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Former Nazi Concentration Camp Guard Deported To Germany

24 August 2018

Palij illegally concealed his Nazi past from US immigration agents when he moved to the United States in 1949, the US Justice Department said.

Although Germany has put several aged former Nazi guards on trial in recent years for crimes committed during the Holocaust, the head of the Central Office for Investigation of Nazi Crimes, Jens Rommel, told the media it was unlikely he would be prosecuted.

In 2003, the court denied the pallium of United States citizenship for "participation in genocide against Jewish civilians", but due to the fact that Germany, Poland, Ukraine and other countries refused to accept him, he continued to live in their two-story house in Queens along with 86-year-old wife Maria.

"The United States had repeatedly pressed for Germany to take in Palij", the ministry said.

"During a single nightmarish day in November 1943, all of the more than 6,000 prisoners of the Nazi camp that Jakiw Palij had guarded were systematically butchered", Eli Rosenbaum, then director of the Justice Department's Office of Special Investigations, said at the time.

Palij was born in Piadyki, Poland (which is now part of Ukraine), the Justice Department says, and he became a US citizen in 1957. But it wouldn't change Palij's case either way, the judge said.

On May 9, 2002, the Criminal Division's then-Office of Special Investigations (OSI) and the U.S. Attorney's Office of the Eastern District of NY filed a four-count complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of NY, to revoke Palij's citizenship. Born in Poland in 1923, he was trained by the SS in the Trawniki concentration camp in southeastern Nazi-occupied Poland in 1941. Ambassador Grenell says he brought this up repeatedly with the new German government with his counterparts there and decided to make a moral case. "I felt very strongly that the German government had a moral obligation and they accepted that", he added, making clear it was up to Germany to decide whether to prosecute him.

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In a statement Tuesday, U.S. officials stipulated that Palij's deportation was the result of negotiations by "President Trump and his team" and "collaborative efforts with [Germany]". The report mentioned an operation that killed 4,000 people at Trawniki, mostly Jews.

"The efforts invested by the United States in getting Palij deported are really noteworthy and I'm very happy to see that they finally met with success".

Palij, whose full name is pronounced Yah-keev PAH'-lee, entered the 1949 under the Displaced Persons Act, a law meant to help refugees from post-war Europe.

"The United States will never be a safe haven for those who have participated in atrocities, war crimes, and human rights abuses", said Attorney General Jeff Sessions. He told DW that German prosecutors would need either evidence of direct participation in murder, or evidence that he had worked in a concentration camp, in which case he could be charged with accessory to murder.

Germany has a mixed record on convicting Nazi war criminals. Investigators asked Russian Federation and other countries for records on Palij beginning in 1990 and first confronted him in 1993.

It wasn't until after a second interview in 2001 that he signed a document acknowledging he had been a guard at Trawniki and a member of the Streibel Battalion. Palij suggested at one point during that interview that he was threatened with death if he refused to work as a guard, saying "if you don't show up, boom-boom".

A deportation order was issued in 2004, but he was never deported, even though, according to the German Foreign Ministry, "The U.S. has constantly been urgently demanding Palij's return to Germany".

Former Nazi Concentration Camp Guard Deported To Germany