who defected to the U.S. in 1978 and revealed the KGB plot against Hāzners and other Latvians—posing as the Latvian "Minister of Culture", wined and dined Dr. Gertrude Schneider at a soirée, even danced with her, then fed her KGB materials including Daugavas Vanagi, Who Are They? on Latvian Nazis—purported to be lists of war criminals (other pamphlets even included home addresses) but in reality a Soviet hit-list to take out the leadership of Khrushchev's thorniest nationalities. Schneider, a survivor of the Holocaust in Latvia, proved the most fertile of ground for the KGB. She returned home fully invested in pursuing the KGB's hit list, an investing which, as Hāzners case and ultimate vindication revealed, infected the Jewish establishment, Israeli government, the U.S. Congress, and the U.S. Justice Department.
Efraim Zuroff, now a perennial protester at Latvian Legion commemorations, still describes Daugavas Vanagi, Who Are They? not as KGB lies, but as a Soviet publication "designed to embarrass Western democracies that had admitted Nazi war criminals." (Operation Last Chance: One Man's Quest to Bring Nazi Criminals to Justice, 2009, page 59.) There is no recognition by Zuroff that he has wronged even one innocent through his blinded zeal. Indeed, Zuroff has doubled down, maintaining the Holocaust succeeded only because of the "fanatical support" of the local populace all across Eastern Europe.
Updated: October, 2016
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