April 12, 1963
EDWARD VIETH SITTLER, PETITIONER-APPELLANT,
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, RESPONDENT-APPELLEE.
Before CLARK, KAUFMAN and HAYS, Circuit Judges.
HAYS, Circuit Judge.
This is an appeal from an order of the district court (197 F.Supp. 278) denying appellant's petition for naturalization on the ground that petitioner failed to establish that he was "attached to the principles of the Constitution of the United States and well disposed to the good order and happiness of the United States." We affirm the action of the district court.
The statute which governs the present proceeding is Section 1427 of Title 8 of the United States Code which provides, in relevant part:
"(a) No person, except as otherwise provided in this subchapter, shall be naturalized unless such petitioner, (1) immediately preceding the date of filing his petition for naturalization has resided continuously, after being lawfully admitted for permanent residence, within the United States for at least five years and during the five years immediately preceding the date of filing his petition has been physically present therein for periods totaling at least half of that time, and who has resided within the State in which the petitioner filed the petition for at least six months, (2) has resided continuously within the United States from the date of the petition up to the time of admission to citizenship, and (3) during all the period referred to in this subsection has been and still is a person of good moral character, attached to the principles of the Constitution of the United States, and well disposed to the good order and happiness of the United States.
"(e) In determining whether the petitioner has sustained the burden of establishing good moral character and the other qualifications for citizenship specified in subsection (a) of this section, the court shall not be limited to the petitioner's conduct during the five years preceding the filing of the petition, but may take into consideration as a basis for such determination the petitioner's conduct and acts at any time prior to that period."
Under this provision the petitioner has the burden of showing that he meets the statutory qualifications. Taylor v. United States, 231 F.2d 856 (5th Cir., 1956); Tutun v. United States, 270 U.S. 568, 578, 46 S. Ct. 425, 70 L. Ed. 738 (1926).
The record shows that the petitioner here, Edward Sittler, was born in Delaware, Ohio, in 1916. His family was of German descent although German was not spoken in his home and he did not learn to speak German until he went to Germany at the age of 21.
Sittler was graduated from high school in Ohio and attended Ohio State University and Bard College for three years. In 1937 Sittler went to Germany where, after spending some time learning the language, he became a student at one of the German universities. In 1939, while still studying at a German university Sittler applied for naturalization as a citizen of Germany. It may be considered of some significance that Sittler's application for naturalization was filed a few days after Hitler's attack on Poland, which was the beginning of World War II. His application for German citizenship was granted in the spring of 1940. From the spring of 1940 until the final defeat of Germany in 1945 Sittler was employed in the Information Office of the German government.
During the period 1943 to 1945 he was a commentator broadcasting propaganda in English on a radio program directed to the United States.
Late in 1942 or early in 1943 Sittler joined the Nazi party.
In determining whether the petitioner had sustained his burden of establishing the qualifications enumerated in Section 1427, the district court took into consideration the petitioner's conduct and acts during the period 1937-1945 as it was expressly authorized to do by that statute. The district court held that the petitioner "wholly failed to sustain his burden of proof." We must affirm unless we find that the determination of the district court was clearly erroneous, and in our consideration of that question we must accord due weight to the opportunity of the district judge to observe the conduct and demeanor of the witnesses, particularly the petitioner himself.*fn1
On the basis of a careful review of the entire record we cannot find that clear error which we are obliged to find if we are to set aside the district court's order. The district court could properly conclude from the evidence that Sittler had shown himself to be attached at one time (a time during which the United States was at war with Germany) to the principles of Nazism as those principles were exemplified by the government of Adolf Hitler. It is hardly arguable, though petitioner attempted to argue it, that one who is attached to the principles of Nazism can at the same time be attached to the principles of the Constitution of the United States and well disposed to the good order and happiness of the United States. Therefore one who now claims to be attached to the principles of our Constitution but who was formerly a Nazi, can be required to prove that he has completely renounced and repudiated his attachment to Nazism. It was in this respect particularly that the district court found that the petitioner's evidence fell short of that convincing character which the situation demanded.
There is nothing in the statute, nor in the cases decided under it, which would permit a court to deny naturalization to a petitioner solely on the ground that he was at one time a Nazi, however devoted he may have been at that time to Nazi principles. Nor could a court properly deny petitioner's application on the ground that his wartime activity in behalf of Hitler's Germany would have constituted treason but for his timely acquisition of German citizenship. No past conduct of this kind, however deplorable, will bar access to citizenship to one who can establish that his ideas and allegiances have undergone a genuine change and that he is now, at the time of his petition for naturalization, in all good faith attached to the principles of the United States.
