Judge revokes citizenship of alleged Nazi guard

Thursday, February 26, 2004

ST. LOUIS -- A federal judge Wednesday revoked the U.S. citizenship of a St. Louis man suspected of serving as an armed guard at Nazi concentration camps during World War II, finding that he took part in persecuting prisoners.

U.S. District Judge Carol Jackson's ruling against Adam Friedrich, 82, came at the urging of the Justice Department, which argued that the now-retired clothing worker assisted in persecuting Jews and other civilians from 1943 to 1945.

"The next step is to pursue deportation to a specific country," said Casey Stavropoulos, a Justice Department spokeswoman. She could not speculate how long that effort might take, saying "it is not an overnight, quick process."

Calls to Friedrich's home and his attorney's office were not answered Wednesday.

"This decision again illustrates this department's dedication to making sure that justice is served notwithstanding the passage of time," Assistant Attorney General Christopher Wray said. The U.S. government, he said, has "made sure this former Nazi concentration camp guard will no longer be able to enjoy the privileges of his American citizenship."

Stavropoulos cautioned that the court matters were civil proceedings, and that Friedrich has never been criminally charged for his questioned activities during World War II.

The Justice Department has claimed that in 1942 in Austria, the Romanian-born Friedrich volunteered for service in the Nazi Waffen SS, which in 1946 ultimately was labeled a criminal organization by an international military tribunal.

In January 1943, Jackson concluded, Friedrich reported for duty as an armed guard in the SS Death's Head battalion at Germany's Gross-Rosen concentration camp, where 1,500 prisoners died during his first five months there. Friedrich served there and at Dyhernfurth -- a Gross-Rosen sub-camp -- until those sites were evacuated in 1945 as Allied forces approached, the government has argued.

Friedrich came to the United States from Austria in 1955, applied for U.S. citizenship in 1961 and was naturalized the next year in St. Louis.

A Justice Department complaint filed in July 2002 argued that Friedrich's citizenship should be revoked because his wartime service to Nazi Germany made him ineligible for a U.S. immigration visa and he allegedly lied about it when he applied for a visa and U.S. citizenship.

Friedrich has denied lying about his wartime record. When applying for a visa, he has said, "I admitted that I was in the Waffen SS. And the same thing happened when I was naturalized."

Friedrich has declined to respond to the claims that he was a concentration camp guard. He referred questions to his attorney, who has argued that Friedrich had been contributing to society and obeying the law for as long as he's been in the United States.

Regardless, Wednesday's ruling "highlights the critical role that Friedrich and all other Nazi concentration camp guards played in carrying out the Nazi regime's genocidal plans," said Eli Rosenbaum, director of the Justice Department's Office of Special Investigations.

More than 70 people who assisted in Nazi persecution have been stripped of U.S. citizenship, and at least 60 have been removed from the United States, since the Office of Special Investigations began operations in 1979, according to the Justice Department.

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On the Net:

Office of Special Investigations: http://www.usdoj.gov/criminal/osi.html

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