AP - More than 130 suspected Nazi war criminals, SS guards, and others who may have participated in the Third Reich's atrocities during World War II collected $20.2 million in retirement benefits, according to the Social Security Administration's inspector general.
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In a report scheduled for public release next week and obtained by The Associated Press, the inspector general said nearly a quarter of the total, $5.7 million, went to individuals who were found to have played a role in the Nazi persecution and had been deported. More than $14 million was paid to people who weren't deported but were alleged or found to have assisted the Nazis during a period in which millions of Jews perished in the Holocaust.
The IG's report comes seven months after an AP investigation revealed benefits were paid to former Nazis after they were forced out of the United States. AP found that the Justice Department used a legal loophole to persuade Nazi suspects to leave the U.S. in exchange for Social Security benefits. If they agreed to go voluntarily, or simply fled the country before being deported, they could keep their benefits.
Rep. Carolyn Maloney, a New York Democrat, requested the inspector general look into the scope of the payments following AP's investigation. "This report is another reminder that we must never forget the atrocities committed by the Nazis," Maloney said Saturday in an emailed statement.
"According to this report, 133 alleged and confirmed Nazis actively worked to conceal their true identities from our government and received millions of dollars in Social Security payments."
The report doesn't include the names of the former Nazis and is narrowly focused on how many Nazi suspects received benefits. It criticizes the Social Security Administration for improperly paying four beneficiaries $15,658 because it did not suspend the benefits in time.
The report includes a detailed breakdown of how the payments were distributed.
The Social Security Administration last year refused the AP's request that it provide the total number of Nazi suspects who received benefits and the dollar amounts.
Among those receiving benefits were armed SS troops who guarded the network of Nazi concentration and death camps; a rocket scientist who used slave laborers to advance his research in the Third Reich; and a Nazi collaborator who engineered the arrest and execution of thousands of Jews in Poland.
There are at least four living beneficiaries. They include Martin Hartmann, a former SS guard at the Sachsenhausen camp in Germany, and Jakob Denzinger, who patrolled the grounds at the Auschwitz camp complex in Poland.