176 F.2d 741 (9th Cir. 1949), 12093, Bechtel v. United States

Docket Nº:12093.
Citation:176 F.2d 741
Case Date:August 05, 1949
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

Page 741

176 F.2d 741 (9th Cir. 1949)




No. 12093.

United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit.

August 5, 1949

         Wayne M. Collins, San Francisco, Cal., for appellant.

         Frank J. Hennessy, U.S. Atty., Edgar R. Bonsall, Asst. U.S. Atty., San Francisco, Cal., for appellee.

Page 742

         Before DENMAN, Chief Judge, and ORR and POPE, Circuit Judges.

         POPE, Circuit Judge.

         The appellant Bechtel was born in Germany in 1900, served as a private in the German army during World War I, left Germany when 20 years old and spent 5 years in Sweden, then, in 1925 migrated to the United States and ultimately made his home at Oakland, California. In 1927 he filed his declaration to become a citizen. He was granted citizenship by judgment of the Superior Court of Alemeda County, California on February 23, 1934.

         These denaturalization proceedings were filed against him on December 22, 1942, in the court below, under the authority of section 338 of the Nationality Act of 1940, 8 U.S.C.A. § 738, charging that his naturalization was procured illegally and by fraud in that he was not, as he represented a person attached to the principles of the Constitution and well disposed to the good order and happiness of the United States, that he did not truly intend to become a permanent citizen of the United States, and that his oath of allegiance then taken was false in that he did not absolutely and entirely renounce and adjure all allegiance to any foreign state or sovereign, but retained allegiance to Germany and did not intend to bear true faith and allegiance to the United States, or to support and defend the Constitution of the United States.

         Judgment canceling appellant's certificate of naturalization was entered March 31, 1944. The only question raised upon the appeal which we need notice is the contention that the judgment is not sustained by the 'clear, unequivocal, and convincing' evidence required in such cases.

         Because a number of other denaturalization cases were pending in the same court, in all of which, as in this case, there was evidence that the defendants were at some time members of the German-American Bund, these cases were consolidated for trial of the common issue of the purposes and organization of the Bund, which separate trial afforded each defendant upon all other issues. This was done in the same manner as that adopted by the district court in Knauer v. United States, 328 U.S. 654, and described in the footnote at page 662, 66 S.Ct. 1304, 90 L.Ed. 1504. 1 The court then made findings and conclusions as to the Bund and separate findings and conclusions as to each defendant.

         With respect to the Bund, its findings may best be summarized by stating that they conformed to the description of the Bund given by the Supreme Court in the Knauer case, as follows: 2'The Bund taught and advocated the Nazi philosophy- the leadership principle, racial superiority of the Germans, the principle of the totalitarian state, Pan-Germanism and of Lebenstraum (living space). It looked forward to the day when the Nazi form of government would supplant our form of government. It emphasized that allegiance and devotion to Hitler were superior to any obligation to the United States.' 3

         Upon this issue the court's conclusions were as follows: 'In carrying out the activities hereinabove described, and in seeking to accomplish its real aims and purposes, the Bund demonstrated itself to be a German militant 'fifth column' organization in the United States, antagonistic to the democratic form of government and to the Constitution and laws of the United States, un-American and subversive. One who believes in the National Socialist philosophy and form of government cannot at the same time be loyal to the United States nor attached to the principles of the Constitution and laws of the United States.

         'The principles of German National Socialism are opposed in all respects to the principles of democracy and to the Constitution and laws of the United States.'

         As to Bechtel, the court found:

         (1) He joined the Friends of New Germany (the Bund, by an earlier name),

Page 743

about September, 1934 (seven months after he became a citizen) and attended Bund meetings thereafter through 1938 and into 1939.

         (2) He subscribed for the Bund paper and read it for at least one year.

         (3) During this period of membership Bechtel was on numerous occasions clothed in the uniform of the Ordnungs Dienst, or O.D. (the uniformed group within the Bund, organized to act as color guards, ushers, distributors of pamphlets and literature and to protect members from attack during meetings.) He attended meetings of the O.D., where he wore its swastika arm band and assisted in its various activities such as marching and carrying the swastika banner. In 1938, at a Bund picnic, he kept watch over the fire while a large swastika was burned on the hillside.

         (4) At numerous meetings of these organizations he engaged in giving the 'Heil' or 'Sieg Heil' salute and in the singing of the 'Horst Wessel' song.

         (5) He accompanied the Bund leaders and others when they organized a Bund unit in another county.

         (6) In May, 1938, Bechtel attended the Bund's Western District Convention where the district leader and Fritz Kuhn, national leader, spoke.

         (7) Between 1934 and 1939 Bechtel stated to various persons that he approved of Hitler's economic and social policies in Germany, and approved of his treatment of the Jews.

         (8) He stated to various persons that he desired and intended to return to Germany.

         (9) On December 14, 1942, he stated before a Board of Army officers that he honored...

To continue reading