NEW YORK (Jul. 13)
The U.S. Justice Department has filed a complaint to revoke the American citizenship of an Ohio man accused of concealing his wartime past.
George Lindert, 69, a retired aluminum worker from Canfield, southwest of Youngstown, is accused of having been an SS guard at a concentration camp during World War II.
According to the Justice Department’s complaint, Lindert joined the Waffen SS in the spring of 1942 and was in the SS Death’s Head Battalion at Mauthausen, in Austria, both at its main concentration camp and its Loibl-Pass subcamp.
The complaint was filed July 7 in U.S. District Court in Cleveland by the Justice Department’s Office of Special Investigations and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Ohio.
It is OSI’s fourth move against a suspected Nazi war criminal in recent weeks.
According to the complaint, Lindert concealed his service as an SS guard when he entered the United States in 1955 and when he successfully applied for U.S. citizenship in 1962.
He came to the United States from Salzburg, Austria, under the Refugee Relief Act of 1953.
For 25 years, Lindert worked for Easco, an aluminum manufacturing plant in Austintown, near Youngstown. He retired in 1985.
Lindert told the Cleveland Plain Dealer, “I was never SS. I was drafted in the army. What choice did I have? I was a guard at the camp, but I worked along the fence. I never saw anyone killed.”
To date, 42 Nazi war criminals or collaborators have been stripped of U.S. citizenship, and 30 have been deported.
AN ACCELERATED PACE
OSI’s activities have been moving at an accelerated clip in recent months, with the office processing several cases against alleged Nazis living in various parts of the country.
In early June, Michael Schmidt of Lincolnwood, Ill., a former SS guard at the Sachsenhausen concentration camp in Germany, agreed to leave the country rather than face deportation proceedings.
The following week, OSI filed charges of concealing his wartime past against Jonas Stelmokas, a retired Philadelphia architect charged with having been a high-ranking officer who helped Nazis murder Lithuanian Jews.
A week later, OSI filed similar charges against Jack Reimer of upstate New York, who, the office said, took part in the mass killing of Jews in Poland.
The department has been helped in its work by new access to documents obtained from the archives of Lithuania, Russia, Ukraine and other Eastern European countries.
OSI has been beleaguered of late because of doubts voiced in Israel and the United States over the veracity of claims that convicted war criminal John Demjanjuk was the Treblinka concentration camp guard known as “Ivan the Terrible.”
Demjanjuk has been sentenced by Israel to hang. But now the country’s High Court of Justice is entertaining doubts as to whether the right man was convicted of the right crimes.
Supporters of Demjanjuk predicate their belief that OSI got the wrong man on new evidence obtained from the former Soviet Union that points to a man named Ivan Marchenko as the brutal Treblinka guard.
But the very same adversaries of OSI used to reject the credibility of evidence obtained from the Soviet Union when it was a Communist power.
The staff at OSI sees the irony in this.
Its two dozen or so staff members, including lawyers, researchers and clerical workers, have had to devote a lot of time in the past to fielding criticism. Now they are again having to defend their work even as they move forward with new cases.