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 Posted Saturday, May 22, 1999

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Justice Department's 27 Nazi-hunters stalk 250 suspects

WASHINGTON (AP) - The U.S. government's Nazi-hunters are a band of 27 lawyers, historians and aides stalking more than 250 elderly men in this country who are suspected of engaging in Nazi persecution during World War II.

Their Office of Special Investigations was created in September 1979 by Attorney General Benjamin Civiletti to enforce 1978 legislation that barred Nazi persecutors from entering the United States and made them deportable if they were already here.

Under the office's fourth and current director, Eli M. Rosenbaum, 10 attorneys, eight historians, five paralegals, three secretaries and one translator are working on cases filed against 17 individuals.

These cases are in various stages, from initial efforts to revoke citizenship because a Nazi past was concealed when the defendant entered the country and became a U.S. citizen, to deportation proceedings, to appeals through the Board of Immigration Appeals and the federal courts.

More than 250 others are under active investigation.

Since 1979, 61 Nazi persecutors have been stripped of U.S. citizenship and 49 of them have been ousted from the United States.

The office also maintains a "watchlist" for U.S. immigration officers to use at air, land and seaports to deny entry to Nazi persecutors. That list contains more than 100,000 names, including those of about two dozen Japanese soldiers accused of war crimes during World War II.

Among those on the watchlist is former U.N. Secretary General and Austrian chief of state Kurt Waldheim, whose activities in support of the Nazis were detailed in a special 1987 report by the office. It also issued a special report in 1992 confirming the death in South America of Dr. Josef Mengele, the dentist who conducted gruesome medical experiments on prisoners at the Auschwitz death camp.

The office's historians, many of whom hold doctorates, all speak German and at least one other foreign language, such as Polish, Russian, Lithuanian or another Slavic language.

They work with captured Nazi documents in the U.S. Archives and in Russia, Ukraine, Lithuania and Poland. Nearly all the Nazi SS documents were captured and are available to them at the Berlin Document Center in Germany.

Once suspects are identified, the office seeks witnesses to their crimes by advertising in Jewish publications or among Holocaust survivor groups.

Copyright 1999 Associated Press.

Our opinion
  THE Office of Special Investigations is of course the notorious Justice Department adjunct which tried to railroad the innocent John Demjanjuk [see item] to an Israeli gallows, rather than admit that it had mis-identified him on the basis of forged KGB documents. Former Austrian president Kurt Waldheim, a lowly G-2 army lieutenant in Germany's wartime army in the Balkans, was cleared of any complicity in war crimes by an International commission several years ago. He had however incurred Israeli ire through his activities as United Nations Secretary-General, during which period of office the U.N. Resolution 242, equating Zionism with racism, was passed.

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