The top watchdog at the Social Security Administration discovered the agency paid $20.2 million in benefits to more than 130 suspected Nazi war criminals, SS guards and a number of other individuals who may have participated in Third Reich criminal activities during World War II in Germany, the Associated Press reported. The report is scheduled for release this week.
Evidence was gathered using computer-processed information and various internal agency records to create an extensive list of the Nazi suspects who received money and benefits. Last year, the Social Security Administration refused requests made by the Associated Press for the exact figures.
The payments were significantly higher than previous estimates indicated. They reportedly were made from February 1962 until last January when a law called the No Social Security for Nazis Act went into effect and stopped retirement payments to four recipients. Names were not included.
The report shows how many Nazis entered the U.S. following the end of World War II, with estimates ranging as high as 10,000. Many lied about their histories to gain access to the U.S. and became American citizens. A majority of Americans remained unaware, and it wasn’t until 1979 that the Office of Special Investigations, an organization created to track down Nazis, was created within the Justice Department.
Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., asked that the Social Security Administration’s inspector general to investigate the payments following the research done by AP, which was published in October. Maloney said Saturday reports show 133 alleged and confirmed Nazis hid their identities from the government and still were receiving payments.
"We must continue working to remember the tragedy of the Holocaust and hold those responsible accountable," she said in a statement. "One way to do that is by providing as much information to the public as possible. This report hopefully provides some clarity."
The AP found the Justice Department may have persuaded Nazi suspects to leave the country in exchange for Social Security benefits. The Justice Department denied the allegations, but the AP report shows by March 1999, 28 suspected Nazi criminals had collected $1.5 million in payments after leaving the U.S., as well as $5.6 million paid to 38 former Nazis before they were deported. Information also showed the Social Security Administration halted payments to four recipients when the new law prohibiting Nazi benefits was enacted.