US Deports 95-year-old Nazi War Crimes Suspect to Germany

Hillel Goldman associate principal of the Orthodox Jewish Rambam Mesivta High School speaks as he and students from the school protest former Nazi concentration camp guard Jakiw Palij 94 Thursday Nov. 9 2017 in Jackson Heights New York

The Trump administration announced early on Tuesday morning that it had arrested 95-year-old Jakiw Palij - the last known Nazi collaborator living in the United States - at his home in Queens, New York and deported him to Germany.

He told immigration officials that he worked during the war in a woodshop and farm in Nazi-occupied Poland, as well as at another farm in Germany and finally in a German upholstery factory.

"I never would have received my visa if I told the truth", Palij said.

A 95-year-old former Nazi prison guard and U.S. citizen has finally been deported to Germany.

A US Justice Department (DOJ) statement from that year noted that the NY judge said "that on November 3 and 4, 1943, "in a brutal spate of killing, ' other units 'slaughtered Trawniki's entire inmate population" of some 6,000 Jewish civilians'". Palij has acknowledged serving in Trawniki but denied any involvement in war crimes. Palij was granted citizenship in 1957, which was revoked in 2003 by a federal judge after it was discovered he lied about his history.

In a call with reporters, Richard Grenell, the US ambassador to Germany, said the USA was eventually able to convince Germany to accept Palij.

He continued to live in limbo in his two-storey red brick home in Queens, New York, despite a judge ordering him to be deported in 2004.

Good riddance (in German) it says, farewelling one of the most hated men in America. But in 2003, a federal judge in NY stripped him of his citizenship on the grounds that he had concealed his service at an SS slave-labor camp.

The German foreign ministry said it had agreed to accept the former Ukraine national Jakiw Palij after his expulsion from the United States on Monday, citing Berlin's "moral duty" in light of the Nazis' crimes.

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"On Nov. 3, 1943, some 6,000 Jewish men, women and children incarcerated at Trawniki were shot to death in one of the largest single massacres of the Holocaust".

"Mr Palij continues to reside in NY where his presence is not only unmerited but a painful reminder for Americans who fought against the Nazis or lost loved ones in the Holocaust", they said in the letter. The Department of Justice says Palij is the 68th Nazi removed from the U.S.

The Justice Department's special Nazi-hunting unit started piecing together Palij's past after a fellow Trawniki guard identified him to Canadian authorities in 1989.

Palij's deportation is "yet another message of deterrence to any one who would dare take part in human rights crimes that the passage of time, even decades, will never weaken our resolve to pursue justice on behalf of the crimes", he added. "By helping to prevent the escape of these prisoners during his service at Trawniki, Palij played an indispensable role in ensuring that they later met their tragic fate at the hands of the Nazis".

It's unclear if Palij will face prosecution in Germany, which had previously maintained that they were not in a position to accept him because he's not a German citizen.

"They saw this as a moral obligation that they had, not so much a legal obligation", said Grenell, noting that Palij had worked as a guard for the then-German government.

Its most notorious camp guard was John Demjanjuk, who was convicted by a German court of being an accessory to 28,000 murders at Sobibor.

Since 2017, Poland has been seeking the extradition of Ukrainian-born Michael Karkoc, an ex-commander in an SS-led Nazi unit that burned Polish villages and killed civilians during the war.

"In recent years, though, we've made some remarkable progress", said Rommel.

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