At least 133 suspected Nazi war criminals, including members of the elite SS guard, received benefits from the US government totaling some $20.2 million, according to claims from the US inspector general of the Social Security Administration (SSA).
A new report obtained by the Associated Press, which will reportedly be released later this week, found that the millions in payments, made between February 1962 and January 2015, far outstrip the amount of benefits previously estimated, before the No Social Security for Nazis Act was enacted in late 2014 to end payments to suspected WWII criminals.
As many as 10,000 suspected Nazis immigrated to the US after WWII, according to the AP, often using faked documents and under false pretenses. An Office of Special Investigations to hunt down Nazi perpetrators was established by the Department of Justice (DoJ) in 1979.
In October 2014, an AP report found that the DoJ used a legal loophole to try to convince Nazis to sign agreements to flee the US before they were deported by offering them continued social security benefits.
The most recent inspector general's report claims that the SSA paid some $5.6 million in benefits to 38 former Nazis before they were deported, and that at least 95 suspected Nazis who weren't deported received some $14.5 million.
Efraim Zuroff, the head Nazi hunter at the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Jerusalem, told the AP it's a "travesty" that so many Nazis received social security benefits after they left the US.
"The issue is the principle here — do you sign deals with Nazis to get them out of the country?" he asked. "The Department of Justice said yes, but who wants to think that taxpayer dollars went to people who served as guards in camps? On the other hand, the government was trying to maximize what it could do with the tools that they had."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.