Date: Thu, 11 Sep 97 23:00:56 CDT
From: Tom Burghardt <email@example.com>
Subject: ANTIFA INFO-BULLETIN, Neofascist 'Revival' f Cold War Nazis
How the Liberals sheltered Nazis
By Norm Dixon, in Green Left Weekly
11 September 1997
The return of Konrad Kalejs, an Australian citizen deported
from Canada as a World War II Nazi collaborator and leading
member of a death squad responsible for the slaughter of 20,000
people, starkly highlights the hypocrisy of the Coalition
In July, the Howard government sought to prevent former US
Black Panther militant Lorenzo Ervin visiting Australia because,
it claimed, he was "not of good character". Yet, as Kalejs'
arrival dramatically exposed, Coalition governments have for
decades sheltered Nazi collaborators, some accused of horrific
crimes. Many of them joined the Liberal Party and became
influential within it.
The respected Simon Wiesenthal Centre, which tracks down
Nazi fugitives, estimates that there could be as many as 400
Nazis in Australia who committed serious crimes during World War
Kalejs was a company commander in the security police after
Latvia's invasion by the Nazis in 1941. The squad, dubbed the
Arajs Kommando after its brutal leader, conducted a reign of
terror, raping, assaulting and massacring Jews, Roms (Gypsies),
Communists and partisans throughout Latvia and parts of Russia.
In just two days in 1941, 27,000 Jews from the Riga ghetto
were murdered. Kalejs was in charge of concentration camp guards
who brutalised, overworked and murdered inmates.
In November 1950, Kalejs arrived in Australia as a
"displaced person" (DP) and was placed in a position of authority
at the Bonegilla migrant camp near Wodonga. In 1957, he was
Journalist Mark Aarons, in his 1986 ABC radio documentaries
Nazis in Australia and his book Sanctuary (Mandarin, Melbourne,
1990), has outlined in detail how Australia became a refuge for
Nazi collaborators and criminals.
In 1945, DP camps in US- and British-controlled areas
contained not only hundreds of thousands of victims and war
refugees but also many thousands of central and eastern European
pro-Nazis, together with their leaders, who had fled the advance
of the Red Army.
Official policy was to arrest and return war criminals,
quislings (senior officials who helped the Nazis) and traitors
(non-officials who aided the Nazis) to their countries of origin.
These people were categorised as "black".
The overwhelming majority were genuine victims of Nazism or
refugees, classified "white". Only "whites" were eligible for
International Refugee Organisation (IRO) assistance to emigrate.
While publicly promising to return war criminals, quislings
and traitors against whom a case could be made, Britain and the
US laundered thousands of Nazis through the IRO screening system.
Many ex-Nazis gained positions in the IRO bureaucracy, assisting
their cohorts to emigrate.
The Allies progressively, and secretly, raised the level of
proof needed for deportation, so that by 1948 all but a handful
of Nazi collaborators had, in effect, been amnestied. The Cold
War had begun and yesterday's enemies were seen as today's
Between 1948 and 1951, 180,000 DPs resettled in Australia.
The Labor government's motivation was to overcome a serious
labour shortage. The economy needed unskilled workers,
tradespeople, technicians and scientists.
The Commonwealth Investigation Service (the predecessor of
ASIO) reported to the government that it had discovered telltale
scars beneath new arrivals' armpits where Nazi SS identification
tattoos had been removed.
Immigration minister Arthur Calwell described the CIS
reports as a "farrago of nonsense" and declared, "Hasty
conclusions as to the security risk of certain classes of
migrants ... do much harm not only to worthy people but to our
immigration plans". The clear message to Australian security and
immigration officials, in Europe and at home, was that detection
of former Nazis must take a back seat.
Complaints by newly arrived migrants, IRO officials aboard
Australia-bound ships, journalists and the Jewish community about
former Nazi collaborators being among the DPs, rampant anti-
Semitism, racism and open far-right political activity were
disregarded or the subject of superficial investigation.
The only rules rigorously applied were the Labor
government's decisions that no more than 25% of any nationality
arriving could be Jewish, and that mainly left-wing Spanish
anti-fascists be excluded.
