NEW YORK (Mar. 5)
A former Nazi collaborator who lived in the United States for 40 years deported himself to Paraguay in December, according to the Justice Department’s Office of Special Investigations.
George Theodorovich, 66, who lived in Troy, N.Y., obtained a safe-conduct pass from the Paraguayan consul general in New York City on Dec. 6, 1988. It was signed by Felix Aguero.
Theodorovich was stripped of his American citizenship and ordered deported from the United States because of his involvement in the persecution of Jews in the Ukrainian city of Lvov.
Neil Sher, director of the OSI, in announcing the former collaborator’s departure Thursday, called it “a victory” that Theodorovich was no longer in this country.
In the past, OSI has come under criticism from Jewish groups who believe war criminals should be deported to Europe to stand trial for their crimes.
But OSI maintains that self-deportation in effect carries out the Justice Department’s aim of denying former Nazis safe haven.
Theodorovich is the 26th person to have been removed from the United States as a result of OSI investigations and prosecution.
Among the evidence OSI submitted were papers Theodorovich signed, as a Ukrainian policeman, accounting for the number of bullets used to kill individual Jews.
OSI also charged him with not disclosing his wartime activities when he entered the country in 1948.
The Ukrainian police reports indicated that in 1942, during brutal “actions” against Jews in Lvov, Theodorovich twice fired bullets, killing two Jews each time.
SOVIETS WANTED TO TRY HIM
Sher told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency Thursday, “I think this brings home, on a personal level, that individual men were taking the lives of innocent civilians. It took hundreds upon hundreds of Theodoroviches to perpetrate these ghastly crimes.”
The U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service in 1984 stripped Theodorovich of his U.S. citizenship. OSI then initiated deportation proceedings against him, and Theodorovich stood trial in federal court in Baltimore in 1985.
The government’s opening witness at the trial was Professor Raoul Hilberg of the University of Vermont.
Hilberg testified that the Nazi-organized Ukrainian police were instrumental in the roundup of Jews in Lvov in 1941 and 1942, reducing a population of an estimated 130,000 Jews to about 1,000, who survived only by hiding.
Theodorovich first denied, then admitted, having been in the Ukrainian police and having written the reports obtained from Soviet archives.
In 1987, an immigration judge found Theodorovich deportable on all charges. Theodorovich, who was a meatpacker, had asked to be deported to Argentina.
The OSI requested the Soviet Union, which indicated it would accept and try Theodorovich. But a deportee has the right to choose the country to which he will be deported. And the United States has no extradition treaty with the USSR.