« FöregåendeFortsätt »
this country, whether we could get a guarantee from the countries that they would take them back.
This, of course, was a very difficult procedural arrangement. I cannot any longer comment on the specifics.
Mr. EILBERG. Do you recall, if there was a guarantee of return in every case, or only in particular cases?
In other words, when was a guarantee of return required? Was this for every applicant or only for some.
Mr. RIEGER. I can no longer comment on that. I can't recall.
Mr. EILBERG. It is my understanding that every person who arrived in the United States was required to have such a certificate in his permanent file with the INS.
Does that ring any bell with you?
Mr. RIEGER. It sounds like what was done at the time and, again, I can only refer you to the INS files to establish that.
Mr. EILBERG. Well, based upon your recollection there, can we conclude that INS at any time should have in the files of each individual a guarantee of return certificate?
Mr. RIEGER. Mr. Chairman, if it was a requirement that we have it in order to proceed, we must have gotten it and it must exist.
Mr. EILBERG. But you are just reasoning, you don't know from your own recollection at this point?
Mr. GERETY. I can say this, that I don't remember that as being any particular problem, whatever that requirement may have been. I just remember that as one of the problems we dealt with.
Mr. RIEGER. It was in the early stages. Mr. GERETY. Maybe before I took over, that may have been part of the problem.
Mr. EILBERG. If they were required then and they do exist, they have particular significance as far as the work of this subcommittee on this subject.
Mr. GERETY. That's correct, and it should be with the INS admissions file.
Mr. EILBERG. They may provide a basis for expediting the socalled alleged Nazi war criminal cases.
Another question which I have to ask, in your estimation, if one could prove deliberate falsification or misstatements which led to the individual's entry into the United States, would the guarantee of return be operative?
Mr. GERETY. I just don't have any recollection about the guarantee of return, I am sorry.
Mr. RIEGER. My answer is, I presume so.
Can you explain why no effort was made to obtain any information from Eastern European countries on the backgrounds of persons who were of Eastern European or Russian origin prior to granting them a visa to come to the United States to determine whether or not they had engaged in acts of persecution or atrocities?
Mr. GERETY. I have to defer to John. He knows more about that.
Mr. RIEGER. I think, Ms. Holtzman, the answer to that would probably be we would have the same difficulty at this time as you
would have today to ask any of the governments to give you information about.
(A further response to this question was subsequently provided by Mr. Gerety and appears in app. 5, p. 209.)
Ms. HOLTZMAN. Are you aware of any difficulties we are having today?
Mr. RIEGER. I didn't hear the question.
Ms. HOLTZMAN. I said, are you aware of any difficulties we are having today with respect to requests for information from Eastern European countries or the Soviet Union on war crimes?
Mr. RIEGER. Of course not. It's just an assumption on my part that you would have difficulty in getting it.
Ms. HOLTZMAN. I see, but I am not asking you about today, I am asking you about why at that time, when you were a high official in the administration of this program, no requests for information were made.
Did you want to find out whether or not these people engaged in atrocities or war crimes in Eastern Europe or in the Soviet Union?
Mr. RIEGER. We did everything we could in the circumstances prevailing at the time.
Ms. HOLTZMAN. What were those circumstances? Was there an order prohibiting you from doing this? Was there a law prohibiting you from doing this? Was there a directive?
Mr. RIEGER. From making inquiry in Eastern European countries?
Ms. HOLTZMAN. Yes, or the Soviet Union with respect to atrocities committed at the direction of Nazis. There was no order, directive, statute, regulation, law, that you can recall?
Mr. RIEGER. No.
Mr. GERETY. I can only say we accepted the standards that were in force when I came in that had been established by the ICIS, as I think they called it—that is, the Intergovernmental Committee for Internal Security-and we checked with what was available.
Now, we didn't have any jurisdiction in any country behind the Iron Curtain.
Ms. HOLTZMAN. By statute?
Mr. GERETY. We were not there. I know we didn't, at least I feel we didn't, and I can't comment further.
Ms. HOLTZMAN. I would just say that considering that a number of requests that have been made to countries such as Poland have produced important information with respect to proceedings against persons who came to this country in violation of the immigration laws, I think you would have to recognize that the failure to have sought information on these persons allowed our country to become a haven for persons who were guilty of war crimes and atrocities. ' I think it was a serious defect in the administration of those laws. Certainly considering the number of atrocities that were committed in Eastern Europe, particularly against the Jews and others, it's regrettable that more of an effort was not made to obtain background information from Eastern European sources prior to admitting these people into the United States.
Mr. EILBERG. Thank you, Ms. Holtzman.
Mr. GERETY. I would like to say I share that sentiment; it is regrettable if any of them came in.
Mr. EILBERG. Mr. Gerety and Mr. Rieger, we thank you for your presence. We are sure that you testified honestly and it is just a pity that you don't have fresher recollections and better knowledge of where records are and so forth.
You know what we are engaged in and we are trying to explore thoroughly the whole matter. These hearings will continue until we have substantially more knowledge than we presently have.
We thank you very much for your attendance.
Mr. EILBERG. The Chair would like to announce that we will take one more witness, since it deals with the same general area with which this testimony has just dealt. It will be necessary to take a brief recess of 15 minutes during which I ask that everyone kindly leave the room.
A brief recess was taken.] Mr. EILBERG. The subcommittee will come to order. Our final witness for today will be Mr. Almanza Tripp. Mr. Tripp is a former Immigration and Naturalization Service official who was stationed in Europe and who worked with the Displaced Persons Act.
Mr. Tripp, we welcome you and we would like to swear you in.
Do you solemnly swear that the testimony you are about to give will be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God?
