Modern American Witch Hunts
Allan A. Ryan, Quiet Neighbors: Prosecuting Nazi War Criminals in America, San Diego : Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1984, 386 pages (Hardcover)
Early in his book, Quiet Neighbors, Allan A. Ryan, Jr. tells us that, "nearly 10,000 nazi war criminals came to America" and these "henchmen" of Hitler could be living right next door!
A quarter century of operations of the Office of Special Investigations shows us how accurate Mr. Ryan's claim was. From its creation in 1979 through 2005, the Office of Special Investigations deported a total of 100 people. That's it, 100 defendants.
These defendants were very much a mixed bag: Old men who, as teenagers, were drafted into uniform, Jewish inmates, even people innocent of anything other than saying something that offended Ryan.
For example, Ryan boasts of suing a Romanian, Valerian Trifa. Trifa was targeted for making public speeches denouncing Free Masons, Communists, and Jews. Also sued was Ferenc Koréh, editor of the Hungarian newspaper Szekely Nep. Not very politically correct guys by today's standards, but neither of them had the slightest involvement in any actual acts of persecution or crimes. The OSI also sued rocket scientist Arthur Rudolph, ignoring vast amounts of testimony and records showing that Rudolph had done nothing remotely "criminal."
One person charged with committing actual crimes was John Demjanjuk. Ryan claims Mr. Demjanjuk was Ivan the Terrible of Treblinka and recounts his crimes in gory detail. He also spills much venom and bile over Mr. Demjanjuk, calling him "a coward," "a bully who had brutalized for sport the work-Jews," a "beefy thug." Thanks to Allan Ryan efforts, Demjanjuk was found guilty and sent off to face a death sentence in Israel. Of course, it turned out that everything Ryan claimed about Demjanjuk being at Treblinka was false.
Ryan's false prosecution and endless smears of Mr. Demjanjuk seem even less excusable given Ryan's assurances that,
"Throughout our preparation, we were alert, [...] to the possibility that something, anything—[...]—might arise and cast doubt on our case."
Ryan goes on to boast, "We knew we had nailed him."
The United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit subsequently reversed the Judgment against Mr. Demjanjuk and ruled that the OSI acted with reckless disregard for the truth in the case. 10 F.3d 338.
Recently it was disclosed that the OSI team also concealed an FBI report which found that a key piece of evidence against Mr. Demjanjuk was probably a Soviet fake.
It is now clear that evidence which vindicated defendants was often "lost" by the OSI. An example is the case of Martin Bartesch, a teenager who served in the SS at the end of the War and was accused of killing tens of thousands of inmates at Mauthausen Camp. The OSI investigation, started after the complaint was filed and the press releases issued, showed that Bartesch had been a perimeter guard for three weeks and had been transferred to a place called Linz III. The OSI search only uncovered evidence which exonerated Bartesch. Various interviews with ex-prisoners state time and time again that the interviewees never saw any beatings or killings of prisoners by SS guards at Linz III or even heard of other prisoners complaining of beatings or killings. Linz is mentioned as being "relatively nice." The reports of many interviews are ended with OSI comment, "Interview not useful. He [interviewee] paints a rather easy picture of life at Linz III." It was found that young Bartesch had shared bread and cigarettes with the prisoners. None of this was disclosed to the defense council or the public. The original ugly charges were never corrected even when the OSI knew they were false.
The OSI also seems to have a problem complying with the Freedom of Information Act. The most recent example was the 4 year battle to hide the 600 page report on the history of the OSI.
It all adds to the irony that the charge used by Ryan against the defendants was that they concealed evidence!
Ryan dances around the fact that much of his evidence came from communist sources, although he recounts his "extraordinary session" with Lieutenant-General Roman Andreyevich Rudenko, a man he seems to hold in awe. Rudenko was the main Soviet prosecutor at the Nuremberg Trials and produced mountains of fake evidence proving the Germans committed the Katyn killings. Ryan also omits that Rudenko was procurator of the Ukrainian SSR from 1944 to 1953 and was key in prosecuting Ukrainian patriots for Stalin. Ryan and Rudenko agree that "Many [anti-Soviet] Hitlerites were living in the United States."
In fact, Quiet Neighbors has a decidedly anti-Baltic and anti-Ukraninian tone. Ryan tells us, "Whatever their background, well-organized groups of Ukrainians not only cheered the advancing Germans but helped them in the slaughter." But, to show his true humanitarian spirit, Ryan also informs us that, "Not every Ukrainian was a fascist, of course."
What Ryan lacked in real Nazi War Criminals, is filled with unrestrained rants against the various defendants and their attorneys. A female attorney is labeled "a shrew." Opposing council have "shrewdly designed" strategies meant to keep evidence out of court. "Gestapo trained bellboy" is a typical smear of the defendants. Ryan truly seems to hate these old men and even the attorneys who defended them. I wondered why such a fanatic was made head of the OSI. The book seems written by a man suited for a witch hunt. The Joseph McCarthy of the 1980's. And a witch hunt is what we got. The OSI was a profound disgrace to the United States Justice Department.
Recent leaks of OSI records published in the New York Times make the matter more interesting. It seems that the OSI knew in the early 1980's that there were not 10,000 Nazi War Criminals in America... the estimate was no more that 350. That is Three Hundred and Fifty at the most. So what gives?
Ryan must have known that Martin Bormann was not hiding under his bed. Three years of expensive investigations confirmed the extreme shortage of real Nazi War Criminals to hunt.
So is this the book of a crazed bombastic fanatic or is it written by a crafty show man beating the "Nazi Hunting" drum for status and profit?
Ryan only hints of the money spent on these prosecutions... actually they were not criminal prosecutions but civil actions. Ryan conflates the important differences between civil and criminal actions, giving the impression of being a criminal prosecutor. Anyway, these one hundred civil suits, most unopposed, seem to have cost tens of millions of dollars...probably close to $150,000,000 in all.
A big hint that the OSI did not believe its own hype was the fact that many defendants were pretty much left alone after the initial show put on by the OSI. Jacob Tannenbaum, accused by the OSI of killing dozens of inmates, was never deported. Same with Antanas Virkutis, Anton Tittjung, and Otto von Bolschwing.
Another hint is the fact that Ryan's close associate and co-worker Neal Sher was disbarred for defalcation of Holocaust Survivor's funds. See: http://forward.com/articles/8043/restitution-leader-disbarred-by-court-after-invest/ This gives an idea of the prosecution team's real motive$$. There is also the irony of the excuse used by Sher for not fighting the charges. It is the same reason many of Sher's own victims gave for consenting to deportation.
Quiet Neighbors is must reading for students of government, not for Ryan's endless boasting and ranting but as an example of how politically correct fads, like hunting "Nazis," can result in a decades long expensive witch hunt that ends up perverting our own justice system.
Additional information about this document
|Title:||Modern American Witch Hunts, What 30 Years Have Shown|
|First posted on CODOH:||Aug. 30, 2012, 7 p.m.|