In the present case the district court did not purport to hold the petitioner ineligible for naturalization because of his activity during the war or because of his past adherence to principles which were hostile to the principles to which he now claims attachment. On the contrary the judge searched the record for evidence that the petitioner has changed his views since 1945 and is no longer sympathetic to a political system so completely at variance with the principles to which he now claims allegiance. The court sought without success to find in petitioner's testimony any convincing renunciation of the former allegiance, let alone any expression of abhorrence for the Nazi system and its crimes.
Giving due weight to the district court's opportunity to observe the demeanor of the petitioner we cannot say, in reviewing his testimony, that the conclusion of the district court was clearly erroneous. It is difficult to find in that testimony any direct, uncomplicated repudiation of the Nazi system. Partial repudiations are qualified and explained. There are repeated attempts at justification and rationalization. An American may be "mistaken" for sympathizing with Germany "but Americans can be for the underdog." The United States was a republic, "but the Soviet Union was called a republic, too". This took time for him to "understand." Whether he would have fought in the German army against the United States was "a purely hypothetical question", because Germany had the "humane policy" of not assigning former foreign nationals to fight against their former countries. When he was naturalized in Germany he took an oath of allegiance to Germany "but not to Adolf Hitler."
Petitioner's testimony on his reasons for going to Germany and adopting German citizenship is open to the construction that he found (and now finds) no contradiction between attachment to the United States and attachment to Nazi Germany.*fn2
And he finds an "ironic" parallel between the present situation with his son in the American Army in Germany protecting the West against communism, and his own action in taking German citizenship to help protect the West against communism.*fn3 (Although Sittler insists at great length that he was motivated in adopting German citizenship by fear of communism, it may be noted that he became a German citizen shortly after the announcement of the Hitler-Stalin pact.)
Petitioner was extremely prolix about reasons for joining the Nazi party, but, in summary, perhaps it can be said that petitioner thought of the Party as providing the best hope for Germany's future.*fn4 He was under no compulsion whatever to join the Party. He thought that he could make the Party better by joining it. However although petitioner joined the Party partly to reform it, he never attended a meeting or engaged in any other party activity. Petitioner testified at a later point that he joined the Party because he knew by this time that the war was lost and he thought the Party would be able to give the German people some leadership after the debacle consequent upon the unconditional surrender policy which the Allies had formulated.
In petitioner's testimony there are lengthy "explanations" of Nazi tenets, some of which may be read as denials or defenses.*fn5
In 1944 petitioner criticized the German propaganda effort in a memorandum which read in part as follows:
"All German propaganda to foreign countries must be National-Socialist war propaganda in its most representative sense. It must interpret and present not only the military, but all national events and forces in the light of the ideology, which, for the very reason that it releases the powers of the people and raises them to their highest potential, is necessarily, fought against through war by an Anglo-Saxon constellation of States whose own organic weaknesses make them regard the recovery and self-assertion of the Reich, as a danger and a challenge."
His testimony explaining the recommendations of this memorandum is, at best, equivocal. At worst it may be read as a justification for Nazi "philosophy."*fn6
Petitioner's testimony characterized his propaganda efforts on the German radio as inspired by an interest in getting the truth broadcast.*fn7
In his propaganda broadcasts petitioner testified that he was not speaking for Hitler but for the twenty million men who were fighting, not for Hitler, but for the future of their country.*fn8
Petitioner invented fictitious news items for his radio broadcasts because "given the mythical nature of this station,*fn9 that is, it was a farce, a practical farce, I saw no harm in this, no harm could possibly be done." "I don't think that anybody ever took these programs seriously or these news items". "If this man wanted to pretend or said he was somebody speaking from the heart of midwestern America when it was a short-wave band, a small weak signal on an overseas station - I don't think anybody in his right mind would have swallowed this, nor was it intended to be swallowed". It was all "a joke". (When asked whether the motive of Burgman, a radio propagandist, with whom petitioner worked, was to cause the people of the United States to lose confidence in their leadership) "Burgman had a motive, I had a motive, Mr. [X] had a motive". Burgman never informed the petitioner what his motive was. Petitioner could have refused radio assignments and received military punishment for doing so,*fn10 but in taking assignments he was not motivated by fear of punishment. He was willing to do "his duty as a German citizen".
