NEW ORLEANS (Apr. 19)
The Federal Court of Appeals will hear arguments here Monday on a lower court decision permitting a former Nazi concentration camp guard to keep his American citizenship even though he concealed his past to obtain it.
The Department of Justice agreed to appeal the ruling in response to an “urgent request” from the American Jewish Congress. Howard Squadron, president of the AJCongress, said he was “deeply gratified” by the action of Solicitor-General Wade Hampton McCree, Jr. in deciding to appeal the District Court ruling to the Circuit Court of Appeals here.
The AJCongress, joined by the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith, filed a friend of the court brief in the appeal. Phil Baum, associate executive director of the AJCongress, drafted the brief which was also signed by Arnold Forster and Jeffrey Sinensky of the ADL.
FACTS IN THE CASE
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.
On July 26, 1978, U.S. District Court Judge Norman Roettger ruled in Fort Lauderdale, Flo, 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.
NO GROUNDS FOR EXONERATION
The AJCongress-ADL brief rejects the District Court judgment that Federenko deserved consideration because he was “on excellent worker who did not speak unkindly of anyone.” The brief continues. “It is hardly surprising that an alien who gained entry by deliberate misrepresentations would be scrupulously careful during his subsequent residency in the U.S. to shun anything that might bring him public notice. Indeed, every individual now in this country whom there may be reason to suspect of complicity in war crimes has compotted himself while in the U.S. with extreme circumspection.”
The brief also states that Judge Roettger “directly contravened the canons of judicial ethics by criticizing the credibility of the government’s witnesses to the press while the trial was in progress.” The brief cites a press conference held by the lower court judge during which he commented “on matters central and germane to the proceedings,” adding: “His conduct constituted gross judicial impropriety which we submit constitutes at the very lea? grounds for vacating the court’s judgment and ordering a new trial.”