Justice News

Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, March 19, 2009
Wisconsin Man Who Participated in 1943 Massacre of 8,000 Jews Is Deported to Austria

WASHINGTON – A former Nazi concentration camp guard who settled in Racine, Wis., after World War II and acquired U.S. citizenship, has been removed to Austria due to his participation in Nazi-sponsored acts of persecution during World War II, Acting Assistant Attorney General Rita M. Glavin of the Criminal Division and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Acting Assistant Secretary John P. Torres announced today.

Josias Kumpf, 83, served as an armed SS Death’s Head guard at the Nazi-run Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp in Germany and at the Trawniki Labor Camp in German-occupied Poland. Kumpf also served at slave labor sites in Nazi-occupied France where prisoners under his watch built launching platforms for Germany’s V-1 and V-2 missile attacks on England. During his service at Trawniki, he participated in a mass shooting in which 8,000 men, women and children were murdered in a single day, on Nov. 3, 1943.

"Josias Kumpf, by his own admission, stood guard with orders to shoot any surviving prisoners who attempted to escape an SS massacre that left thousands of Jews dead," said Acting Assistant Attorney General Rita M. Glavin. "His court-ordered removal from the United States to Austria is another milestone in the government’s long-running effort to ensure that individuals who participated in crimes against humanity do not find sanctuary in this country."

Kumpf, who was born in Serbia, joined the SS Death’s Head guard forces at the Sachsenhausen Camp in October 1942 and served there for one year before transferring to the Trawniki Labor Camp in German-occupied Poland. During the Justice Department’s investigation of his activities, Kumpf admitted that he participated in a murderous November 1943 Nazi operation. Bearing the code name "Aktion Erntefest" (Operation Harvest Festival), the operation resulted in the murder of approximately 42,000 Jewish men, women and children at three camps in German-occupied eastern Poland in only two days. Kumpf helped guard approximately 8,000 Jewish prisoners – including approximately 400 children – who were shot and killed in pits at Trawniki. According to Kumpf, his assignment was to watch for victims who were still "halfway alive" or "convulsing" and prevent their escape. If any of the prisoners attempted to escape, he stated his job was to "shoot them to kill."

Kumpf immigrated to the United States from Austria in 1956 and became a U.S. citizen in 1964. In 2003, the Criminal Division’s Office of Special Investigations (OSI) and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Wisconsin brought suit to denaturalize Kumpf. The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin revoked his citizenship in May 2005. OSI investigated that case, and litigated the subsequent removal action. ICE carried out the physical removal of Kumpf to Austria.

OSI Director Eli M. Rosenbaum stated, "The removal of Josias Kumpf to Austria has achieved a significant measure of justice on behalf of the victims of Nazi inhumanity and it reflects the unswerving commitment of the U.S. government to continuing that quest for justice."

ICE Acting Assistant Secretary John P. Torres stated, "Today’s removal brings justice to the families who were victimized by the reprehensible acts that this man committed. The U.S. government will work tirelessly to identify and arrest those who have committed crimes against humanity so that they may not seek to gain safe haven in the United States."

Kumpf’s removal to Austria was a result of combined efforts by the Departments of Justice, State and Homeland Security on various law enforcement and diplomatic fronts. Kumpf’s removal is part of OSI’s continuing efforts to identify, investigate and take legal action against participants in Nazi crimes of persecution who reside in the United States. Since OSI began operations in 1979, it has won cases against 107 individuals who participated in Nazi crimes of persecution. In addition, attempts to enter the United States by more than 180 individuals implicated in wartime Axis crimes have been prevented as a result of OSI’s "Watch List" program, which is enforced in cooperation with the Departments of State and Homeland Security.

09-252