Petitioner testified, apparently with some pride, as to his proposal for solution of the "Jewish question", a proposal which would have exiled "the minority" but permitted them to take their property with them.*fn11 In any event the persecution of the Jews was not as allinconclusive as it was generally reported to be*fn12 because petitioner knew personally some army officers who were Jewish or part Jewish. (The point here is, of course, not that the statement is false. Possibly it is true. But one may be permitted to ask what kind of man raises such a point in the context of the established fact of the extermination of millions of Jews.)
Petitioner testified at great length as to why he could not briefly and succinctly condemn Hitler and Nazism.*fn13
The passages cited as favorable to the petitioner are the following excerpts from his testimony:
"Q. Tell us, then, what are your present views about Adolf Hitler and his regime. A. With regard to this one question to which my reported answer was that I could not judge him, what I said at some length, and repeatedly, was that between persons who are trying to arrive at a truth answer and not just agree with one another, that it is useless to say 'I condemn Hitler.' We must be specific.
"I condemn many actions of many statesmen, and looking back upon their whole activity I can condemn them in toto.
"I said that Hitler was a scourge of mankind; that it was a disgraceful and a tragic chapter in German history, but this does not remove the fact that Hitler was an almost unavoidable, perhaps an unavoidable accident or happening in German history, and that the responsibility cannot rest upon him alone, but it rests upon the whole German people, their tradition, the way they did not come to grips with it, and therefore just to condemn the man without condemning all those things which produced him and brought him forth, and which helped him to be what he was - and they were not only in Germany alone - the answer served no purpose for our discussion as man to man.
"I can say, however, at any time that I condemn absolutely Hitler for what we now know him to have been, but I did not know that in 1937, nor did I even have enough sense to know it in 1939.
"Once the outer conditions which led me to adopt German citizenship in the first place had radically changed, I tried to adapt myself and my family to these new circumstances and to restore the balance.
"I could not become a German by taking out German citizenship, and in order to go on teaching and being what I think I am - that is, somebody who has lived in both countries, who has ties in both, who has studied both - how this function of making clear the relationships between the two could be carried out best.
"I came to feel in assessing this whole situation over a period of years that it would be best carried out here. This was where my work was to be done primarily, and since my children were born and raised here, I felt that I was only adapting the outward form of my citizenship to what the realities of my own life and my family's life were by reassuming or asking for American citizenship again."
These passages are not without their share of equivocation; and when read in the context of the record as a whole they fail to carry with them that note of conviction which would permit us to hold that the district court's determination was clearly erroneous. Moreover the petitioner's statement of his reasons for wishing to become a citizen do not serve in any way to support his allegation of attachment. Basically he seems to want citizenship because he has had diffculty holding a job as a college professor and believes that his chances of doing so would be better if he regained his citizenship.
Much is sought to to be made of the testimony of Woerheide, a Justice Department attorney. But when reduced to its essence, by eliminating far the largest portion of it which related to the cases of Sittler's friends, the traitors Burgman, Chandler and Monte, Woerheide's testimony is found to be directed mainly toward the proposition that Sittler was an unimportant cog in the Nazi machine and the, for us, irrelevant proposition that Sittler's performance of acts which would have constituted treason but for his taking German citizenship, does not reflect on his moral character. The district court did not hold, and we do not suggest, that Sittler's citizenship should be denied because of bad moral character. The only issue is whether Sittler has established that he is attached to the principles of the Constitution of the United States and well disposed towards its good order and happiness.
It is true that Woerheide, as well as several other witnesses, testified to the opinion that Sittler would make a good citizen. But, while this conclusion may be helpful to the court in reaching its own decision on all the evidence, the court is, of course, not bound to accept the views of these witnesses. Moreover the statutory test of eligibility is not whether Sittler will make a good citizen, but the considerably more specific test of allegiance as defined in the terms of the statute itself.
From a reading of the record one could readily conclude that the petitioner is by no means the kind of man who would never be able to qualify for citizenship. If at some time in the future he should find himself able without qualification and without equivocation to renounce and repudiate his former allegiance, and to demonstrate his attachment to the United States, he can then be admitted to citizenship. On the present record we cannot say that he has done so so convincingly that we may hold that the district court, which had the advantage, not available to us, of observing Sittler's conduct and demeanor while testifying, was clearly in error in denying him citizenship.
