- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 9, 2002

The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals yesterday affirmed a July 2000 federal court order revoking the U.S. citizenship of a retired Pennsylvania machinist who served in World War II as an armed guard at the Sachsenhausen, Gross-Rosen and Warsaw concentration camps.

Appeals Court Judge Maryanne Trump Barry, in a unanimous decision, wrote that Theodor Szehinskyj, 77, of Drexel Hill, Pa., participated in what has "accurately been described as the Third Reich's closed culture of murder that saw millions of victims die in the Holocaust, the greatest moral catastrophe of our civilization."

The court said his participation in the camps had been proven "beyond any question," based upon captured Nazi documents from three different countries and the corroborating testimony of Mr. Szehinskyj's own alibi witness.

In its ruling, the Philadelphia-based court said the trial judge properly found Mr. Szehinskyj's testimony, in which he denied ever serving at any of the concentration camps, "incredible."

Assistant Attorney General Michael Chertoff, who heads the Justice Department's criminal division, said the department's continuing determination to track down those who "participated in the Nazi regime's reign of terror should also serve as a warning to modern-day perpetrators of mass murder that they will be pursued as long as it takes to bring them to the bar of justice."

Eli M. Rosenbaum, director of the criminal division's Office of Special Investigations (OSI), which prosecuted the case, also noted that the court's decision "shows once again that this nation's memory of the terrible suffering of the victims of the Holocaust can still inspire effective law enforcement action."

The court's ruling upheld a finding in U.S. District Court in Philadelphia that Mr. Szehinskyj's World War II service in the SS Death's Head Guard Battalions as an armed guard of civilian prisoners at the Sachsenhausen, Gross-Rosen and Warsaw concentration camps constituted assistance in Nazi-sponsored persecution.

Mr. Szehinskyj was a Polish citizen who entered the United States in 1950 and was naturalized in 1958. Now that his U.S. citizenship has been revoked, he will be sent back to Poland.

In the ruling, the appeals court said the district court, in "a comprehensive opinion" by U.S. District Judge Stewart Dalzell, summarized the evidence presented at trial as "graphically describing the horrifyingly clear picture of life in the concentration camps in which Szehinskyj was shown to have served and the survivors' vivid living testimony of what a nightmare a prisoner's daily life was in those camps camps which were a thoroughly considered, meticulously organized enterprise of state-sponsored murder."

The case was brought by OSI with the assistance of the U.S. Attorney's Office in Philadelphia. To date, 66 Nazi persecutors have been stripped of U.S. citizenship and 54 have been removed from the United States since OSI began operations in 1979. Nearly 200 people are currently under investigation by OSI.

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