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
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."