KAUFMAN, Circuit Judge (concurring).
I concur completely in the opinion of Judge HAYS, which I find to be a model of the "intelligent and complete, more persuasive just because * * * intellectual, nonemotional" form of expositon extolled by the dissenting opinion. Because of the great significance of this case to the appellant, I think it proper to comment upon certain of my dissenting brother's erroneous characterizations of the position taken by the majority of this Court.
The underlying theme of Judge CLARK'S dissent is its accusation that the majority has failed to evaluate the character of the petitioner as he is today, but has devoted almost its entire opinion to an examination of petitioner's conduct and beliefs beyond the five-year period rendered crucial by 8 U.S.C. § 1427(a). It is more than clear in the opinion of Judge HAYS that our affirmance does not rest upon proof of past misconduct but rather upon the light which that misconduct sheds upon petitioner's present devotion to our constitutional principles. Is it unreasonable to expect that one who has participated in some way, however small, in the most shocking exhibition of man's inhumanity to man would today be able without qualification or hesitation to renounce it? That is the relevance of the past, which we are invited to consider by 8 U.S.C. § 1427(e).
The position of the majority of this Court is unfortunately put in a disparaging light by Judge CLARK'S repeated assertions that all we seek are "short sentences of breast-beating repentance and patriotic affirmation." He forgets that we sit in review of the decision of a trial judge who - in a thoroughly conscientious manner, as the opinion below reveals - confronted squarely the awesome problem of determining a man's state of mind. If there were ever a clearer example of a question of fact, rather than law, I can think of none. In doing so, he evaluated certain inconsistencies in the petitioner's statements as to his conduct and motivations, past and present. He no doubt noted the incongruity between the petitioner's selfportrait as merely a small cog in the Nazi system and the portrait - which Judge CLARK himself now paints - of petitioner as an "intelligent and well educated individual, given to thinking aloud - perhaps more than he wisely should * *." Surely Judge CLARK'S facile brushwork does not fairly represent a man who with single-minded, unreflective, and unquestioning adherence to the Nazi command devoted several years of his life as a commentator broadcasting English language propaganda on a German radio program beamed to the United States. How else can we determine a man's present state of mind if it be not viewed in the perspective of the past? Can the District Judge fairly determine that petitioner is presently and sincerely attached to the principles of our Constitution if his renunciation of its complete antithesis is tepid, qualified, contradictory? To say that the District Judge and this majority would not have been satisfied with anything less than "breast beating" and "groveling" is unfairly to characterize our all too reasonable search for a "direct, uncomplicated repudiation of the Nazi system."
We are adjured by our dissenting brother to keep our prejudices up to date. But certainly we should not be oblivious to the lessons of history when pertinent to a case before us.
Judge CLARK seeks to justify the petitioner's tepid renunciation of his past in large measure on the ground that he is a man of academic and unemotional nature. But, rather than excuse petitioner's intellectual timidity, I should think that his training as a political scientist would make it so much more inexcusable. For, can we not expect that an individual, who is thoroughly acquainted with the comparative virtues and vices of democratic and totalitarian political systems would be more acutely sensitive to the heinous qualities of the latter? Can we not now expect from him a devotion to our constitutional form of government which springs from an appreciation both of its salutary effects upon the body politic in practice and of its undoubted superiority in theory? More specifically, is not petitioner's condonation of his propaganda activities in behalf of the Nazi war effort made yet more objectionable by the fact that he is characterized as a man of intellect? For it is intellect which is the chief source and mostsought prey of the modern propaganda effort.
As much as I might sympathize with Judge CLARK'S assertions that no man should be denied the blessing of citizenship in this country unless "there is something of definite evil in what the petitioner believes," or unless there "is any secret allegiance on his part to our enemy in the present cold war," the statutory requisites are somewhat more severe. The petitioner must prove that he is, among other things, "attached to the principles of the Constitution of the United States." 8 U.S.C. § 1427(a). This does not require proof simply of an absence of affirmative allegiance to an enemy power, as Judge CLARK apparently believes; rather, it requires a demonstration of affirmative allegiance to the principles of this nation and its form of government. The majority of this Court does not find such a demonstration convincing.
CLARK, Circuit Judge (dissenting).
