Debbie Cenziper first got interested in the subject of her book Citizen 865: The Hunt for Hitler’s Hidden Soldiers in America at a 2016 New Year's Eve party. She met an attorney there who "started telling me about this obscure unit inside the US Department of Justice that had spent the better part of three decades hunting for Nazi war criminals living in the United States," Cenziper said during her January 2020 Meet the Author presentation at the Museum. "And even though I had worked for The Washington Post and lived in Washington, I didn't know very much about this unit.
"I remember that night leaving and asking myself two questions. One is, how is it possible that there were still Nazi war criminals living in the United States some 70 years after the war?
"And I also remember saying, 'Who were the men and women inside the Justice Department that had spent their whole professional careers, day after day, month after month, year after year, inside some of the darkest moments of World War II? How are they able to listen to the stories not only of survivors and witnesses but also to mass murderers describing murder in such technical, clinical terms. How are they able to do that over so many years and then go home at night to their wives and their husbands and their children and their soccer games and separate themselves from that work they were doing during the day?' I was absolutely fascinated and wanted to know more."
Watch the presentation below (event starts at 3:08). Visit the calendar page on the Museum's website for a complete roster of upcoming programs and events. Or sign up for our email newsletter to learn about all of the events happening at The National WWII Museum.