The US, ranked alongside Germany, has the highest grade when it comes to prosecuting Nazi criminals.
Thanks to Eli M. Rosenbaum, director of the Human Rights Enforcement Strategy and Policy, Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section, Criminal Division of the United States Department of Justice, and his team, Nazi war crimes have been investigated and Nazi criminals have been found and prosecuted.
On Mar. 7, Rosenbaum came to Kean as a guest speaker for the event Investigation and Prosecution of Nazi Criminals in the United States. He showed the audience a PowerPoint presentation full of pictures and genuine artifacts of Nazi crimes and criminals that he had collected throughout his career.
"It's rather strange, I think, to deal with the prosecution of Nazis in this district of the country because the belly of the beast is not here," said Dr. Keith Nunes, scholar-in-residence of Holocaust, Genocide and Human Rights at Kean.
But members of the Kean family may be shocked to find out that Stefan Leili, a Nazi criminal, was found hiding out and residing in Clifton—a city located less than 30 minutes north of Kean. Leili was an armed guard at the Mauthausen concentration camp of the Death's Head Battalion.
Rosenbaum said that Leili fled to Germany after he was revealed as a Nazi criminal, but Germany did not prosecute him.
"As immigration started, some number of participants in Nazi crimes managed to insinuate themselves into the population of so-called displaced persons," said Rosenbaum. "Most of these people came to the United States the old-fashioned way, by concealing their pasts. In many instances, it was not hard to do because they had committed their crimes on territory behind the iron curtain."
However, some criminals' identities were not as strongly concealed.
Andrija Artukovic, the only cabinet-level Nazi official ever known to have entered the US, was revealed almost immediately when he arrived with a phony Irish passport in 1949 or 1950.
"The result was that the US Immigration and Naturalization Service instituted a deportation case against him, got bogged down in immigration court—went no place," said Rosenbaum. "Then the Yugoslav government tried to extradite him to stand trial in Yugoslavia—that too, went no place."
In 1985 after Rosenbaum's office took over Artukovic's case, Artukovic was extradited to Yugoslavia and was put on trial in Croatia, where he was charged with multiple counts of murder and sentenced to death.
However, Artukovic was not executed because of old age and being extremely ill.
"Irrespective of your position on capital punishment, it is an odd state of affairs when one can be too ill to be put to death, but that's what happened and he succumbed to natural causes sometime later," said Rosenbaum.
The Office of Special Investigations, of which Rosenbaum is a part of, was created in 1979 to pursue Nazi criminals in the US. As of last year, the office merged with the Domestic Rights Division.
According to Rosenbaum, the US presently does not have a law that stops persecutors of any kind from coming into the country.
"We do not, as I mentioned before, have criminal jurisdiction," said Rosenbaum. "We could bring denaturalization cases in federal district court to revoke US citizenship. If we succeeded in that and we survived appeals, we could then bring a deportation case against the individual."
Aside from dealing with Nazi criminal investigation and prosecution, Rosenbaum added that his office also deals with many other cases that are done on "behalf of crimes against humanity."