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U.S. seeks to deport Demjanjuk

The Justice Department asked an immigration judge Friday to deport an Ohio man the government says was a guard at Nazi concentration camps.
/ Source: The Associated Press

The Justice Department asked an immigration judge Friday to deport an Ohio man the government says was a guard at Nazi concentration camps.

John Demjanjuk, 84, of Seven Hills, Ohio, is a retired auto worker who the government says served during World War II as an armed guard at Nazi extermination and concentration camps.

In April, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously affirmed a lower court decision revoking Demjanjuk’s U.S. citizenship on several grounds, including his “willing” service in an SS-run unit “dedicated to exploiting and exterminating” Jewish civilians in Nazi-occupied Poland. Hundreds of thousands of people were killed in these camps.

“John Demjanjuk’s involvement in the infamous process through which thousands of innocent men, women and children were gassed to death at Sobibor clearly deprives him of any legal or moral right to live in this country,” Assistant Attorney General Christopher A. Wray of the Justice Department’s criminal division said Friday.

Demjanjuk, who has been reported by relatives as being in declining health in recent months, has an unlisted phone number and could not be reached for comment. He has lived in seclusion since his return from Israel in 1993, routinely turning aside interview requests.

Messages seeking comment were left Friday night after business hours at the office of Ed Nishnic, who married Demjanjuk’s daughter and has served as a family spokesman, and the Washington office of Demjanjuk’s attorney, John H. Broadley.

Family seeks to prove mistaken identity
Last month, after the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear Demjanjuk’s appeal to restore his U.S. citizenship, Nishnic said the family was determined to pursue a separate appeal in the 6th Circuit Court in Cincinnati seeking to prove Demjanjuk was a victim of mistaken identity.

U.S. District Judge Paul R. Matia in Cleveland ruled in 2002 to strip Demjanjuk’s citizenship. The 6th Circuit Court upheld the ruling.

A document filed Friday by the Justice and Homeland Security departments states that Demjanjuk should be deported because of his participation in Nazi-sponsored persecution while serving as an armed SS guard at Sobibor, Majdanek and Flossenburg; and because he lied about his wartime occupations and residences when he applied for a U.S. immigration visa in 1952.

Demjanjuk was an autoworker for Ford Motor Co. in 1977 when the Justice Department accused him of being “Ivan the Terrible,” a notorious Nazi guard who ran the gas chambers at the Treblinka death camp in occupied Poland during 1942 and 1943.

He was convicted of war crimes and crimes against humanity and sentenced to be hanged in Israel. Demjanjuk eventually persuaded the Israeli Supreme Court to overturn his conviction based on new evidence that someone else was Ivan the Terrible. Demjanjuk’s U.S. citizenship was restored, but the government brought a new case against him.