Citizenship Denied by Ohio Judge for Convicted Nazi

Nazi camp

An Ohio federal judge denied a request by convicted Nazi war criminal John Demjanjuk for renewed U.S. citizenship last week, citing false and inconsistent statements by Demjanjuk about his whereabouts during World War II. The new citizenship claim was based on supposedly “newly discovered” documents, according to the Associated Press, including some that allegedly called earlier documents used against Demjanjuk into question. Judge Dan Aaron Polster, however, looked at Demjanjuk’s admittedly false statements in earlier visa and immigration applications, writing that Demjanjuk has never given a “single, consistent accounting of his whereabouts” during the war.

Demjanjuk was born in 1920 in Kiev, in what was then the Soviet Union. He first emigrated to the United States in 1952, gaining citizenship in 1958. After Holocaust survivors identified him as a guard at the Treblinka and Sobibor extermination camps known as “Ivan the Terrible,” the U.S. deported him to Israel. He stood trial for crimes against humanity and was sentenced to death in 1988, but the sentence was overturned in 1993 because of evidence of possible mistaken identity. Specifically, some evidence suggested that, while he was a prison guard, he was not “Ivan the Terrible.”

He returned to Ohio, but faced further charges in 2001, this time alleging that he served as a guard at two camps in Poland, Sobibor and Majdanek, and one in Germany, Flossenburg, during the war. After a lengthy legal process, he was deported to Germany in 2009 for his trial. A German court convicted him in May 2011 of being accessory to the murder of 27,900 Jews in those prison camps. He received a five-year prison sentence, which is suspended while he appeals.

The 91-year-old Demjanjuk currently resides in a nursing home in Germany, where he has suffered from poor health for years. Since losing his U.S. citizenship, he has been unable to leave Germany. He has steadfastly denied the charges of war crimes made against him. Among the new evidence he presented to the Ohio court is a supposedly secret FBI report from 1985 that claims a Nazi ID card naming him as a camp guard was actually a Soviet forgery. The FBI agent who prepared the report has stated that it was based solely on speculation. The key issue for the judge was Demjanjuk’s history of false or misleading information regarding where he was and what he was doing between 1942 and 1945, at the height to both World War II and the Holocaust in Europe.

Under federal immigration law, anyone who participated in “Nazi persecution, genocide, or the commission of any act of torture or extrajudicial killing” between 1933, when the Nazis took power in Germany, and 1945, when World War II ended, is both inadmissible for entry to the United States and deportable. Demjanjuk, as a convicted war criminal and Nazi prison camp guard, certainly fits that description. The immigration laws also deal harshly with false statements made in immigration petitions or applications. The evidence presented by Demjanjuk in his new immigration petition, while possibly pertinent to the question of his guilt of war crimes, does not address whether he lied when he first sought admission to, and citizenship of, the United States.

Ohio immigration visa lawyer Gus Shihab represents employers seeking to employ immigrant workers and job seekers who wish to come here to work. For a free and confidential consultation, contact him through his website or at (800) 625-3404.

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