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Citing a long line of cases where courts have found that service as an armed guard at a concentration camp constitutes assistance to the Nazi agenda, a federal judge in Syracuse, N.Y., has revoked the citizenship of a Catskills innkeeper who claimed he was himself a slave laborer. Judge Norman A. Mordue, of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York, flatly rejected 77-year-old Mykola Wasylyk’s assertion that his compulsory service as a guard at the Trawniki and Budzyn forced-labor camps during World War II did not automatically confer upon him guilt for the persecution of civilians. “Even accepting defendant’s statement that neither he nor anyone else killed Jews while he was there, it is obvious that the presence of armed, uniformed guards served to oppress the inmates as well as to deter any attempts to escape, resist or obtain help,” Mordue wrote. “Defendant’s portrayal of himself as a slave laborer no different from the Jews does not mitigate the fact that as an armed, uniformed guard … he assisted in the Nazis’ imprisonment and forced labor of Jewish inmates at the camp.” United States v. Wasylyk, 1:99-CV-1991, involves a 77-year-old innkeeper who has been living in this country peacefully for most of his life. While acknowledging that denaturalization is a harsh remedy, Mordue said the evidence suggests that Wasylyk was admitted to the United States in 1949 under false pretenses. Apparently, Wasylyk told American authorities that he had spent the war working in a Dresden, Germany, paper company and did not disclose his service as a guard at Nazi-operated camps. “It cannot be disputed that the consequences of loss of citizenship may be severe,” Mordue wrote. “Legal precedent establishes beyond question, however, that in the face of the established facts of defendant’s service as an armed guard, there is no basis to deny the United States a judgment of denaturalization.” The case arose in 1999 when the U.S. Justice Department moved to strip Wasylyk of his citizenship on the grounds that he had persecuted Jewish and Polish citizens at slave camps during World War II. Wasylyk testified that in 1943, when he was 19 years old, a German soldier came into his village in what was then Poland and conscripted him and about 20 other young men. The defendant said he was taken under guard to Trawniki, where he was ordered to patrol the perimeter of the camp while undergoing training. Then, he was transferred to the SS Labor Camp Budzyn, where he guarded prisoners. Wasylyk claimed he never killed, injured or harassed the prisoners, and “made the improbable assertion that if prisoners had tried to escape no one would have shot them and that if an escape attempt had occurred while he was on watch he would ‘probably sleep,’ ” Mordue noted. REFUGEE STATUS CLAIMED The action directly giving rise to Mordue’s action occurred shortly after the war, when Wasylyk applied for a visa under the Displaced Persons Act of 1948 (DPA), which permitted refugees to emigrate regardless of immigration quotas. Once in this country under the DPA, many immigrants — like Wasylyk — established residence and applied for citizenship. Here, Mordue said Wasylyk was ineligible for the DPA visa, and therefore the very foundation of his citizenship is without support. “The precious right of American citizenship can rightfully be obtained only by strict compliance with all congressionally imposed prerequisites to its acquisition,” Judge Mordue said. “While this result may appear harsh, the court notes that for approximately 50 years defendant had enjoyed the benefits and privileges of a United States citizenship to which he was not legally entitled.” Brian M. Gildea of New Haven, Conn., appeared for Wasylyk. Representing the prosecution were: U.S. Attorney Joseph A. Pavone and Assistant U.S. Attorney James C. Woods; and attorneys Eli M. Rosenbaum, Susan L. Siegal, Ellen L. Chubin and Jeffrey L. Menkin, all of the Justice Department’s Office of Special Investigations in Washington. Since the Office of Special Investigations began operations in 1979, 65 alleged former Nazis have had their citizenship revoked.

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