Department of Justice Seal

SEPTEMBER 16, 1998
(202) 514-2008
TDD (202) 514-1888


WASHINGTON, D.C. -- A federal judge yesterday revoked the citizenship of a former concentration camp guard now living in Guilford, Connecticut, the Justice Department announced.

The order by Judge Janet Bond Arterton of the U.S. District Court in New Haven, denaturalized Walter Berezowskyj, 73, a retired steel industry machine operator.

"Nazi concentration camp guards participated in some of the most infamous crimes in history," said Eli M. Rosenbaum, Director of the Office of Special Investigations. "Fundamental principles of justice require that such individuals not be permitted to retain the precious privilege of United States citizenship. The denaturalization of Walter Berezowskyj represents a significant vindication of that proposition."

The court order was issued in conjunction with an agreement with Berezowskyj. In that agreement, Berezowskyj admitted that when he entered the United States in 1949, he violated an immigration provision barring the admission of persons who had assisted in the Nazi-sponsored persecution of civilians during World War II, and another provision barring the admission of persons who had made material misrepresentations to U.S. officials seeking to gain entry to the United States.

In July 1997, OSI and the U.S. Attorney's office in Connecticut filed a six-count complaint against Berezowskyj containing detailed allegations concerning his service for the Nazis. According to the complaint, Berezowskyj began training in April 1943 at the Trawniki Training Camp, an SS facility in Poland that prepared recruits to assist in "Operation Reinhard," the Nazi campaign to annihilate Jews in Poland. In May 1943, Berezowskyj was transferred to serve as an armed guard at the nearby SS Labor Camp Poniatowa, where thousands of Jewish civilians were interned under inhumane conditions. On November 4, 1943, while Berezowskyj was serving at Poniatowa, all of the prisoners still alive there were shot to death as part of the final phase of Operation Reinhard.

The complaint alleged further that by at least July 1944, Berezowskyj was guarding prisoners at the Gusen subcamp of the infamous Mauthausen Concentration Camp near Linz, Austria, as a member of the "SS Death's Head Battalion Mauthausen" (SS Totenkopf-Sturmbann Mauthausen). Thousands of prisoners from all over Europe were incarcerated at Gusen because of their race, religion, national origin, or political opinion. Many Gusen prisoners were murdered directly by the guards, while others died from exhaustion, starvation, and disease.

As part of the settlement agreement, Berezowskyj agreed to relinquish his U. S. citizenship and conceded that he is subject to removal (deportation) from the United States. The government agreed that it would not attempt to remove Berezowskyj from the United States absent an improvement in his rapidly deteriorating medical condition.

Rosenbaum said that the case is the result of OSI's ongoing efforts to identify and prosecute former participants in Nazi-sponsored acts of persecution who reside in the United States. To date, 60 Nazi persecutors have been stripped of U.S. citizenship as a result of OSI's efforts, and 48 such persons have been removed from the United States. Nearly 300 persons remain under investigation.