Menu JTA Search

Nazi Collaborator Leaves U.S. As His Citizenship is Revoked

A Tennessee man whose U.S. citizenship was revoked for lying about his wartime past has left the country after agreeing not to contest Justice Department charges against him.

Jozsef Szendi, an admitted Hungarian Nazi collaborator, had his citizenship revoked last Friday in U.S. District Court in Cookeville, Tenn. Szendi left the United States sometime last week, before Friday’s hearing.

Szendi admitted that he was subject to denaturalization in a settlement agreement with the Justice Department. He admitted serving in a special detachment of the Royal Hungarian Gendarmerie alongside the National Organization of Accountability, both pro-Nazi groups.

Justice Department officials could not comment on Szendi’s destination.

There was no request for his extradition, but there is a warrant for his arrest in Hungary, said a Justice Department source.

The source said the Hungarian warrant relates to a book Szendi wrote, published in Budapest in 1991, in which he described his wartime activities with the Royal Hungarian Gendarmerie, a paramilitary organization which imprisoned and deported Jews; and the National Organization of Accountability, the security and intelligence operation of the Nazi-allied Arrow Cross.

The Justice Department alleged that the National Organization of Accountability was responsible for the assault, torture and killing of public officials, diplomats, political figures and unarmed Jewish civilians.

HELPED DEPORT JEWS TO AUSCHWITZ

Szendi, 78, a retired janitor who lived in Cookeville, Tenn., is a native of Hungary. He failed to mention his wartime activities when he applied to immigrate to the United States in 1956 and when he sought U.S. citizenship in 1964.

The Justice Department, together with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Nashville, Tenn., filed a complaint on Sept. 9, 1992 to revoke Szendi’s U.S. citizenship for lying about his wartime activities.

The complaint charged that Szendi voluntarily joined the Gendarmerie and National Organization of Accountability and personally transported Jews being deported from Hungary to Galicia — then Poland and now Ukraine — in 1941.

He went along on the convoy, guarding the Jews, he confessed to the Justice Department’s Office of Special Investigation.

The Gendarmerie deported some 16,000 to 18,000 Hungarian Jews to Galicia, where the Nazi SS shot them to death.

The complaint also alleged that in 1944, as part of his activity in the Gendarmerie, Szendi participated in confining Hungarian Jews to ghettos and deporting them to the Auschwitz death camp in Nazi-occupied Poland, where most of them were murdered in the gas chambers.

Szendi was arrested after the war in Romania as a suspected war criminal. But he got away and returned to Hungary, where he served under two years in prison before making his way to the United States.

Szendi is the 45th person stripped of U.S. citizenship because of wartime activities and the 37th removed from this country.

NEXT STORY