Say what you will about America, but you can’t accuse us of ignoring the elderly. Yesterday, the AP reported that dozens of suspected former Nazis who moved to the U.S. after World War II are still being paid millions of dollars in social security benefits.
Among the aged suspected Nazis are concentration camp guards, troops, and even a rocket scientist who used slaves in order to conduct his research. Although most of the beneficiaries have died, the AP reports that at least four are still living, though none are living in the U.S.The benefits got locked in over the last few decades as the U.S. tried to purge the remaining suspects from the country.
It’s a strange chapter of U.S. history. In the mid 1960s, when the U.S. government discovered that a high-ranking concentration camp guard was living in the United States, the Justice Department created a task force, the Office of Special Investigations, in order to locate suspected Nazis and war criminals living in the country.
In an attempt to deport war criminals and at the same time completely circumnavigate those pesky deportation proceedings, the DOJ discretely awarded continued benefits to Nazis who agreed to leave ahead of their trials. Which is to say, millions of taxpayer dollars have been regularly given to Nazis who had been living in the U.S. as late as 2007. The agreements feel a lot like severance packages for former Nazi officers.
According to the report, this practice of deporting suspected Nazis and revoking citizenship stopped as foreign countries objected, but the benefits still kept rolling in (at least 38 of 66 deported OSI suspects have been given social security benefits). Now, legislation aimed at shutting off the Social Security pipeline is finally being introduced.
Never has it been so hard to differentiate a DOJ investigation with a paid pensioner’s vacation.
Alexander Aciman is a writer living in New York. His work has appeared in, among other publications, The New York Times, Vox, The Wall Street Journal, and The New Republic.