WASHINGTON (Dec. 21)
A federal judge here has revoked the U.S. citizenship of a Florida man accused of concealing his wartime service as a Nazi guard at the Auschwitz concentration camp, where more than a million people were murdered.
U.S. District Judge Joyce Hens Green issued the denaturalization order against Anton Bless, 67, of Lecanto, Fla., after he failed to respond to a complaint filed by the Justice Department’s Office of Special Investigations.
According to OSI, Bless fled the country for Germany when he learned of the Nazi-hunting unit’s intention of filing the complaint. His lawyer then informed the Justice Department that Bless would not defend himself against the charges.
OSI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office filed the complaint in September. It accused Bless, an ethnic German from Yugoslavia, of concealing his wartime service in the SS Death’s Head Battalion at Auschwitz when he entered the United States in 1956 and again when he applied for citizenship in 1964.
The complaint said Bless’ service in the SS involved assisting the Nazis in persecuting people because of their race, religion, national origin or political opinion.
Neal Sher, director of OSI, said revocation of Bless’ citizenship was the result of the department’s ongoing efforts to identify and take legal action against participants in Nazi persecution who reside in the United States.
To date, 44 war crimes suspects have been stripped of their U.S. citizenship as a result of OSI’s investigations and prosecutions, and 33 people have left or been removed from the United States.