Commission of Inquiry on War Criminals fonds [textual record]
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Commission of Inquiry on War Criminals fonds [textual record]
- Hierarchical level:
- R1079-0-3-E, RG33-144
- Type of material:
- Textual material
- Found in:
- Archives / Collections and Fonds
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This link identifies the web page describing this particular record. Unlike the temporary link in your browser, this link will allow you to access, and reference, this page in the future. To link to this descriptive record, copy and paste the URL where ever needed (wiki, blog, document).http://central.bac-lac.gc.ca/.redirect?app=fonandcol&id=135&lang=eng
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- Place of creation:
- No place, unknown, or undetermined
- 0.1 m of textual records
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- Scope and content:
Fonds consists of eight research studies prepared at the request of the commission.
- Biography/Administrative history:
Canada. Commission of Inquiry on War Criminals : The Commission of Inquiry on War Criminals was established under Order in Council PC 348, 7 February 1985, under Part I of the Inquiries Act (RSC, 1970, c.I-13) and on the recommendation of the Prime Minister. The French text of this Order in Council was revoked by Order in Council P.C. 635, 28 February 1985 and a new version approved. Moreover, the date for the submission of the commissioner's report to the Governor in Council was changed by Orders in Council: PC 3642, 12 December 1985; PC 1333, 5 June 1986; and PC 2255, 30 September 1986. The Commission was mandated to conduct such investigations regarding alleged war criminals in Canada, including whether any such persons are now resident in Canada and when and how they obtained entry to Canada as in the opinion of the Commissioner are necessary in order to enable him to report to the Governor in Council his recommendations and advice relating to what further action might be taken in Canada to bring to justice such alleged war criminals who might be residing within Canada, including recommendations as to what legal means are now available to bring to justice any such persons in Canada or whether and what legislation might be adopted by the Parliament of Canada to ensure that war criminals are brought to justice and made to answer for their crimes. The commissioner was Jules Deschênes. The secretary was Karen D. Logan. Events leading up to the appointment of the Royal Commission on War Criminals, as summarized in the Deschênes report are as follows: "Shortly after World War II, trials were held in Europe for crimes committed [by Nazi war criminals] against members of the Canadian Armed Forces: four trials involving seven accused were held by the Canadian Forces; at least six other trials involving 28 accused were held by the British Forces on behalf of Canada. In 1948, the Overseas Reconstruction Committee of the British Cabinet decided "that no further trials of war criminals should be started after 31 August 1948." The British government explained its position as follows: "In our view, punishment of war criminals is more a matter of discouraging future generations than of meting out retribution to every guilty individual. Moreover, in view of future political developments in Germany envisaged by recent tripartite talks, we are convinced that it is now necessary to dispose of the past as soon as possible." The seven Dominions, as they were known: Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, India, Pakistan and Ceylon were consulted, and concurred with the British proposal. Consequently, there were no more prosecutions of war criminals in Canada until the 1980s when Robert Kaplan became Solicitor General. In May 1983, legal action was taken against Helmut Rauca, a former SS Officer, who was extradited from Canada to West Germany for war crimes but died in custody before his case came to trial. Then, on 20 December 1984, in a letter to Prime Minister Mulroney, Sol Littman, Canadian representative for the Simon Wiesenthal Centre for Holocaust Studies of Los Angeles, claimed that Josef Mengele an alleged Nazi War criminal (using the name Dr. Josef Menke), had "applied to the Canadian embassy in Buenos Aires for admission to Canada as a landed immigrant in late May or early June 1962." (It is interesting to note that the Deschênes Commission concluded that Littman's claims concerning Menegle were unfounded). Littman's called for "an immediate investigation". Then, on 23 January 1985, the New York Times published an article by Ralph