Four suspected Nazi war criminals were never deported from the United States because no other country would take them, according to an investigation by the Associated Press.
The AP found 10 suspects were stripped of citizenship and ordered to be deported only to be denied entry by other countries. With nowhere to go, those 10 suspects remained in the United States. Six of them died in this legal limbo and four remain: Vladas Zajanckauskas in Sutton, Mass.; Theodor Szehinskyj in West Chester, Pa.; Jakiw Palij in New York City and of John Kalymon in Troy, Mich.
They have all exhausted their appeals, but while they apealed deportation, all the suspected Nazi war criminals were eligible for Social Security and other public benefits.
"I don't think it's any lack of effort by the American government,” said Efraim Zuroff, chief Nazi hunter for the Simon Wiesenthal Center.
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The U.S. Justice Department began hunting Nazi war criminals in 1979 and found 137 suspects. Some had left America either after being deported or moving away on their own. Many died while their cases were still pending and other cases were not pursued, usually because they were in such poor health. Authorities agree not to file deportation proceedings in exchange for cooperation in other investigations, according to a 2008 DOJ report.
"Without any doubt, the greatest single frustration has been our inability — in quite a number of cases now — to carry out the deportation orders that we've won in federal courts," said Eli Rosenbaum, head of the DOJ agency charged with investigating Nazi war criminals. "We can't carry them out because governments of Europe refuse to take these people back."
The four suspects have all denied the charges made against them.
Zajanckauskas, 97, was ordered to be deported to his native Lithuania in 2007, but the country will not take him. The DOJ has accused him of taking part in the "brutal liquidation" of the Warsaw Ghetto.
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The deportation of Szehinskyj, 89, was ordered 14 years ago. His native Ukraine, Poland or Germany refused to take him. Szehinskyj has denied allegations that he was an armed guard at Nazi concentration camps in Germany and Poland.
The DOJ tried to deport Palij, 89, to any country that would take him. He is accused of being an armed guard, who helped keep prisoners from escaping, at an SS slave labor camp for Jews in Nazi-occupied Poland until at least the spring of 1943.
Kalymon, 92, is accused of being a member of the Nazi-sponsored Ukrainian Auxiliary Police in Lviv, which rounded up and imprisoned Jews. Prosecutors claimed he also shot Jews.
While Germany believes all war criminals must be prosecuted not matter how old or infirm, it is unlikely they would take these four off our hands. Germany is usually reluctant to prosecute Nazi war criminals living in other countries. However in 2011 Germany tried retired Ohio autoworker John Demjanjuk, a native of the Ukraine. Germany convicted Demjanjuk, 91, of being an accessory to 28,060 murders while he was a guard at the Sobibor concentration camp. He died last year during his appeal.
The AP report did not mention former SS commander 94-year-old Michael Karkoc of Minnesota. In June, the AP reported Karkoc was discovered living comfortably in Minneapolis.