This is a distressing case; neither in procedure nor in result does it comport with my conception of American standards of fair play and judicial impartiality. True, petitioner, during his Nazi phase down to late 1945, was unattractive enough in his political ideology to justify or at least explain the strictures here heaped upon him if, as has been done, we concentrate entirely upon that early period of his life.*fn1 But the governing statute requires proof of a petitioner's attachment to the principles of the Constitution only during the five years prior to the filing of his petition for naturalization, 8 U.S.C. § 1427(a), and allows proof of his earlier conduct and acts only for the light it may give on his conduct during the five-year period. 8 U.S.C. § 1427(e). Hence the concentration here upon petitioner's early life does not comport with the statutory mandate. Nor is it realistic in the light of modern international relations. Apparently in the troubled world we now live in, it is an obligation of good citizenship to hate the enemies of one's country and anyone who would consort with them. But must we not keep our hates up to date lest we prejudice or poison our country's alliances of the moment? Here the hate at the basis of this decision, both in its administrative and in its legal phases, is now two decades old and quite out of date.
It seems unusual, and indeed worthy of comment, that petitioner's present acts, beliefs, and conduct have been kept so completely out of the case. My brothers do not try to assess what he now is; and only in a succinct statement at the beginning of his opinion,*fn2 thereafter disregarded, does the trial judge allude to it, even though the petitioner did present a strong affirmative case. In an appendix to this opinion, I have tried to outline this in brief compass.*fn3 Here I shall discuss the case attempted to be made against him.
First it should be noted that my brothers excuse their failure to go into what to me is the heart of the case by resorting to a patently erroneous view of the law, namely, that appellate decision can rest without more upon the trial judge's findings unless they are "clearly erroneous." But F.R. 52(a), to which my brothers have obvious reference, states the rule as to the status of findings of fact, not a rule as to the application or execution of the law to facts found or conceded. Here the facts as to petitioner's German life, 1937-1945, are well understood and are not contested. As the trial judge says: "The biographical facts are not in substantial dispute. Indeed, most of them come from Sittler's own lips." D.C.S.D.N.Y., 197 F.Supp. 278, 284. And as he says, decision "requires ascertainment of his state of mind, * * * and that can be fathomed only by the credibility of what he says and the reflection of his inner views by his outward conduct." 197 F.Supp. at page 280. This obviously calls for the highest skill and the most careful judgment in making deductions and drawing conclusions as to the application of 8 U.S.C. § 1427(a) in the light of the conceded facts. Hence we have a prime question of law and cannot hide behind the gown of the trial judge. Indeed, to attempt to do so is, I submit, to show a lack of judicial candor. I realize, of course, that the result would hardly have been different in any event; the opinion's cumulation of only items derogatory to the petitioner shows my brothers' inherent sympathy with the ruling of the trial judge. Nevertheless the responsibility is clearly ours; we cannot and should not attempt to evade it.
As the trial judge thus indicates, the attempt was made to convict Sittler out of his own mouth. So he was subjected to a long and hostile cross-examination - on six occasions, covering about 200 pages of the typewritten transcript before the Hearing Examiner, and on a later occasion in an additional 50 pages before the district court. The court tried to find positive misstatements, cf. 197 F.Supp. 284-286; but against the background of Sittler's main admissions of all esential facts, these appear trivial or but natural failures of memory of details twenty years after the events. They were not relied on by the Hearing Examiner in his report or adverted to by my brothers in their opinion, and may thus be dismissed. The case is rested entirely upon Sittler's ideological concepts as disclosed by these searching examinations. And since at all times he answered patiently and at length, a regular field day in abstract political theories and history has been indulged in. But what all this actually proves is another question. On this crucial problem I do not find my brothers' opinion enlightening. Their strong condemnation of petitioner's views is made abundantly clear, but what there is so uniquely offensive in them as permanently to bar him from citizenship is anything but clear. I had supposed our country was a place for people of different, even foolish, beliefs; unless there is something of definite evil in what the petitioner believes, I do not see how he can be barred. And of this there is certainly no showing.
