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listed in the Berlin Document Center as members of the general goverment. That is the term they used.
Mr. EILBERG. As you said, the law was changed in 1950, eliminating membership as an ineligibility standard?
Mr. TRIPP. It doesn't say so in so many words, but the wording is such that we couldn't exclude on those grounds; and I might say that the Board of Immigration Appeals admitted a man on appeal, acting for the Attorney General, of course, and the final report of the Displaced Persons Commission makes reference to the fact that the commission approved the entry of members of the Waffen SS in a decision, I think, of September 1950.
Mr. EILBERG. You said earlier that even though members of German military units or parties or factions were not excluded after 1950, nevertheless, individuals who were accused of Nazi war atrocities were?
Mr. TRIPP. If we found them, if we had information, we would exclude them.
Mr. EiLBERG. What machinery did you have, or apparatus or investigative staff, to assist you in that regard?
Mr. TRIPP. We were limited to the file that came forward from the Displaced Persons Commission. That file contained the report of their finding of eligibility; it included the report of the CIC, of the field investigation, including a check of about seven different sources of information.
In areas outside of the American zone, they had their own investigators-the DP Commission did.
Mr. EILBERG. Was there, to your recollection, any check? For example, if someone were a member of a Nazi military unit, would there have automatically been an investigation as to whether he was involved in atrocities or not?
Mr. TRIPP. We would make a thorough interrogation, but I am afraid it wasn't done before it came to us, because that membership was also a reason for denying eligibility with the International Refugee Organization and it was, I thought, a reason for denying approval under the Displaced Persons Act.
Now it could very well be that they rejected many that I never knew about.
Mr. EiLBERG. Did you have any staff or assistance to assist you in checking to see that the particular individual had not committed atrocities?
Mr. TRIPP. During the last year, perhaps a year and a half, of the program, I had a small investigative unit of about four men that I used mostly on investigations that were of a technical nature under the immigration law, like various types of crimes, to find out whether it was one that would be a bar to admission, things that we couldn't rely too much on CIC to do because they weren't familiar with our statute.
Mr. EILBERG. Do you remember how many either before 1950 or after 1950 were excluded because they were Nazi war criminals that had committed atrocities?
Mr. TRIPP. Well, now, what we did in those cases, that went more to eligibility than admission under the immigration laws, and we had, oh, hundreds of cases that came forward to us that we questioned their eligibility, and we would refer them back to the Dis
placed Persons Commission or to the International Refugee Organization for review and a redetermination of eligibility.
There were so many at one time that the Displaced Persons Commission transferred one of their senior officers to Bremen, where we were located at that time, to review those cases; and, later on, when we had trouble with the International Refugee Organization regarding their eligibility, they sent an eligibility officer to Bremen.
It wasn't altogether satisfactory because both of those officers would review the file and then come to me with the file and tell me verbally, “It's all right. You can go ahead.” And then when they would say do that, why, I would insist on a written letter stating that they had reviewed it and still found them eligible; in that way cut off about half of them.
Mr. EILBERG. Do you recall how many were excluded for having committed atrocities?
Mr. TRIPP. I don't know. I wouldnt know that, because I say, those should have been caught before they ever got to the immigration examination and, no doubt, an examination of the Displaced Persons Commission's final report would give a better figure on that than anything I could give, because they would be the ones who should have caught it.
Unfortunately, when I first went to Europe I found that the applicant was seldom, if ever, interrogated by an American official until he got to the Immigration Service. His examination before that was all done on the basis of documents or information he had given to the International Refugee Organization, and it bothered me so much that I reported it to my central office, and that's what led to some of this controversy you refer to.
Mr. EILBERG. Mr. Tripp, as a ranking INS official in Europe, you had contact with all U.S. governmental agencies involved in this problem—the State Department, CIA, CIC. Did you ever specifically discuss this problem of the admission of persons who had committed atrocities with our governmental agencies?
Mr. TRIPP. Oh, yes; yes.
