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Accused Nazi in Kansas City dies 2 months after shootout

Kansas City Jewish Chronicle
KANSAS CITY, Kan., March 11 (JTA) — After lying unconscious in a hospital bed since a New Year’s Eve shootout with police, an accused Nazi war criminal has died. Michael Kolnhofer died Sunday at the University of Kansas Medical Center. He was 80. The U.S. Justice Department had sought to revoke Kolnhofer’s citizenship because he was suspected of concealing his wartime past when he immigrated to the United States. He was accused of being a guard at two concentration camps during World War II. Kolnhofer was injured in an exchange of gunfire that ensued after reporters gathered at his home Dec. 31, after federal authorities filed papers seeking to denaturalize the Croatian native. Kolnhofer rebuffed the journalists’ initial inquiries and threatened them with a handgun. When police arrived at his suburban ranch home, Kolnhofer fired his weapon. They returned fire, striking Kolnhofer in the leg. During surgery, doctors believe, Kolnhofer suffered brain damage, and he never regained consciousness. On Jan. 2, Kolnhofer was charged with three counts of aggravated assault against law enforcement officers. In light of his health, a formal reading of the charges in Wyandotte County District Court never occurred. Now the federal charges against him will never be aired in court, either. The Office of Special Investigations, the Justice Department’s Nazi- hunting arm, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office filed a complaint alleging that Kolnhofer entered the German Waffen-SS in September 1942 and served as a guard at the Sachsenhausen and Buchenwald camps. The complaint alleged that Kolnhofer lied about his World War II military service in order to enter the United States in 1952. He became a U.S. citizen in 1957. Kolnhofer was charged with participating in the persecution of Jews and other civilians at Sachsenhausen, near Berlin. He was transferred in January, 1944, to Buchenwald, near Weimar, Germany. “He never would have received a U.S. visa had he disclosed the truth,” said Eli Rosenbaum, director of OSI.