The petitioner is obviously an intelligent and well educated individual, given to thinking aloud - perhaps more than he wisely should - about his own past and what has happened in the world, rather than to pronouncing short sentences of breast-beating repentance and patriotic affirmation. Here quite obviously is where he made a mistake, so far as the success of his petition might be concerned. My brothers, the trial court, and the Hearing Examiner all make it clear that he did not show the proper contrition and repentance. In other words he did not grovel as he should have done.*fn4 To me this would not have carried conviction; what he said seems more in keeping with his character as otherwise disclosed. I should think his repudiation of Hitlerism and of his own past conduct was intelligent and complete, more persuasive just because he has attempted to explain it in intellectual, nonemotional terms, rather than merely to resort to a show of sackcloth and ashes. And of course this must be evaluated against his later career of studying and teaching, not to speak of the efficient aid he rendered pur our Department of Justice prosecutors in the several later treason trials. The opinion contains copious quotations from his testimony, and I suggest these be read with care. I can only say that they do not seem to me to show what they are quoted as showing or to indicate a secret intent to harbor designs against the peace and prosperity of the country. And this all seems to me particularly unreal, as there is no Nazi country for which he can retain concealed affection; thus altogether improbable is any secret allegiance on his part to our enemy in the present cold war. So he is being barred from citizenship on abstract grounds lacking reality or pertinency, while his solid case goes unheeded.
In what seems to me a very cruel touch against this background, my brothers dangle consideration of a later more favorable consideration of his case should he find himself able "without equivocation" to demonstrate his attachment to the United States. The implication of course is that if he will grovel sufficiently he may have a chance of admission. The stated condition does not seem likely of fulfillment; that this 50year-old intellectual should suddenly change to beg forgiveness, etc., etc., does not seem likely. But if he should, he would certainly show himself so lacking in any sincerity that his application must be rejected. Thus my brothers have neatly constructed an insoluble dilemma for him which will bar his citizenship so long as this precedent stands.
But I venture to believe that this court in a very few years at most will come greatly to regret this decision and the rationale upon which it is based.
If we focus on the statutory period of five years preceding Sittler's application for citizenship, we find almost nothing that can be taken as evidence of his disloyalty to American principles. At the start of that period, Sittler, who had obtained a Ph.D. degree from Northwestern University in 1950, was head of the English department at Shurtleff College in Alton, Illinois. He represented the college at the 1956 convention of the American Association of University Professors, where academic freedom was an issue. The convention adopted a statement of general principles supporting free intellectual inquiry, and Sittler testified as to his agreement with the statement. He also testified that while at Shurtleff he also testified that while at Shurtleff he waged a successful campaign, writing letters to the Association, for the reinstatement of a professor whose dismissal, Sittler believed, abridged academic freedom. Sittler attributes his own dismissal from Shurtleff to his efforts in this regard.
Sittler secured temporary employment for the fall of 1956 in the local high school in East Alton, Illinois, substituting for the American history teacher who was ill. This job required a state certificate and Sittler was issued one. Part of his duties included preparing his classes for a state examination on the United States Constitution.
In February 1957 Sittler began teaching English, American, and world literature at Thiel College in Greenville, Pennsylvania. He and his wife were awarded fellowships by the Danforth Foundation, under an agreement with the administration of the college, which enabled the Sittlers to invite students to their home for regular group discussions of religious and moral problems. In addition, pursuant to the Danforth grants, the Sittlers studied history of art and religion at Drew University, Madison, New Jersey, during the summer of 1957, and literary criticism and religion at the University of Chicago during the summer of 1958. While Sittler was teaching at Thiel, his wife matriculated at Allegheny College in Meadville, Pennsylvania, where she majored in English and received a B.A.
During the academic year 1958-1959 Sittler was Associate Professor of German at Alfred University in Alfred, New York. That spring, his son entered the United States Army and his wife won a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship. Sittler secured work at C.W. Post College on Long Island, so that his wife could use her fellowship to study comparative literature at Columbia University.
The sole evidence for the government during the statutory period was a New York Post news item about Sittler's views on Hitler and the Hitler regime published in December 1959 and purportedly based on an interview with Sittler a month before. When called to testify about the incident, the reporter could only read his article into the record. Sittler testified that he had written the editor of the Post complaining of the inaccuracy of the story and testified further as to his own rather more complete recollections of the interview.
