Former Nazi SS Soldier Stripped of U.S. Citizenship, Forced to Leave
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Martin Bartesch, who was a Nazi concentration camp guard as a teen-ager, is living in Austria after being stripped of his U.S. citizenship.
A denaturalization order was entered Friday against Bartesch, 60, in U.S. District Court in Chicago, where he had been an apartment building janitor until he was deported earlier this week.
His son and daughter say their father committed no atrocities, that he was unfairly treated by the U.S. government and hounded out of the country because he committed technical violations of the immigration laws.
Bartesch left the United States permanently with his wife, Anna, on Wednesday after acknowledging that he had voluntarily enlisted as a teen-ager in 1943 in the Nazi SS Death’s Head Battalion which ran the Mauthausen camp system in Austria during World War II.
Tens of thousands of prisoners died at Mauthausen in shootings, gassings, hangings and as the result of starvation and forced labor.
Bartesch said in a sealed agreement he made a month ago with the U.S. government that he lied when he came to the United States in 1955 by telling authorities that he had served in a different SS division.
Bartesch, a native Romanian, was granted citizenship in 1966.
His son, Heinz Bartesch, said his father’s only oversight was in not listing all of the places he was stationed as a member of the Nazi military.
Because of this technicality, the U.S. government has ″destroyed a model citizen who spent 32 years building an American family,″ his daughter, Ann Bartesch Bresnen, said in an interview.
Ms. Bresnen, 40, said her father was ″a perimeter guard″ who ″had no choice - he could be captured by the Russians if he stayed in Romania or join the German Army to get out of Romania. And all Romanians were put in the SS.″
One piece of evidence gathered against Bartesch by the Justice Department’s Office of Special Investigations was the Mauthausen ″Unnatural Death Book,″ a log kept from October 1942 to April 1945 of prisoner deaths.
Entry number 300 shows that on Oct. 20, 1943, a French Jew named Max Ochshorn was shot to death at the main camp of Mauthausen by SS Private Martin Bartesch, who was then 17.
Such entries were made only when a guard voluntarily agreed in writing that he had done the shooting, said Neal Sher, head of the special investigations office, the Justice Department’s Nazi-hunting unit.
The son said his father had served as a work-crew guard at a Mauthausen camp when he was 18 but was never a guard at the main death camp. He said his father ″was adamant he never did anything wrong.″
The Greater Chicago Regional Office of the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith on Friday applauded the action against Bartesch.
″Each case successfully pursued by the OSI demonstrates that this nation refuses to be used as a haven for Nazi war criminals,″ said regional league director Michael Kotzin.
″Since the Mauthausen Camp was in Austria, we now wonder what steps Austria itself will be taking regarding Bartesch to ensure that justice is done,″ Kotzin added.