Frank Walus was typical of the many millions of civilians uprooted by war. Born to Polish parents living in Germany but returning to Poland before 1939, he soon found himself back in the Reich as a conscripted forced labourer. Just 5'4" tall at 17, he was hardly an imposing figure. He spent the entire war years working as a forced labourer on German farms. After the war he went home, to Kielce in Poland, where he endured the Communist regime for a number of years before entering the USA in 1959. He became a naturalised American citizen in 1970.
Poland's Jews had just cause to resent the behaviour of many Poles during the German occupation; the willing collaboration of a significant number of Poles in the deportation of the Jews to the extermination camps has been well documented. Perhaps many even resented all Poles, innocent or guilty, because of the behaviour of a few. In any event, Walus was denounced to the OSI by Simon Wiesenthal as a Nazi guard. Wiesenthal produced a number of witnesses from Israel who all swore blind they had personally seen Walus in Poland forcing young girls to undress before shooting them, executing prisoners, smashing babies against walls and all the panoply of human cruelty that could be imagined. It was all, of course, at best false memory, and at worst malicious fabrication. But the US put Walus on trial for it anyway.
It took a long time, but dogged investigation uncovered incontrovertible evidence that Walus had, as he had claimed, worked for the entire war as a forced labourer, and that he had never left Germany. Eventually, and grudgingly, he was cleared.
We know all this because a research group in the US has just forced the Justice Department to release the full version of a 2006 report into America's Nazi hunting activities.
As we remember today all those who have fallen in war, spare a thought for all the Frank Waluses who were not cleared, who didn't receive justice; the innocents who became victims of 'victors' justice' and whose lives were so carelessly and gratuitously taken in proxy for the guilty. Whatever the nationality of the military victor, victory without justice is hollow indeed.