Mr. TRIPP. Well, the main thrust of my discussion with these agencies—I went to their meetings when they held zone-wide or European-wide meetings, and the main thrust of my talk would be, "Please, don't process the case if you are in doubt and send them up to Bremen where we will have to stop them. It is far better to tell them no, back in the resettlement area, in the camp area, than to put them through to Bremen.
Unfortunately, none of the people involved would buy that. In fact, the Displaced Persons Commission refused to deny processing to someone who was apparently inadmissible under immigration law because of criminal conviction. They took a stand-and it could be defended—that that was a job for an Immigration officer to decide; but I explained to them that we had men available; I would gladly make them available for advisory opinion; but they insisted on going through with it.
Mr. EILBERG. My question, or the point I am trying to make, is, did you bring up with our own agencies-State Department, CIA, CIC, and any others—the question of Nazi war criminals?
Mr. TRIPP. Oh, we discussed it, along with other matters, but it wasn't discussed at any great length because we all accepted the fact that we were going to keep them out if we could catch them; but the problem was in catching them.
Mr. EILBERG. But you were limited in catching them because the Commission put pressure upon you to get the people moving before the checks came back?
Mr. TRIPP. Oh, it did impede our action a little bit, yes, sir.
Mr. EILBERG. And from the position of your own office, you hardly had the resources to check on anybody; you said only at the end did you have this small staff; and all you could do was question.
Mr. TRIPP. Most of it had to be done by interrogation.
Mr. EILBERG. That is certainly not the only way or necessarily the most thorough way in any case?
Mr. TRIPP. Not the best, because, unfortunately, many of the people who were members of these organizations—I am speaking of military organizations—were better educated than some of the others, and more difficult to pin down.
Mr. EILBERG. During your duty in Europe, did any of the agencies-CIA, State, CIC-approach you on the basis of national interest to make you grant admission to any persons in this category whom you may have considered ineligible?
Mr. ÍRIPP. I think we had a couple of CIA cases under the special allowance they have. You are familiar with it, I am sure.
Mr. EILBERG. They asked you to admit a couple. Do you recall those instances?
Mr. TRIPP. Yes; but that's provided for by law.
Mr. EILBERG. Do you recall anything more than that, as to the numbers, over the period of time that you were there?
Mr. TRIPP. That the CIA had the people?
Mr. TRIPP. I don't believe there was over a handful because the people had more value to them in Europe than they had over here.
Mr. EILBERG. Now we touched on this a moment ago, but I think we both can agree that number—perhaps a large number-of persons who were possibly Nazi war criminals got through the screening process. Your explanation, I take it, is that the only mechanism you had was to interrogate them, and that some of them, being pretty smart and educated, were able to fool you, in effect?
Mr. TRIPP. No; sometimes we did get Berlin Documents, had a check which would show the military service or general government or nationalization in Germany, and we would have that to support our interrogation.
if I might digress just a moment, to give an illustration, we had a group of Mennonites who were brought from Russia to Germany during the war years and they were given land to work and were nationalized. Many of them, now, they weren't violent people. I don't think they ever persecuted anybody, not that group, but there we had some information to go on at the start that they were nationalized and in those cases they were referred back to the International Refugee Organization because they were patently not eligible, not a concern of IRO, under their constitution.
Mr. EILBERG. Over what period of time were you the administrator in Europe?
Mr. TRIPP. I went there February 1, 1949; I left February 1 of 1952.
Mr. EILBERG. You have no recollection as to the numbers that were denied admission to the United States because of Nazi-related activity?
Mr. TRIPP. No. I wouldn't know, and I think your best source for that information would be the Displaced Persons Commission, because they were the ones that had the first bite out of the apple; they could cull them out there.
Mr. EILBERG. Mr. Tripp, and I think you have referred to this, did you ever uncover derogatory, Nazi-related information after the displaced person had departed; and if so, what did you do in those cases?
Mr. TRIPP. When the check came in, the report came in, the Displaced Persons Commission relayed it to our central office in Washington and proceedings were started there. If you want a breakdown on it, I haven't got it here; but I checked the testimony of Commissioner Watson Miller at the time, and it appears on pages 901 to 910 of the Senate hearings; and he gives a list of the 250 or 300 who were already arrived here. Those were not all Nazi cases; some of them were criminal cases, and they got it from the Provost Marshal's report. He gives a lengthy report on how many of them died, how many left and how many were put in the proceedings.
