MILWAUKEE (Feb. 27)
A federal judge will have to decide whether the government has met “the heavy burden of proof” necessary to strip former Nazi concentration camp guard Anton Baumann of his U.S. citizenship.
The 79-year-old retiree from West Allis, Wis., who admitted membership in the notorious Waffen SS Death’s Head Battalion during World War II, is accused of illegally concealing his service as a guard at the Stutthof and Buchenwald concentration camps when he applied for a U.S. visa in Salzburg, Austria, in 1950.
Judge Thomas Curran, who presided at Baumann’s denaturalization hearing Jan. 2 to 4, asked both sides to submit final arguments in writing.
Three attorneys for the U.S. Justice Department’s Office of Special Investigations who are prosecuting the case presented their written arguments Feb. 19 after a Jan. 22 summation in court.
Their brief contains the testimony of two Stutthof survivors, Sam Israelski of Great Neck, N.Y., and Jan Szczepanski of Poland, and a former State Department visa analyst, Frank Walters of Silver Spring, Md.
Defense attorney David Cannon of Milwaukee has attempted to discredit the witnesses to substantiate his argument that the government failed to produce the quality of proof necessary to strip someone of “a right as valuable as citizenship.”
According to OSI attorneys Susan Siegal, Betty Shave and Susan Masling, it was sufficient that Baumann was a concentration camp guard to have denied him a visa. They argued that Walters’ testimony confirmed that “all concentration camp guards were per se ineligible for a visa” to enter the United States.
TESTIMONY OF SURVIVORS AT ISSUE
The OSI document backed up Walters’ testimony with the finding of the U.S. Supreme Court in the 1981 case of United States vs. Fedorenko, that “concentration camp guards were per se prohibited from entering the United States” under the Displaced Persons Act because they “acquiesced” and “assisted in the persecution” of civilians because of race, religion, national origin and political opinion.
Prior to the trial, Baumann identified a photo of himself in an SS uniform from a personnel file found in the Stutthof museum and archive.
His attorney contended that the testimony of the Stutthof survivors “adds nothing to the particular case.”
He argued that Walters “provided no substantive testimony” for the government’s case because he did not work in Salzburg when Baumann applied there for a visa.
He thus did not know “what actually transpired in the processing at that location during the years in question,” Cannon wrote.
But the OSI attorneys contended that the two Stutthof survivors corroborated “documentary evidence regarding the role of the guards at Stutthof in ensuring the operation of the camp and the persecution of prisoners.”
Curran’s clerk, Teresa McLaughlin, gave no indication when the judge would reach or announce his decision.