"...I think federal officials ought to just let this situation alone because it's been so many years, but... the laws have to be obeyed..."
July 1, 2003
A former nazi concentration camp guard is finally behind bars. Johann Leprich was arrested in Clinton Township, Michigan on July 1, 2003. Leprich was profiled on the hit Fox television show "America's Most Wanted: America Fights Back" in 1997, but his capture was not a direct result of the show.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, Special Investigation Unit, Leprich was a guard at the Mauthausen concentration camp in Austria during World War II and was a member of a special unit of the SS, the Death's Head Battalion.
In 1987, Leprich was stripped of his U.S. citizenship for failing to disclose his guard duty on his visa application, but before Leprich could be deported back to Europe, police say he vanished.
Steve Rambam, a private investigator who hunts Nazi guards in his spare time, believed that Leprich escaped to Canada and was traveling between Windsor and Detroit, Michigan.
On July 1st, after 16 years of searching, ICE Agents finally received the break they needed to take Leprich down. An anonymous tipster informed police that Leprich was hiding out at his wife's house in Clinton Township. Authorities raided the home around 10:00 p.m., but it took them about 45 minutes to locate the fugitive. Agents say they finally found Leprich, hunkered down in a secret compartment under the staircase in the basement. Leprich is currently being held at an undisclosed detention center awaiting a bond hearing. Agents hope to remove Leprich from the United States, sending him back to his birth country Romania.
(Quelle: http://www2.amw.com/site/recent_capture ... ohann.html )
What was Mauthausen? It was one of the Nazis' most notorious concentration camps. They used it as a liquidation center and work camp for political prisoners, Jews and Gypsies. Located in Austria, it was established by German forces in March 1938. Its total number of prisoners was 199,404, of which about 119,000 died, the Simon Wiesenthal Center estimates. American GIs liberated the camp in May 1945.
The law: Since the 1970s, federal authorities have searched for people who lied about their involvement with the Nazis during World War II. Leprich is at least the third Macomb County resident to lose his U.S. citizenship for hiding his wartime past.
The decision: A judge is to rule in two weeks whether Johann Leprich entered the country illegally. If so, the judge could order him deported.
Der KZ-Aufseher muss gehen
Er war Mitglied des Totenkopf-Bataillons der SS und Aufseher im Lager Mauthausen. Er hatte sich in die USA abgesetzt und sich den dortigen Behörden entzogen. Nun wurde Johann Leprich festgenommen. Möglicherweise wird er nach Deutschland abgeschoben.
Detroit - Bundesrichter Larry Dean folgte dem Antrag der Regierung: In Detroit verfügte er die Abschiebung des ehemaligen KZ-Aufsehers Johann Leprich, der sich mehr als 50 Jahre den US-Behörden entzogen hatte. Noch ist offen, wohin der 78-Jährige ausgewiesen werden soll. In Frage kommen dessen Heimatland Rumänien, Ungarn oder Deutschland. Dies teilte ein Sprecher der US-Einwanderungsbehörde mit.
Leprich war nach eigenem Geständnis Mitglied des Totenkopf-Bataillons der SS und Aufseher im Lager Mauthausen in Österreich, wo von 1938 bis Kriegsende 119.000 Gefangene hingerichtet wurden oder den Strapazen der Zwangsarbeit erlagen.
Der ehemalige SS-Mann wurde Anfang Juli in seinem Haus in Clinton Township im US-Staat Michigan festgenommen, wo er mit seiner Frau und seinem Sohn lebte.
Leprich war 1952 in die Vereinigten Staaten gekommen und hatte nach sechs Jahren die amerikanische Staatsbürgerschaft erhalten. Diese wurde ihm aber 1987 wegen falscher Angaben in seinem Einwanderungsantrag wieder entzogen. Vor der drohenden Abschiebung floh Leprich damals nach Kanada. Seitdem hielt er sich nach Angaben der Behörden abwechselnd dort und in den USA auf.
(Quelle: http://www.spiegel.de/politik/ausland/0 ... 75,00.html )
Deported Nazi guard back in a U.S. court
A Macomb County man who helped the Nazis hold thousands of people captive came to court Wednesday a prisoner himself, charged with sneaking back into the United States after his banishment 16 years ago.
By Nancy A. Youssef
He wore a striped prison outfit. He cried. He pleaded for the judge to understand why he returned to this country in April.
He wanted to celebrate his 50th wedding anniversary with his wife at her Clinton Township home.
"She has heart problems. She has breast cancer. I wanted to be with her," Johann Leprich, 78, told the court. "I took a chance."
Authorities found Leprich hiding in a closet under a staircase in the house.
On Wednesday, the immigration court considered whether to deport Leprich. Authorities say he was stripped of his U.S. citizenship in 1987 for his role as a member of the Nazi SS.
Soon afterward, he fled, and authorities have been looking for him since. Leprich said he has been in Windsor.
His lawyer argued that although Leprich believed he was no longer a U.S. citizen, in fact he is.
"We're not asking for restoration of citizenship," said Cleveland-based attorney Joseph McGinness. "We're claiming he never lost it," because the federal court did not follow procedures correctly in 1987.
McGinness argued that if Leprich never lost his citizenship, he cannot be charged with entering the country illegally.
Assistant Chief Immigration Judge Larry Dean said he would issue a written opinion within two weeks.
