A retired mill worker who spent his last eight years fighting the federal government's efforts to deport him as a former Nazi concentration camp guard died over the weekend, his attorney said today.
Anton Geiser, 88, had been hospitalized for more than a month because of complications from a fall. He died in the presence of his three sons, his attorney, Adrian Roe, said.
A native of Croatia who settled in Sharon and became a U.S. citizen in 1962, Mr. Geiser fought a mostly-losing court battle with Department of Justice attorneys who had discovered that in his late teens he patrolled with a gun outside of concentration camps near Oranienburg and Buchenwald. They cited laws barring persecutors, especially Nazis, from living in America.
He and Mr. Roe argued that he was an involuntary member of the Waffen S.S.'s "Death's Head" battalions.
"People need to look at him as an individual, and I think that he actually stood for something he believed in," Mr. Roe said. "He hadn't believed in the Nazis. He had been forced into it. He didn't want to be kicked out. He wanted to stay with his family."
At a Dec. 6 hearing before the Board of Immigration Appeals in Falls Church, Va., a Department of Justice attorney suggested Mr. Geiser could have asked to serve on the Russian front or just quit rather than serving as a camp guard.
Mr. Roe argued then that a 2009 U.S. Supreme Court decision acknowledged that someone who was compelled to participate in persecution may not, in fact, be a persecutor subject to deportation.
Mr. Roe said Mr. Geiser's death ends the case.
Rich Lord: email@example.com, 412-263-1542 and on Twitter: @richelord