The U.S. Justice Department filed a motion in federal court here last week to revoke the U.S. citizenship of a New York state man without the customary legal proceedings, because he had admitted taking part in a massacre of Jews in Poland during World War II.
Jakob (Jack) Reimer, an ethnic German native of Ukraine, told Justice Department attorneys that as a sergeant in the Nazi SS, he had shot a man dead during a mass shooting of Jews in Poland.
The shooting took place in either 1941 or 1942 near his extermination unit’s headquarters, the death camp training facility at Trawniki.
The motion to summarily revoke Reimer’s citizenship, filed July 8 in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, is based on the grounds that Reimer’s taped confession is so incriminating that there is no need for a formal trial.
Reimer, 74, has maintained his innocence of war crimes.
His lawyer, former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark, told the court his client is innocent and was himself a victim of the war.
The Justice Department’s Office of Special Investigations first filed its complaint against Reimer in June 1992, a month after OSI attorneys interviewed him.
The complaint charged that Reimer “illegally procured his citizenship because he advocated or assisted in the persecution” of persons “because of race, religion or national origin, which rendered his entry to the United States unlawful” under the Displaced Persons Act.
A retired restaurant and food delivery manager who lives in Carmel, N.Y., Reimer was given a U.S. visa in 1952 and became a citizen in 1959. He was previously a German citizen, having become so in 1944.
Captured as a Soviet army officer in 1941, Reimer was held as a prisoner of war by the German army and transferred to the Trawniki training camp for SS guards in or around September 1941.
According to court documents, Reimer “admitted that, to his knowledge, the exclusive purpose of Trawniki was to train men to murder Jews.”
‘YOU FINISHED HIM OFF’
Among the court documents is a service oath he signed in 1941 in which he pledged “to obligate myself in the guard forces of the deputy of the Reichsfuhrer SS and chief of the German police — chief of the Order Police — for the establishment of SS and police bases in the new eastern area for the duration of the war.”
He was also assigned to the municipal police detachment in Czestochowa, Poland, on Sept. 19, 1942, during the forced deportations of the Jews there, and returned to Trawniki on Nov. 6, 1942, according to the court documents.
During his May 1, 1992 interrogation, Reimer told Eli Rosenbaum, principal deputy director of OSI, that he took part in a mass shooting of Jews at the labor camp attached to Trawniki.
Although Reimer at first claimed to have overslept during the extermination, he soon admitted that another man was sent to bring him to the ravine where the Jews were shot.
Reimer described seeing one victim of the mass shooting who has not been killed and was pointing to his head in a bid to be relieved of his misery.
Rosenbaum asked, “There’s something about the man who pointed to his head and that you haven’t told me?”
“Yes,” Reimer replied.
“You finished him off,” said Rosenbaum.
“I’m afraid so,” Reimer replied. “I don’t know if I hit his head. I don’t know that,” he added.
Shortly afterward, Rosenbaum said, “It’s clear now you participated in this execution of Jews, correct, as you just described, correct?”
“It seems that way,” Reimer said.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.