The Menzies Liberal government, elected on December 10,
1949, was fired by a zeal to crush communism at home and abroad.
In 1950, it attempted to legislate to ban the Communist Party. In
1951, it narrowly lost a referendum to ban the CP. The Liberals
were not prepared to reveal former Nazis, who had now been
transformed into "anticommunists".
The first actions of the new immigration minister, Harold
Holt, set the pattern. Survivors in Australia of the Auschwitz
concentration camp discovered that Heinrich Brontschek, a
notorious member of the camp's collaborationist Jewish police,
had also entered as a DP. They charged that Brontschek was
responsible for many deaths and "vicious cruelty to internees".
The government refused to investigate the charges and
instead concentrated on a claim that Brontschek was wanted by the
Dutch government for war crimes. Satisfied that this was not the
case, Holt cleared Brontschek of all charges.
In case after case, the Menzies government and its security
officials ignored or minimised charges, bending over backwards to
clear suspected Nazis, often only on the basis of the accused's
own denial and claim to be "anticommunist". If those reporting
Nazis were considered leftists, it was enough to have the charges
dismissed without further investigation.
Even when the accused admitted collaboration, little was
done. Stanislaw Mozina confessed to being a volunteer for the
Domobrans, the SS-commanded home guard operating in Nazi-occupied
Slovenia. The Domobrans committed widespread atrocities.
The CIS cleared Mozina because he was definitely anti-Communist
and anti-Tito, and it is considered that he would have
joined any movement to "combat Communism".
While the Menzies government's stated policy in 1950 was
that "no person who had fought against the Allies would be
allowed to emigrate to Australia", a blind eye was turned to many
former Nazi collaborators. Persistent reports of open Nazi
activity in migrant camps were disregarded.
In 1950, the government of Yugoslavia asked Australia to
extradite Branislav Ivanovic. From 1942 to 1944, Ivanovic was
transport and communications minister in the Nazi puppet
government of Serbia. He organised the spy network against the
partisans and was a close confidante of quisling leader Milan
Ivanovic was a leader of the fascist Zbor movement, which
formed the core of the bloodthirsty Serbian Volunteer Corps.
Ivanovic arrived in Australia as a DP in 1949. His identity
papers named him as Branimir Ivanovic, not Branislav. On the
basis of this anomaly, and knowing Ivanovic's true identity and
history, the Australian government simply lied to Belgrade in a
letter, "It has not been possible to identify this person in
In 1951, Yugoslavia requested the return of two alleged war
criminals, Milorad Lukic and Mihailo Rajkovic. Both had denounced
Communists and partisans to the Nazis.
ASIO found them in Perth, where they were active in emigre
politics, Lukic editing an anticommunist, pro-Liberal newspaper.
ASIO said the two were infinitely less trouble to this
organisation than the great body of their fellow immigrants.
"They are unceasing in their campaign against Communism ... They
can and do assist ASIO to the limit of their ability." Holt
refused the extradition request.
ASIO recruited "anticommunists" to spy on left-wing migrants
and the Australian left and to keep tabs on the migrant far
right. In cooperation with US and other western intelligence
agencies, ASIO recruited former Nazis to infiltrate their now
communist-run homelands. While ASIO obsessively investigated any
migrant with even a hint of left-wing sympathies -- some were
refused citizenship until 1972 -- former Nazi collaborators were
granted citizenship with few qualms.
Emboldened, Nazi and far-right formations openly organised
within migrant communities. These included the Hungarian Arrow
Cross, the Slovakian Hlinka Guard, the Croatian Ustasha, the
Romanian Iron Guard and followers of the former Nazi governments
of the Ukraine, Belorussia and the Baltic states.
These groups championed puppet leaders appointed by Hitler
and celebrated the "independence" that came on the point of Nazi
bayonets. They were often anti-Semitic and virulently
anticommunist; many sent fighters and funds to wage guerilla
warfare behind the "Iron Curtain".
