May 19, 2010

Philadelphia man ordered deported for serving as Nazi guard

The main entrance to Buchenwald
A U.S. immigration judge has ordered an 85-year-old retired steelworker deported to Austria, or any other country that will accept him, for serving as an armed Nazi death camp guard during World War II.

Anton Geiser and his attorney did not immediately return calls and an e-mail for comment on the decision announced Tuesday by the Justice Department. Judge Charles Honeyman issued the 14-page order out of Philadelphia on Monday. Geiser was born in what is now part of Croatia and came to the United States from Austria in 1956. He has lived in Sharon, about 60 miles northwest of Pittsburgh, since 1960. He became a citizen in 1962 and is married with three sons.

"As a Nazi concentration camp guard during World War II, Anton Geiser must be held to account for his role in the persecution of countless men, women and children," Assistant U.S. Attorney General Lanny Breuer said in a statement Tuesday. "The long passage of time will not diminish our resolve to deny refuge to such individuals."

A Department of Justice spokeswoman said Geiser was not in custody. He can appeal to the Board of Immigration Appeals in Washington.

Geiser has acknowledged being an armed guard who watched over and escorted prisoners at three Nazi death camps. He has argued that his service was not voluntary and that he was therefore eligible to emigrate under the Refugee Relief Act of 1953. Federal prosecutors have instead cited the 1978 Holtzman Amendment to the Immigration and Nationality Act to exclude citizenship and deport "aliens who persecuted any person on the basis of race, religion, national origin, or political opinion, under the direction of the Nazi government of Germany."

Geiser, an ethnic German, was drafted into the German army at 17 and served as an armed SS Death Head guard at the Sachsenhausen concentration camp near Berlin for much of 1943. He later was transferred to an SS officer training camp at Arolsen, where he escorted prisoners to and from the Buchenwald camp, where tens of thousands of Jews and others were exterminated. He was at Arolsen until April 1945. Geiser has denied harming any prisoners, though he has acknowledged having orders to shoot prisoners who tried to escape.

A federal judge in Pittsburgh revoked his citizenship under the Holtzman amendment, and he lost a U.S. Third Circuit appeal in 2008. The U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear his case last year.

The Philadelphia Inquirer


Anonymous said...

Notice how the US government go after the "small fry" like retired steelworkers and car builders who were let into the country in the late forties (not that they don't deserve punishment, even now).

Around the same time, America allowed in senior Nazi scientists and intelligence specialists who were given work in NASA and the CIA during the Cold War.

There was never any danger of these people being tried and persecuted.

Anonymous said...

Quite !

As Tom Lehrer put it.

Old Sailor