CASE FILE

Vilis Arveds HāznersPress Coverage

Nazi Deportation Hearing To be Discontinued[1]

Jewish Floridian, June 15, 1979
By Rochelle Wolk, JTA
Original available at University of Florida Digital Collections, George A. Smathers Libraries, retrieved 10-January-2016

ALBANY. N.Y., — (JTA) — The deportation hearing of Vilis A. Hazners of Dresden, New York, accused of Nazi atrocities against the Jews of Riga, Latvia during World War II. will not be continued.

After several postponements to accommodate a government witness who is a West German prosecutor and expert on Latvian war crimes, the government and defense attorneys have agreed to a stipulation to accept a deposition from this witness. Instead of a public hearing, the government now has 30 days to file its final briefs before Judge Anthony DeGaeto. Following that. Ivars Berzins, Hazners attorney, will also be given 30 days to respond.

AFTER JUDGE DeGaeto reads both briefs, his decision should be expected in two to six months, according to government officials. Court proceedings against Hazners began in Albany in January 1977, and were scheduled to resume last Apr. 4, then May 17, before announcement of the completion.

Rabbi Paul Silton, co-chairman of the Capital District Ad Hoc Committee on Justice for Nazi War Criminals, said that the government's decision to complete the case without further public hearings will cause much of the interest that has been generated by the Hazners case to be "swept under the rug.

"In the course of my 2½-year involvement with this issue," he said, "I've consistently been told by government officials, including Martin Mendelsohn, now deputy director of the Justice Department's revamped unit on Nazi war criminals, that public hearings serve the important purpose of educating people about the presence of these alleged murderers here, and now we've lost this opportunity."

SILTON SAID that "many attorneys have told me that the force of a deposition, as compared to the appearance of a witness, is much less effective. After visiting Washington. D.C., on May 3 to discuss the issue of Nazi war criminals with the office of President Carter's Commission on the Holocaust and high government officials in the White House and the Justice Department, I had some hope that the transfer of the Special Litigation Unit on Nazi War Criminals from Immigration and Naturalization Service to the Criminal Division of the Justice Department would mean progress."

Analysis

We have recounted elsewhere Silton's obsession with Hāzners, from showing up on his doorstep with his DEATH TO HAZNERS T-shirt wearing coterie to threatening other means of justice should the courts fail.

Owing to the deposition still to come, the proceedings against Hāzners were still a work in progress at this point. We will revisit Silton—as one of the central protagonists to this KGB-inspired drama—again upon the eventual dismissal of Hāzners' INS case and OSI appeal.

We laud Silton's efforts to root our Nazis, however, noble actions lose their moral legitimacy when they result in the persecution of innocent individuals.


[1]The article is archived on the JTA web site with an alternate title: "Rabbi Attacks Ending of Public Hearing for Accused War Criminal", at www.jta.org/1979/06/06/archive/rabbi-attacks-ending-of-public-hearing-for-accused-war-criminal, retrieved 11-January-2016.

Updated: October, 2016

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