Menu JTA Search

U.S. Officials Investigate Woman Who Served As Guard in Nazi Camps

A federal investigation was underway today into the citizenship record of a New York housewife who served as a guard in two Nazi concentration camps.

The U. S. Immigration and Naturalization Service opened the probe into the case of Mrs. Russell Ryan after she was revealed by a Jewish investigator to have been a guard at the Maidanek murder camp in Poland and an overseer at the Ravensbruck camp in Germany.

The investigator, Simon Wiesenthal, director of a Jewish documentation center in Vienna, disclosed that as Hermine Braunsteiner, the Queens woman had been sentenced in 1953 to three years imprisonment for her activities in Ravensbruck. When she entered the United States in 1958, the Immigration and Naturalization Service office said, she swore she had never been convicted of a crime.

“The most important thing is to try and get the official records and ascertain Just what did occur,” P. A. Esperdy, district director of the Service, declared. Mrs. Ryan, now the wife of a construction worker, became a naturalized citizen last year. Mr. Esperdy said that “the point we have to resolve is whether the facts she concealed would have prevented her naturalization.”

Mrs. Ryan admitted she had been a guard but insisted that all she did was “what guards do in camp now.” She said that for eight months of the year she was a guard at Maidanek; she had been ill and in an infirmary. An estimated 1, 500, 000 people, at least half of them Jews, were murdered at Maidanek.

NEXT STORY