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Court revokes U.S. citizenship of ex-Treblinka guard in Illinois

NEW YORK, April 13 (JTA) — An Illinois man who took part in a World War II massacre of Jews and who served at Treblinka has been stripped of his American citizenship, the U.S. Justice Department announced. District Judge David Coar in Chicago ruled late last week that Bronislaw Hajda was ineligible for citizenship because he concealed his wartime activities from U.S. officials when he applied to immigrate in 1950 and when he applied to become a citizen in 1955. “The court’s decision confirms that individuals, like Hajda, who helped the Nazis realize their genocidal ambitions had no right to enter this country, much less to receive the privilege of United States citizenship,” Eli Rosenbaum, director of the Office of Special Investigations, the Nazi-hunting arm of the Justice Department, said in a statement. Bronislaw Hajda, 73, a retired factory worker living in Schiller Park, Ill., had served as an armed guard for the SS training camp Trawinki, the Treblinka labor camp and the SS Streibel Battalion. The judge found that he “unquestionably” participated in the massacre carried out by the guards when the Nazis liquidated Treblinka in 1944 as Allied forces approached. On that day, hundreds of Jewish prisoners were shot at point-blank range in a pit by the camp guards. After the liquidation, Hajda joined the SS Streibel Battalion, which forcibly conscripted Polish civilians as slave laborers to build military fortifications. Hajda had told immigration officials that he spent most of the war working as a shoemaker. At his trial last month, he said he was a victim of misidentification. A U.S. official said the government would now seek to have Hajda deported. The director of the Chicago-area Jewish Community Relations Council, Michael Kotzin, said, “No matter how much may have passed since the Holocaust era, those who participated in the Nazi atrocities must be held responsible for what they did.”