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Quiet Neighbors: Prosecuting Nazi War Criminals in America

Quiet Neighbors: Prosecuting Nazi War Criminals in America by Allan A. Ryan

ISBN10: 0151758239
ISBN13: 978-0151758234
Author: Allan A. Ryan
Book title: Quiet Neighbors: Prosecuting Nazi War Criminals in America
Publisher: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich; 1st edition (October 1, 1984)
Language: English
Category: Rules & Procedures
Size PDF: 1232 kb
Size ePub: 1715 kb
Size Fb2: 1104 kb
Rating: 4.8/5
Votes: 970
Pages: 386 pages

Quiet Neighbors: Prosecuting Nazi War Criminals in America by Allan A. Ryan

The former director of the Office of Special Investigations, who led the effort to identify and prosecute Nazi war criminals who emigrated to the United States recounts in detail the hunt for Klaus Barbie, Ivan Demjanjuk, and other former Nazis


just one girl
Allan A. Ryan’s Quiet Neighbors (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1984) recreates some of the horrors Jewish victims lived through in the Nazi death camps and describes the often lengthy and challenging process of bringing the Nazi victimizers and their collaborators to justice. In the short span of a year, from July 1942 to August 1943, the Nazis murdered nearly a million Jews at Treblinka. As Ryan recounts, “The guards drove the dazed and fearful Jews like livestock from the trains to be processed—clothing removed, hair shorn—some snatched out of the streams of people and told to stand aside. Families who had managed to stay together during the suffocating train ride slowly fell apart, their screams, their outstretched arms no match for the disciplined and experienced guards. After their hair was removed, the naked cargo was herded onto a dirt path packed hard by the feet of thousands of people before them. At the end lay gas chambers and, beyond them, deep smoldering pits that sent up thick black smoke to darken the sky” (Quiet Neighbors, 2). Some of the guards, many of whom were Ukrainian in origin, were particularly cruel and relished in humiliating and torturing the victims before killing them. One of the worst sadists among them was Ivan Marchenko, the man who pumped carbon monoxide into the gas chambers. Known as “Ivan the Terrible” among the prisoners and staff of Treblinka, Ivan was a mountain of a man infamous for beating victims with an iron pipe or cutting off body parts, just for sport, before killing them.
Amazingly, Marchenko, as well as other notorious Nazi collaborators, found refuge in the U.S. and blended seamlessly among American citizens. In fact, Ryan notes that in an ironic twist of justice, it became easier for former Nazi collaborators to immigrate legally to the U.S. after the war than for the survivors of the Holocaust. Ivan changed his name to John Demajanjuk and came to the U.S. in 1952. He and his wife moved to a small town, Seven Hills, in Ohio and raised together three kids. They were well liked by neighbors and no one suspected Ivan of wrongdoing, much less of crimes against humanity. It took nearly thirty years for the authorities to catch on that Demajanjuk was in fact Ivan Marchenko, the Terror of Treblinka, and strip him of his American citizenship.
Ryan argues that the fact that the U.S. was more likely to harbor victimizers rather than the victims of the Holocaust is not entirely accidental. The U.S. leadership, as we’ve seen in an earlier article, never wanted to portray WWII as fought to save the Jews. Even American Jewish leaders hesitated to apply too much pressure upon the government lest they unleash a wave of anti-Semitism in the country. In the summer of 1948, President Truman signed the Displaced Persons Act, which allowed 200,000 people to immigrate to the U.S. over a two-year period. (16) The vast majority—about 85 percent--of Jewish refugees who wanted to immigrate was excluded from this bill. By way of contrast, immigrants from countries that collaborated with the Nazis were welcome: “Having excluded nearly all the Jews,” Ryan observes, “Congress then extended America’s hand to the Balts. It required that 40 percent of the immigrants be from countries that had been “de facto annexed by a foreign power”—a diplomatic euphemism for Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia, whose incorporation into the Soviet Union in 1944 the United States had never officially recognized” (17). The immigration bill also privileged farmers (offering them 30 percent of the available slots), which formed a high percentage of the non-Jewish Eastern European immigrants and a very low percentage of the Jews. As a New York Times journalist aptly summarized the situation, “As matters stand, it is easier for a former Nazi to enter the United States than for one of the Nazi’s innocent victims” (19).
Quiet Neighbors not only follows the extradition trials of some of the most notorious Nazi collaborators who made their way legally into the United States, but also puts on trial, as it were, America’s topsy-turvy postwar immigration policy, which privileged victimizers over victims.

Claudia Moscovici
Holocaust Memory

I really liked this book. If you're at all interested in the subject, it's a necessary read along with the Nazi Hunters. It gives wonderful background information, and a nice recitation of how they gathered the information.
It also shows how shamefully deficient the American legal system was in keeping out or kicking out these criminals. About halfway through he turns into too much of an aggressive prosecutor - and the reason I don't give it five stars is because this attitude keeps escalating through a chapter on John Demjanjuk. [For those who don't know, he's back in the US (and in deportation proceedings AGAIN) after the US sent him to Israel for trial, and their supreme court promptly decided he was NOT who we accused him of being.] If Demjanjuk is truly not "Ivan the Terrible," the author comes off looking pretty silly.
At any rate - it's a great book, and contains lots of references to case law and other places you can go to for more information. Plus, it contains partial transcripts from some hearings (including Demjanjuk's) that give a chilling portrait of just how nightmarish the Holocaust was.

Great book, on a subject that should never have been hushed up as it has been.

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 PC guys by today's standards but neither 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 Mathausen 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 communists 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-Balt 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 of killing dozens of inmates by the OSI, 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: [...] 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 should be must reading for students of government. It shows how politically correct fads, like hunting "Nazis" can result in a decades long expensive witch hunt that ends up perverting our own justice system.