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WASHINGTON – A former Nazi concentration-camp guard was deported from Wisconsin to Austria on Thursday, despite objections from his lawyer that the guard was simply present at the camp but committed no acts of persecution.
Prosecutors said 83-year-old Josias Kumpf (yoh-SEE’-uhs KOOMF) served as a guard at the Sachsenhausen (ZAHK’-zen-how-zen) concentration camp in Germany, the Trawniki (trafh-NEE’-kee) labor camp in Nazi-occupied Poland and slave labor sites in occupied France.
U.S. investigators alleged that he participated in a 1943 mass shooting in Poland in which 8,000 Jewish men, women and children were murdered in pits at Trawniki in a single day.
“Josias Kumpf, by his own admission, stood guard with orders to shoot any surviving prisoners who attempted to escape an SS massacre that left thousands of Jews dead,” Acting Assistant Attorney General Rita Glavin said in a statement.
Peter Rogers, Kumpf’s immigration attorney, said Kumpf was stationed at Trawniki, “but he never laid a finger on anyone, he never shot at anyone.”
“In fact, even the government never asserted that he took any particular action,” Rogers told The Associated Press. “The court found his mere presence at a place where admittedly horrible, horrible things happened, was sufficient to find him a persecutor.”
The Justice Department didn’t immediately return a message seeking comment.
Investigators say Kumpf joined the SS Death’s Head guard forces in 1942.
Kumpf was born in what is now Serbia, immigrated to the U.S. from Austria in 1956, settled in Racine, Wis., and became a U.S. citizen in 1964.
A federal judge in Milwaukee had previously found Kumpf didn’t disclose he had been an SS guard because he feared it would disqualify him when he applied for a visa to the U.S.
In a 2003 interview, Kumpf said he was taken from his home in Yugoslavia as a 17-year-old and forced to serve as a guard, but he didn’t participate in any atrocities.
At a 2006 hearing, Rogers said Kumpf was conscripted into the army, “assigned to the SS and then stationed at places where admittedly terrible things happened. My client never took part in them.”
But at a subsequent deportation hearing, Acting Assistant Attorney General Matthew Friedrich said Kumpf participated in an operation that resulted in the murder of thousands of innocent victims.
“His culpability in this atrocity does not diminish with the passage of time,” Friedrich said at the time.
Since 1979, the U.S. Justice Department has won cases against 107 people who participated in Nazi crimes.
Associated Press – March 19, 2009
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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