We Paid Suspected Nazis $20M in Social Security

US made payments for decades to 133 linked to Third Reich
By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff
Posted May 31, 2015 12:30 PM CDT
Updated May 31, 2015 1:00 PM CDT
We Paid Suspected Nazis $20M in Social Security
This 2014 photo shows Jakob Denzinger's portrait on the tombstone of his empty grave in Cepin, Croatia. Denzinger is among dozens of suspected Nazis who collected millions in Social Security.   (AP Photo/Darko Bandic)

(Newser) – The United States Social Security Administration paid out $20.2 million to 133 suspected Nazis over the course of decades—a pattern that ended only in January with the implementation of the No Social Security for Nazis Act—according to a new inspector general's report obtained by the AP. That more than twice as many Nazis as originally reported by the AP last October, underscoring what the New York Times calls "the ease with which thousands of former Nazis managed to settle into new lives in the United States with little scrutiny." Among the report's specifics:

  • Thirty-eight former Nazis collected $5.7 million before being deported
  • Ninety-five collected $14.5 million in benefits and were never deported

"It is outrageous that any Nazis were able to receive benefits, but this report also makes clear that the Social Security Administration lacked the legal right to terminate benefits in far too many of these cases," says Rep. Carolyn Maloney, who pushed for the review. But some of that payday was obtained with the blessing of the State Department, notes the AP, which cut deals with some Nazis allowing them to keep benefits if they would leave the country. The Simon Wiesenthal Center's top Nazi hunter calls that decision "a travesty," while acknowledging that "the government was trying to maximize what it could do with the tools that they had." (Read more Social Security stories.)

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