The scandal surrounding President Carter's attitude toward the Jewish state, sparked by the publication of his book, which blames the Jews for the fate of the Palestinian Arabs, was given a fresh boost yesterday when a document surfaced showing that the former president interceded on behalf of a former Nazi guard.
The document in question shows that Mr. Carter asked the Justice Department's Office of Special Investigation — the unit responsible for the prosecution of Nazis — to show "special consideration" toward a man who murdered Jews at Mauthausen concentration camp.
The New York Sun has obtained a copy of the note that Mr. Carter sent to the OSI in September 1987. It was attached to a letter from the daughter of the Waffen SS guard, Martin Bartesch. The letter accused the OSI of "cruel and un-American activities" by extraditing the Nazi guard from America and barring him from returning. The OSI had taken away Bartesch's citizenship and deported him in May 1987 because of his role in the Holocaust.
The letter stated, "Not only are they punishing my father by ousting him out of the country he has loved and spent most of his adult life in (32 years), but they are punishing his wife, children and grandchildren by denying him the right to continue their lives together. It goes beyond that. He has had to give up his precious citizenship and is on the dreaded ‘Nazi Watch list,' forever denying him the right to visit his children and grandchildren."
Bartesch's daughter also writes that "my father was a 16 year old boy of German ethnicity, born in Romania, conscripted into a terrible war, sent to a foreign country with no control over his destiny."
Mr. Carter sent the letter to the OSI and added a handwritten note. "I hope that, in cases like this, that special consideration can be given to affected families for humanitarian reasons. Jimmy Carter." The letter is stamped as "received" on September 22, 1987.
The director of the OSI at the time, Neal Sher, told the Sun that Bartesch "was one of the relative handful of guards at Mauthausen. Mauthausen was a place in business for one purpose only, to degrade, torture, and murder Jews." Mr. Sher said the Justice Department had uncovered documented evidence of Bartesch's role in the genocide.
Mr. Sher told the Sun that Bartesch "acknowledged to the U.S. government that he served there and that he lied when he had entered country" about his Nazi record. He said he volunteered for the Waffen SS and served in the SS Death's Head Division at Mauthausen.
Mr. Sher said he had been "surprised to receive [a] letter from Mr. Carter. Certainly in that form." He said that "generally, when high ranking officials" received queries about Nazis, they would "first contact the office to find out the facts of case."
Mr. Sher said he was "taken aback" that Mr. Carter didn't ask questions about the Waffen SS guard and "just accepted" what the family of Bartesch claimed. Mr. Sher told the Sun that by the time Mr. Carter's letter was received, Bartesch had been extradited to Austria.
Israel's Arutz Sheva reported yesterday that an entry in a book kept by the SS guards, and captured by Americans when they liberated the concentration camp, recorded for October 10, 1943, "the shooting death of Max Oschorn, a French Jewish prisoner. His murderer was also recorded: SS guard Martin Bartesch."
The chief Nazi hunter and director of the Jerusalem Office of the Simon Weisenthal Center, Efraim Zuroff, told the Sun that "Carter was never particularly sensitive on Jewish issues" and that the news of his appealing on behalf of a former Nazi "doesn't surprise" him. Mr. Zuroff described Mr. Carter's approach as "a classic case of misplaced sympathy syndrome."
Mr. Zuroff said Mr. Carter "shows an acute lack of understanding for the horrors of the Holocaust" and a "lack of sensitivity toward the fate of the victims of the Holocaust."
Mr. Sher told the Sun that he decided to make the letter public after publication of Mr. Carter's book "Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid." It was first reported on the news service JTA.
The letter in question can be read in full on the Internet at: http://www.itshinesforall.com/2007/01/exclusive_note.html