Related topics

Feds Sue Alleged Nazi Persecutor

January 15, 2002

CHICAGO (AP) _ The federal government has filed a lawsuit seeking to strip the citizenship of a man accused of helping in Nazi atrocities during World War II.

Peter John Bernes, 79, was a deputy to Werner Loew, a Nazi-appointed mayor and police commander assigned to Kupiskis, Lithuania, according to lawsuit filed Monday.

Bernes allegedly participated in the removal of condemned prisoners from a jail in the small Lithuanian town in 1941 so they could be taken to nearby execution sites. More than 1,000 Jewish men, women and children were killed that summer in Kupiskis, the lawsuit said.

Bernes emigrated from Germany in 1947 and became a citizen in Chicago in 1954.

Bernes could not be reached for comment. Federal prosecutors said they were unsure if Bernes had a lawyer.

His neighbors in the southwest Chicago suburb of Lockport were stunned at the allegations. They described Bernes as a regular at homeowner board meetings and block parties.

``He’s the most friendly person you’d ever want to meet,″ said neighbor John Corso.

Since the Justice Department’s Office of Special Investigations began its operations in 1979, 66 alleged Nazi persecutors have been stripped of their U.S. citizenship and 54 have been deported.

Update hourly