Connecticut man identified as former Nazi collaborator
GUILFORD, Conn. (AP) _ The Justice Department on Tuesday accused a retired Connecticut machinist of serving as a guard at Nazi death camps and moved to revoke his citizenship.
Walter Berezowskyj, 73, served in two SS units that participated in the Nazi campaign to annihilate Europe’s Jews, the government said in a complaint filed in federal court.
When he sought to immigrate to the United States after World War II, Berezowskyj told U.S. officials he had spent the war working on farms, the government said.
Interviewed Tuesday at his modest two-story home in this New Haven suburb, Berezowskyj began sobbing as he denied ever serving with the Nazis. He said the government must have mistaken him for someone else.
He said he fled to Germany from Ukraine in 1943 after his father and sister died at the hands of the Communists. In Germany, he said, he was forced to dig graves and foxholes.
``I never hurt nobody. My ammunition was shovel and pitch fork,″ said Berezowskyj, who speaks in broken English. ``I was like a prisoner. I worked like a slave. I had no choice. I was afraid. I no want to die.″
Berezowskyj said he felt guilty about digging the graves but could do nothing.
``I thought it would never wash out of me,″ said Berezowskyj, crying again. ``But I think I got a life, a meal, a place to sleep. I just follow what they tell me to do.″
Guilford Deputy Police Chief Thomas Terribile said when he was a boy, Berezowskyj was his 4-H Club leader.
``He taught me woodworking. My mother still has some of his stuff. I can’t remember the guy ever saying a bad word about anybody,″ he said.
The Justice Department’s Office of Special Investigation said Berezowskyj was recruited by the Germans and began serving the Nazis as an armed guard by April 1943.
The government said 59 Nazi persecutors found to be residing in the United States have been stripped of U.S. citizenship, and an additional 48 people are under investigation.