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UNITED STATES v. SCHELLONG

September 9, 1982

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, PLAINTIFF,
v.
CONRAD HEINRICH SCHELLONG, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Decker, District Judge.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Plaintiff, the United States of America, brought this action pursuant to Section 340(a) of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952, as amended, 8 U.S.C. § 1451(a), to revoke the citizenship of the defendant, Conrad Heinrich Schellong, on the grounds that the defendant procured his citizenship illegally and by concealment or willful misrepresentation of a material fact. The government contends that the defendant, in applying for an immigration visa and later permanent citizenship, willfully concealed or misrepresented his membership in certain Nazi organizations and his involvement with the concentration camps in Nazi Germany during the 1930's. Beginning on May 26, 1982, this court heard six days of testimony concerning the government's claims and Schellong's defenses. This court has reviewed the transcript of that trial and the relevant exhibits, as well as the parties' post-trial memoranda, and hereby enters the following findings of fact and conclusions of law.

I. Factual Background.

In December, 1932, the defendant joined both the German Nazi Party (Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiter Partie) and the Schutzstaffel, an organization more commonly known as the "Allgemeine SS" or simply "SS." For purposes of this litigation, it need be noted only briefly that the Nazi Party espoused a philosophy of racial purity, racial superiority, and intolerance toward political and philosophical opposition. The principal function of the Allgemeine SS in the early 1930's was to guard Nazi Party speakers and to carry out party intelligence, although the SS gradually assumed the additional responsibility of the administration and guarding of the concentration camps. The SS was, at all relevant times, distinct from the Wehrmacht, or German armed forces, which were composed of Germany's army, air force, and navy. According to the evidence, the defendant remained a member of the Allgemeine SS until 1934, and was a member of the Nazi Party until the fall of Hitler's Germany in 1945.

Of particular importance to this litigation are the defendant's activities between 1934 and 1939. In February 1934, the defendant joined the SS Sonderkommando "Sachsen" ("SS Special Commando `Sachsen'"), an organization stationed at the Sachsenburg Concentration Camp in Saxony, Germany.*fn1 Upon completion of basic training, the men of the SS Special Commando "Sachsen" were assigned to guard the prisoners and prevent escapes from the Sachsenburg Concentration Camp. The SS Special Commando "Sachsen" were considered wach truppe, or "watch troops," distinct from the Abteilung Drei, or camp commandant's staff, which was responsible for the daily operation of the camp, prisoners' work schedules, and punishment.

The defendant testified that he began his assignment at Sachsenburg in October 1934 as a corporal, and that his responsibilities included the supervision of a platoon of guards and also service as a Security Officer and a Reserve (or "Alert") Officer on a rotating basis with other platoon leaders. During the defendant's rotation as Security Officer, he was in charge of security for the entire camp for twenty-four hour periods. The SS Special Commando "Sachsen" was renamed the SS Wachverbande "Sachsen" ("SS Guard Unit") in late 1934, and renamed again as the SS Totenkopfverbande "Sachsen" ("SS Death's Head Unit `Sachsen'") in April 1936. The defendant's duties during that period, however, did not change significantly.

In early 1936, the defendant was assigned for approximately four months to the 11th Company of the SS Guard Unit "Oberayern" at Germany's Dachau Concentration Camp, near Dachau, Germany, where he participated in a platoon leaders training course. Upon his return to Sachsenburg in late April 1936, the defendant was promoted to the rank of Second Lieutenant, and given command over approximately 30 of the 100 to 120 SS men guarding the camp. The guards under Schellong's supervision served as camp guards approximately every fourth or fifth day, supervising the prisoners at the work sites and performing other guard duties to prevent escapes. Guards were instructed to keep alert and were told to warn and then shoot to kill any prisoner attempting to escape.

Although it appears that the SS guards were not directly responsible for the punishment of the camp prisoners and their onerous work schedules, the guards were nevertheless aware of the prisoners' cruel treatment. Schellong testified that he witnessed at least two floggings of prisoners while at Sachsenburg, and that he personally took turns checking on prisoners being held in solitary confinement at the camp. Furthermore, the guards were aware of the work detail of hard labor assigned to the prisoners, including shoveling sewage, breaking rocks, and hauling stones.

In late November 1936, Schellong was transferred to the Dachau Concentration Camp, where he was assigned to the 7th Death's Head Company of the Death's Head Unit "Oberbayern."*fn2 Between December 1936 and December 1939, when Schellong left Dachau, the defendant commanded the Second Platoon of the 7th Death's Head Company, the 11th Death's Head Company, and the 9th Death's Head Company, all of which were rifle companies that performed guard duty at the camp. The defendant's responsibilities at Dachau included training new recruits, preparation of the duty roster of guards, and the supervision of the guards under his command. Similar to the operation at Sachsenburg, Schellong's men performed their guard duties on a rotating basis, manning the watchtower, guarding the gate, and supervising the forced labor detail. The defendant was promoted twice during his term at Dachau, to First Lieutenant in April 1937, and to Captain in August 1939.

Although there was some testimony that SS guards occasionally participated in the punishment of prisoners at Dachau, and also some testimony that the guards in at least one of Schellong's units were reputed to be among the most abusive guards in the camp, no evidence was presented that Schellong personally beat or physically abused any prisoner at Dachau. Schellong admitted, however, that he was aware of the inhuman treatment of the prisoners he guarded — the forced labor, the living conditions, and the punishment. In a volunteered understatement, the defendant testified that he knew that Dachau was not a "nice place to be," and that the punishment of prisoners and their living and work conditions were "not a nice subject."

In late 1939, as the German war effort mounted, the prisoners at the Dachau Concentration Camp were temporarily reassigned to other camps so that Dachau could be used for actual military training of the SS Death's Head Units. At that time, the various Death's Head Units were consolidated into a single military organization and became, in effect, a distinct and separate branch of the German armed forces. The name given to that military organization was Waffen SS, which translated literally meant "armed SS." Prior to 1939, no organization by that name existed. At no time was the Waffen SS considered a part of the German Army.

The record shows that the defendant served with the 6th SS Death's Head Regiment of the Waffen SS in Norway until 1941, when he was transferred to the eastern front for the remainder of the war. Schellong in November 1942 was promoted to Major of his unit in the Waffen SS, and by the end of the war, held the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.

II. The Defendant's Visa and Citizenship Applications.

On December 3, 1956, the defendant filed an "Application for Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration" (Form FS-256a) with the United States Consular Office in Hamburg, Germany. In response to Question 26 on the application, requesting the applicant to state his places of previous residence, the defendant answered:

  "Birth — 1911, Dresden, Germany; 1911-1934,
  Leipzig, Germany; 1934-1939, German Waffen SS;
  1939-1945, ...

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