Ex-Nazi camp guard, a Sharon resident, to face deportation hearing

| Monday, Dec. 3, 2012, 12:01 a.m.

As U.S. authorities continue a long legal battle to deport a former Nazi concentration camp guard, it's not clear what will happen next if they prevail.

Anton Geiser, now 88, has lived in Sharon for more than 50 years. He didn't even tell his family about the Nazi service until 2004, when the Justice Department began legal proceedings.

Geiser's lawyer will go before the Board of Immigration Appeals this week in Falls Church, Va., to appeal a deportation order.

“We hope that he is deported,” said Joy Braunstein, director of the Holocaust Center of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh.

Kurt Schrimm, head of the special prosecutors' office in Germany that investigates Nazi war crimes, said it is not investigating Geiser's case, and the Austrian Justice Ministry said it has not corresponded with American authorities.

Geiser says he was forced to join the SS in 1942, at age 17, and that he never killed anyone. He served at the Sachsenhausen and Buchenwald concentration camps, but not at death camps such as Treblinka and Auschwitz-Birkenau.

Federal prosecutors say that even if Geiser didn't kill anyone, his work as a concentration camp guard makes him a party to the persecution of countless people.

Geiser escorted prisoners to slave labor sites and was under orders to shoot any prisoners who attempted to escape. Both sides agree Geiser guarded only the perimeter of the camps, but previous court rulings have found that doing so is enough to make someone ineligible for U.S. citizenship.

Geiser told prosecutors that he was ashamed of his work as a camp guard. “I was not proud where I served, and I didn't like it then, and I didn't like it now,” he said.

Geiser's lawyer, Adrian Roe, said Geiser was recently hospitalized and does not want to talk about the case, but added that neither he nor his client dispute that the Nazi camps were horrific and “outrageous” chapters of history.

The Sachsenhausen and Buchenwald camps held some political and military prisoners, but tens of thousands of people died there under horrific conditions, such as starvation, slave labor, medical experiments and executions.

A federal judge in Pittsburgh revoked Geiser's citizenship in 2006, and another judge ordered him deported in 2010. Geiser is fighting that order. He lost a circuit court appeal in 2008, and the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear his case in 2009. In 2010 an immigration judge ordered him deported to Austria or any other country that will take him.

Geiser came to the United States in 1956 and settled in Sharon, about 75 miles north of Pittsburgh. He became a citizen in 1962, worked in a steel mill for decades and raised five children.

The Austrian Embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to a question about whether the country would accept Geiser.

Roe said that no matter how the Immigration Board rules, further appeals are possible.

The Justice Department did not respond to questions for comment on the Geiser case, which is part of its efforts to investigate former Nazis. Since the program began in 1979, it has won more than 100 cases.

Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.


Show commenting policy