Blumethal on the Mengele case based on information supplied by Littman. Just two weeks later, the Government of Canada appointed a commission of inquiry to determine whether or not Mengele "may have entered or attempted to enter Canada." To some, it appeared that the Government of Canada established the public inquiry on war criminals mainly as a result of Littman's charges. In his report on war criminals, Jules Deschênes wrote: "the sessional allegations concerning Dr. Mengele's connection with Canada were the straw that broke the camel's back: the matter had to be clarified once and for all." But the question of Mengele's alleged entry into Canada was only one of the subjects the government asked Deschênes to investigate and it was not the main focus of the inquiry. In addition, the inquiry was to determine whether any "other persons responsible for war crimes related to the activities of Nazi Germany during World War II (hereafter referred to as war criminals) are currently resident in Canada" and what can be done to bring them to Justice. David Matas has concluded: "No one factor can be identified as the springboard which launched the inquiry. Many elements contributed -- mounting pressure by concerned citizens, a flood of allegations against suspected individuals pouring in over recent years, the threat of neo-Nazism as it was exposed in the trials of Holocaust deniers Ernst Zundel in Ontario and high school teacher Jim Keegstra in Alberta. Information suggesting Joseph Mengele may have attempted to enter Canada was also a factor. Another element was the election of a new government, willing to confront publicly an issue that preceding governments had preferred to keep buried in back files" (see Commission of Inquiry on War Criminals, Report, Part I: Public, Honourable Jules Deschênes, Commissioner, Ottawa, Canada, 30 December 1986, Ottawa, Supply and Services Canada, 1986, pp. 25-33, 67-82 and 245; Order in Council P.C. 348, 7 February 1985 and David Matas, Justice Delayed: Nazi War Criminals in Canada, Toronto, Summerhill Press, 1987, pp. 151-162). Hearings of the commission were held in Montreal, Hull, Ottawa, Toronto and Winnipeg from 10 April to 6 December 1985. Additional hearings were held in Hull on 5 and 6 May 1986. RG33-144 General Inventory
- Finding aid:
(Electronic) Finding aid 33-147 is a typed file list. The finding aid is available as a PDF attached to this record. 33-147 PDF (90: Open)
- Additional information:
- General Note:
- The commission's report, dated 30 December 1986, was tabled in the House of Commons on 12 March 1987 as Sessional Paper no. 332-4/17, 1986-1988. The report was printed as: Commission of Inquiry on War Criminals, Report, Part 1: Public, Honourable Jules Deschênes, Commissioner, Ottawa, Canada, 30 December 1986, Ottawa, Supply and Services Canada, 1986, xi, 966 p., Chapters 8 and 9 of the report of the Deschênes Commission contain 822 opinions on individual cases. All of these opinions are included in the "public" version of the report but the wording of some of them was changed to reduce the possibility of identifying individuals., For more information about royal commissions, researchers should consult: Records of Federal Royal Commissions (RG 33) / James Murray Whalen. -- (General inventory series / Government Archives Division). -- Ottawa : National Archives of Canada, 1990).
- Source of title:
- Order in Council PC 348, 7 February 1985.
- No further accruals are expected.
- Related material:
See also: National Archives of Canada, National Archives Library, a severed version of a research study entitled Nazi War Criminals in Canada: The Historical and Policy Setting from the 1940s to the Present, prepared by Alti Rodal at the request of the Commission., National Archives of Canada, Paul Yuzyk Papers, MG 32, C 67, Vols. 63-68, transcripts of hearings of the Deschenes Commission, briefing notes, newspaper clippings, correspondence, submissions and related material on the subject of war crimes., The original records of the Deschênes Commission, including the original of the above research study by Rodal, were in the custody of the Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Section, Department of Justice, which was responsible for the prosecution, under the Criminal Code, of persons who are alleged to have committed such crimes. See the "War Crimes Section" series (MIKAN 4111925, R188-119-6-E) part of the Department of Justice fonds., Researchers may also consult the extensive bibliography which is contained in the report of the Commission of Inquiry on War Criminals.
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