For years, the US Justice Department used the promise of continuing Social Security benefits as a way of getting Nazi war criminals and and former SS officers to leave the country, according to an AP investigation. The program, which has potentially cost America millions of tax dollars and exploited a legal loophole, has apparently kept dozens of retired Nazis afloat as they lived out their golden years in the friendly countries we dumped them into.
Dozens of suspected Nazi war criminals and SS guards collected millions of dollars in U.S. Social Security benefits after being forced out of the United States, an Associated Press investigation has found.
The payments, underwritten by American taxpayers, flowed through a legal loophole that gave the U.S. Justice Department leverage to persuade Nazi suspects to leave the U.S. If they agreed to go, or simply fled before deportation, they could keep their Social Security, according to interviews and internal U.S. government records.
Among those receiving benefits were armed SS troops who guarded the network of Nazi camps where millions of Jews perished; a rocket scientist who used slave laborers to advance his research in the Third Reich; and a Nazi collaborator who engineered the arrest and execution of thousands of Jews in Poland.
There are still at least four living beneficiaries, too, including a former SS guard at Sachsenhausen and a former guard at Auchwitz, who both fled following denaturalization proceedings. Among the former recipients: an SS guard who took part in the brutal liquidation of the Warsaw ghetto, a Nazi collaborator who sold out thousands of Jews in Poland and a Nazi rocket scientist who masterminded the rockets used during the Blitzkreig.
According to the Associated Press, these suspected war criminals were allowed to leave either before or during the denaturalization process and keep their social security benefits so long as they promised to settle elsewhere and never return to the United States. The Justice Department’s Office of Special Investigations, which was charged with hunting down Nazis living in the United States following World War II, created the bargaining program over the objections of the State Department, who feared that we were dumping dangerous criminals on our European allies, and the Social Security Administration, which is important because it has never objected to anything. Congress also tried to close the loophole, but the legislation failed because the OSI convinced our elected leaders that our collective interest in booting out Nazis superceded the taxpayers’ interest in their money not going to guys who guarded death camps that killed millions. Of 66 Nazis we’ve expelled, 38 were allowed to keep their benefits. According to the AP’s FOIA, which found at least 22 had actively taken the benefits, Americans have paid more than $1.5 million in Social Security benefits to these suspects, just to get them out of our country.
The exact numbers, of course, aren’t really known. According to the Justice Deparment, which recently reaffirmed its right to spy on every American through their cell phones, the suspected Nazi recipients have a right to privacy and no legal loophole exists that would allow them disclose specifics.