"Dozens of suspected Nazi war criminals and SS guards collected millions of dollars in Social Security payments after being forced out of the United States," an Associated Press investigation has found.
The payments flowed through a legal loophole that has given the U.S. Justice Department leverage to persuade Nazi suspects to leave. If they agreed to go, or simply fled before deportation, they could keep their Social Security, according to interviews and internal government records.
Many of the suspects lied about their Nazi pasts to enter the U.S. after the end of World War II, and later became American citizens. Among those who benefited:
— Armed SS troops who guarded the Nazi network of camps where millions of Jews perished.
— An SS guard who took part in the brutal liquidation of the Warsaw ghetto in Nazi-occupied Poland that killed as many as 13,000 Jews.
— A Nazi collaborator who engineered the arrest and execution of thousands of Jews in Poland.
— A German rocket scientist accused of using slave labor to build the V-2 rocket that pummeled London. He later won NASA's highest honor for helping to put a man on the moon.
The AP's report is the result of over two years of interviews, research and analysis of records obtained through the Freedom of Information Act and other sources.