FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 17, 2004
TDD (202) 514-1888
GOVERNMENT MOVES TO DEPORT
NAZI DEATH CAMP GUARD JOHN DEMJANJUK
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Assistant Attorney General Christopher A. Wray of the Criminal Division announced today that the Department of Justice has asked an immigration judge to deport John Demjanjuk, a retired auto-worker who served during World War II as an armed guard at the Nazi’s Sobibor extermination camp, Majdanek concentration camp and Flossenbürg concentration camp.
In April 2004, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit unanimously affirmed a lower court decision revoking Demjanjuk’s U.S. citizenship on multiple grounds, including his “willing” service in an SS-run unit “dedicated to exploiting and exterminating” Jewish civilians in Nazi-occupied Poland. Some 250,000 men, women and children were murdered at Sobibor; at least 170,000 civilians died at the Madjanek concentration camp; and 30,000 civilians perished at Flossenbürg.
“John Demjanjuk’s involvement in the infamous process through which thousands of innocent men, women, and children were gassed to death at Sobibor clearly deprives him of any legal or moral right to live in this country,” Assistant Attorney General Wray said. “To allow him to remain in the United States would be an insult of the first order to survivors of the Holocaust, to family members of those who perished and to veterans of the U.S. forces whose heroism helped bring an end to the Nazi reign of terror.”
As a Sobibor guard, Demjanjuk is only the second person to be prosecuted in the United States for having served at one of the four Nazi camps constructed solely to murder civilians. The Supreme Court denied Demjanjuk’s petition for review on Nov. 16, 2004, and on Dec. 14, 2004, the District Court lifted the stay order it had imposed in 2002, thereby allowing the government to proceed with a deportation case.
Demjanjuk, 84, immigrated to the United States in 1952 under the Displaced Persons Act, a statute intended to benefit the victims of Axis brutality. He became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1958. In a 2002 decision revoking Demjanjuk’s U.S. citizenship, Chief Judge Paul R. Matia of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio specifically found that Demjanjuk participated in “the process by which thousands of Jews were murdered by asphyxiation” in the gas chambers at Sobibor. Chief Judge Matia also found that, by serving as an armed guard at Majdanek and Flossenbürg, Demjanjuk prevented prisoners from escaping the “inhumane” conditions in those camps, including physical and psychological abuse, forced labor and murder.
A charging document filed today by the Justice Department’s Office of Special Investigations (OSI) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) states that Demjanjuk should be deported because of his participation in Nazi-sponsored persecution while serving as an armed SS guard at Sobibor, Majdanek, and Flossenbürg; and because he lied about his wartime occupations and residences when he applied for a U.S. immigration visa in 1952.
“Today, we begin to write the final chapter in the U.S. government’s effort to ensure that John Demjanjuk does not evade responsibility for his role in helping the Nazi regime realize its genocidal aims,” OSI Director Eli M. Rosenbaum stated. “Our goal is to remove him from this country as expeditiously as possible.”
The Demjanjuk case is a result of OSI’s ongoing efforts to identify, investigate and take legal action against former participants in Nazi persecution who reside in the United States. Since OSI began operations in 1979, it has won cases against 95 individuals who assisted in Axis-sponsored persecution. In addition, more than 170 individuals who sought to enter the United States in recent years have been blocked from doing so as a result of OSI's “Watch List” program, which is enforced in cooperation with the Department of Homeland Security.