ALBANY, N.Y. (Jul. 1)
Walter J. Rockler, head of the newly-reorganized federal special unit responsible for Nazi war criminal investigations, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that a New Orleans federal appeals court ruling against Feodor Federenko would “tend to strengthen the position of the office of special investigation.” Rockler made the statement in a telephone interview from Washington. The special investigation unit is in the criminal division of the U.S. Justice Department.
The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans Thursday reversed the decision by U.S. District Judge Norman C. Roettger, Jr. in Fort Lauderdale, Fla, that had held that Federenko, a one-time guard at the Treblinka death camp, could retain his U.S. citizenship.
In a 3-0 ruling, the appeals court instructed Judge Roettger to revoke the citizenship of Federenko because he had lied about serving as a Treblinka guard when he entered the United States in 1949. Federenko told immigration authorities then that he had been a farmer and a factory worker during World War 11. Judge Roettger had ruled that Federenko’s lie had not been serious enough to justify revoking his citizenship.
The appeals court held that by concealing his Nazi past, Federenko prevented the government from conducting an investigation at the time of his entry. Such an investigation might have produced evidence that would have warranted denial of his entry or granting of citizenship.
The appeals court instructed Judge Roettger to “cancel the certificate of naturalization issued to the defendant” in 1970. The denaturalization order, which can be appealed to the Supreme Court, will presumably be followed by deportation proceedings to return Federenko to his native Ukraine.
“Immigration law does not allow a defense in a naturalization case, that a material misrepresentation was motivated by fear of what might have resulted if the applicant told the truth,” the appeals court ruled.
HOLTZMAN CALLS IT ‘VICTORY’
Rep. Elizabeth Holtzman, (D.N.Y.) chairman of the House Judiciary subcommittee responsible for Nazi war criminal cases; issued a statement in Washington that she was “extremely gratified” by the appeals court ruling. She also said “this is a tremendously important victory which will help facilitate the prosecution of all suspected war criminals who have found sanctuary in the United States. I heartily congratulate the Justice Department and the Solicitor General’s office which argued the appeal for their fine efforts.”
In New York, Howard M. Squadron, president of the American Jewish Congress, said today he was “deeply gratified” by the court ruling. He recalled that the AJCongress had led a delegation to the Justice Department in Washington, which successfully urged Attorney General Griffen Bell to appeal the lower court decision which held that Federenko could remain in the U.S. as a citizen. The AJCongress also wrote a friend of the court brief, submitted to the appeals court, which argued – as the court eventually ruled – that Federenko’s false statements on entering the country was grounds for revoking his citizenship.