Wasyl Odynsky: End his Victimization

April 11, 2001

Dear Minister Caplan:

You may already be aware of the recent immigration proceedings involving Mr. Wasyl Odynsky. Mr. Odynsky is a 77-year old Canadian citizen born in Ukraine, now residing in Ontario. He obtained his citizenship after the events of World War II shattered his life. The validity of his citizenship is currently being questioned based on events, which occurred during the war, prior to his arrival in Canada. Sadly, these events were beyond his control as confirmed by the Federal Court of Canada. The fate of this elderly Canadian's future is now before you.

During World War II, Ukraine suffered the greatest number of casualties of any country. Both Josef Stalin and Adolf Hitler terrorized the country and its people. Upon Germany's invasion of Ukraine, Stalin initiated a "scorched earth" policy, intending to devastate the land and render it useless to the advancing German forces. Hitler ultimately wanted Ukraine to be the Lebensraum (living space) for the German people. He intended for German colonies to eventually displace its Ukrainian ethnic population. Some 28,000 Ukrainian villages were destroyed during the German occupation.

Those who survived the Axis onslaught were often turned into slave labourers. According to the Nuremberg Trial of War Criminals in 1945, there were 5,000,000 people forced into slave labour by the Nazi German government. Ukraine's official statistics count 2.5 million of its citizens forced into slave labour. By accounting for half of this total number, Ukrainians represented the single largest national group subjected to forced labour. Countless others were considered Untermenschen (sub-humans) and exterminated by the Germans.

This was the Ukraine in which Wasyl Odynsky was raised. Arrested at 19 years of age by the Nazis, he was forcibly conscripted into the German auxiliary to become a guard at a labour camp. Those who resisted were shot. In fact, this was the last he saw of his parents. Imagine the sorrow he felt as a young man relegated to guard factory slaves under threat of death.

In 1949, along with many hundreds of thousands of Europeans, Mr. Odynsky immigrated to Canada and settled in Ontario. People such as himself helped power Canada's post-war economic boom. Fifty years later, the Canadian Justice department initiated proceedings against him, alleging that he misrepresented himself upon immigrating to Canada. Just over three years later, on March 2, 2001, and after 13 nerve-wracking postponements, Justice Andrew MacKay, of the Federal Court of Canada, found, to no surprise, that Wasyl Odynsky was not a Nazi and not a war criminal. The judge even found that Wasyl has been nothing less than a good citizen for the last 52 years.

Despite these extenuating circumstances and significant findings, the judge ruled that it was "more probable than not that Mr. Odynsky did not truthfully answer questions that were put to him concerning his wartime experience." This leads to the ultimate question of the legitimacy of this gentleman's citizenship. Note that Justice MacKay's ruling is not based on evidence, which proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that Mr. Odynsky lied in order to gain entry into Canada. Now this man's future rests precariously on an interpretation of probabilities. Mr. Odynsky has maintained his assertion that he was never asked questions about his involuntary service as a member of an auxiliary guard unit in Nazi-occupied Ukraine nor has any documentation shown the contrary.

Despite the judges clear rulings that Wasyl was not a Nazi or war criminal, the Canadian media still incorrectly reported the results of this case. The Globe and Mail, for example, in its article Judge Won't Bloc Deportation of Ex-Nazi, or The Toronto Star's Ex-Nazi Lied to Live Here, Judge Rules, or The Toronto Sun's Feds set to boot 77-year-old Nazi, further defamed the Odynsky family.

An innocent man and his family have already been subjected to three years of emotional and financial trauma. Mr. Odynsky is an unfortunate target of this country's zealous attempt to bring alleged war criminals to justice in Canada. You now find yourself in the unique position of correcting the injustices already brought upon this man. Your review of the facts surrounding this case, rather than the misconceptions will lead you to conclude that Mr. Odynsky is nothing less than an outstanding Canadian. I urge you to cease these proceedings and recommend to Cabinet that this 77-year old gentleman maintain his Canadian citizenship.

Andre Sochaniwsky