Mr. EILBERG. This appears in your testimony before the Senate committee in February 1950. Is that correct?
Mr. TRIPP. Yes, February 1, 1950.
Mr. EILBERG. Do you have any idea what happened to these people after they got here, when you picked up this information and got in touch with your central office?
Mr. TRIPP. Well, as I say, Commissioner Watson Miller's testimony lists that and he gives what happened to them.
Mr. EILBERG. You don't recall? You don't recall what happened? Mr. TRIPP. I don't recall. He gave a whole list of the 250 or 300.
Mr. EILBERG. Can you say that the United States returned any of these people?
Mr. TRIPP. I don't think they had much luck in returning them. They may have returned a few to Germany, some of them under proceedings, some on their own, some of them died. I don't know what the breakdown would be.
Mr. EILBERG. Mr. Tripp, as a long-time, faithful, competent, efficient official of the INS, how would you characterize the inaction by INS in the period between 1950 and 1973 in investigating and prosecuting alleged Nazi war criminals in the United States?
Mr. TRIPP. Well, I held a position, after I returned from Europe, where I was somewhat familiar with the operation. In fact, I retired from the position of Deputy District Director of New York, and I wouldn't say that that was too much of a problem. We didn't have too many good cases to work on, that I knew, ever. In fact, I only can recall one, and that didn't come to me in an official way. It came to me from the attorney who represented him, the alien in that particular case, and he had worked for me when I was at the
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Boarding Division in New York, and he was a very high-principled man. He had gotten himself into trouble with some of his friends taking this case when it was an alleged Nazi and he was of the Jewish race, and his name, by the way, if you are interested, is Elmer Freid. He was a very high-principled young man.
Mr. EILBERG. Mr. Tripp, ever since I was a boy, over the years, even as a layman, I have been aware of the existence of alleged Nazi war criminals in the United States. Surely, the Immigration Service knew that also, and what I am really saying is, why wasn't something done about it during that period?
Mr. TRIPP. Well, you don't have the personnel to go out and start blind, looking for Nazi war criminals, but you do have hundreds of thousands of files involving people who must be investigated for some reason, and during the years- I retired at the end of 1956– but during the years I was there the emphasis was more on Communist Party membership than it was on Nazi affiliation.
Mr. EILBERG. Who directed that?
Mr. TRIPP. I don't think anybody directed it. It just grew up, you might say.
Mr. EILBERG. I understand you were involved in the original stages of the Refugee Relief Act program but that you subsequently were removed from any connection with this program; is that right? Mr. TRIPP. That's right.
Mr. EILBERG. Can you explain the circumstances of your original involvement and subsequent removal?
Mr. TRIPP. Well, the administration—that was during the Eisenhower administration was considering the advisability of more refugee legislation and Mr. Rabb, who was at that time a presidential assistant, ramrodded an unofficial committee where we discussed what kind of legislation would be best if enacted; and I was a part-time member of that, contributed some to it; and it was enacted, and I was, because of my experience in the DP operation, directed to do the preliminary work, get the personnel, plan the operation when it started in Europe.
I canvassed the Service for men I thought satisfactory and tried to indoctrinate them on what to expect in the program, drawing on my previous experience, and at that time I took very seriously the reports of the Congress when they reported the bill to the House in which they indicated they wanted a tough stand taken on it; and on October 12, 1953, the then Commissioner, Mr. Mackey, called me in, told me that the Attorney General had sent word I was to be removed from the program, which was all right. After all, I didn't suffer. He gave me other duties.
But there had been some complaint made and they wanted me out, I guess.
Mr. EiLBERG. Do you know why? Do you have any notion as to why you were removed?
Mr. TRIPP. Let me tell you, I would rather not.
Mr. TRIPP. I will tell you, if you want to know. It might be embarrassing.
Mr. EILBERG. Does it tend to defame anybody in the Service, Immigration Service?