Bellevue resident admits to service in Nazi security force; facing loss of citizenship

An 88-year-old Bellevue resident is facing a loss of U.S. citizenship over accusations that he lied about his position in the German Army during World War II.

The United States Attorney's Office accused Peter Egner of serving in a security force in Belgrade, Yugoslavia that coordinated and executed the imprisonment and interrogation of people deemed to be dangerous to Germany as a result of their race or political views.

In court documents filed with the U.S. District Court in Seattle this week, Egner admitted that he served in the German Security Police (Sicherheitsdienst) force during the war, but he was not involved in the torturing or execution of prisoners.

The United States and Egner are both asking for summary judgment, meaning a decision on the merit of the case without a full trial.

The plaintiff further alleges that Egner's non-disclosure of his service in World War II during his attempt to gain United States citizenship demonstrated a "lack of good moral character," a requirement of naturalization.

Egner contends in his motion that the U.S. has no proof of his involvement with Nazi extermination plots, and the service concluded more than 15 years before he applied for citizenship (1965), so he was not obligated to disclose them. Egner chose not to disclose his service because of the negative connotation with security forces in Nazi Germany.

The government originally began investigating Egner's citizenship in 2003. Documents found during this investigation indicated that Egner has spent much of his life covering up his involvement with the Security Police. As the tide turned against Germany, Egner and his fellow officers attempted to flee from Denmark where they were stationed because of the country's intense hatred for the particular group. Egner ditched his uniform for an Air Force one in order to sneak back into Germany.

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