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B’nai Brith Pleased After Declassification of Report on Canada’s Nazi Past

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Graphic of Justice Deschênes with War Criminals Report

February 1, 2024

OTTAWA – B’nai Brith is pleased that our advocacy has finally led Canada to declassify a report detailing the extent to which Nazi war criminals settled in this country after World War II.

This uncomfortable chapter in Canadian history resurfaced in September, 2023, after Parliament celebrated a 98-year-old former member of the Nazi Waffen SS. Following this outrage, B’nai Brith reiterated its longstanding call for the Government to release all Holocaust-related records.

Earlier Thursday, the Honourable Marc Miller, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, announced the release of a more complete version of the Rodal Report, a document originally prepared by historian Alti Rodal as part of the 1985-1986 Commission of Inquiry on War Criminals in Canada (the Deschênes Commission) – Canada’s only official inquiry into Canada’s Nazi past.

Rodal’s work, largely based on materials that are still classified, was the first to hint at the extent to which Canada provided a safe haven to former Nazis during the Cold War.

B’nai Brith Canada has been advocating for the release of the entirety of the report of the Deschênes Commission’s findings since the 1980s, when our senior legal counsel, David Matas, represented the organization before the Commission. Ever since, Matas and B’nai Brith have been lobbying for the public release of the totality of the inquiry’s report.

“We welcome this almost complete disclosure of the Rodal Report,” Matas said Thursday. “It is now close to 79 years since World War II and more than 37 years since the completion of the Rodal Report. Yet, in light of ongoing mass atrocities in many locations on this planet, and the efforts of many perpetrators to seek a haven in Canada, this Report has contemporary relevance.

“We cannot learn from the past unless we know the past. The almost complete disclosure of the Rodal Report is an important step in coming to grips with our past and applying its lessons for the present.

“We look forward to continuing and ultimately completing disclosure of the Rodal Report, the Deschênes Report Part II and the Government of Canada Nazi war crimes files.”

Within the past year, B’nai Brith Canada filed several Access to Information and Privacy (ATIP) requests, which the Government repeatedly declined. Lawyers David Rosenfeld, Michael Wenig and Rachel Silber – members of B’nai Brith’s Matas Law Society (MLS) – have provided valuable assistance to our campaign to correct this historic wrong.

Following the Parliament debacle this past fall, several academics, scholars, and leading community organizations signed letters of support for, or endorsed, our ongoing national campaign to unseal Canada’s secret Nazi records. The newly released portions of Rodal’s study will help to complete the picture, but there is still much to be done to come to grips with our nation’s Nazi past.

“This is an important first step towards full public accountability,” said David Granovsky, B’nai Brith Canada’s Director of Government Relations. “We thank Minister Miller and look forward to continuing to work with the Government to declassify all Holocaust-related archival materials.”