Vladimir Katriuk

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Vladimir Katriuk
Born 1 October 1921
Lujeni, Cernăuți County, Kingdom of Romania
(now Luzhany, Chernivtsi Oblast, Ukraine)
Died 22 May 2015 (aged 93)
Salaberry-de-Valleyfield, Quebec, Canada
Allegiance Nazi Germany Nazi Germany (1942–1944)
French Resistance
Service/branch Schutzmannschaft (1942–1944)
French Foreign Legion
Rank Private (in French Foreign Legion)
Unit Schutzmannschaft Battalion 118
Battles/wars World War II

Vladimir Katriuk (1 October 1921 – 22 May 2015) was a Canadian man of Ukrainian ancestry, born in the village of Luzhany, near the city of Chernivtsi. Chernivtsi is situated in the region known as Bukovina, which in 1921 was part of the Kingdom of Romania. Katriuk was accused by the Simon Wiesenthal Center of having been an active participant in the Khatyn massacre during World War II.[1][2] In 2012, Katriuk was ranked number three on the List of Most Wanted Nazi War Criminals according to the Simon Wiesenthal Center.[1][2] Katriuk has denied any involvement in war crimes.[1][2]

Second World War[edit]

In 1942 Katriuk joined Schutzmannschaft Battalion 118 to fight the Soviet partisans. Katriuk's Nazi ties were known at the time of the Federal Court of Canada decision, but more details did not emerge until the release in 2008 of KGB interrogation reports at the trial of Grigory Vasiura, one of the battalion officers.[3] The new KGB documents, yet unseen by the general public, claim that Katriuk was directly involved in the Khatyn massacre.[1][2] In an article published in Holocaust and Genocide Studies,[4] Lund University historian Per Anders Rudling, relying on new KGB interrogation reports, wrote that “One witness stated that Volodymyr Katriuk was a particularly active participant in the atrocity: he reportedly lay behind the stationary machine gun, firing rounds on anyone attempting to escape the flames.”[1][2]

Another Soviet war crimes trial in 1973 heard that Katriuk and two others killed a group of Belarusian loggers earlier on that day, suspecting they were part of a popular uprising. "I saw how Ivankiv was firing with a machine-gun upon the people who were running for cover in the forest, and how Katriuk and Meleshko were shooting the people lying on the road," the witness said.[3] Katriuk was a member of Schutzmannschaft Battalion 118 that helped the Nazis to create "dead zones."[3] The dead zone policy involved exterminating Soviet partisans who had launched ambushes against Nazi forces.[3]

Double defection[edit]

Katriuk claimed in Federal Court that in August 1944 he defected with the entire battalion and joined the French Resistance to fight the Nazis. Later that year he was transferred to the French Foreign Legion,[5] as a private, and was one of twenty to twenty-five volunteers who were dispatched by their French commanders to go to the front to fight the German army. Katriuk was placed in charge of a machine gun and, during the course of his service, was severely injured.[6]

He spent two and a half months in an American hospital in France.[6] Katriuk said to have fought later at the Italian front near Monaco until the end of the World War II.[6] He remained in the Foreign Legion to avoid repatriation,[5] but deserted while on leave in July 1945. He obtained false identity papers with a new birthday, under the name of his brother-in-law, and got a job in a butcher shop in Paris.[7]

Immigration to Canada[edit]

In 1951 Katriuk immigrated to Canada from France. In 1959, Katriuk became a beekeeper in Ormstown, Quebec,[8] where he owned a beekeeping farm and lived in a small house on the property with his wife.[1][2][8]

1999 Canadian citizenship question[edit]

In 1999 a Federal Court of Canada decision[6] concluded that Katriuk immigrated to Canada in 1951 under a pseudonym and obtained his Canadian citizenship by providing false information.[1][2]

However, the Federal Court of Canada found no evidence that Kartiuk had participated in war crimes,[1][2][6] and in 2007, the Cabinet of Canada decided not to revoke Katriuk's citizenship.[2] According to Avi Benlolo, president and CEO of the Friends of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre, when he presented new research regarding the Vladimir Katriuk case to Rob Nicholson and the Department of Citizenship and Immigration Canada Minister Jason Kenney in April 2012 they said that they would investigate it.[2]

Death[edit]

Katriuk died of a stroke in Quebec on 22 May 2015 at the age of 93.[9] Shortly before his death the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation called on Canada to deport Katriuk to the Russian Federation so he could stand trial, according to international law; the Canadian government, whose relations with the Russian government have been strained since the 2014 Russian annexation of Crimea, ignored the request.[10]

See also[edit]

References[edit]