Re: "Truth and justice his ultimate legacy," Letters - Lorraine Sandler, The Toronto Star, 24Sep2005.
Unfortunately, the Walus case will also be a part of Simon Wiesenthal's legacy. In 1974, Wiesenthal charged Polish-American Frank Walus with being an especially heinous Nazi war criminal who tortured Jews in German-occupied Poland. His subsequent trial in Chicago bankrupted him, ruined his life. Walus lost his American citizenship because of the guilty verdict.
Walus appealed the verdict, and won. The U.S. Justice Department dropped the case, apologized, and paid for some of his legal costs. Walus was able to show when the alleged crimes occurred he had been a teenaged boy, a prisoner in Germany doing slave labour; but another victim of the Nazi regime.
A life ruined by Nazi hunt | Dick Chapman | Staff Writer
The Toronto Star | April 13, 1983
As the RCMP steps up its hunt for alleged Nazi war criminals hiding in Canada, a sombre warning comes from a retired Chicago factory worker.
Frank Walus is the warning.
He personifies a valuable lesson to mark today's start of a Holocaust Remembrance Week, a worldwide commemoration for nearly seven million victims murdered by Nazi Germany's Third Reich under Adolph Hitler during World War II.
Vienna-based Simon Wiesenthal,famed Nazi hunter, had fingered Walus, 61, in 1974 as a former Gestapo collaborator.
By the time the allegation reached Israeli police, Walus had been "promoted" to Gestapo member.
Walus later stood in a U.S. denaturalization court to hear 12 "eyewitnesses" identify him as a notorious mass-murderer who allegedly stomped to death a young pregnant Jew.
Walus had to find $60,000 for his defence and to bring witnesses from Poland. But he lost the case, was stripped of his U.S. citizenship and ordered deported.
There was just one horrendous flaw.
Wiesenthal, Israeli police, the U.S. justice system and the media had the wrong man.
U.S. prosecutors later agreed Walus had never been at the Nazis' concentration camp at Kielce, Poland where "eyewitnesses" 40 years later had placed him.
"Nine of the 12 witnesses who said they had been born in Poland and lived there, never did," Walus said in a recent interview.
The U.S. justice department dropped the case, apologized and paid Walus $34,000 in legal costs. But Walus figures he's spent $120,000 trying to clear his name.
"Simon Wiesenthal fabricated the whole story," Walus says bitterly. "I don't know how the U.S. justice department believed him. Who the hell is Simon Wiesenthal that they believe everything he says?"
In prosecuting Walus, the U.S. government overlooked several important details:
* Walus is Polish and therefore the Nazis would never have allowed him to join the Schutzstaffel (SS) as alleged.
* The 5-foot-4 Walus was too short by inches to be allowed to join the Gestapo, as alleged. Some witnesses even testified "Walus" was well over six feet.
* Walus arrived in Kielce after the war.
Walus also points out the most obvious reason he couldn't have been the SS boss.
"I was 16 or 17 years old at the time. I was supposed to be a top-ranking SS
officer. "How could you attain that rank at such an early age?"