In a federal court hearing set for later this week, accused Nazi holocaust guard Peter Egner, 88, of Bellevue, will ask that the government end its attempt to denaturalize and deport him to Serbia for a war-crimes trial: He committed no wrongdoing, he says in new court statements. But U.S. prosecutors, in documents filed yesterday, say that Egner's motion for summary judgment and dismissal are unwarranted: "Simply put," say Justice Department attorneys in a filing, "Defendant is wrong." And, prosecutors add, they finally have his own truthful statements as evidence against him.
The detainees were reportedly killed in the mobile chambers as they were moved to Jajinci, outside Belgrade. There, bodies were dumped into a number of mass graves.
He denies the charges and seeks to have them thrown out, avoiding a January hearing to send him back to Serbia, whose government has issued a warrant for his arrest. He is considered one of a dozen important Nazi war criminals still wanted by authorities.
Previously, Egner claimed he was but a grunt in the German army. He now admits to being a transport guard on a train bound for Auschwitz, taking Gypsy men, women and children to their likely deaths. Prosecutors are using that and other evidence to deflect his bid to get the case thrown out.
Facts in the court record that are not disputed, says the U.S., now include:
- Egner volunteered for and served with the German Security Police and Security Service (a unit Egner himself describes as "hated") from 1941 to 1945, where he received two promotions to SS non-commissioned officer ranks.
- Armed with a gun, Egner personally performed guard service to prevent escapes during no less than four forcible transports of prisoners, families among them, who were held in a crowded box car and not allowed off to eat or use sanitation facilities.
- He rode transports to the Semlin Concentration Camp outside of Belgrade and to Avala, a shooting range about ten miles from Belgrade used as both a killing and burial field.
The evidence also shows that since war's end, Egner has mischaracterized his
wartime service in a successful decades-long effort to avoid any association with a unit he admits had "the worst reputation in the entire uniform family in Germany or in the war."
He later claimed he had served in the Luftwaffe even though he now acknowledges that "I had never been in the Air Force in my life." In 1960, he provided a false certificate of discharge with his U.S. visa application and didn't mention his time in Belgrade.
Accordingly, prosecutors say, "the Government can and will meet its burden of showing that defendant should be denaturalized on the basis that he concealed or willfully misrepresented a material fact." A hearing is set for this Friday.
In an earlier statement, Egner said he tries "to stay out of public as much as possible" to avoid confrontations with doubters. "Unless it is necessary I do not leave the [Bellevue] retirement community in which I live." Most fellow residents "treat me kindly, but there are some who ignore me altogether. Even the people that are nice to me have a look about them. I can see in their faces that they have doubts about me."