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March 19, 1993 - Image 60

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1993-03-19

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Icelanders Angry
With Israeli Accusers

Confronted with evidence that a popular
citizen was a Nazi war criminal, Icelanders
have vented their anger at the man's Israeli
accusers.

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eykjavik, Iceland —
During. these coldest
months of the year,
the extraordinary case
of an • alleged Nazi war
criminal who has been living
in this country for many years
has generated a good bit of
heat, and shed some light on
public attitudes toward past
tragedies.
So far, the public reaction
has been anger at the Simon
Wiesenthal Center in
Jerusalem for reviving the
case against a popular,
naturalized Icelander. Here
are the facts.
Evald Mikson, 81, an
alleged Estonian war
criminal and naturalized
Icelander, was an officer of
the nationalist "Omakaitse"
vigilante forces and later
deputy chief of the Estonian
Political Police- during
World War II. He has been
accused of participation in
Nazi war crimes, including
ordering the arrest and mass
murder of Jews. Mikson,
who is highly regarded here
for his contributions to
Icelandic sports, has
vehemently denied the

charges, claiming that
they are the result of a
Jewish communist con-
spiracy originating in the
complicated circumstances
of early war Estonian poli-
tics.

During his visit to Israel in
February last year, Icelandic
Prime Minister David Odd-
sson was presented a letter
and supporting documents
alleging Mikson's crimes by
Efraim Zuroff, director of the
Simon Wiesenthal • Center's
Israel Office. The letter de-
scribed Mikson's alleged ac-
tivities as a Gestapo in-
vestigator in the Tartu con-
centration camp in Southern
Estonia, his participation in
mass murder, rape, and tor-
turing of civilians, and his
direct role in the extermina-
tion of Jews in the Estonian
capital of Tallinn.
Mr. Zuroff asked that the
Icelandic government seek
to obtain further evidence
from Estonian archives and
take necessary measures to
bring Mikson to justice.

11 /f • 1

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Sweden in 1944, whereupon
he was arrested and in-
vestigated for war crimes
allegations. The investiga-
tion was inconclusive, but
Mikson was expelled. De-
nied an entry visa to the
United States on grounds of
Nazi collaboration, Mikson
was on his way to Venezuela
when his ship stranded on
the south coast of Iceland in
1946.
Mikson, known in Iceland .
as Edvald Hinriksson, work-
ed as a sports trainer and
ran a successful sauna, his
clients including the
nation's top athletes as well
as some of the country's
leading politicians. Mikson
has been called the "father
of Icelandic basketball" for
his leadership in the field.
His two sons are popular
soccer players.
In a country with a popula-
tion of 260,000, the Estonian
was well known as a fierce

The letter
described
Mikson's alleged
activities.

anti-communist. He never
concealed his identity, and
has written extensively
about Soviet atrocities in
Estonia.
Allegations of Mikson's
war crimes first surfaced
following a 1961 Tallinn in-
vestigation and trial of
several of his wartime col-
leagues. Estonian au-
thorities concluded at the
time that Mikson had per-
sonally murdered 30 people.
and had ordered the execu-
tion of 150.
This information found its
way into a left-wing Icelan-
dic newspaper via its
'Moscow correspondent. It
was immediately dismissed
by mainstream media as
KGB disinformation and
Justice Minister Bjarni
Benediktsson, a friend and
regular sauna customer of
Mikson's, refused to consider
the charges.
The reaction was quite

T7/7

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