The passing of the Social Security Act in 1935 was a great advancement in history. It helped many of our citizens prepare for the future and support themselves when they had no other means.
The benefits are available to US citizens who have worked and paid in funds up until retirement. It is also available for US residents who have become disabled, our veterans and other citizens who are unable to work. But did you know that for 53 years, Nazi war criminals were receiving Social Security benefits?
The Associated Press recently started an investigation that found between the years of 1962 and 2015, more than $20 million was paid out to Nazis living in the US and overseas. The Department of Justice used benefits to persuade at least 28 suspected ex-Nazis to leave the country, allowing them to keep receiving money as long as they left the country voluntarily.
They received those benefits up until the 2014 No Social Security for Nazis Act that the payments slowed, and they didn’t even stop completely until January 2015.
Bringing Nazi War Criminals to Justice
At this point in time, attempts to bring the remaining Nazi war criminals to justice is difficult. With more and more of these individuals dying of natural causes, and many of them n ow in their eighties and nineties, that means the efforts to bring some final survivors to justice are last-ditch efforts.
But we’re still finding out about some shocking things that happened after the war. It was only in 2014 that the “No Social Security for Nazis Act” stopped at least some of the payments the US government was making to former Nazis who had settled in the US.
More than $20.2 Million Paid Out to Former Nazis
An investigation that was performed by the Associated Press revealed the amount of money that was paid out from the SSA to retirees who had ties to the Nazi Party; more than $20.2 million had been paid to 133 people linked to the Third Reich.
The Social Security Administration originally denied the AP access to the documents and records. It took a while for them to realize what was really going on. Payments were made beginning in 1962, and they only stopped in 2015. They were all made possible by a strange loophole.
When Nazi war criminals were identified by the Department of Justice, the department could use the benefits as leverage to get them out of the country. If the suspected individuals decided to leave on their ow accord, they would be allowed to keep their benefits. If they refused and had to be deported, they would lose the money. As of March 1999, the SSA had paid out around $1.5 million to 28 people living outside the US because they volunteered to leave the country.
The Names of Some of the Nazis Living in the US Revealed
Even though the “No Social Security for Nazis Act” didn’t reveal the names of the people receiving benefits to the public, the BBC did. The list includes former Mauthausen guard Martin Bartesch, SS volunteer Martin Hartmann, Jakob Denzinger of the Death’s Head Unit, SS guard Peter Mueller, Wasyl Lytwyn of the Warsaw Ghetto SS, Nazi-installed regional mayor John Avdzej and Nazi rocker factory overseer Arthur Randolph.
No one knows how many former Nazis ended up settling in the US after the war, especially since so many did it under false pretenses. It is believed that a number of them had other ties to the government, and they were brought to the country in hopes of becoming government informants and spies for the upcoming Cold War.
Visas Denied to Jewish Survivors Were Given to the Nazis
A New York Times reporter Eric Lichtblau uncovered masses of files that had been wiped clean of all Nazi atrocities, all belonging to people fleeing the country. When it came to immigration to the US, there was an astonishing number of Washington lawmakers who took a stand against giving Jewish survivors visas. They instead provided ideas regarding their work ethic and entitlement as reasons why they shouldn’t be allowed in the country, which all seemed very Nazi-esque.
Instead of providing those visas to the Jewish survivors, they went to the Nazis and Nazi collaborators, with more than a thousand admitted into the United States under an improvised program. The program had various intelligence agencies who were interested in using them for their knowledge and expertise.
It wasn’t until 1979 that the Office of Special Investigations turned around and formed a unit to start tracking down the Nazi war criminals that were living in the United States.