The Guardian

The Guardian February 16, 2000


Culture and Life

by Rob Gowland

No limits to anti-communism

Why is John Howard so keen to protect the "rights" of accused Nazi war 
criminal Konrad Kalejs? Robert Greenwood, QC, the former head of 
Australia's short-lived Special Investigations Unit that pursued Nazi war 
criminals in Australia, suspects Kalejs was an ASIO "asset". Could this be 
the reason?

Or could it be Kalejs' fierce anti-communism and Howard's wish to keep on 
the good side of similar die-hard anti-communists among Australia's post-
war migrants?

After the end of the Second World War, Australia became a haven for former 
collaborators and quislings and fascist terrorists alike. Australian 
immigration officials were very sympathetic to anyone who could show that 
he or she was a "refugee" from communism, someone who had bolted with their 
Nazi friends from the pursuing Red Army and their vengeful neighbours.

Under Labor's Immigration Minister Arthur Caldwell, it was Australian 
policy to give preference to accepting these people with a proven record of 
"fighting communism". The Chifley Government was engaged in its own 
exercise of "taking on the communists" in the late '40s (in the '49 coal 
strike, for example).

Australia's unpublicised preference for proven anti-Soviet types would soon 
have become known among the "displaced persons" who had fought on Hitler's 
side: the Baltic Whiteguards, Slovak, Croatian and Hungarian clerical 
fascists, Vlasovites and renegade Cossacks from the USSR itself.

Kalejs fled first to Denmark where he stayed for some time before moving on 
to the Western zones of Germany, where a pro-Nazi past was a positive 
asset. He arrived in Australia as a "displaced person" in 1950.

The great military offensive to "roll back communism" was already under 
way. Whether the target countries had been bastions of capitalism or former 
colonies, the aim was the same: to reclaim them for capitalism and deny 
them to the "red scourge".

The Dutch were fighting the Indonesian people. The British were fighting 
"communist bandits" in Malaya. There had been an attempt to overthrow the 
elected government in Czechoslovakia and replace it with a government of 
senior civil servants in 1948. Resolute action by the people led by the 
Communist Party thwarted that stunt.

Germany was partitioned into east and west by the unification of the three 
western zones into one and the issuing of a separate currency, an attempt 
to cut off the rural east from the industrialised west of the country. The 
German communists held firm and established their own country, despite the 
economic difficulties.

Britain and the US combined to savagely suppress the communists of Greece 
in support of a fascist monarchy and a Red-free Mediterranean.

The British also launched a Bay of Pigs-style invasion of Albania, but Kim 
Philby, the agent they had co-ordinating the operation was secretly a 
Soviet intelligence officer. The anti-communist parachutists were rounded 
up as they landed.

US troops intervened in China on the Nationalist side before the victory of 
the Chinese Red Army in 1949. They blocked Chinese forces from pursuing 
Chiang Kai-chek and clique to Taiwan.

Before 1949 was over, the US was arming and transporting a Nationalist 
Chinese army in Burma to launch an invasion of China, to recommence the 
civil war and hopefully bring down the Communist government before it could 
become established. The invasion failed, but the US was not deterred.

Offensive operations were stepped up from Taiwan and in 1950 a full-scale 
war began in Korea.

The US fought the communist Huk guerrillas in the Philippines.

And that's only some of the actions that characterised the period when 
Kalejs and others of his ilk were welcomed into Australia as future 
citizens.

Kalejs, a senior officer in a Latvian Nazi "Auxiliary Security Police" 
commando that slaughtered thousands of communists, Jews and pro-Soviet 
villagers in Latvia and Russia, was given a position of authority in 
Bonegilla migrant camp in Victoria: he had the very useful responsibility 
of issuing identity cards to migrants who had no papers.

No wonder it is suspected that he was recruited into the ranks of ASIO! 
Greenwood told the Sydney Morning Herald that "quite a few" alleged 
war criminals worked for ASIO  "we know that", he said.

"ASIO had activity files on a significant number of the people I 
investigated", he said.

Nevertheless, the Australian mass media has displayed a singular lack of 
interest in the prospect that there are a lot of former Nazis and pro-Nazi 
mass murderers in Australia.

In fact, did you notice how quickly the initial articles expressing shock 
and horror at the idea of Kalejs being allowed back into Australia were 
joined by ones explaining how his pro-Nazi activities were merely a 
reflection of the prevailing anti-communism in his homeland, an anti-
communism that, the articles implied or said outright, was fully 
understandable and was caused by the evil expansionist activities of the 
Kremlin.

The stories were accompanied by tearful accounts of the "suffering" of 
whiteguard Latvians who were shipped off to Siberian villages so they 
couldn't form a fifth column for the Nazis. their hardships paled into 
insignificance against the horrors inflicted on the Soviet people 
(including pro-Soviet Latvians) by Hitler's forces.

Once again, anti-communism is being used to justify anything, no matter how 
heinous.

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