Dozens of Nazis who were kicked out of the United States have and continue to receive millions in Social Security benefits from U.S. taxpayers.
As of March, 1999, 28 suspected Nazi criminals forced out of the United States received $1.5 million in Social Security payments, The Associated Press reports, and the AP estimates that number is now in the millions.
Following World War II, the Justice department’s Nazi-hunting unit — the Office of Special Investigations — was charged with finding and removing Nazis who persecuted civilians from the country. Since their crimes were committed in another country against non-citizens, authorities could not try them in U.S. Courts, but could prove they had lied to immigration authorities and then revoke their citizenship and attempt to either deport or extradite them.
Rather than go through that lengthy and costly legal battle, and the politically difficult task of finding a country that would take them in, the OSI sometimes used retirement benefits as a bargaining chip, reported the AP. It promised to some accused Nazis who left the country willingly their retirement benefits would not be stripped.
Jakob Denzinger, now 90, is a former Auschwitz guard who once owned a thriving plastics company in Akron, Ohio. But in 1989, just before his U.S. citizenship was revoked on the grounds he lied to immigration authorities, Denzinger left the country and settled in Croatia.
He now receives about $1,500 a month from U.S. taxpayers — almost twice the take-home pay of an average Croatian worker — and occupies the second floor of a riverfront building, reported the AP.
Denzinger declined to talk to the AP, but his son, Thomas, defended him, saying he paid into the system and still pays U.S. taxes at a rate of 30 percent. “This isn’t coming out of other people’s pockets,” he told the AP.
Other Nazi war criminals, including a German rocket scientist who benefited from slave labor and a man who engineered the arrest and execution of thousands of Jews have benefited from a similar deal, reported the AP.
The OSI was allowed to use retirement benefits as a bargaining chip because of a Social Security loophole that has not been closed. Legislation that would have closed the loophole by cutting off benefits to any suspected Nazi war criminal who left the country voluntarily failed 15 years ago. Influential Jewish groups and the State Department opposed it, saying it would hurt the mission of the OSI, reported the AP.
“The goal is still to remove these people as quickly as possible,” a senior Justice Department official told the AP. Deportation proceedings could last up to 10 years.
New York Democratic Rep. Carolyn Maloney serves on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, told the AP she plans to introduce legislation to close the loophole. “It’s absolutely outrageous that Nazi war criminals are continuing to receive Social Security benefits when they have been outlawed from our country for many, many, many years,” she told the AP.
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