Nazi hunter blasts government

Canadian Jewish News
The Editor:

Re: "Nazi hunter blasts government, community for inaction," Janice Arnold, The Canadian Jewish News, May 31, 2001.

Despite numerous allusions to crimes and criminals, nowhere does Janice Arnold remind her readers that Nazi hunter Steven Rambam has a criminal record as a convicted felon. I refer, of course, to a time in the 1980s when Rambam was affiliated with the terrorist Jewish Defence League. [1] Her omission of such facts I consider telltale of bad faith.

During the 1990s, Rambam had worked in tandem with Bernie Farber and the Canadian Jewish Congress to set up a snitch line to help spur the prosecution of alleged Nazi war criminals and their collaborators. [2] More recently, he networked with onetime SS officer Albert Lallier to convict Julius Viel.

According to Arnold, Lallier informed an audience of high school students "he was forced to join the SS in his native Hungary, under threat of being shot." That is an alibi that Bernie Farber and the CJC totally reject. They believe no one was forced to join the SS to serve the Nazis, that all had a choice.

As I write, the CJC is actively lobbying the government to have both Helmut Oberlander and Wasyl Odynsky deported as Nazi collaborators. Bernie Farber: "Men such as Odynsky and Oberlander were enablers of the greatest crimes in recorded history. And they were accessories who had a choice." [3]

But Albert Lallier was also one of the "enablers" and "accessories," yet here we see him ascribed a kind of moral authority. Nor is there any sign the CJC is lobbying to likewise have Lallier denaturalized and deported. Here the bad faith intersects with irony.


1. "JDL is the second most active terrorist group, FBI says," Orange County Register (Santa Ana), November 19, 1985; Robert I. Friendman, "Nice Jewish Boys with Bombs: The Return of the JDL," Village Vouce (New York), May 6, 1986, pp. 21-22.

2. Stephen Bindman, "Nazi snitch line divides Jews," Calgary Herald, March 24, 1997.

3. Bernie Farber, "Cogs in the murder-machine," Calgary Sun, April 29, 2001, p. 8.

Sincerely yours,

Orest Slepokura
Strathmore AB

c. Janice Arnold, et al.

The Canadian Jewish News | May 31, 2001

Nazi hunter blasts government, commumity for inaction

By JANICE ARNOLD, Staff Reporter

MONTREAL - New York private investigator Steven Rambam says he is ready to abandon his seven-year hunt for Nazi war criminals in Canada because of the lack of response from the RCMP, the federal government and especially the Jewish community.

Rambam, who went undercover in 1996 to obtain taped confessions from what he describes as mass killers of Jews during World War II who live openly in Canada, said unless there is significant movement on three files he turned over to Montreal MP Irwin Cotler, "it is pointless for me to continue. I'm banging my head against a brick wall."

Rambam expressed his frustration to high school students at Vincent Massey Collegiate in Rosemont, where he was invited to speak along with Adalbert Lallier, the former Waffen SS member and retired Concordia University professor whose testimony led to the conviction in April of Julius Viel for the wartime murder of seven Jews, by a German court.

It was the first time the two had appeared together publicly since they met three years ago, when Lallier responded to Rambam's appeal for witnesses of Nazi crimes to come forward.

"More than 1,000 heavy lifters of the Holocaust, those who killed Jews with their own hands, were let into Canada after the war. At least 500 of them are still alive, Canada has become an old-age home for Nazi war criminals. The lesson is that if you killed Jews, you have nothing to fear living here," Rambam said.

"There has been a very cynical decision by the government not to prosecute because politically it is smarter to let things die down, not to anger certain ethnic groups.

"But what's most dispiriting to me is how little the Jewish community gives a damn. The silence has been deafening."

The three files he gave Cotler included those on two men from whom Rambam says he obtained taped confessions, while posing as "Professor Romano" doing historical research. He named them and gave their addresses.

