FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
WEDNESDAY, JULY 31, 2002
TDD (202) 514-1888
FEDERAL COURT REVOKES U.S. CITIZENSHIP OF FORMER
GESTAPO INTERROGATOR WHO PARTICIPATED IN NAZI MASS MURDER
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Department of Justice announced today that a federal court in Pensacola, Florida has denaturalized a Panama City, Florida, man charged with participating in the mass murder of Jews and other civilians in 1942 and 1943 during the Nazi occupation of Belarus while serving in the Gestapo, the Nazis’ Secret State Police.
The federal court entered a default judgment Monday in the Government’s denaturalization action against Michael Gorshkow, age 79. The Government initiated the case in May 2002, seeking to revoke Gorshkow’s U.S. citizenship on grounds that he had not lawfully immigrated to the United States because he had assisted in Nazi-sponsored acts of persecution. Gorshkow, who recently left the United States, did not respond to the Government’s complaint.
The complaint charged that Gorshkow worked during 1942 and 1943 as a Gestapo interpreter and interrogator at the headquarters of the German security police in Minsk, Belarus, and that he participated in a Nazi killing action at the Jewish ghetto in nearby Slutsk in February 1943. Some 3,000 Jewish men, women, and children were shot to death at pits or burned alive when Nazi-led forces set fire to the ghetto and blocked the Jews from leaving.
Michael Chertoff, Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Criminal Division said, “The court’s decision is an important victory on behalf of the victims of Nazi torture and murder in Nazi-occupied Belarus. Gorshkow’s silence and his departure from the United States testify to the strength of the Government’s case against him.” OSI Director Eli M. Rosenbaum added, “The Nazis’ advance order for the liquidation of the Slutsk ghetto identifies Gorshkow by name as one of the Gestapo men deployed to participate in the horrific 1943 massacre of Jewish men, women, and children at Slutsk.”
According to the complaint, the Gestapo and other elements of the German security police in Minsk were charged with enforcing Nazi racial and political policies in Belarus, including the extermination of Jewish residents and the suppression of communists. Nearly a half million Jews were killed by Nazi-controlled forces in Belarus. In addition to Gorshkow’s participation in the mass killings at Slutsk, the complaint alleged that he helped interrogate political prisoners in Minsk and participated in so-called “anti-partisan” operations involving the torture, deportation, and murder of thousands of civilians. In postwar statements taken by West German authorities, other members of the Minsk Gestapo stated that all members of the unit routinely participated in mass shootings and other forms of execution.Gorshkow, who was born in Estonia, immigrated to the United States from Germany in 1951 and was naturalized as a U.S. citizen in 1963. The proceedings to denaturalize Gorshkow are a result of OSI’s ongoing efforts to identify and take legal action against former participants in Nazi persecution residing in this country. Gorshkow is the 70th Nazi persecutor stripped of U.S. citizenship since OSI began operations in 1979. Additionally, 56 such individuals have been removed from the United States, and 165 suspected Nazi persecutors have been stopped at U.S. ports of entry and barred from entering the country. More than 160 U.S. residents are currently under active investigation by OSI.