Menu JTA Search

Justice Department to Appeal Court Decision on Former Nazi

SIGN UP FOR THE JTA DAILY BRIEFING

In response to an “urgent request” from the American Jewish Congress, the Department of Justice has agreed to appeal a Federal Court decision permitting a former Nazi concentration camp guard to keep his American citizenship, even though he lied to obtain it.

Howard M. Squadron, AJCongress president, said he was “deeply gratified” by the action of Solicitor-General Wade Hampton McCree Jr., to appeal the District Court ruling to the Circuit Court of Appeals. Last week a delegation of AJCongress leaders met with McCree and other Justice Department officials and urged that an appeal be taken.

The former Nazi–Feodor Federenko, now a resident of Miami Beach–concealed his past as a guard in the Nazi death camp of Treblinka when he entered the United States in 1949 and when he applied for citizenship in 1970. At a denaturalization proceeding last June, Federenko admitted having portrayed himself as a Polish farmer who had been forced to work as a laborer for the Nazis. But he denied testimony by six Israeli survivors of Treblinka that they had seen Federenko torture and shoot prisoners there.

The trial was held near Waterbury, Conn., where Federenko once lived. On July 26, U.S. District Court Judge Norman C. Roettger ruled in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. that Federenko could keep his citizenship. The Immigration and Naturalization Service, he ruled, had failed to prove the Ukrainian-born Federenko guilty of having committed any atrocities. Roettger also said that the defendant had lived an exemplary life since entering the United States.

The AJCongress meeting with the Justice Department officials followed a letter to McCree from the AJCongress which said the trial judgment was “defective,” that Roettger was guilty of “gross judicial impropriety” and that there was “sufficient and necessary basis for reversal on appeal.”

The letter was written by Phil Baum, director of the AJCongress Commission on International Affairs, who argued that the judge’s view that Federenko had committed no war crimes did not justify the ex-Nazi guard’s false statements when he entered the U.S. and that Federenko’s behavior as an American had no bearing on the case. Baum also said that Roettger had violated judicial propriety by holding a press conference while the trial was in session.

NEXT STORY