WASHINGTON (May. 1)
United States sources have verified that Hans Lipschis, the first Nazi war criminal to have been deported in more than 30 years for concealing his crimes, is now in West Germany, according to Eli Rosenbaum of the Justice Department’s Office of Special Investigations (OSI). Rosenbaum was one of three OSI prosecutors in the Lipschis case.
For some time, there had been some question as to where Lipschis went after he was ordered deported. He was scheduled to leave the U.S. for West Germany on April 21, but did not appear for the flight arranged by the OSI. His attorney, Paul Zumbakis, that day informed OSI acting director Neal Sher that Lipschis had departed for West Germany a week earlier. This, however, could not be verified until late last week.
An admitted former SS-Rottenfuehrer (Corporal) at the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp complex, Lipschis on December 23, 1982 conceded charges against him were not contested. On that date, U.S Immigration Judge Anthony Petrone ordered Lipschis, a West German citizen, deported there with in 120 days, Lipschis was born Antanas Lipsys in Kretinga, Lithuania on November 7, 1919, and obtained German citizenship in 1943.
The OSI filed a deportation suit against Lipschis, a permanent resident, on June 8, 1982 in U.S. Immigration Court, Chicago, “It’s a source of great satisfaction that we were able to complete this case within only 10 months from the time of filing,” Rosenbaum said.
CHARGES IN THE DEPORTATION SUIT
Charging that Lipschis had served from 1943 to 1945 in various units of the SS-Totenkopf Sturmbann (Death’s Head Battalion) at Auschwitz Birkenau the OSI alleged that he personally participated in the persecution of civilians confined there, and that he “ordered, incited, assisted, or otherwise participated in the persecution of persons …because of their race, religion, national origin, or political opinion.”
According to OSI documentation, Lipschis was in 1946 “included by the War Crimes Group, Deputy Theatre Judge Advocate’s Office, United States Forces European Theatre on a ‘List of Perpetrators’ of war crimes” at Auschwitz, and his “apprehension was sought by U.S, authorities” from that date.
Lipschis, a retired factory worker, entered the U.S, on August 15, 1956 and resided since then in Chicago. He was charged with “concealing and misrepresenting” on his visa application his activities at Auschwitz-Birkenau.
Sher said of Lipschis’ deportation: ‘No longer can it be said that the threat of deportation is an idle one. Our investigations continue; our prosecutions continue. Lipschis is the first to be deported on war crimes charges, but he won’t be the last.”
Commenting on the deportation of Lipschis, Rep. Peter Rodino (D. N.J.), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said it came at a “most fitting time” during the week of the American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors in Washington. The deportation of Lipschis “serves as an additional reminder of the Nazi atrocities and as a reaffirmation of our oft-stated policy that none of the perpetrators be allowed to find sanctuary in the United States.”
Rodino said that while he salutes the “fine work” of the OSI in its pursuit of Lipschis, “it is sadly true that our government took way too long before seriously trying to track down Nazi war criminals living in America. I am extremely proud of the role of the Judiciary Committee over the years in galvanizing the government to act against war criminals living here.”
The legislator pledged that his committee would continue to work with the OSI to ensure that other war criminals “who continue to enjoy secret refuge” in the U.S. would also be prosecuted.
ISRAEL ASKED TO ACCEPT TRIFA
Meanwhile, in a related development, the Justice Department has asked Israel to accept Archbishop Valerian Trifa who has also been ordered deported. Trifa, the head of the Rumanian Orthodox Episcopate in America, was a leader of the Iron Guard in wartime Rumania and played a leading role in the January, 1941 Bucharest pogrom. Switzerland, Italy and West Germany have refused to accept him. Israeli officials are now examining whether to accept Trifa and whether to put him on trial should he come there. A member of the U.S. Justice Department is slated to arrive in Israel this week to discuss the matter with the Justice Ministry.