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The Nation

Judge Rules Retiree, 83, Was Nazi Guard

WWII: Man faces deportation after being found to have participated in atrocities.

September 06, 2002|From Reuters

NEW YORK — A federal judge ruled that an elderly New York man participated in Nazi atrocities in Poland during World War II and has revoked his U.S. citizenship, according to papers made public Thursday.

The judge said federal prosecutors proved Jack Reimer, 83, a retired restaurant manager from Carmel, was a member of a guard unit at a Nazi training camp that carried out the mass murders of Jewish prisoners and the liquidation of Polish ghettos.

In his ruling, dated Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Lawrence McKenna set aside a 1959 order granting Reimer citizenship.

McKenna said the government established by "clear, unequivocal and convincing evidence" that Reimer had been a member of the guard forces at a Nazi training camp in Trawniki, Poland, from 1941 to 1945.

The judge said the guards were under the control of the Nazi SS and assisted in persecuting Polish Jews, including the clearings of Jewish ghettos, such as those of Czestochowa and Warsaw, killings, and the guarding of labor camps.

Specifically, the court found that Reimer provided logistical support to personnel who eliminated the Warsaw and Czestochowa ghettos and that he was present during the brutal operations.

More than 56,000 Jews were deported from the Warsaw ghetto to the Treblinka death camp and other camps, and more than 30,000 Jews were deported from the Czestochowa ghetto to Treblinka.

Federal prosecutors sued Reimer in 1998, alleging he lied about his past in order to enter the United States in 1952. Prosecutors said federal law prohibited issuing a visa to anyone who "advocated or assisted in the persecution of any person because of race, religion or national origin."

The government said Reimer also lied when he applied for citizenship in 1959.

McKenna had delayed issuing a ruling after Reimer's 1998 trial to allow his lawyer to go to Germany to interview an additional witness.

Reimer's lawyer, former U.S. Atty. Gen. Ramsey Clark, could not be reached for comment.

U.S. Atty. for the Southern District of New York James Comey said in a statement: "The court's decision demonstrates that people like Reimer, who assisted the Nazi genocide, have no right to enter the United States or to receive the privilege of U.S. citizenship.... Reimer's presence in the United States is an affront to all those killed in the Holocaust."

Eli Rosenbaum, director of the Justice Department's Office of Special Investigations, said he expected Reimer would appeal the judge's decision. If McKenna's ruling is upheld on appeal, Rosenbaum said the government would seek Reimer's deportation.

A hearing then would be scheduled before an immigration court in Manhattan. Rosenbaum said he thought the earliest a hearing could take place was next year.

During the 1998 trial, prosecutors presented evidence that Reimer, a Ukrainian-born German, had been a commander at the Trawniki camp and participated in the liquidation of Jewish ghettos in Warsaw, Lublin and Czestochowa.

Reimer had argued he was, in essence, a prisoner of war. A former Soviet army officer, Reimer said he was captured by the Nazis and subject to being shot by the SS.

McKenna said that whether Reimer's actions were voluntary was not relevant under the law.

He said courts had uniformly concluded that "service as an armed guard at a forced labor or concentration camp constitutes assistance in the Nazi program of persecution regardless of whether the defendant himself personally injured or killed any victims."

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