Mr. TRIPP. I do.
Mr. EILBERG. Mr. Tripp, I am sure you have observed our style this morning.
If you have a statement we will be glad to hear from you. TESTIMONY OF MR. ALMANZA TRIPP, FORMER IMMIGRATION
AND NATURALIZATION SERVICE OFFICER STATIONED IN EUROPE WITH THE DISPLACED PERSONS ACT
Mr. TRIPP. I prepared no statement because it is too complex a matter to put in a small memorandum.
Mr. EILBERG. All right.
Would you wish to comment on any of the statements you heard this morning?
Mr. TRIPP. No. I presume that you are mostly interested in the testimony that I can give regarding the displaced persons program.
Mr. EILBERG. That is correct, sir.
Mr. TRIPP. And there has been no discussion of that that I have heard.
Mr. EILBERG. All right; then, we will ask you a few questions, if you don't mind.
Mr. Tripp, you were in charge of the INS contingent stationed in Europe during the implementation of the Displaced Persons Act. [For text of Displaced Persons Act, see app. 1, p. 161.)
Previous congressional testimony indicates that you had a number of conflicts with Displaced Persons Commission officials in Europe.
Do you remember those conflicts?
Mr. EILBERG. Can you give us a summary of the cause of those conflicts? Can you tell us about them?
Mr. TRIPP. Perhaps it boils down to the philosophy of two groups that we had in the program, those interested mostly in the quantity of the DP's—displaced persons—they would bring to the United States, and those who were more interested in the quality of the DP's.
I happen to be one of those interested in the quality. The other groups, like the voluntary agencies, naturally, having their charter passed on religion in many instances, were anxious to help people and without too much consideration about the type of person they were helping.
We also found that the international organizations, IRO in particular, was anxious to move as many people as they could.
Mr. EILBERG. What was the name of that organization again?
Mr. TRIPP. International Refugee Organization, IRO it was known as. The Displaced Persons Commission was anxious to make a good showing, because the program was one that was very favorably looked upon by the administration at the time. As a result of the desire to bring in as large a number as possible in a short period of time, I am afraid that some of those agencies cut corners a bit.
Perhaps the most important one to you people now in the matter you are considering was the failure to wait for a return from the Berlin document center check before processing the application of the displaced person.
Mr. EILBERG. Can I interrupt you at that point by noting, that Mr. Gerety, who preceded you on the witness stand, testified that checks were made with the Berlin documentation center.
Mr. TRIPP. He was speaking of the refugee relief program. I am speaking of the displaced persons program.
Mr. EILBERG. All right.
Mr. TRIPP. The request for information was sent to the Berlin document center.
I might also add one was sent to the provost marshal's office with a fingerprint chart. But in an effort to move as many in as short a period of time as possible, the cases, the applications, were processed before a return came back.
Mr. EILBERG. How quickly were these people moved? I mean what kind of delay would be involved if one waited for those returns?
Mr. TRIPP. I testified before the Senate subcommittee in 1950, February, I checked my testimony before I came down here, and at that time I said that if we stopped everything until we got those checks through it would be about a 3-week breakdown in he program. That is what I said at that time.
Mr. EILBERG. I see.
Mr. TRIPP. I remember some of the things that happened over there in this program very vividly, but some of them I don't remember so well.
Mr. EILBERG. But do you still feel that the 3-week period was worthwhile and should have been adhered to?
Mr. TRIPP. I think it should have, yes. In checking the record of the 1950 hearing, I find that that was in February 1950, and at that time about 135,000 entered under the act, and the coordinator of the Displaced Persons Commission in Europe testified at that time that some 70 cases of that number had been processed before adverse information was received.
They were in the United States when the adverse information was received from the Berlin document center. That was with the first 135,000.
Now, I don't remember whether that condition was corrected or not. I am hazy on whether it was changed.
I might also say that the then Commissioner of Immigration, Mr. Miller, testified that between 250 and 300 persons entered before adverse information was received from the Berlin document center or the Provost Marshal's office.
Mr. EILBERG. During what period of time was that?
Mr. TRIPP. His testimony was given in February 1950, and the program didn't really get underway until, oh, the late spring of 1949. So it was during that period that most of them came in.
We did, in my organization, stop some people whom we found out through examination, not through the Berlin document center, had been members of a German military unit. We stopped them and put them through our procedure we followed at that time on the theory that they had participated in a movement hostile to the United States and by serving in an element of the German Army.
We had a very good case that we used for a pilot case that I recall, a Latvian who took considerable pride in the fact that he not only had been accepted into their Waffen SS, as they called it, but he had been successful in acquiring the status of a commissioned officer.
On appeal to the Board of Immigration Appeals, that man was ordered admitted, and thereafter most of those who served in the military service and on whom we had no other information would be admitted.
That included not only the Waffen SS but there were a number of other units, the Ukraine Brigards, Vlasov's Army, Hlinka Guard. One of the late ones we never did get to was the Prince Eugen Brigade.
Mr. EILBERG. Do I understand that persons who were members of these organizations were permitted to enter this country?
Mr. TRIPP. These are all persons who served, speaking about persons who served in one of these units. Unless we had other information to keep them out. I testified into part of this before the Senate committee and, apparently, it was a congressional desire they not be kept out because in the 1950 amendment to the Displaced Persons Act the language was such that it did not specifically direct that they be excluded.
Section 13 was extended at some length, and I don't remember the wording of it now. You probably have it, but the part about military service was rather vague.
I think it said something about whether they served the voluntary or not and, anyway, it tied our hands as far as stopping them for military service only.
Mr. EILBERG. All right, Mr. Tripp.