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WASHINGTON D.C. -- Christopher A. Wray, Acting Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, today announced that the U.S. Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) has upheld an immigration judge’s order directing the deportation of a St. Louis, Missouri, area man to Romania for participating in the Nazi persecution of Jews and other civilians during World War II.

In an opinion issued today, the BIA affirmed a July 2002 ruling by the U.S. Immigration Court in St. Louis that captured Nazi documents found by the Criminal Division’s Office of Special Investigations (OSI) established that Michael Negele, 82, of St. Peters, Missouri, served as an armed SS guard at the infamous Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp, near Berlin. Negele served with the SS Death’s Head Guard Battalion at the camp, and was selected for specialized training as a guard dog handler. The BIA opinion found that Sachsenhausen “essentially worked prisoners to death.”

The BIA also affirmed the Immigration Court’s finding that Negele later served as a guard at the Theresienstadt Jewish ghetto in what is now the Czech Republic. Jews, including children and elderly civilians, were confined at Theresienstadt as part of the Nazi regime’s “final solution to the Jewish question,” and thousands passed through the ghetto en route to the Nazi extermination facilities at Auschwitz and Treblinka.

Negele admitted in court proceedings that he guarded the ghetto with a German shepherd, the same one that had been assigned to him while at Sachsenhausen and that had been trained to attack prisoners who attempted escape. Some 10,000 prisoners died at Theresienstadt. The BIA opinion held that “the guards at Theresienstadt also ensured the transport of prisoners to the trains destined for Auschwitz and other death camps.”“The BIA’s decision is an important milestone in our continuing efforts to achieve a measure of justice for the victims of the Holocaust and other Nazi crimes,” said OSI Director Eli M. Rosenbaum. “Negele and his fellow SS guards were instrumental participants in the execution of the Nazi regime’s infamous program of persecution and genocide.”

Negele, a native of Romania, entered the U.S. in 1950, using a visa he obtained in Germany. He became a U.S. citizen in 1955. In July 1999, the U.S. District Court in St. Louis revoked Negele’s U.S. citizenship because of his Nazi guard service. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit affirmed the denaturalization order in August 2000, and, in February 2001, the U.S. Supreme Court denied Negele’s petition for review. Removal (deportation) proceedings were commenced against him in March 2001.

The proceedings against Negele are a result of OSI's ongoing efforts to identify and take legal action against former participants in Nazi persecution residing in this country. Since OSI began operations in 1979, 72 Nazi persecutors have been stripped of U.S. citizenship and 57 have been removed from the United States. Also, more than 160 suspected Nazi persecutors have been barred from entering this country under OSI’s “Watchlist” border control program.