The World Jewish Congress announced its support for a change in United States law that presently allows certain presumed Nazi war criminals who were granted US citizenship by making false statements to immigration authorities to keep their social security entitlements in case they voluntarily leave the country.

Jacob Denzinger, one of dozens of former Nazi death camp guards who collected Social Security payments despite being forced out of the USJacob Denzinger, one of dozens of former Nazi death camp guards who collected Social Security payments despite being forced out of the USAs reported by the ‘Associated Press’ on Sunday, numerous Nazi war criminals evaded deportation from the US by voluntarily leaving the country and renouncing their US citizenship rather than going through lengthy and costly deportation proceedings. They thus continued to draw on pension and other benefits whereas in the case of deportation, they would have been stripped of these entitlements. During the 1990s, the WJC supported the US Justice Department’s stance that not stripping Nazi war criminals who had entered the US on false pretenses of their Social Security benefits would hasten their departure, a goal sought at the time by Holocaust survivors who did want to have erstwhile Nazis and Nazi collaborators living in their midst.

World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder declared: “While we understand the position taken by the Office of Special Investigations at the Justice Department at the time, we strongly feel that today the relevant legislation should be changed and that Nazi criminals should no longer benefit from Social Security payments if they illegally acquired US citizenship after the war. The expectation was that most if not all the individuals in question would be prosecuted by the European countries to which they returned or where their alleged criminal activities had been committed. Sadly, this proved not to be the case. And we note with grave concern that other countries have also been paying social benefits to Nazi war criminals.

“The World Jewish Congress commends the Office of Special Investigations for its yeoman’s work over the years in exposing and deporting Nazi war criminals living in the US, and for stripping many of them of their Social Security benefits. At the same time, we continue to insist that all suspected Nazi criminals be put on trial. As US law does not allow for such trials in most cases, it is preferable that they take place in Germany, Austria, or in the respective suspects’ other countries of origin.

“There cannot and there should not be such a thing as legal closure when it comes to genocide, and we support the US authorities in their efforts to track down all suspected Nazi war criminals, no matter what their age is today, and to bring them justice. We owe it to the victims of the Shoah that this effort is pursued relentlessly and with perseverance,” said Lauder.