WASHINGTON (Oct. 18)
Bruno Karl Blach, an alleged Nazi war criminal living in Los Angeles, was arrested by the Justice Department Tuesday night following an extradition request issued by West Germany in late June.
The 69-year-old Blach has been accused by a West German district court of “having killed three persons in Austria en route from Wiener Neudorf to Mauthausen between April 2 and April 14, 1945, in a cruel manner and acting from base motives.” Wiener Neudorf and Mauthausen were concentration camps.
The accusation was contained in a June 28 West German warrant for Blach’s arrest. The district court in Duisburg said that “prosecution for murder is not subject to a statute of limitations” under West German law.
At Blach’s arraignment Wednesday afternoon, the U.S. District Court for Los Angeles ordered him to be held without bail, according to a Justice Department source.
There will be a second hearing Monday on the question of bail. The actual extradition hearing will be held Dec. 5 in Los Angeles.
The Blach case marks the fourth time since World War II that the United States will conduct extradition proceedings against an alleged Nazi war criminal and marks West Germany’s second extradition request to the United States.
Bonn also has a pending request with Argentina for the extradition of alleged Nazi war criminal Josef Schwammberger.
Since 1985, the Justice Department’s Office of Special Investigations had been trying to deport Blach, who was born to an ethnic German family in Czechoslovakia in 1919 and who immigrated to the United States from Vienna in 1956.
EXTRADITION WILL TAKE PRECEDENCE
In 1987, a U.S. immigration court found that Blach had served as a guard in the Nazi SS and as a dog handler at the Dachau concentration camp from 1940 to 1943, and at Wiener Neudorf, Austria, from 1943 to 1945.
Blach’s appeal of the deportation order is still pending, but an extradition order “will take precedence over that,” said the Justice Department source.
The U.S. court ordered Blach deported to West Germany, the country of which he is a naturalized citizen.
OSI would rather see him extradited than deported, since he would likely have the choice of which country he would be deported to, “and might not end up in Germany,” the source added.
The other three Nazi extradition cases in postwar U.S. history were against.
Hermine Braunsteiner-Ryan, who was extradited in 1973 to West Germany. She was sentenced in 1980 to life imprisonment, a sentence that she is still serving. She was convicted on multiple counts of murder as a guard at the Ravensbruck concentration camp.
Andrija Artukovic of Surfside, Calif., who was minister of interior in the Nazi state of Croatia. In 1986, Artukovic was extradited to Yugoslavia, where he was convicted of mass murder and sentenced to death. He died in prison in 1988 while his appeal for clemency was pending.
John Demjanjuk of Cleveland, accused of mass murder at the Treblinka death camp. He was denaturalized in 1981, extradited to Israel in 1986 and was convicted in 1988 by a Jerusalem court.
Demjanjuk’s appeal of an Israeli death sentence is before the Israeli Supreme Court.
His appeal had been scheduled for November, but was delayed again until May, following charges by Yoram Sheftel, his lawyer, that OSI withheld documents requested by Demjanjuk’s family under the Freedom of Information Act.