The hearing focused on events in April when Leprich entered the United States through the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel.
He said he stood outside the Windsor Casino and stuck his thumb out. A couple from Mt. Clemens picked him up, and they drove through the tunnel.
Leprich said no one at the tunnel asked him for documentation.
"They asked me where I was born. Romania. Anything to declare? No. Next car," he said.
The couple dropped him off at a Clinton Township gas station and he walked to the home he once shared with his wife, he said. He stayed there until his July 1 arrest.
But Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Paskey argued that the court followed correct procedures in 1987, and that even if Leprich is being truthful about what happened at the tunnel, he still committed a crime.
If the border inspector "makes a mistake, that does not make that admission lawful," Paskey said.
Leprich, who is of German descent, admits he worked at the Mauthausen Nazi camp, but only because he was forced to. He said German officials told him to work at a camp or fight the Russians.
At the camp, he said he stood outside the perimeter. He said only Nazis were allowed to work inside and that he hurt no one.
But when he was stripped of his citizenship in 1987, the U.S. Justice Department said Leprich was "part and parcel of the machinery of destruction."
Authorities learned about Leprich's past in the 1980s through detailed camp records. He eventually confessed he had been a guard at the camp.
In 1997, Leprich was profiled on the TV program "America's Most Wanted."
(Quelle: http://www.freep.com/news/locmac/deport6_20031106.htm )
Nazi Fugitive Nabbed
A former Nazi concentration camp guard has been arrested in Michigan after 15 years on the run.
by Jeremy Last
Hungarian born Johann Leprich is accused of being a member of the SS special death?s battalion, serving at the Mauthausen camp in Austria, where more than 200,000 people died.
He was arrested last Tuesday at his home in Clinton Township near Detroit, after immigration officials received an anonymous tip off.
The 77-year-old had originally become a US citizen in 1958 but his citizenship was revoked in 1987 after it was found that he had lied on his application.
Greg Pallmore, public affairs officer for the bureau for immigration and customs Enforcement said: ?He had been naturalised but then stripped of his citizenship for lying on his initial application. When he spoke about his military service he did not speak about his involvement in the concentration camps.?
The former nazi was reported to have been discovered hiding in a secret compartment under the stairs following a three day stakeout.
Pallmore added: ?The operation had been going for a number of days. We had surveillance out there.?
Efraim Zuroff, director of the Israel office and coordinator of nazi war crimes research at the Simon Wiesenthal centre welcomed the arrest.
He said: ?To have nazis forced to hide under very difficult conditions is a welcome switch from the events of the Holocaust. This arrest reflects the determination of the United States to kick out those individuals who were involved in the crimes of the Holocaust.
But Zuroff sad that it is unlikely that Leprich will be brought to trial for crimes committed during the Second World War. He said: ?Unless there is evidence of specific crimes being committed it is very hard to prosecute him on war crimes charges.
(Quelle: http://www.totallyjewish.com/news/stori ... ory=KnBJGZ )
Accused Nazi Nabbed
(AP) A Michigan man who authorities say worked as a concentration camp guard in Austria during World War II is in federal custody after eluding arrest for 16 years.
Johann Leprich, 77, was arrested Tuesday night after he was found hiding in a secret compartment beneath the stairs of his home in Clinton Township, about 25 miles north of Detroit, according to the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Leprich had been a fugitive since 1987, after his U.S. citizenship was revoked because officials found he had misrepresented his military service on his application for naturalization. He came to the United States in 1952 and was granted citizenship in 1958.
Leprich served during the war in the Nazi Death's Head Battalion and worked as a guard at the Mauthausen concentration camp, said immigration bureau spokesman Greg Palmore. Mauthausen alone is said to be responsible for the deaths of nearly 200,000 people, he said.
Leprich's application for U.S. citizenship said he served in the Hungarian Army during the war, but did not mention the concentration camp. After officials learned he had worked as a guard there, Leprich admitted lying on the application, The Macomb Daily of Mount Clemens reported.
The newspaper cited a 1987 deposition in which Leprich wrote: "I swear from the bottom of my heart and the grave of my parents and mother that I did not volunteer to the Waffen SS. I was forced. In all my life, I never hurt, mistreated or killed any human being."
A federal law forbids granting U.S. citizenship to any concentration camp guard or worker.
Leprich, who had worked in a machine shop in Fraser, fled to Canada in 1987 before deportation proceedings were complete.
Leprich appeared Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Detroit on charges related to the alleged false statements on his citizenship application.
Palmore would not say Wednesday where Leprich was being held. He said the man had an attorney, but did not know the lawyer's name.
Leprich will go before an immigration judge after a bond hearing, which is expected to be held within the next 10 days.
"He may still be put in front of an international tribunal," Palmore said.
Attempts to reach relatives of Leprich by calling all phone numbers listed under that surname in Macomb County were unsuccessful.
Leprich, who lived in Clinton Township with his wife, Maria, was a quiet man who took care of his home, neighbors told The Macomb Daily.
"John is just the nicest guy in the world," said Clarence Sonntag, who lives across the street from the Lepriches. "Personally, I think (federal officials) ought to just let this situation alone because it's been so many years, but we do have our laws and the laws have to be obeyed."
(Quelle: http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2003/07/ ... 1530.shtml )