SHARON, Pa. - Diane Dach has lived in her Cedar Avenue house since she was 2 years old.
The house, established in 1953 according to the wooden sign on the front porch, looks much like the other houses in the blue-collar Pennsylvania neighborhood.
She knows most of her neighbors and calls them all. None of them wants to speak to the reporter standing on her porch. Not about Anton Geiser, anyway.
But Dach has known him since she was a child and is happy to share her memories of him. She shares first and foremost that he is not a Nazi.
"They're the nicest people you ever wanted to meet and they've been like family to me," she said. "It's just a terrible thing for them to have to go through."
Geiser has lived four doors up from from Dach since 1960. He worked in the steel mills, attended church at St. Anthony's and was a member of the Maennerchor Club.
But the United States Department of State has said the 88-year-old Croatian-Yugoslavian native's time in the Shenango Valley and the United States is at an end.
Geiser, a German national living in Yugoslavia at the time, was drafted into the German military at the height of World War II. He spent much of his service time as a guard in Nazi concentration camps, a fact that the State Department says should have excluded him from immigrating to the United States in 1956.
The case first came up in 2006, and in that same year an appeal was filed in the Third Circuit U.S. District Court. In 2008, the original ruling was upheld: citizenship revoked. According to the U.S. District Court in Pittsburgh, Geiser was supposed to turn in his naturalization certificate or passport and is prohibited from claiming any rights or benefits of U.S. citizenship. A federal judge ordered Geiser deported in 2010.
He appealed to the Board of Immigration Appeals in Falls Church, Va. earlier this month, but a spokesperson declined to discuss any further details of the case.
For now, the house at 411 Cedar Ave. sits empty and, Dach said, Geiser is in a hospital somewhere with a broken leg, having fallen recently. His wife, Theresia, died last year.
Geiser has told authorities and media that while he served at both Sachsenhausen and Buchenwald concentration camps during the last years of the war, he was unaware at the time what was happening at the camps.
He has insisted he did not know Jews and enemies of the Reich were being killed, even calling some of the prisoners his friends.
In his book, "A History of the Holocaust," Youngstown State University professor of history Saul Friedman wrote that Sachsenhausen was the "nerve center of the camp system." More than 200,000 prisoners passed through and more than half of them died there. When Sachsenhausen was liberated in 1945, 3,000 were found alive.
At Buchenwald, more than 65,000 died, and 21,000 were found alive on the day of liberation. The daily death toll by 1944 was 150 to 200, Friedman writes. Geiser was only there for 13 days at the very end of the war.
Geiser has not disputed that the Nazi camps were horrific, and he previously told prosecutors he was ashamed of his service.
"I was not proud where I served and I didn't like it then and I didn't like it now," he said.
Dach says she has never known Geiser to show any bias toward any other person of a different race, in a neighborhood that is likely more diversified than it was in 1960.
She said he never spoke of his time in the service prior to the publicity of 2006.
"No, why would he? He was ashamed, I'm sure," she said. "It ain't like over here. He was a kid then. He was only 17. Go after the officers, the ones that killed people. If you've known him as long as I haveit just makes me sick."
Geiser has said he was drafted into the Waffen SS, considered among Hitler's elite and very often a volunteer position.
Friedman's son, Jonathan Friedman is a professor of history and director of Holocaust/Genocide Studies at West Chester University. He said by email that conscription of soldiers into the SS was not uncommon.
"It's my understanding that membership was initially voluntary but that in the fall '41, Himmler authorized compulsory membership for ethnic Germans in the the Banat region. The [International Military Tribunal] did declare the Waffen-SS to be a criminal organization, but members after 1943 were exempt from prosecution because of the imposition of compulsory membership."
Heinrich Himmler was a military commander in the Nazi Party.
Geiser did not begin his time as a guard at Sachsenhausen until Feb. 7, 1943, but has told authorities he was forced to join the SS in 1942. The dates leave his exemption from prosecution up for debate.
Most of the hearing this month dealt not with Geiser's actions during the war but on narrow questions of legal precedent. Roe argued that a 2009 Supreme Court decision requires immigration judges to consider whether an alleged perpetrator of persecution was doing so voluntarily. More broadly, he said U.S. law in nearly all aspects takes into account whether a person was forced to act against his will, and he said the same principles should be extended to Geiser's case.
A ruling is expected in a few months.
The pastor at St. Anthony said he does not know Geiser well except to have shaken his hand after Mass once or twice and Geiser has never discussed the case with him. The current president of the Maennerchor Club said the group now is all fairly new and he has not seen Geiser at any club functions that he can remember.
One neighbor said Geiser reiterated to him what had been printed in the papers but nothing more, though the neighbor declined to speak on the record.
For Diane Dach, though, Geiser's past is immaterial.
"I want people to know what a wonderful person he was," she said. "I treated them like they were my second parents."
The Associated Press contributed to this article.