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Interned Without Cause, by Peter Krawchuk


September of 1982 marked the passage of forty years since the last Canadian antifascists who were arrested in 1940 by order of the Minister of Justice Ernest Lapointe and exiled to concentration camps located in Petawawa, Ontario, and Kananaskis, Alberta, walked out of prison as free men. The internees at Kananaskis were transferred in time to Petawawa. Finally all were sent to Hull Jail, Quebec. This was the last stage of their journey.

The author of this memoir was sent to the concentration camp at Kananaskis; consequently, his account begins with that camp. Later he and the other internees were transferred to Petawawa and then Hull Jail.

Of the more than one hundred antifascists then interned, few are alive today. The author dedicates his memoir to the eternal memory of his colleagues with whom he shared his daily bread, his working days, and the days of servitude behind barbed wire under the machine guns on the concentration camp guard towers of Kananaskis and Petawawa and inside the high and thick cement walls of Hull Jail.

The author hopes with this memoir to express gratitude to the internees' wives, who resolutely accepted their husbands' bitter fate as their own. These women were not crushed by the difficult burden on their lives (they were all forced to work for their own and their children's keep). They persistently demanded the release of the interned antifascists and some even led the two-year battle.

May this memoir at the same time be an expression of thanks to those who, disregarding the adverse conditions and continual threat of internment, carried on organizational activity in the underground, materially assisted their comrades in the concentration camps and fought for their release.

The first draft of this memoir was written in 1946. The author had not intended it for publication. But the decades passed and the children (now adults) of the Ukrainian Canadian internees began more and more to show an interest in this period of their parents' lives and to request that an account be published. The wives of the internees and activists of the Ukrainian progressive movement in Canada also expressed the desire that a memoir be published. To accommodate these requests the author agreed to publish this memoir on the pages of the newspaper "Life and Word".

Of course, the subject of this account is not just the interned Ukrainian Canadian antifascists but also the other Canadian antifascists of various nationalities who were in the aforementioned concentration camps. Among the internees were English Canadians, French Canadians, Ukrainians, Jews, Hungarians, Germans, Scandinavians, a Finn and a Pole. True, in the Kananaskis concentration camp Ukrainians formed the predominant majority; thus their surnames are often mentioned, particularly in the first half of the memoir.

The author has titled his account of this period Interned Without Cause because Canadian antifascists were interned without legal indictment, were not placed on trial and were not sentenced to a definite period of imprisonment. Even those few antifascists who were arrested, allegedly for violation of the "war regulations", but whom the courts acquitted, were seized by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police on the courthouse steps when they came out and were immediately sent for a painful, protracted period in the concentration camps. After completion of their sentences, those antifascists who were convicted were sent by the RCMP to Kananaskis or Petawawa.

All antifascists who were in the concentration camps were, therefore, de jure and de facto innocent. Nevertheless, the authorities considered them to be "potential enemies", and thus they held the internees for two years or more in isolation without proof of guilt, until a mass movement developed in Canada which forced the government to free the antifascists from Hull Jail.

This memoir does not pretend to be a total account of the lives of the Canadian antifascists in the concentration camps since, first, the author was interned later than the main group arrested on July 6, 1940, second, he was set free several months sooner than the others, and third, he did not experience what took place in the Petawawa concentration camp between June, 1940, and July, 1941.

The memoir "Not Guilty and Not Charged" is merely a sketch for a future account about this injustice which was inflicted by those in power on the Canadian progressive movement during a very important period of this country's history the period of courageous battle in the world against fascist Germany and its satellites, the battle to save humanity from the terrible yoke of ultra-reaction.


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