Suspected Nazi war criminal lived in NDG for 27 years
Published Wednesday, July 18, 2012 7:07PM EDT
Police in Hungary have arrested a 97-year-old man with a Montreal connection who's suspected of being a Nazi war criminal.
Laszlo Csatary lived in Notre-Dame-de-Grace for 27 years before moving to Toronto and then returning to his native Hungary.
Csatary, accused of playing a key role in Holocaust, was number one on the Simon Wiesenthal Center's list of wanted Nazi war criminals.
It's alleged he invoked widespread fear beginning in 1941, when he was police chief in the Slovakian city of Kosice, then part of Hungary.
Csatary reportedly tortured wealthy Slovak Jews and organizing the transport of many to their deaths.
“He (allegedly) deported thousands of people…15,700 were deported to Auschwitz and we all know very few came back,” said Alice Hersovitch, from the Montreal Holocaust Memorial Centre.
In 1948, a Czech court sentenced him to death in absentia, and he hid in Canada for almost 50 years, living until 1996 with his wife in a cottage in NDG.
Csatary told neighbours he was an art dealer and the real estate agents who sold his home recall there were many paintings in the house.
“A tremendous number of paintings, perhaps 200 paintings,” said real estate agent Dale Newton.
After selling the home and moving to Toronto, Csatary finally returned to Hungary where he apparently lived openly in Budapest for many more years until his arrest.
Despite his age, Csatary should have to own up to his alleged crimes, said Rabbi Slomo Koves, of the Unified Hungarian Jewish Congregation.
“People have to know that just like good deeds, in the same way bad actions and sins never lapse. You're always responsible for them,” he said.
There was mixed reaction to Csatary’s arrest and possible prosecutionat Montreal’s Holocaust Memorial Centre.
“If it's just to take revenge on him -- at 97, I don't know,” said author Catherine Shvets.
“At his age now, if anything it makes me angrier,” said Hersovitch. “It speaks to the idea that the passage of time makes the crime less difficult. It does not.”
Paul Bard, a 91-year-old holocaust survivor who lost many family members in the Holocaust, and said he felt no pleasure with the arrest.
“There is no victory here,” he said. “I lost my brother, who was one year young than I am.”
Investigators say despite his 97 years, Csatary is still in good physical and mental health, and possibly capable of paying for his alleged crimes long with whatever time he has left.