NEW YORK (Jul. 27)
After decades of a mostly peaceful existence, delivering potato chips in New York City and then living in the quiet upstate New York countryside, Jakob Reimer is about to revisit his Nazi past.
Reimer, 79, admits that he was a member of a Nazi SS unit, the murderous Trawniki death squad, which emptied Polish ghettoes of Jews and sent them to their deaths.
Prosecutors from the U.S. Justice Department’s Office of Special Investigations and from the U.S. Attorney’s Office are about to put Reimer on trial in an effort to get his U.S. citizenship revoked.
The trial is slated to begin Aug. 3 in Southern District Court, the first denaturalization proceeding of a Nazi war criminal to take place in Manhattan, home to thousands of aging Holocaust survivors.
Reimer’s defense attorney is Ramsey Clark, who served as the U.S. attorney general from 1967 to 1969.
From 1941 to 1945, prosecutors say, Reimer played a pivotal role in the murder of thousands of Jews in the ghettos, and sent millions more to their fate in labor and death camps.
If the prosecutors succeed in proving that Reimer lied on his 1952 application for a U.S. visa, they will be able to strip him of his citizenship and initiate deportation proceedings against him.
After arriving in Brooklyn, N.Y., Reimer spent his post-Holocaust years selling Wise potato chips and fathering two sons.
Later, after divorcing his wife, he moved to the upstate New York town of Lake Carmel and remarried, according to a 1994 story about his case in New York magazine.
In 1992, the top two people at OSI, the section of the Justice Department charged with prosecuting Nazi war criminals, interviewed Reimer.
He told Neal Sher, then OSI’s director, and Eli Rosenbaum, then No. 2 in the department, that he was not a ghetto liquidator but served as a stockroom guardsman.
He also admitted, however, that he had shot a Jew to death in a massacre at a ravine just outside of Trawniki.
Portions of the sworn interview with OSI, which as documents submitted when the lawsuit against Reimer was filed in 1992 are part of the public record, were published in the New York magazine story.
Reimer said that when he arrived at a ravine outside Trawniki in eastern Poland, his colleagues had shot 50 or 60 Jewish men.
He said that although he was a supervisor, he was late because he had overslept.
When he arrived and looked into the pit, one man was still alive, and pointing to his head. Reime??? stood about 15 feet away from the man who was almost entirely buried by corpses.
According to the OSI transcript, Rosenbaum said, “You finished him off.”
“I’m afraid so,” Reimer responded.
Clark, Ramsey’s attorney, has since become well known for representing the interests of the Iraqi government during the Persian Gulf War and figures including members of the Branch Davidians and perennial cult leader-political candidate Lyndon LaRouche. He did not return several phone messages left at his office.
On the eve of the trial, no one from OSI or the U.S. Attorney’s Office was willing to comment. Officials said that it was their policy not to comment on cases pending in court.