Over forty letters were written the naturalization examiner concerning Sittler's application for citizenship. Almost a third of the letters, in emotion-laden language, contended for the rule of law enunciated by the majority: that a former American citizen who became a citizen of Nazi Germany should be forever barred from again becoming an American citizen. But it is worth noting that not one letter opposing Sittler's application alleges that its writer has the slightest acquaintance with the petitioner; in fact, many disavow personal knowledge and quite a few come from groups such as Veterans of Foreign Wars posts, National Jewish Civil Service Employees, Inc., etc. These letters are the apparent result of unusually extensive publicity. See, e.g., "Pursued by the Past," Newsweek, Dec. 28, 1959, pp. 41-42. On the contrary, every letter supporting the application comes from a personal acquaintance of Sittler.
Six character witnesses of post-war acquaintance testified in Sittler's behalf - three students, a friend, a colleague, and an attorney with the United States Department of Justice. One girl had studied American literature with Dr. Sittler at Thiel College before she transferred to Barnard (where she was elected to Phi Beta Kappa), and a young man had been taught German by the petitioner at C.W. Post College. Both testified that Sittler would make a better citizen than most Americans. Another former student of Sittler's at Thiel, who had since become a staff writer for the National Lutheran Council, and a friend, who had known the Sittlers in Alfred, New York, testified in most certain terms that petitioner would make a loyal citizen, well disposed toward the good order of the United States and attached to its principles.
Another character witness was the renowned political scientist Professor Kenneth Colegrove. Long associated with Northwestern University, Professor Colegrove, though retired, continued to do some teaching at C.W. Post. The professor recalled the faculty meeting at Northwestern where a handful of faculty members carried on a "bitter debate" to effect their "intense desire" to effect their "intense desire" to deny Sittler the degree to which he was entitled. Professor Colegrove had become well acquainted with Sittler more recently by sharing a car ride with him from Manhattan to the C.W. Post campus on Long Island and back again three times a week. Based on conversations during these rides, Professor Colegrove came to assess Sittler as "a man who was completely devoted to the United States, completely devoted to the high ideals of teaching, * * * the type of man that you'd like to have teach your young boy or your young girl who is going to college." Professor Colegrove told of the dismay with which he learned that Dean Hoxie, a former student of his, had given in to the pressures to discharge Sittler because of petitioner's background.
Sittler's final character witness was Victor C. Woerheide, long attorney with the Internal Security Division of the Department of Justice, prosecutor in a number of treason trials in which Sittler was the star government witness, and acquaintance and friend of Sittler since the war. His twenty years of activity in the important post he has occupied have made him concededly an expert in the Internal Security field; and his personal knowledge of the case, coupled with his disinterested position, made him perhaps the most competent and reliable of all the witnesses, and his testimony the most important in the proceedings. It is instructive to note the treatment it has received. The Hearing Examiner referred only to the witness' early testimony as to "the treasonable conduct of the petitioner during World War II," leaving out the testimony as to later conduct stressed by the witness; thus the Examiner's report gives a completely distorted view of this evidence. The trial judge made the briefest of references to it, 197 F.Supp. at page 283, which, while not affirmatively inaccurate, failed to do justice to its impact. And finally my brothers attempt a complete denigration of this witness which is quite unintelligible to me.
For they say that by eliminating far the largest portion of the testimony relating to what are emotively described as "Sittler's friends, the traitors Burgman, Chandler and Monty" (against whom Sittler had testified years earlier), the bulk of his testimony was directed to the proposition that Sittler was an unimportant cog in the Nazi machine and that his otherwise treasonable conduct did not reflect upon his moral character because of his taking German citizenship. Doubtless the witness did testify to relatively unimportant details, due to his evident desire and that of his examiner to show his full knowledge of all the petitioner's former Nazi activities and connections; and these were accentuated by a lengthy cross-examination longer than the direct examination. But it is difficult to see why this should justify total disregard of the basic features of his evidence, namely, his affirmative statements in regard to Sittler's good character and potentiality as an American citizen. Here his testimony was clear, strong, and believable. I shall close with a single quotation, out of the many available in the testimony, given in response to a question asking an appraisal of Sittler today and in the light of their post-war acquaintanceship. Mr. Woerheide responded:
"* * * I have no doubt in my own mind that if Edward Sittler is accorded the privilege of American citizenship, that he will be a loyal and law abiding citizen. He is not a conformist. He is a man who does think for himself. I wouldn't say that his ideas will fall into a regular idea pattern, the ideas that, let's say, a group of citizens in the United States, patriotic group of citizens in the United States, may have, but they will be, his ideas will be based on a sincere appreciation of the, of the merits and the qualities of our constitutional system of government in the United States."