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

Object | Accession Number: 1989.329.13

Drawing of eyewitness Frieda Michelson created by Charles (Hap) Hazard at the deportation trial of Karlis Detlavs in 1979 in Baltimore, Maryland. Michelson testified that Detlavs was the guard who forced her to the execution pit during the massacre in the Rumbulu 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. He was accused of executing Jews in the Riga ghetto and selecting Jews for execution in the Dwinsk ghetto as a member of the Latvian Auxiliary Security Police in 1943 during the German occupation. In 1950, Detlavs emigrated as a displaced refugee from Munich, Germany, to the US with his pregnant wife and nearly 2 year old daughter 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 filed a deportation action. After 4 days of hearing in November 1977, Judge Martin Travers announced a continuance so the prosecution could obtain more evidence. The Jewish Defense League attendees began shouting at the judge and were thrown from the courtroom. Travers was stabbed to death while on vacation in the Virgin Islands in June 1978. New hearings 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. Detlavs, age 72, died in Baltimore in 1983. Hazard created the drawing while on assignment at the trial for the Baltimore Sun newspaper.

Artwork Title
Frieda Michelson Testifying in the Trial of Karlis Detlavs
Series Title
Karlis Detlavs Trial, Baltimore, Maryland, 1979
creation:  1979 January
creation: Baltimore (Md.)
Object Type
Courtroom art (lcsh)
Credit Line
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Charles R. Hazard and The Baltimore Sun
Record last modified: 2019-12-05 20:59:25
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