They are among the "dozens of files" Rambam submitted to the RCMP in 1997, on which no action was taken. One man living in Burlington, Ont., was a member of a Lithuanian unit involved in the killing of Jewish civilians who was stripped of his U.S. citizenship and deported in 1984. Rambam said the man has been living undisturbed in Canada, even though the FBI gave the RCMP the file on his case 16 years ago.

The second man, who lives in Scarborough, Ont., was also a member of a Lithuanian unit involved in rounding up and shooting Jews.

"These cases just need to be polished up to be presented to the justice ministry for prosecution. It defies logic that they have not been brought up before now. If there was the will to go after them, it would be a slam-dunk," Rambam said.

Details of the third file were kept confidential by Rambam. He did not meet that suspect and described the information as "raw" and obtained from investigators in other countries.

In total, Rambam said he interviewed 62 people in Canada he considers guilty of Nazi war crimes, some of whom gave him detailed accounts of what they did.

"The Canadian government is fooling you, lying to you, when it says it is zealously pursuing war criminals," he said.

Rambam said he and his company were not hired by anyone to investigate war criminals and is out-of-pocket $500,000 for the work, including $50,000 on the Viel trial alone.

Although Rambam co-operated with Canadian Jewish Congress in the late '90s in publicizing the war criminal issue, "the only honorarium I received was $300 for a speaking fee and I did not receive a penny from any other Jewish organization."

Admitting his aggressive American style may not be the Canadian way, Rambam nevertheless said he is astounded by the non-reaction of the Jewish community here.

"It should be hammering away at the government incessantly. I had expected an uproar. I cannot understand why there are not rallies and demonstrations in front of Parliament," he said.

Rambam also complained that the Jewish community has not shown sufficient gratitude to Lallier, 75, whose testimony directly resulted in the arrest and conviction of Viel, his former commanding officer. It was the first successful war crimes prosecution in Germany in eight years.

"This is an exemplary individual who never committed a crime. He had no obligation to come forward.

"He has received hundreds of death threats, and needed armed bodyguards. His life was turned upside down. He made a tremendous sacrifice."

Rambam said before Lallier was accepted as a witness, his past was cleared by intelligence agencies in Canada, the United States, Israel and Germany.

That background check did not spare Lallier from being accused by Viel's lawyer, who said that his motivation in testifying against Viel was to avoid being investigated himself for wrongdoing. The defence alleged that Lallier came forward at a time when CJC was putting a great deal of pressure on the Canadian government to take action against war criminals living here.

"Prof. Lallier came forward only out of conscience, not as a trade-off to hide something that he did," Rambam affirmed.

Lallier himself said the accusation is "a complete lie. It's totally false that I took some sort of pre-emptive strike by finding somebody else to accuse."

Lallier, who emigrated to Canada 50 years ago, said he was told by "a high-ranking" person in government that "if we had anything on you, we would have gone after you."

He told the students he was about their age when he was forced to join the SS in his native Hungary, under threat of being shot.

"But by joining I was given a chance to survive and bear witness to a ghastly murder of unarmed, starved Jews," Lallier said.

He said his conscience tortured him for decades, but thought there was nothing he could do because he believed Viel had not survived the war.

When Rambam came to Montreal with his high-profile campaign, Lallier asked him if he could find out if Viel was still alive.

"He said give me three days. He found him alive in Germany, retired and quite pleased with himself," Lallier related.

Lallier admitted he then had to struggle with whether to break the oath of fealty he had made as an SS officer-in-training. "I decided that on behalf of humanity my highest allegiance is to the process of natural justice, not to Hitler."

Lallier read out to the students the names of the seven Jews killed on that March day in 1945.

"All my life I had wanted to know the names of those I saw killed. Now every morning when I get up, I bow to these seven because they have become persons to me."

"Forever I will remember them, and through them remember the Holocaust as a tragedy of six million persons."

He said he was persuaded to come out of seclusion to speak to students because "as a teacher, I feel a responsibility to counter the false claims made by the Holocaust deniers. I'm a personal witness and I'm willing to stand up against that lie."