Vladimir Katriuk

22.07.2016 ( Last modified: 25.07.2016 )
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Vladimir Katriuk was born on 1 October 1921 in the village of Luzhany, now Ukraine. He got married to Maria Stéphanie Kavoom (maiden name) in 1948 in France.

Katriuk has been said to have joined the Schutzmannschaften Nazi police units in 1942, although it is unclear whether or not he joined those forces voluntarily. He was part of the Schutzmannschaft Bataillon 118, which was sent to Belorussia, where it participated in a number of the most brutal and infamous pacifications.

Katriuk was allegedly involved in the 1943 Kathyn massacre, in Belarus. On 22 March 1943, a German convoy was attacked by Soviet partisans nearby the village of Khatyn, resulting in the deaths of four police officers of Schutzmannschaft Batallion 118. As a retalion measure, they completely destroyed the village of Khatyn as a collective punishment against the population for having supported the Soviet partisans. The first victims of the punitive operation were a number of loggers who had been working in the forest at the time of the ambush. Following this, in a joint action with the SS (Schutzstaffel) Dirlewanger brigade, the Schutzmannschaft Batallion 118 entered the village and drove the inhabitants from their houses and into a shed, which was then covered with straw and set on fire. Those who managed to escape from the shed, we’re killed by machine gun fire. The village was then looted and burned to the ground. In the operation, 149 people, including 75 children and teenagers, appear to have been killed. Katriuk has been said to have actively participated in the killing of the loggers and the villagers who tried to escape.

In August 1944, Katriuk and his battalion were transferred to France to fight against the Western Allies. However, together with a majority of the men of the battalion, he defected to the French Resistance. After having refused to return to the Soviet Union following an order by a Soviet repatriation commission, he joined the French Foreign Legion (FFL) with which he stayed until the end of WWII.

In 1951, Katriuk and his wife immigrated to Canada from France under a false name, i.e. Nicolas and Maria Stéphanie Schpirka. After five years of residency, they decided to acquire the Canadian citizenship, but they wanted to revert to their correct name, Vladimir and Maria Katriuk. The application for change of name and the application for citizenship were respectively granted in May and November 1958.

On 22 May 2015, Katriuk died of a stroke, at the age of 93.

Legal procedure

On 31 October 1996, the Attorney General of Canada, on behalf of the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, opened proceedings against Katriuk before the Federal Court to revoke his citizenship. The Attorney General alleged that he had obtained his Canadian citizenship by false representation or fraud or by knowingly concealing material circumstances. Accordingly, he had concealed his activities during the Second World War, in particular his collaboration with the Nazi regime, and his participation in operations carried out by the Schutzmannschaften battalion and the SS.

The Federal Court delivered its judgment on 29 January 1999 ruling that Katriuk obtained the Canadian citizenship under false pretenses by not telling authorities about his activities during the Second World War in support of Germany. The Court however found that there was no evidence that he participated in atrocities.

On 17 May 2007, the Governor General in Council nevertheless decided not to revoke his citizenship.

In 2012, Vladimir Katriuk’s name was added to the Simon Wiesenthal center’s list gathering the 10 most wanted war criminals from the Nazi regime.

In May 2015, the Russian Investigative Committee launched a criminal case against Katriuk, charging him with genocide for his alleged involvement in the 1943 Kathyn killing of civilians. On 8 May 2015, Russia requested his extradition by Canada. This request was dimissed.

Only two weeks later, on 22 May 2015, Katriuk died of a stroke.

 

Context

After the Second World War numerous trials against war criminals and those responsible for Nazi crimes took place in Germany and other countries. It is not possible here to give an overview of all the trials. Below are the main facts concerning the major trials of war criminals at Nuremberg.

BASIS UNDER INTERNATIONAL LAW

The German armed forces surrendered unconditionally on 7-8 May 1945. The Allies (USA, Soviet Union, Great Britain and France) took over all governmental functions in Germany, instituted the Allied Control Council and divided Germany into four zones of occupation.

After the adoption of the London Charter of 8 August 1945, the Allies set up the International Military Tribunal (IMT) in order to judge the major German war criminals. Annex III of the Agreement contains the Statute of the International Military Tribunal (IMT Statute [2]).

NUREMBERG TRIAL OF MAJOR WAR CRIMINALS

According to Articles 1-3 of the London Charter, war criminals with offenses having no particular geographical location were to be judged by the IMT. However in accordance with Articles 4 and 6 of the Convention, the principle of territoriality was to apply to the other German war criminals, with the courts of those states where crimes had been committed having the competence to try these criminals on the basis on their national laws.

Crimes within the jurisdiction of IMT:

– Crimes against peace;

– War crimes and

– Crimes against humanity (Article 6 of IMT Statute).

The IMT was composed of four judges and four substitutes who were appointed by the four Allied powers (Article 2 IMT Statute). In application of Article 13 of the IMT Statute, the Tribunal drew up its own Rules of Procedure

The IMT indicted 24 people in total. The trials took place from 14 November 1945 until 1 October 1946. Twelve defendants were sentenced to death, three were acquitted and seven others were sentenced to prison terms ranging from 10 years to life imprisonment. In one case, the procedure was suspended for health reasons and in another the defendant committed suicide before his trial.