German-US Row Over Nazi Crime Suspects | Germany| News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 11.06.2005
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German-US Row Over Nazi Crime Suspects

The German government is reportedly blocking the deportation of Nazi war crimes suspects from the US back to Germany to be tried and punished.


German officials worry the suspects might join neo-Nazi groups

The German interior ministry has refused to accept the suspects even though the United States already has stripped them of their citizenship because of their World War II history and has asked Germany to take them in, according to a report on German public broadcaster ARD's TV magazine "Monitor."

Germany's refusal to accept the dozen or so Nazi war crimes suspects means that justice cannot be fully carried out in their cases as US law doesn't allow for them to be prosecuted for crimes committed outside the country. They entered the United States illegally after the World War II -- illegally, because they claimed on their immigration forms that they were not collaborators with the Nazi regime during the war.

However, it was later shown in US courts that they were indeed involved.

60 Jahre danach - KZ Buchenwald

Inmates of the German KZ Buchenwald inside their barrack

"By and large we're talking about concentration camp guards, we're talking about collaborators, people who were involved in indigenous police forces, that kind of thing," said Jonathan Drimmer, the deputy director of the Office of Special Investigations at the US Department of Justice, who has been following the cases.

Not enough proof?

Germany, however, refuses to accept them. Asked by "Monitor" reporters for the reason, German interior ministry officials said the US had not given enough proof that the suspects were war criminals, despite repeated requests from Germany.

Deportation in such US court cases requires not criminal, but just civil, proceedings, with a burden of proof of "clear, convincing, and unequivocal evidence."

Drimmer said that Germany should accept the deportees, "pursuant to a written diplomatic promise that had been given in 1954 that people who had come into the United States illegally, who had misrepresented their Nazi past to get into the United States, would be taken back by Germany."

Anhaenger der NPD demonstrieren vor dem Brandenburger Tor

Neo-Nazis in front of Berlin's Brandenburg Gate

Interior ministry officials in Berlin countered that if Germany accepted the deportees, they would be supported by the German social system and possibly would involve themselves in the extreme right or anti-Semitic political activities. The officials also said Germany couldn't accept the deportees because of concerns about how this might affect the development of Germany's Jewish community.

Still, according to "Monitor" staffers, there is a separate governmental office in Germany which wants to go ahead with criminal proceedings against the suspects -- the Central Office for the Clarification of National Socialist Crimes, which is specifically responsible for coordinating prosecution of former Nazis.

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