Thursday, April 24, 2014
By Amy Forliti and Randy Herschaft / The Associated Press
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This 1956 photo from a naturalization document released by the U.S. Department of Justice shows Vladas Zajanckauskas, of Sutton, Mass., one of four suspected Nazi war criminals who is living in the U.S. today because no other country was willing to take them.
This Aug. 31, 2009, photo shows John Kalymon, once known as Iwan Kalymon, at his home in Troy, Mich. Kalymon, from Troy, Mich., is one of four suspected Nazi war criminals living in the U.S. today because no other country was willing to take them.
—Palij, 89, remains in New York 11 years after the DOJ initiated a case against him and seven years after he exhausted appeals. Court records say Palij — born in a part of Poland that is now part of Ukraine— was an armed guard at an SS slave labor camp for Jews in Nazi-occupied Poland until at least the spring of 1943, and helped to keep prisoners from escaping. Palij has denied the accusations. The original order deporting Palij to Ukraine has been amended to allow deportation to Germany, Poland or any other country willing to accept him. Justice officials say none has been willing. A man who answered the phone at Palij's number had trouble hearing and could not carry out a phone conversation. A woman who answered the phone at the office of Palij's attorney said he does not speak to reporters.
—Kalymon, 92, is still in Michigan despite exhausting appeals earlier this year in a process that took nine years. Prosecutors said Kalymon, who was born in Poland, was a member of the Nazi-sponsored Ukrainian Auxiliary Police in Lviv, which rounded up Jews and imprisoned them. Prosecutors said Kalymon also shot Jews. He was ordered deported to Ukraine, Poland, Germany or any other country that would take him. His attorney, Elias Xenos, said his client was a teenage boy who was essentially guarding a sack of coal.
"That's not the government's position, of course. But they've run out of true persecutors, and they are trying to now prosecute people on the fringes," Xenos said.
He said he is not aware of any country that has agreed to take Kalymon, who he said has Alzheimer's disease and cancer.
In Poland, prosecutor Grzegorz Malisiewicz said an investigation of Kalymon was closed in January because authorities couldn't definitively tie him to crimes committed in 1942. In Germany, Munich prosecutors have been investigating Kalymon on suspicion of murder since 2010.
Efraim Zuroff, chief Nazi hunter for the Simon Wiesenthal Center, said many countries lack the political will to accept suspected Nazi criminals who have been ordered deported: "I don't think it's any lack of effort by the American government."
Germany has taken the position that people involved in Nazi crimes must be prosecuted, no matter how old or infirm, as it did in the case of retired Ohio autoworker John Demjanjuk. He died last year at age 91 while appealing his conviction of being an accessory to 28,060 murders while a guard at the Sobibor death camp.
Before that case, Germany had been reluctant to prosecute Nazi war crimes suspects who weren't German citizens, said Stephen Paskey, a former Justice Department attorney who worked on the Demjanjuk and Zajanckauskas cases. Germany has also resisted accepting those who are ordered deported because, like other countries, it doesn't want to be seen as a refuge for those with Nazi pasts, the Department of Justice said.
The case of Johann Leprich fell into that category. Authorities said Leprich, of Clinton Township, Michigan, served as an armed guard at a Nazi camp in Austria during World War II. He was 78 when he was ordered deported in 2003. Germany, Hungary and Leprich's native Romania — which passed a law in 2002 barring the entry of war crimes suspects — all refused to accept him. A technical issue related to Leprich's deportation order allowed him to remain eligible for public benefits until he died in 2013, although for unclear reasons he stopped receiving them long before that.
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