These organisations formed an umbrella group called the
Anti-Bolshevik Bloc of Nations. The ABN was a branch of the
CIA-funded "parent peak council" of pro-Nazi turned anticommunist
organisations in Europe. Some decades later, the international
ABN mutated into the far-right World Anti-Communist League based
Former Nazis were also welcomed into the Liberal Party. In
1953, Viktor Padanyi and his Nazi Arrow Cross supporters formed a
Hungarian branch of the Liberal Party. The ABN's first president,
Laszlo Megay, was by the mid-'50s a leader of the Liberal Party's
Migrant Advisory Council.
The UN War Crimes Commission had listed Megay as a wanted
war criminal. Known as "the mass murderer of Ungvar," as mayor of
Ungvar Megay implemented the Nazis' horrific anti-Semitic
In 1944, the town's 25,000 Jews were rounded up and confined
to the brick works and lumber yard. They were forced to live in
the open without food, racked by dysentery and typhoid, for
several weeks before being herded into railway cars and sent to
Auschwitz. Witnesses said they saw Megay visit the camps almost
daily, often drunk, where he beat and robbed inmates.
Megay was arrested by the Allies in 1946 as a war crimes
suspect but a year later was released by the US despite its
knowing his record. The Hungarian government requested Megay's
extradition in 1948, but the US refused on the grounds that
Budapest had not provided sufficient evidence.
Despite Megay's name appearing in several lists of war
criminals, Australian screening officers allowed him to enter
Australia, claiming to be a victim of Nazism. Megay arrived in
1950 and almost immediately was president of the ABN's Hungarian
In 1957, after questions were asked in parliament, ASIO
investigated Megay and, true to form, exonerated him. Liberal
immigration minister Townley lied to parliament, saying there was
"no evidence to support the allegations" and that "Megay was
cleared by the War Crimes Commission in 1947".
For good measure, he added that Megay had never been a
member of the German Nazi Party or served in the German Army --
two claims that had never been made in the first place.
In an obituary published in the September 1959 Australian
Liberal, Megay was lauded as "bitterly and energetically opposed
to Communism". The article blithely mentioned that he was once
mayor of Ungvar, but politely omitted his role in rounding up
people and sending them to their deaths.
MIGRANT ADVISORY COUNCIL
The Liberals' Migrant Advisory Council's leadership included
Constanin Untaru, the treasurer in the Nazi Iron Guard's Romanian
National Government, Fabijan Lovokovic of the Croatian Ustasha
and Mikhas Zuy, a senior official in the Belorussian quisling
The MAC adopted motions sponsored by the ABN and worked
closely with it to have Captive Nations Week endorsed by the
Many senior Liberals regularly appeared on platforms during
the annual Captive Nations Week, first observed in 1965,
including future prime minister Billy McMahon and a future NSW
premier, Eric Willis. Captive Nations Week remained a cause
celebre of the far right, supported by the League of Rights, B.A.
Santamaria's National Civic Council and the Coalition far right.
By the late 1970s, the Liberal Ethnic Council -- as the MAC
had become, now led by Lyenko Urbanchich, a former leader of the
Slovenian Domobrans -- was a major force in the NSW Liberal
Party, controlling up to 30% of the votes at the 800-member state
council. Urbanchich's power was checked in 1979 when ABC radio
broadcast a documentary by Mark Aarons that revealed his past.
While the Liberal Ethnic Council was abolished, former
members still have influence. Today, Urbanchich is secretary of
the Homebush North Olympic Branch and attended a recent meeting
of the Liberal state council in Bathurst. Urbanchich and his
supporters are prominent in the latest round of faction fighting
within the NSW Liberals.
In 1961, the Liberal government moved to close the book on
Nazi collaborators once and for all. The Soviet Union requested
the extradition of an Estonian war criminal. Attorney general
Garfield Barwick refused the request, telling parliament, "The
time has come to close the chapter ... [and] enable men to turn
their backs on past bitternesses and to make a new life for
themselves and for their families in a happier community".
Conceding that Australia's screening for Nazis was "not
infallible", he added that "those who have been allowed to make
their homes here must be able to live, in security, new lives
under the rule of law". Barwick, in effect, declared a complete
amnesty for Nazi mass murderers residing in Australia.
As Kalejs' return so clearly shows, that amnesty remains in
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