FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
THURSDAY, JULY 24, 2003
TDD (202) 514-1888
JUSTICE DEPARTMENT MOVES TO REVOKE U.S. CITIZENSHIP OF
FORMER NAZI CONCENTRATION CAMP GUARD IN DES MOINES
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Christopher A. Wray, Acting Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Criminal Division, today announced that the Justice Department has asked a federal court in Des Moines, Iowa, to revoke the U.S. citizenship of a Des Moines resident on the basis of his alleged participation in acts of persecution against civilians while serving as an armed SS guard at a Nazi concentration camp in Germany, during World War II.
In a complaint filed today, the Criminal Division's Office of Special Investigations and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Iowa allege that John (formerly “Johann”) Hansl, 78, who was born in a territory that is now part of Croatia, entered the Nazi Waffen SS in February 1943. The complaint further alleges that he served as an armed guard of prisoners in the SS Death’s Head Guard Battalion (Totenkopf-Wachbataillon) at the notorious Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp, near Berlin, until October 1943.
Political prisoners, Jews and other innocent civilians from nearly every country in Europe were incarcerated in Sachsenhausen because they were considered enemies of the Nazi state. Prisoners in Sachsenhausen were confined under ruthless conditions and thousands died there from starvation, disease, hanging, gassing, medical experimentation, and shooting.
The complaint alleges that in late October 1943, Hansl was transferred to the SS Training Camp Trawniki, in Nazi-occupied Poland, where thousands of Jewish prisoners were interned in an adjacent labor camp. The complaint also alleges that Hansl served at the end of the war in an SS combat unit in eastern France. He entered the U.S. in 1955 using a visa he had obtained in Salzburg, Austria, by concealing his concentration camp guard service from U.S. officials.
“SS guards helped prevent inmates from escaping from their infamously inhumane confinement in the Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp. They were personally and directly involved in enforcing the persecutory measures inflicted by the Nazis on the innocent civilians interned there. No one who took part in such activities has any right to United States citizenship,” said OSI Director Eli M. Rosenbaum.
The initiation of proceedings to denaturalize Hansl 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, 71 individuals who assisted in Nazi persecution have been stripped of U.S. citizenship and 57 such persons have been removed from the United States. In addition, more than 160 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.
Members of the public are reminded that the complaint contains only allegations. It will be the government's burden to prove the allegations by clear, unequivocal and convincing evidence.