Department of Justice Seal

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CRM TUESDAY, DECEMBER 16, 1997 (202) 514-2008 TDD (202) 514-1888


WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Department of Justice yesterday won an order of deportation against Johann Breyer, a Philadelphia resident who served in the Nazi SS as a guard at two notorious concentration camps during World War II.

Eli M. Rosenbaum, Director of the Criminal Division's Office of Special Investigations (OSI), said that during the time Breyer served as an armed SS guard at the infamous Auschwitz death camp complex between May and September 1944, at least 500,000 innocent civilians were murdered, including some 100,000 children. Rosenbaum said that concentration and death camp guards like Breyer were "an integral part of the Nazi apparatus of mass persecution." The Breyer decision, he added, is a result of OSI's ongoing investigation of Nazi persecutors residing illegally in the United States.

At a hearing yesterday in U.S. Immigration Court in Philadelphia, Immigration Judge Craig DeBernardis issued an oral decision that Breyer, 72, a retired tool and dye maker, be deported to the Republic of Slovakia, where he was born. The order of deportation was based on Breyer's admitted service in the SS-Totenkopf (SS Death's Head) guard detachments at the Buchenwald Concentration Camp and the Auschwitz Death Camp in Nazi-occupied Poland.

In granting OSI's motion for an order of deportation, Judge DeBernardis found that Breyer's wartime service as an armed SS Death's Head guard at the Buchenwald and Auschwitz camps constituted assistance in the Nazi program of persecution based on race, religion, political opinion, and national origin. The Judge's decision also found that Breyer's Waffen-SS service constituted membership in a movement hostile to the United States, which rendered him ineligible to immigrate to the United States.

The decision was predicated on findings made in 1993 by U.S. District Court Judge William H. Yohn, Jr., during the course of a denaturalization suit brought by OSI. Judge Yohn's decision to revoke Breyer's U.S. citizenship was affirmed by the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in November 1994.

In a sworn interview with OSI attorneys in 1991, Breyer admitted that he served as an armed guard of prisoners at

Buchenwald beginning in February 1943 and at Auschwitz beginning in May 1944, with orders to shoot prisoners attempting escape. Breyer also admitted that he guarded prisoners on slave labor details at Auschwitz, that he was aware while guarding Auschwitz that women and children were imprisoned there, and that he saw smoke rising from the crematoria there where bodies were being burned.

To date, 60 Nazi persecutors have been stripped of U.S. citizenship as a result of OSI's investigations and prosecutions, and 48 persons have been removed from the United States. Some 300 persons remain under investigation. Rosenbaum stated that his Office "will seek to have Johann Breyer removed from this country as expeditiously as possible."