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Frank Walus (July 29, 1922 – August 17, 1994) was born in Poland, worked in Germany during World War II and emigrated to the US 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 alleged by Simon Wiesenthal to have 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 said to be discrepancies in the case, for example, the 5'4" 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 an appeals court found to be compelling in quashing the initial guilty verdict. In consequence, the U.S. Justice Department dropped its intent to retry the case, and paid Walus $34,000 in legal costs.
The Walus case is seen as important for two main reasons. Firstly it has been used by Holocaust deniers to attempt to discredit the work of Simon Wiesenthal and the use of 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 quickly for political reasons. Israel's chief investigator of Nazi war crimes, Menachem Russek, criticized the Department of Justice for its decision not to retry the case.
Walus's citizenship was restored after the government declined to retry him following an appeals court decision quashing the original verdict.
Walus died on August 17, 1994, aged 72, after several massive heart attacks.[where?]
- "The Toronto Star". April 13, 1983. Retrieved 2007-08-01.
- Martin, Len. Frank Walus: A Frame-Up Victim of the Nazi Hunters, Pro-American Press (1972); ASIN: B013PZNSTGrtin
- Buchanan, Patrick J., "Demjanjuk - the case is weak", New York Times, March 31 1987.
- 1981, Flora Johnson; Copyright (c); This, American Bar Association; Flora Johnson is a Chicagobased freelance writer specializing in legal issues (May 10, 1981). "The Nazi Who Never Was". washingtonpost.com.
- Times, Robert Pear and Special To the New York (January 26, 1981). "ISRAELI ASSAILS JUSTICE DEPT. DECISION ON ACCUSED NAZI". nytimes.com.
- "False witnesses;NEWLN:Accused Nazi exonerated but says 'How can I forget such a thing?'". upi.com.