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Wednesday, June 11, 2008
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Appeals Court Affirms Decision to Revoke U.S. Citizenship of Pittsburgh-Area Man Who Served as Nazi Concentration Camp Guard

WASHINGTON – The Third Circuit Court of Appeals yesterday affirmed a ruling by the U.S. District Court in Pittsburgh revoking the U.S. citizenship of Anton Geiser of Sharon, Pa., due to his participation in Nazi-sponsored acts of persecution while serving during World War II as an armed SS guard at Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp and other places of persecution, Acting Assistant Attorney General Matthew Friedrich of the Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Pennsylvania announced today.

Geiser admitted under oath that he served during most of 1943 as an armed SS guard at the Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp near Berlin, Germany; that his duties included escorting prisoners to slave labor sites and standing guard in the camp’s guard towers; and that he was under standing orders to shoot any prisoner attempting escape. He also admitted serving as a guard at the Buchenwald Concentration Camp and its Arolsen subcamp. Prisoners held at Sachsenhausen and Buchenwald were forced to engage in hard physical labor under extraordinarily brutal conditions. Many prisoners died from exhaustion or disease and many were shot or hanged. During the period when Geiser served at Sachsenhausen, more than 3,000 prisoners were murdered or died from the brutal treatment.

"By serving as an armed SS guard at two different Nazi concentration camps, Anton Geiser directly assisted in the persecution of thousands of prisoners held under brutal conditions they could not escape," said Acting Assistant Attorney General Friedrich. "The appellate court’s agreement in an earlier decision to strip Mr. Geiser of his U.S. citizenship proves that passage of time does not make these crimes any more acceptable."

Geiser, 81, immigrated to the United States from Austria in October 1956, and was naturalized as a U.S. citizen in March 1962. The Third Circuit affirmed the district court’s finding that he was not eligible for citizenship because his service to Nazi Germany made him ineligible to immigrate to the United States. The appellate court concluded that Geiser’s "personal actions assisted in keeping the prisoners confined in the camps where they were persecuted" and that he therefore should not have received a visa under the Refugee Relief Act.

"This important and unanimous appellate court decision confirms that Anton Geiser and others who took part in Nazi crimes during World War II were not legally eligible to come to this country. The federal government remains unswervingly committed to identifying all such perpetrators and removing them from the United States," said Eli M. Rosenbaum, Director of the Justice Department’s Office of Special Investigations (OSI), which investigated the case.

"Individuals like Anton Geiser, who assisted the Nazis in their quest to extinguish the lives of millions of innocent men, women and children, do not deserve the benefits of U.S. citizenship," said U.S. Attorney Buchanan. "The Third Circuit’s decision affirms that the United States will not be a sanctuary for perpetrators of the Holocaust."

The proceedings to denaturalize Geiser were instituted in 2004 by OSI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Pittsburgh. The case 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, it has won cases against 107 individuals who assisted in Nazi persecution. In addition, more than 175 individuals who sought to enter the United States in recent years have been blocked from doing so as a result of OSI’s "Watchlist" program, which is enforced in cooperation with the Department of Homeland Security.