CBC Digital Archives CBC butterfly logo

CBC Archives has a new look: Please go to cbc.ca/archives to access the new site.

The page you are looking at will not be updated.

Steve Rombom, the Nazi hunter

The Story

Steve Rombom looked up the names of suspected Nazis in the telephone book, knocked on their doors and drew out their confessions easily. Now confused old men, they spoke of the inhumanity of the Second World War and more specifically of their privileged roles in fulfilling Hitler's Final Solution. Rambam, an American private detective, is astounded by his findings. War criminals, it seems, are not hiding in Canada; they live freely among us, as shown in this CBC Television documentary.

Medium: Television
Program: The National Magazine
Broadcast Date: Dec. 19, 1996
Guest(s): Irving Abella, Bernie Farber, Steve Rombom, Joe Schacter
Host: Brian Stewart
Reporter: Terence McKenna
Duration: 14:53

Did You know?

• Rombom compiled his list of suspects from information provided to him by the Simon Wiesenthal Centre. The Simon Wiesenthal Centre is an international Jewish human rights organization which seeks to encourage tolerance and understanding and commemorate the memory of the Holocaust.

• In total, Rombom said he amassed 58 confessions from Nazi collaborators living in Canada, seven of whom admitted to murdering Jews during the Second World War. Rombom estimated that approximately 5,000 war criminals were hiding out in Canada but more conservative officials and scholars scoffed at the high number, saying that it was more likely in the mid to high hundreds.

• At the time this report aired, the Office of Special Investigations of the U.S. Justice Department had denaturalized 57 alleged war criminals. Canada had deported just one suspected war criminal, Helmut Rauca.

• Shortly after this report aired, immigration officials moved to deport Antanas Kenstavicius, an alleged war criminal featured in this report. He died on the first day of his hearing on Jan. 22, 1997. While Rombom took credit for drawing out Kenstavicius' confession, tapes later revealed that the RCMP had long been investigating him and knew of his allegedly dark past.

• Rombom later criticized the RCMP for failing to act on the information he provided them. The RCMP, who had long denied Rombom's proof was at all revelatory, said it continued to investigate suspected war criminals.

• "This country gave so many young men and women to stop Nazism, we sacrificed so many human lives, and then we tolerated the same Nazis in our midst. It's illogical, it's a paradox." - Irving Abella, Globe and Mail, Jan. 31, 1997.


Fleeing Justice: War Criminals in Canada more