cover image Citizen 865: The Hunt for Hitler’s Hidden Soldiers in America

Citizen 865: The Hunt for Hitler’s Hidden Soldiers in America

Debbie Cenziper. Hachette, $28 (320p) ISBN 978-0-316-44965-6

Investigative journalist Cenziper (Love Wins) details American efforts to bring Nazi collaborators to justice in this gripping narrative. Established in 1979, the U.S. Justice Department’s Office of Special Investigations identified Nazi war criminals who had lied on their applications for U.S. citizenship. Though federal law prevented prosecutors from bringing criminal cases against defendants whose war crimes had been committed on foreign soil, they could be denaturalized and deported to stand trial in other countries. Throughout the 1980s, OSI historians found multiple references in Nazi records to the Trawniki training camp in Poland. Further details remained locked behind the Iron Curtain, however, until an investigative team visited Czechoslovakia in 1990 and discovered a roster of more than 700 Eastern and Central European volunteers who had been trained by the SS at Trawniki and took part in the liquidation of the Lublin ghetto and other atrocities. After the war, 13 “Trawniki men” led ordinary lives in the U.S. until their citizenships were revoked by the OSI. Some stood trial in Europe and Israel, others died before they could be deported. Cenziper sketches OSI investigators in broad yet deft strokes, interweaving their stories with the account of a Jewish couple who escaped Lublin. Readers of true crime and Holocaust history will be swept up by this brisk, thrilling account. Agent: Joelle Delbourgo, Joelle Delbourgo Assoc. (Nov.)