Concentration camp guard dies in Mercer County
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A retired mill worker in Mercer County 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 Wednesday.
Anton Geiser, 88, had been hospitalized for more than a month following a fall.
A native of Croatia who settled in Sharon and became a U.S. citizen in 1962, Mr. Geiser fought a court battle with Department of Justice attorneys who discovered that in his late teens he patrolled with a gun outside of concentration camps Oranienburg and Buchenwald.
He and his attorney, Adrian Roe, maintained that he was an involuntary member of the "Death's Head" battalions of the Waffen SS.
"People need to look at him as an individual, and I think that he actually stood for something he believed in. He hadn't believed in the Nazis. He had been forced into it," Mr. Roe said. "He didn't want to be kicked out. He wanted to stay with his family."
Mr. Geiser died in the presence of his three sons, Mr. Roe said.
At a Dec. 6 hearing before the Board of Immigration Appeals in Falls Church, Va., a Department of Justice attorney said that Mr. Geiser could have asked to serve on the Russian front or could have quit rather than serving as a camp guard. Since he didn't, laws barring Nazis from living in America should be applied.
Mr. Roe cited a 2009 U.S. Supreme Court decision acknowledged that someone who was compelled to participate in persecution may not be subject to deportation. Mr. Geiser's death ends the case.
First Published December 27, 2012 12:00 am