The AP/Washington Post reports that the Board of Immigration Appeals is reviewing an appeal of a 2010 deportation order issued to 88-year-old Anton Geiser of Sharon, Pennsylvania. Mr. Geiser was charged with removal as a result of his service in the Nazi SS where he was a guard in the Sachsenhausen and Buchenwald concentration camps.
Geiser does not dispute that he was a member of the Nazi's Schutzstaffel (SS), nor that he served as a guard in both the Sachsenhausen and Buchenwald concentration camps: “I was not proud where I served and I didn’t like it then and I didn’t like it now.”
Geiser is represented by Adrien Roe who argues that a then 17-year-old Geiser did not voluntarily serve, and was therefore not really a Nazi. The Department, represented by Susan Siegal, counters that Geiser's service was not involuntary because he could have refused to serve in the camps, and moreover, the "just following orders" defense already failed at Nuremberg.
When I read this story I couldn't help but think of the following quotation attributed to Martin Niemöller regarding the failure of the people of Germany to take a stand against the Nazis.
First they came for the communists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a communist.
Then they came for the socialists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a trade unionist.
Then they came for me,
and there was no one left to speak for me.
Fortunately for Mr. Geiser he lives in one of the only countries in the entire world where even individuals guilty of unspeakable crimes against humanity are guaranteed the right to have someone speak for you.
Enjoy your right to due process Mr. Geiser, and be glad that this isn't Nazi Germany.
Matthew Kolken is a trial lawyer with experience in all aspects of United States Immigration Law including Immigration Courts throughout the United States, and appellate practice before the Board of Immigration Appeals, the U.S. District Courts, and U.S. Courts of Appeals. He is admitted to practice in the courts of the State of New York , the United States District Court for the Western District of New York, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, and is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA).