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January 04, 1991 - Image 22

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1991-01-04

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THE

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things. They are cutting corners because they know
Congress won't touch them."
OSI has come under particularly strong criticism
from emigre groups for its procedures and tactics
in the case of John Demjanjuk, the Ukrainian im-
migrant and retired Cleveland auto worker con-
victed in Israel of operating gas ovens at Treblinka.
Although he refuses to discuss the Demjanjuk case
in detail, Mr. Sher rejects the emigre group's
charges, and argues that, if anything, OSI defen-
dants have enjoyed greater safeguards because of
the scrutiny both the defense and prosecution have
brought to the cases.

Soviet Help

0

SI defendants are usually charged with lying
to immigration officials about their wartime
involvement with Nazi groups when they ap-
plied for visas to live in the United States. OSI has
also been required by the courts to prove the defen-
dants carried out acts of persecution.
The evidence used by OSI comes from a variety
of sources, including testimony from survivors and
the defendants themselves, archives of the U.S. and
foreign governments, and captured Nazi
documents. 1b carry out the task of sifting through
this evidence and interviewing sources, OSI has a
staff of three dozen lawyers, investigators and
historians.
Nazi records have been particularly helpful to
OSI. Despite the horrors they were perpetrating,
the German administrators of the death camps
kept amazingly detailed accounts of events and per-
sonnel. OSI has also developed lists of the members
of local police forces who participated in killings
in Nazi-occupied Lithuania and other East Euro-
pean nations.
But a substantial portion of the evidence used
by OSI originates from what Ms. Huntwork of
Phoenix calls the "tainted hands" of the Soviet
Union. Indeed, the 1980 cooperative arrangement
between Moscow and Washington for prosecution
of alleged Nazi criminals, negotiated at a time of
deteriorating U.S. -Soviet relations, is one of the
more intriguing footnotes to the Cold War.
Ronald Reagan, elected president later in the year,
declared shortly after taking office that the Soviets
were liars and cheats, but under his administration
the Nazi-hunting agreement flourished.
Two naturalized Americans were deported to the
Soviet Union by OSI. Feodor Federenko, a Ukra-
Man accused of persecuting Jews at the Treblinka
camp, was deported to the Soviet Union in 1984.
He was convicted by a Soviet court and executed
in 1987.
Karl Linnas, an Estonian immigrant charged
with the murder of civilians at a concentration
camp near Tartu, Estonia, was handed over to
Moscow in 1987. Linnas had been tried, convicted
and sentenced to death in abstentia by a Soviet
court in 1962. But before the Soviets could execute
Linnas, he died in a Leningrad hospital.
A third naturalized American, Andrij a Ar-
tukovic, was accused of leading the persecution of
Jews and Serbs while serving as the Nazi puppet
minister of the interior for Croatia, in Yugoslavia.

22

FRIDAY, JANUARY 4, 1991

He was extradited to Yugoslavia in 1986 and
sentenced to death, but he died before the sentence
was carried out.
In their attacks on OSI for its cooperation with
Communist officials, emigre groups cite a report
in the Los Angeles Times in 1986, which said that
a Soviet official approached American diplomats
in Moscow and warned them that Soviet witnesses
had been coached intensively before they were in-
terviewed by OSI prosecutors.
"Don't you people know that we remember what
we are told to remember, that we say what we are
told to say?" the Soviet informant was quoted as
saying. He added that the Soviet motive was to
smear emigre groups in the United States — who
agitate against Soviet control of their homelands
— as riddled with Nazis.
In an interview with the Times, the OSI's Neil
Sher dismissed the Soviet informant, who he says
presented "no hard evidence about anything." Mr.
Sher argued that it doesn't make sense for the
Soviets to risk their reputation by tampering with
the evidence, and that besides, if they had, it would
have been exposed by the scrutiny of American
authorities.

Patience T. Huntwork:
The Phoenix attorney is
critical of OSI methods.

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