A 66-year-old Israeli who lived in Latvia when Germans overan the tiny country World War II testified today that Latvian emigre now living in Baltimore beat and shot a number of Latvian Jews during the German occupation in 1941.
Abraham Libchin, appearing in a Baltimore immigration court, testified he watched as Baltimore resident [WORD ILLEGIBLE] Detlavs, 66, then a resident of Latvia, "severely beat" one Jew the [WORD ILLEGIBLE] after the German invasion on July 1941. Libchin also testified that he [WORD ILLEGIBLE] Detlavs randomly shoot a number of people in the Jewish ghetto in Riga, Latvia, a few months later.
Detlavs, who retired four years ago [WORD ILLEGIBLE] his job at the south Baltimore [WORD ILLEGIBLE] Electric insulating plant, is [WORD ILLEGIBLE] American wwho [WORD ILLEGIBLE] to this country from Latvia in [WORD ILLEGIBLE]. He is one of several immigrants [WORD ILLEGIBLE] the Immigration and [WORD ILLEGIBLE] Service is attempting to deport lowing charges that they participated in Nazi war crimes more than [WORD ILLEGIBLE] years ago.
Detlavs has denied Immigration [WORD ILLEGIBLE] charges that the falsely answered questions in his application for immigration visa when he claimed [WORD ILLEGIBLE] he was an employee of the [WORD ILLEGIBLE] ministry of forestry from 1936 to [WORD ILLEGIBLE] and that he never participated religious persecution during the [WORD ILLEGIBLE].
In fact, the Immigration Service [WORD ILLEGIBLE] Detlavy was a member of [WORD ILLEGIBLE] Latvian Legion, a Nazi-backed up, and engaged in war crimes against Jews.
Immigration Judge Martin J. Travers asked Libchin how he could be sure Detlavs was the same man he saw 36 years ago.
Speaking through a Yiddish interpreter and gesturing emphatically with his left hand, Libchin replied, "I'm sure, because I saw him two times, once beating someone up and then shooting. In a short time, I saw him twice. It's the same man. He looks younger in the pictures, but it's the same man, with his hat, with his jacket, with his gun, yes, yes, it's his face, the same man, I remember it as if it were today."
Libchin said he moved from Latvia to Israel in 1971. In 1975 he answered an ad in an Israeli newspaper asking for people who were in the Riga ghetto to come forward. He said he identified Detlavs' picture from a group of 10 photographs Israeli police showed him.
The Israeli police subsequently told the American government about Detlav, according to Immigration Service attorney James W. Grable, who is prosecuting Detlav in the deportation case which began today.
Two aides from the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship and Naturalization were also on hand, taking notes from the testimony.
In August the House committee held hearings in an attempt to find out why in the 32 years since World War II the Immigration Service has never investigated or taken action against any of the hundreds of alleged Nazi war criminals now living in America.
The Immigration Service is also holding deportation hearings in New York City and Albany against two other alleged Nazi war criminals. The Detlavs' hearing is expected to continue through the week.