In Iraq for 365

About my experiences in Iraq... the frustrations, the missions and this country... and the journey home

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Nazi 'bout to be sent home

Do I believe in forgiveness? Yes. Do I believe in paying for crimes committed? Yes.

Below is a very intriguing story about a former Nazi who's lived in the U.S. since the end of World War II. It makes me wonder what I would do if a former Iraqi insurgent lived in my neighborhood.

In my heart, I have forgiven the insurgents for killing my friends in Iraq, because that's what you do as a Christian. But does that mean I would let them be my neighbors? Hell No! In fact, it would take everything in my power to not kick their face in. I can only imagine the anger a WWII vet feels for somebody like this...

An 80-year-old Racine County man who has lived in the Midwest for nearly 50 years has been stripped of U.S. citizenship for his service as a guard at Nazi concentration camps.

A federal judge this week revoked the citizenship of Josias Kumpf on the grounds that it was granted in violation of the Refugee Relief Act of 1953, a law that barred people who had "personally advocated or assisted persecution" from entering the country. He may now be deported.
Kumpf, who didn't tell immigration officials of his service in the camps, only of his service in the German military, has argued that the law didn't apply to him because, by his account, he never shot or harmed anyone while serving as an SS guard.
But Judge Lynn Adelman of the U.S. District Court in Wisconsin sided with the federal Office of Special Investigations when he ruled that "a person who served as a guard at a camp or prison in which prisoners were subject to persecution 'personally advocated or assisted' in the persecution of those prisoners."
Admitted armed guard
Kumpf had admitted that he stood armed with a rifle in the guard towers at Sachsenhausen concentration camp near Berlin; on the perimeter of the killing pits at the SS labor camp in Trawniki, Poland; and at another forced labor camp in occupied France. He admitted being at Trawniki on one of the deadliest days of the Holocaust when 8,000 men, women and children were murdered as part of a slaughter code-named "Operation Harvest Festival."
"By virtue of such service," Adelman wrote in his decision, Kumpf "personally prevented prisoners from escaping."
His decision marks the 100th legal victory for the Office of Special Investigations, which has been working since 1979 to revoke citizenship of immigrants involved in Holocaust atrocities on the basis that they did not fully disclose their Nazi activities to immigration officials. Kumpf is at least the third person in Wisconsin to be targeted.
"The court's decision to revoke his U.S. citizenship has secured a measure of justice for the victims of that massacre and their families," said Eli M. Rosenbaum, the office's director.
Judge to determine status
Bernice Birnhaum, who survived three years in a concentration camp before being freed and moving to Milwaukee, agreed.
Unless it's appealed, the case will go into immigration court, where a judge will determine whether to deport Kumpf. Birnhaum said he should be forced to leave.
"The U.S. is too good for him," she said. "Let him suffer. I have no mercy for him."
Kumpf, a hunched man with a wrinkled face, emigrated from Austria to the United States with his wife and children in 1956. The family settled in Chicago, where Kumpf spent decades working as a sausage-maker.
Moved to Caledonia
Three years ago, Kumpf's wife died, and he moved to Caledonia to live with one of his daughters and her husband. He has a son who also lives in Caledonia, and other children who live in Milwaukee, Chicago and California.
If he's deported, Kumpf, who cannot read and write, will likely have the option of returning to Germany, because he is an ethnic German, or the city of his birth in the former Yugoslavia, which is now in Serbia and Montenegro.
He said Wednesday that he has a sister and brother in Germany but doesn't want to leave the care of his daughter.
"She's good to me, and I'm good to her," he said as he sat on a living room couch dressed in flannel shirts, sweatpants and slippers, watching daytime TV.
"If I have to go, I go," he said. "But I'd rather stay."
Appeal is unknown
Kumpf didn't know whether he would appeal the federal court decision, and his lawyer could not be reached for comment.
In 1990, a federal judge revoked the citizenship of Anton Tittjung, formerly of Greenfield, after the government discovered that he had served as a guard at Mauthausen concentration camp in Austria. He appealed all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, where he lost in 2000. Then 75, he was ordered deported to Croatia.
In 1991, the citizenship of Anton Baumann, formerly of West Allis, was revoked after a federal judge determined that he had served as a guard at the Stutthof concentration camp in Poland. An immigration judge ordered him deported to Germany but said Baumann, then 82, could stay in the U.S. until his ill health improved. It never did, and he died in 1994.
Ordered to stop prisoners
Kumpf, who says he was forced into the SS guard and feared that he would be shot if he left, described to the judge what he saw at Trawniki:
"I was watching them shoot some people and some of them come out and run away again. . . . Some people was shot and not good enough so they was still able to move, you know."
He said he was instructed to stop any prisoners who tried to escape, even if that meant killing them.
"After I finished with my breakfast, I have coffee on rye bread with butter, that's all I know. I get and then out, out, out, out, out, take your rifle and go and stay around and some of them move. I say what we have to watch, they say some of them are still halfway alive and they run out. So - and then I say if somebody come like that, shoot them to kill, shoot them to kill."
Kumpf said Wednesday he still thinks he did nothing wrong.
"I was a good boy," he insisted. "I never hurt anyone."


