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Lawyer-Turned-Crusader Pays Price for Probe of Nazis in U.S.

October 23, 1988|BRIAN MURPHY | Associated Press

By late 1980, Loftus' work was about to be tested. He was named principal prosecutor of Stanislaw Stankievich, a high-ranking Nazi collaborator in the White Russian city of Borissow, who was the first to face deportation and loss of citizenship on OSI charges.

Stankievich died in November, 1980, in New York City, only weeks before his hearing was scheduled to begin.

A frustrated Loftus used the court file to probe further into the Nazi-recruiting networks that brought Stankievich into the United States. His research began to irritate OSI officials, who wanted to focus on information directly linked to deportation cases, Loftus said.

"I was told to stay out of the vaults," he said. "I knew then I would have to pursue this on my own."

In 1981, Loftus took down the sign he hung in his Justice Department office: "Wahrheit Macht Frei," "Truth Shall Make You Free," taken from the phrase "Work Shall Make You Free" that was placed in some Nazi concentration camps.

Since the Stankievich case, OSI has filed charges against about 60 alleged Nazis and deported about a dozen, including Karl Linnas, who died in July, 1987, in Leningrad after being convicted of war crimes by a Soviet Court, and John Demjanjuk, who is appealing his death sentence in Israel.

"People see the Holocaust as a Jewish issue," Loftus said. "They don't see the larger covert abuse issue. . . . I'm not a Nazi hunter now. I'm not a Simon Wiesenthal. I'm hunting those Western bureaucrats that recruited them, that handful of the '40s and '50s who made Nuremberg meaningless. They created a statute of limitations for genocide."

Gets Word of Mengele

Over recent years his reports have included word from South American sources that Nazi Dr. Josef Mengele, accused of concentration camp atrocities, was keeping on the move in South America; that some people in the Vatican had helped Nazis flee after the war, and that several dozen Nazis who had worked for Allied intelligence had been permitted to settle in Australia.

Loftus recently wrote an article contending that the United States and the Soviet Union stockpiled a deadly Nazi nerve gas, Sarin, during the Cold War, and are only now considering its destruction.

He is lobbying for a House resolution calling for full disclosure of postwar intelligence operations. He is also finishing work on a book about an Irish Republican Army gun-smuggling operation uncovered in Boston in 1984 and is researching documents from Canada and the United Kingdom on Nazi spy networks.

"I think I've learned in the last six years there are three great evils in this world: communism, fascism and indifference," he said.

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