FSWC Welcomes Long-Awaited Further Declassification of Report on Nazi War Criminals in Canada

February 2, 2024

News Release

< Back to News Room

Toronto (February 2, 2024) – Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center (FSWC) is pleased to see the Government of Canada finally declassify a more complete version of a report that details the presence of Nazi war criminals in Canada after the Second World War who played a role in the Holocaust.

Yesterday, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Marc Miller announced the release of some, but not all, previously classified details in the Rodal Report, which was originally prepared in support of the Commission of Inquiry on War Criminals in Canada established in 1985, otherwise known as the Deschênes Commission.

The report provides insight into Canada’s shameful history of admitting many former Nazis and their collaborators to the country, almost all of whom lived out their lives in Canada undisturbed, without ever having to face justice. For decades, Canada’s Jewish community and others have called for the release of this information to bring to light how this was allowed to happen.

“The now-unredacted details in the Rodal Report provide important context to the circumstances surrounding Canada's acceptance of Nazi war criminals,” said FSWC Director of Allyship and Community Engagement Dan Panneton. “While long overdue, this is an important step by the Canadian government in transparency and coming to grips with the country’s dark history of providing a safe haven to former Nazis.”

The now-unredacted sections of the Rodal Report reveal that Pierre Trudeau, who served as Canada’s justice minister and subsequently prime minister, opposed the citizenship revocation and deportation of individuals with Nazi pasts, out of concern over potential domestic political repercussions. Most notably, in the 1960s, he opposed revoking the citizenship of a naturalized Canadian suspected of murdering more than 5,000 Jews while serving as a firing squad captain in Latvia.

The declassification comes more than four months after a Ukrainian veteran who served in a Nazi Waffen-SS military unit, Yaroslav Hunka, received a standing ovation in the House of Commons, sparking outrage and ultimately leading to then-Speaker of the House Anthony Rota to step down over his decision to invite the individual to Parliament.

FSWC immediately condemned this nationally damaging oversight, calling for renewed attention to declassifying files related to the Deschênes Commission.

“The Hunka affair of last September clearly demonstrated how post-war justice was far more limited than many would assume, and Canadians deserve to know the political calculations and justifications that led to war criminals being allowed to emigrate and build lives here,” said Panneton. “The federal government must continue to release files related to the 1985-6 Commission of Inquiry on War Criminals in Canada.”