Frank Walus (July 29, 1922 – August 17, 1994) was born in Poland, worked in Germany during World War II and emigrated to the USA in the mid-1940s. He finally settled in Chicago, where he worked in an auto factory until his retirement in 1972. Two years later Walus was accused by Simon Wiesenthal of having collaborated with the Gestapo during the war. The ensuing court battle was presided over by Julius Hoffman and was relatively complex. During the case more than a dozen witnesses had implicated Walus in the murders of nearly two dozen Polish civilians, including young children, and the deaths of Jews in the Polish towns of Częstochowa and Kielce. Walus lost the first round of the case and was subsequently stripped of his U.S. citizenship and was ordered to be deported.
There were, though, said to be discrepancies in the case, for example Walus did not fit the description of a tall, educated man, while some of the witness testimony was deemed to be inconsistent. Walus presented documentary evidence to dispute Wiesenthal's claim, which the court found to be compelling. As a consequence, the U.S. Justice Department reversed its decision, dropped its suit and paid Walus $34,000 in legal costs.
The Walus case is seen as important for two main reasons. Firstly it has been used as evidence to discredit the work of Simon Wiesenthal and the use of uncorroborated witness testimony in such cases. Indeed, it has sometimes been a cause célèbre for Holocaust deniers, with exaggerated claims that Walus was accused by Wiesenthal of being a Gestapo officer or even of being the Beast of Kielce, although this latter association is also to be found in the mainstream press.
Alternatively, others claim that rather than discredit Wiesenthal, the case illustrates that the US Department of Justice has not been willing to hunt out suspected Nazis and that the case was closed too early for political reasons. For example, Israel's chief investigator of Nazi war crimes, Menachem Russek, criticized the Department of Justice for its decision not to retry the case.
Whatever the merits of the case or the controversy, the trial had a negative impact on Walus, who claimed to have been physically attacked on numerous occasions.
Walus died on August 17, 1994 after several massive heart attacks.