The Richmond Register

October 20, 2013

The Case of the Repentant Nazi

By Jack Strauss
Special to the Register

BEREA — Otto was born in the United States, and like any good American, he grew up on apple pie and cookies. Notwithstanding, prior to WWII, he took off for Germany, renounced his U.S. citizenship and joined the Nazi party. When the war ended, however, he decided his having pursued the goose step was a misstep and returned home. After a respectable period, he filed an application to become a naturalized U.S. citizen.

“Sorry Mac,” he was told. “When you decided to follow the Fuhrer in his furor, you blew your chances of ever becoming a U.S. citizen again.”

“Nonsense,” responded Otto. “The war is over... bygones are bygones. Since returning home I've been a model would-be American citizen. To deny me citizenship would be totally unfair, since I've always believed in the good old U.S. of A.”

The dispute ended up in court.

If you were the judge, would you grant citizenship to the repentant Nazi?

This is how the judge ruled: No. The judge held that Otto's background and history indicated that he was unreliable, untrustworthy and untruthful. It was impossible for him to have honestly been a Nazi and a believer in the United States Constitution at the same time since the principles and ideology were obviously and totally incomparable. Loyalty to both, concluded the judge, could not have possibly abided in the same man at the same time.

Based on a 1961 U.S. District Court decision.

Jack Strauss, a retired New York City trial attorney who now resides in Berea, wrote a syndicated column for 36 years called, “What’s the Law?” It appeared in papers coast to coast, including the Pittsburgh Press, the Los Angeles Examiner, the Hartford Times, the Kansas City Star and the Philadelphia Daily News, among many others. It appears here with his permission.