Loophole: Suspected Nazis Still Collecting Social Security

Posted: Oct 25, 2014 9:00 AM

There’s Sen. Tom Coburn’s annual “waste book,” which evinces all the ridiculous ways taxpayers are hosed every year, and then there’s this. Thanks, in part, to the Associated Press’ painstaking and thorough investigative reporting, we now know beyond any doubt that suspected former Nazis, living abroad, have been on the government dole for decades:

Former Auschwitz guard Jakob Denzinger lived the American dream. His company in the Rust Belt town of Akron, Ohio, thrived. By the late 1980s, he had acquired the trappings of success: a Cadillac DeVille and a Lincoln Town Car, a lakefront home, investments in oil and real estate.

Then the Nazi hunters showed up. In 1989, as the U.S. government prepared to strip him of his citizenship, Denzinger packed a pair of suitcases and fled to Germany. He later settled in this pleasant town on the Drava River, where he lives comfortably, courtesy of U.S. taxpayers. He collects a Social Security payment of about $1,500 each month, nearly twice the take-home pay of an average Croatian worker.

Denzinger, 90, is among dozens of suspected Nazi war criminals and SS guards who collected millions of dollars in Social Security payments after being forced out of the United States, an Associated Press investigation found.

How on earth could this happen? Easy: in the aftermath of the Second World War, former Nazis simply jettisoned their uniforms, hid who they were, and made for America. Upon arrival, they were happy to apply for citizenship, and once the paperwork went through, enjoy the benefits and generosity of a country they once waged war against. It also seems likely this was no mere oversight, but rather a quid pro quo arrangement between the US government and suspected Nazis to urge them to flee the country as soon as possible. Nevertheless, according to the AP, many of those émigrés were suspected of unspeakable atrocities:

Among those who benefited:

- Armed SS troops who guarded the Nazi network of camps where millions of Jews perished.

- An SS guard who took part in the brutal liquidation of the Warsaw ghetto in Nazi-occupied Poland that killed as many as 13,000 Jews.

- A Nazi collaborator who engineered the arrest and execution of thousands of Jews in Poland.

- A German rocket scientist accused of using slave labor to build the V-2 rocket that pummeled London. He later won NASA's highest honor for helping to put a man on the moon.

This is outrageous. These ex-Nazis should have been thrown off the gravy train as soon as they emigrated. But at least Congress is now trying to rectify the situation. Or will anyway:

Legislation to stop suspected Nazi war criminals from receiving U.S. Social Security benefits will be introduced soon, the latest response to an Associated Press investigation that revealed millions of dollars have been paid to former Nazis who were forced out of the United States. …

The legislation will be offered in mid-November, when Congress returns to session following the midterm elections.

Better late than never.