The U.S. government closed the book on one of the last surviving Nazis living in the United States on August 21 by deporting him to Germany.
The fate of Jakiw Palij, 95, a Polish-born Nazi collaborator and prison guard who had been living in the Queens borough of New York City, has been the subject of an international deadlock for years, as no country wanted to accept his transfer.
That changed after President Trump made Palij’s case a priority and, after “extensive negotiations,” Germany agreed to accept his deportation, the White House said in a statement. It added that the deportation advances “the United States’ collaborative efforts with a key European ally.”
“The United States expresses its deep appreciation to the Federal Republic of Germany for re-admitting former Nazi slave-labor camp guard Jakiw Palij,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said.
U.S. Ambassador Richard Grenell, who helped negotiate the deal with Germany, said on Twitter, “Our president is focused on protecting the promises of freedom and the rule of law.”
No safe haven for Nazis
Palij came to the United States in 1949, lying to immigration officials about his Nazi past. He was accepted to the United States under the 1948 Displaced Persons Act, which took in European refugees after the war, and he eventually became a U.S. citizen in 1957.
But the U.S. Justice Department exposed Palij’s lie and confronted him. In 2001, Palij admitted he was trained at the Nazi SS Training Camp in Trawniki, in German-occupied Poland, and that he was a guard at the nearby Trawniki slave-labor camp, where 6,000 Jewish prisoners were executed in 1943 in one of the largest mass killings in the Holocaust.
“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.
In 2003, a federal judge stripped Palij of his citizenship for lying to immigration officials, and in 2004 a judge ordered his deportation. (Under U.S. law, Palij cannot be prosecuted for his war crimes in the United States because neither Palij nor his victims were U.S. citizens at the time the crimes were committed and the crimes were committed outside the United States.)
“The United States will not tolerate those who facilitated Nazi crimes and other human rights violations, and they will not find a safe haven on U.S. soil,” the White House statement said.