Jewish leaders have called for a public inquiry into claims British intelligence may have recruited suspected Nazi war criminals and shielded them from justice.
The shocking allegations were aired in a BBC investigation into the case of suspected Nazi murderer Stanislaw Chrzanowski, who is alleged to have possibly been recruited for intelligence work in the aftermath of the war.
The expose, entitled the Nazi Next Door, revealed allegations that others like Chrzanowski – dubbed the ‘butcher’ for war-time crimes in the Belarussian town of Slonim – may have escaped justice because the intelligence services deleted documents relating to them in the late eighties.
The Shropshire pensioner was linked by witnesses to at least 50 murders and possibly more. He was investigated by the authorities but no charges were brought. He died in 2017 aged 96 and had always denied the allegations.
The president of the Board of Deputies, Marie van der Zyl, slammed the revelation as a “very dark day for Britain and for British Jews.”
“The idea that many Nazi suspects were able to find sanctuary in the UK after the War – and not only that, but that British Intelligence stands accused of having actively facilitated this and protected such people from facing justice – is absolutely staggering,” she said.
She labelled the allegation that intelligence services removed documents relating to Nazi collaborators who worked for them as “monstrous – and one must assume illegal – behaviour.”
A public inquiry must now be launched, she said.
The broadcaster’s investigation uncovered the extraordinary tale of how Chrzanowski’s own stepson pursued his only father figure for years in an effort to bring him to justice.
John Kingston, secretly recorded his stepfather’s protestations, and even went to the town of Slonim himself with a BBC film crew to find witnesses to his stepfather’s alleged crimes.
He found witnesses who claimed to have seen the murders, including one who said he had shot her husband.
Despite that, the authorities decided not to pursue Chrzanowski, citing lack of evidence.
After Kingston’s death from leukaemia, journalist Nick Southall was handed over the tapes and began investigating the case.
He uncovered newsreel footage from the 1950s which appeared to show the alleged war criminal in a camp in West Berlin which housed refugees fleeing from the East. It was said to be a “hive” of spies.
The film contradicted Chrzanowski’s claim that he had not left UK shores since first arriving in 1946.
One of those who took part in gathering evidence, Holocaust researcher Dr. Stephen Ankier, told Jewish News that Chrzanowski’s appearance on the film raised concerns about his relationship with state authorities because at the time he did not have a passport.
“We have evidence that Chrzanowski was in Berlin in 1953-4, and the intriguing mystery is how could he have got there without a passport?” he asked.
“The only way that we could rationalise that was if he got there as a person supported by a government agency on agency business. He must have gone there with the full knowledge of some kind of State organisation.”
Dr Ankier added: “If there has been a cover-up, the reasons and circumstances needs to be revealed. And I wouldn’t be surprised if there had been an official cover-up.”
The call for an investigation into whether there were suspected war criminals protected by the state has been echoed by the Holocaust Educational Trust.
“It has long been known that perpetrators of the Holocaust were admitted to the UK after the Second World War – and long suspected that some were recruited and protected by the intelligence services,” said a spokesperson.
They added: “Of a number of suspected cases, only one was successfully prosecuted under the Act. If there is any evidence to suggest that there was the deliberate frustration of the War Crimes Act or that files were destroyed, that must be investigated.”
A Home Office spokesperson did not answer questions from Jewish News on whether documents were destroyed because of the War Crimes Act.
“This case was reviewed by the CPS in the 1990s, but was not proceeded as it did not meet the evidential test. The CPS and its decisions are entirely independent from the Home Office,” said a spokeswoman.
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