In the aftermath of World War II, most Nazi war criminals were hanged; most, that is, except the few who escaped the noose, found their way to other countries, and lived long, comfortable lives under assumed names. Ironically, one of the countries escaping Nazis fled to was America. It is bad enough that Nazi war criminals were able to escape justice at the end of a rope, but now we learn that these geriatric thugs are collecting social security payments every month from the U.S. government. This level of ineptitude in the federal government comes as no surprise, but even considering the inefficiencies of government bureaucracies, paying social security to known Nazi war criminals is a bit much to accept.

What makes this outrage even harder to accept is that the war criminals in question no longer even live in the U.S. Once their Nazi pasts were discovered, the men in question were quickly deported. Yet even though they are known war criminals who have been deported from the U.S., these aging Nazis are still collecting social security payments from the U.S. government; allotments paid for by the children of brave American soldiers, sailors, and airmen who were killed fighting the totalitarian scourge of Nazism. Allotments also paid for by the families of Jews these thugs helped burn in the ovens of concentration camps. This situation is a disgrace. So how did it happen?

Before getting into the smarmy details of these we war criminals, let me reassure students of history that I am not referring in this column to Werner Von Braun and other rocket scientists and medical personnel the U.S. brought to America after the Third Reich crumbled. Admittedly, Von Braun and some of his colleagues could have been charged with war crimes themselves. But Von Braun and his team of rocket scientists as well as the physicians who had conducted groundbreaking research on the effects of jet flight on human beings were deemed too valuable to put on trial. Rather, they were quickly spirited out of Germany before the Soviet Union—a nation that had no scruples about the use of slave labor or conducting medical experiments on prisoners of war—could take possession of them.

Rescuing Nazi rocket scientists, engineers, and physicians and putting them to work in what became America’s space program was a controversial move that tested the limits of expedience over morality. It was a classic case of the ends justifying the means. However, Von Braun and his cohorts at least gave America superiority in missile development and space travel—superiority the Soviet Union no doubt would have used for nefarious purposes had it taken possession of these high-value human assets. Consequently, for the sake of preventing world dominance by the Soviets, the American government turned a blind eye to the slave laborers who were worked to death and the prisoners of war who died as the result of heinous medical experiments.

One can debate endlessly the ethics and morality of giving a new life to Von Braun and company. On one hand he and his cohorts were almost certainly war criminals. On the other hand, their work might have saved the world from destruction during the Cold War. But Von Braun, his rocket scientists, and a handful of medical researchers with blood on their hands is not the group of Nazis this column is concerned with. When they came to the U.S. they at least brought value. No, this column is concerned with a number of lower-level functionaries who helped run Hitler’s death camps, participating fully in the holocaust, and then slipped into America to avoid justice. Not only have these Nazi functionaries escaped justice—at least on this earth—they are still leading comfortable lives financed in part through social payments made to them every month by the U.S. government.

So who are these Nazi war criminals who are living out their lives at the expense of the American taxpayer? Here are two examples. Martin Hartmann was a member of one of the Death’s Head battalions of Hitler’s dreaded SS. It was these units that ran the infamous Nazi concentration camps. Hartmann served as a guard at the Sachsenhausen concentration camp near Berlin. He was stripped of his U.S. citizenship in 2007, but allowed to relocate to Berlin where he still receives his social security check right on time every month.

Martin Bartesch worked as guard at the Mauthausen concentration camp in Austria, where he was known to have personally shot and killed a Jewish prisoner, not to mentionbeing part of the other unspeakable atrocities that occurred there. Upon being discovered by authorities, Bartesch was allowed to relocate to Austria and his U.S. citizenship was revoked. The Austrian government, understandably, did not want Bartesch in their country but the U.S government refused to take him back. Throughout all of this, Bartesch never missed a social security payment from the U.S. government.

Hartman and Bartesch are just two representative examples of the Nazi war criminals who are collecting social security from the U.S. government. A total of 38 of these thugs have been identified over the years. Of these 38, only four are still alive now. However, according to the Associated Press, the 38 who were identified—including the four who are still alive— collected millions in social security payments. You might think, “Why worry about a few old Nazis collecting social security, particularly if there are only four of them still alive?” Obviously, this is a problem that will be corrected by time, or will it? Will their eventual deaths return the millions of dollars they have collected to the American taxpayer? The fact that all Nazi war criminals will eventually die hardly justifies asking the families of Americans who died fighting the Nazi scourge to help them live out their years in financial comfort.

Although the social security payments to Nazi war criminals are covered by a veil of secrecy, enough people inside the Beltway know about them that U.S. lawmakers have attempted to put an end to this outrage. However, all such attempts have failed. There is a loophole in the law that allows the payments to be made and Congress has failed to close the loophole. The U.S. Justice Department opposes closing this loophole claiming doing so will make it harder to ferret out Nazis living in America. At any time they wanted, the Justice Department could have solved the problem by simply locking the Nazis up rather than using social security payments as a bargaining chip to convince them to leave the country. This situation is just one more example of the Alice-in-Wonderland thinking of federal bureaucrats.