Efraim Zuroff, director of the Simon Wiesenth
Efraim Zuroff, director of the Simon WiesenthFlash 90

At least ten Nazi war criminals who were ordered deported by the United States government never left the country, the Associated Press reported Monday – because no country was willing to take them in. During the lengthy legal process to deport them, and even beyond, the government provided them with Social Security, Medicare, and other benefits, the report said.

Four of the Nazis - Vladas Zajanckauskas, Theodor Szehinskyj, Jakiw Palij, and John Kalymon – are still alive, residing respectively in Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, New York City, and Michigan. All are supposed to be out of the U.S., but the countries they are supposed to be sent to – Lithuania, Poland, Hungary, and Germany – do not want them, for various reasons.

In the past 34 years, the Justice Department has prosecuted 137 people for Nazi war crimes. Only 66 – fewer than half – were eventually deported. In 20 of the cases, the government agreed to halt proceedings against the Nazis, in exchange for information or other considerations. Twenty died during the proceedings against them.

Dr. Efraim Zuroff, head of the Wiesenthal Center in Jerusalem, said that it was possible that thousands of Nazi war criminals were still alive and living freely, because European countries lack the political will or desire to prosecute them. Zuroff said that he would soon be traveling to Germany, where a new campaign will see thousands of posters of Nazi war criminals hung throughout the country, offering a 25,000 euro reward for information leading to their capture.

Germany, he said, was one of the few countries in Europe where prosecutors were willing to take on cases against Nazi war criminals. “No one knows what this new campaign will produce,” Zuroff said of the German campaign. “We have received a lot of information over the years, but we hope to get much more and capture these criminals as a result of the new campaign,” he added.