CASE FILE

Vilis Arveds HāznersPress Coverage

Justice Lost

Albany Student Press, May 6, 1980
by Joel Rosenfeld, letter to the editor
Original at Albany SUNY Library, retrieved 11-January-2015

To the Editor:

I would like to bring to the attention of the student body for the second time this year, the case of Vilis Hazners, the alleged Nazi accused of deporting, beating, and murdering Jews and in one instance forcing 200 Jews into a synagogue and lighting it on fire. This same Vilis Hazners, on February 27, 1980, was acquitted of all of the above. Acquitted! Judge Anthony DeGaeto, after deliberating for nine long months, acquitted alleged Nazi Vilis Hazners because the United States Government "failed to prove that the Dresden resident was a Nazi." (Knickerbocker News, March 21, 1980.)

I have serious questions about this "acquittal." How could DeGaeto ignore the testimony of seven witnesses brought from Israel to Albany who testified that Hazners had ordered and had participated in the beating and murder of Jews? How could DeGaeto ignore a picture of Hazners in a Latvian S.A. uniform? Why did DeGaeto refuse to deport Haznus [sic.] even after the US Government proved Hazners had entered the US illegally In 1956 by failing to disclose his participation in Nazi activities? Lastly, why did the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) release the decision of the case in Baltimore Md., but not in Albany where the hearings in the case were conducted for two and a half years? (The acquittal decision came to light only after an investigative inquiry be [sic.] the Knickerbocker News.) These questions must be answered before we can even think of acquitting Hazners.

To those of you who thought that the vigil in front of Hazners' house was a "usurpation of justice," you can clearly see by the outcome of the hearings that you were wrong. We at the vigil were trying to make people aware that Nazis like Hazners are free and going unpunished in the United States of America. It is very ironic that the US in which many victims of the Holocaust now reside, harbors over 400 Nazis and is the third largest haven for Nazis in the world. It is up to us, the student body, Jews and non-Jews alike, to confront the Nazis and demand that they be punished. Witnesses are dying of old age and Nazis are dying in freedom, in America. We must act now! Because Vilis Hazners is laughing. And when people like Hazners laugh, humanity cries.

Am Yisrael Chai[1]
Joel Rosenfeld

Analysis

Returning to the epicenter of anti-Hāzners activism, this letter to the editor is representative of the general reaction of the Jewish establishment to Hāzners' acquittal: that the proceedings were bogus and that Hāzners owes his acquittal to incompetence in the ranks of the authorities, not to his innocence. If anything, Hāzners is even more reviled, as the (no less) guilty now mocks with impunity those who put their trust in the justice system.

“Nazis like Hazners”

One cannot fault Rosenfeld for his outrage or indignation. Surely he was unaware of the origins of the accusations against Hāzners. Unaware that the INS went hunting for witnesses. Unaware that the Israeli and Soviet authorities were more than happy to oblige with individuals coached to finger Hāzners.

That multiple witnesses testified against Hāzners to no effect defied comprehension was because Hāzners' guilt was sacrosanct—and faith exists beyond what can, and cannot, be proven. Indeed, Bernhard Press' vilification of Hāzners quoted at the outset of our discussion of this case demonstrates the power of that faith, a faith impervious to facts, impenetrable to the possibility of Hāzners' innocence.


[1]"The Nation of Israel Lives"

Updated: October, 2016

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