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Ukraine moves to prosecute 94-year-old Jewish war hero for allegedly killing Nazi collaborator in 1952

Colonel Boris Steckler, a 94-year-old Jewish man who served in the Soviet Army, has been told by Ukrainian authorities that he should expect to face trial for a murder he is accused of committing in 1952.

Steckler was assigned the task of tracking down Nazis and Nazi collaborators in the post-War period. In 1952 he was involved in a confrontation with Ukrainian Nationalists groups who had cooperated with the Nazis, including having helped to round up Jews to be sent to the concentration camps. During the fighting, Neil Hasiewicz, a judge and propagandist, was killed.

Steckler had previous fought against the Nazis in the Second World War, when he was injured in action. He has appeared in public ceremonies celebrating the defeat of Nazism, but Ukrainian ultra-Nationalists, who have frequently glorified Nazi collaborators and increasingly so in recent years, filed a complaint against Steckler for the assassination, which he does not deny. Unusually, this complaint appears to have been pursued.

Alex Tantzer, a Ukrainian Jew whose family was murdered by the Nazis, commented:“I do not know whether this is anti-Semitism or not. In Ukraine, there are occasional complaints from nationalist organizations, and it’s a shame that the authorities take it seriously … It’s a shame that the government in Ukraine does not stop these horrific things. Now when we celebrate victory over Nazi Germany, we are persecuting this Jew who fought against Nazis”.

The prosecution of a Jewish War Hero who killed an acknowledged Nazi collaborator does appear to indicate a resurgence of antisemitism, particularly when it has been initiated by Nationalist groups who have no problem glorifying figures who murdered, or helped the Nazi to murder, Jews. In January, Ukrainian Nationalists chanted “Jews out” at a rally which memorialised a Nazi collaborator, and last August a street in Kiev was renamed to honour a Nazi collaborator who told his followers to “destroy” Jews.