At 12:51 PM, Blogger JUST A MOM said...

Good to see ya again Smink!! It is sad and I feel the same as you. How are ya doin? I hope you spend time looking at things to make you smile.

At 1:43 PM, Anonymous said...

Shed no tears for him. In the words of Eddie Izzard, he is a murdering bastard. One only has to link here to see what a soldier isn't.

At 1:48 PM, Anonymous said...

Sorry 'bout that. This link should work.

At 2:00 PM, Blogger Jenee said...

May I link you to my blog?

At 12:39 AM, Blogger Kno1special said...

I am moved nearly to tears at this story and your accompanying post. A regular reader of your blog, I must say that tonite, instead of the usual humour and informative jounralism I've come to expect, I find disappointment too deep to express.

I am only 19 and a student at university. I've never come close to experiencing the horrors of war and will not pretend to fully understand what you went through in your time in Iraq and can not even begin to wrap my mind around the nightmare that was the Holocaust. I do, however, have many stories on par as my father served in the air force for 21 years and my grandmother survived the occupation of Manila by the Japanese.

So, I make no assumptions on the difficulties of forgiving someone involved in either tragedy. However, how can you claim to have forgiven (in the name of Christianity) and still express such passionate disdain? If we claim to forgive, how can we continue to hold the offense against them to the point of barely restrained violence?

As for this elderly man who was once a Nazi soldier, it is very easy for us to look back at this dark time in history and call him a "murdering bastard." Countless studies have shown the psychological capacity within any of us to carry out such duties when in the position of an individual who believes he must do as he is ordered or die for it. In his mind, he was serving his country and testifies that he was forced into service. This doesn't excuse his behaviour, yet does it justify uprooting a quiet senior citizen in Wisconsin, deporting him to a world he has not been in for fifty years because of a horrific event half a century ago? I hope against hope that part of America's heart and compassion will survive our conflicts with tyranny and terrorism, but it breaks my heart to read how it is not.

At 9:18 AM, Anonymous said...

If you feel sorry for the "Elderly Gentleman" please feel free to give up a bed in your home. This man takes absolutely no responsibility for his role. Saying he was a product of his time doesn't cut it. Plently of decent people lost their lives and family by helping, hiding and protecting their fellow humans in need. Many German soldiers could not participate in murder and asked to be reassigned. From what I've read, historians can't find records of any of them being executed. They were reassigned.

At 8:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's so easy for all of us to pass judgment on "the elderly Nazi gentleman". But remember, NONE OF US WERE THERE!!! Only he and God know what is the truth, and frankly, it should only be his and God's bussiness.

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At 1:20 PM, Blogger JuJU said...

What you do not realize if youn would of reasd the whole case.. is thet some of these men were forced to be part of Hitler's Regeim..or their entire families were to be killed on the spot....what would of you done?? Family loyality?? O'h wait if your family might of been in the same situation you might not be here.. think about it

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At 11:58 AM, Blogger Diana said...

Nazis suck!

At 11:38 AM, Blogger kimberly sayer said...

Nazi is a contraction of the Nationalsozialistische German word that means 'National', and refers to everything related to the regime that ruled Germany from 1933 to 1945 with the coming to power of the Party National Socialist German Workers Party (NSDAP, Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei), the self-proclaimed Third Reich and Austria after the Anschluss, and the other territories that formed (Sudetenland, Memel, Danzig and other lands in Poland, France, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Holland, Denmark and Norway). The Germany of this period is known as Nazi Germany.
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