NEW YORK (Apr. 2)
As one former SS guard was arriving in Austria last week, the Justice Department’s Office of Special Investigations began proceedings against another elderly man similarly charged with serving during World War II as a Death’s Head Battalion guard at two concentration camps.
OSI said last week it had begun action to revoke the citizenship of Anton Baumann, 77, of West Allis, Wis., who it alleges served the Nazis as an armed SS guard at the Stutthof and Buchenwald concentration camps.
Charges against Baumann were filed March 29 in U.S. district court in Milwaukee. The proceedings were announced Thursday, just as Josef Eckert, 75, was reported to have arrived in Salzburg, Austria.
Eckert, a former resident of La Puente, Calif., admitted last year of having served as an SS guard at Auschwitz.
Eckert voluntarily removed himself from the United States in compliance with U.S. government wishes to deport him, avoiding a trial in his case.
Both Eckert and Baumann are natives of Yugoslavia. Eckert, unlike Baumann, had never become a U.S. citizen. This spared the U.S. government of having to undertake lengthy denaturalization proceedings against him.
OSI is seeking to revoke Baumann’s citizenship on the grounds that he allegedly concealed and misrepresented his wartime activities when applying for immigration to the United States in 1950 and again in 1956 when applying for U.S. citizenship.
SHOOTINGS, HANGINGS, TORTURE
In violation of the Immigration Act of 1924, Baumann failed to report his membership in the SS Totenkopf-Sturmbann (Death’s Head Battalion) and service as a guard at Stutthof, in Poland, and Buchenwald, in Germany.
At the two camps, “prisoners were subjected to shooting, hangings, starvation, torture, forced labor, disease and a variety of grotesque medical experiments conducted on unwilling inmates, including Jews, Poles, children, political prisoners and Soviet POWs,” the OSI charged.
The complaint argues that because of his activities and failure to disclose them, “Baumann lacked the good moral character required of those seeking to obtain United States citizenship.”
Baumann joined the Waffen SS on Nov. 18, 1942 and served at Buchenwald in 1943, according to the OSI complaint.
Individuals charged with concealing their Nazi past are located through an exhaustive procedure that OSI carries out by comparing names on wartime lists with immigration records. Each match is then researched in the archives of relevant European countries.
Neal Sher, director of OSI, said nearly 600 individuals are currently under OSI’s investigation.
Lately, these cases have been proceeding more quickly, said Eli Rosenbaum, deputy director of the Nazi-hunting agency.
“Once we sent (Karl) Linnas to the Soviet Union and (Andrija) Artukovic to Yugoslavia, our other suspects realized how serious we were and how we were going to use the very limited legal framework in which we operate to advantage,” he said.