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Drawing of Holocaust survivor testifying at trial of accused Latvian war criminal

Object | Accession Number: 1989.329.13

Courtroom drawing created by Charles (Hap) Hazard while on assignment for the Baltimore Sun newspaper during the 1979 deportation trial of Karlis Detlavs held in Baltimore, Maryland. It depicts eyewitness Frida Michelson testifying that Detlavs was the guard who forced her to the execution pit during the massacre in the Rumbula Forest in December 1941. Michelson survived by hiding under a pile of discarded shoes. She identified Detlavs from a 1941 photo shown to her by Israeli police in the 1970s, but did not identify him in person at the trial. Detlavs was accused of withholding information on his petition for permanent residency by denying involvement in Nazi war crimes during World War II (1939-1945). He was accused of executing Jews in the Riga ghetto and selecting Jews for execution in the Dwinsk ghetto in 1943, while a member of the Latvian Auxiliary Security Police during the German occupation. In 1950, Detlavs emigrated from Munich, Germany, as displaced refugee, with his pregnant wife and young daughter. The family immigrated to the United States and settled in Baltimore. In October 1976, the Office of Special Investigations, US Department of Justice, accused Detlavs of war crimes and the US Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) filed a deportation action. In November 1977, after four days of hearings, the Honorable Martin J. Travers, the federal immigration judge for the case at the time, announced a continuance so the prosecution could obtain more evidence from Soviet sources. In June 1978, while Judge Travers was on assignment in the US Virgin Islands, part of his circuit at the time, he was stabbed to death. New hearings in the Detlavs trial were held in November 1978 and January 1979. While Detlavs admitted being a member of the Latvian Legion, he denied committing any crimes. Judge Emil Bobek denounced Detlavs for his lack of credibility, but ruled that the identification of Detlavs as a perpetrator was not reliable and a lie was not enough to warrant deportation. The ruling was upheld on appeal.

Artwork Title
Frida Michelson Testifying in the Trial of Karlis Detlavs
Series Title
Karlis Detlavs Trial, Baltimore, Maryland, 1977-1979
creation:  1979 January
creation: Baltimore (Md.)
Object Type
Courtroom art (lcsh)
Courtroom sketches.
Credit Line
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Charles R. Hazard and The Baltimore Sun
Record last modified: 2022-02-09 08:12:55
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