Denzinger Jakob is an old Nazi camp guard who worked at the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland. Jakob is 90 now and lives in his native Croatia. In 1989 he voluntarily left the United States where he arrived after the Second World War. He, along with other former Nazi servants receives a pension paid by the United States government.
Today, Jakob is entitled to $1,500 per month, almost double the average salary of a Croat worker, as a result of what he says are his contributions to the American treasury. He does nothing illegal: but he benefits from the fact that no law states that an criminal like him does not qualify to receive a pension from the U.S. government. Maybe he receives his pension because he was never officially expelled from the USA, which would have stopped the payments from the Social Security system.
This old man is one of the dozens of people with a Nazi past that receive their pensions directly from the US even though they participated in the murder of thousands of innocent men, women and children. These cases were uncovered by a two-year investigation of the news agency Associated Press.
Since 1979, at least 38 of the 66 Nazi suspects who left the United States still receive subsidies from the US government and of these, at least four -including Denzinger- are still alive and living in Europe, according to research results released Monday. Payments from American coffers have amounted to “millions of dollars”.
The revelation sparked immediate reactions. The White House said it was sad to know that the payments are legal. “Our position is that we do not believe that these individuals should be receiving these benefits,” said spokesman Eric Schultz.
The Justice Department was “open” to considering any proposed legislative changes on this matter, but more than a decade ago, a bill that would have made any employee of the Nazi regime lose social benefits and that would have asked them to voluntarily depart the United States, failed to pass in Congress.
By some estimates, up to 10,000 participants of the Nazi horror emigrated to this country in 1945 after the end of World War II. At least forty people continued to collect welfare benefits after leaving the United States.
Those men include agents who protected the SS concentration camps; a guard who participated in the slaughter of the Warsaw Ghetto where some 13,000 Jews were killed; a collaborator who helped in the arrest and execution of thousands of Jews in Poland and a missile scientist who worked for the Nazis. The Office of Special Investigations of the Department of Justice, founded in 1979, is the body responsible for locating people who collaborated with the Nazis and who may still be living in the US.
For the OSI, the fact that Nazi criminals keep their pensions after leaving the United States was perceived as a kind of lesser evil because it allowed the country to accelerate their departure. Apparently, their exit from the US increased the chance of them being tried in court in Europe since they couldn’t be judged in the United States.
According to the investigation, many Nazi collaborators had gotten American citizenship but the US government did not do anything to revoke them, because that process would have taken up to ten years of legal battles. In parallel, deportation and extradition were also complex because no country wanted to accept these men or were interested in judging their past behaviors.
According to diplomatic documents and statements obtained by AP, the OSI used the pension as a tool to persuade Nazi collaborators to leave the US voluntarily and to accept the loss of citizenship. The Justice Department issued a statement denying this claim.
Research shows that these practices enraged the Department of State, the Social Security Administration and several European countries. However, until last Monday they were totally unknown to the public.