Ex-Nazi camp guard, 95, deported to Germany, White House says

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Ex-Nazi camp guard, 95, deported to Germany, White House says

Ex-Nazi camp guard, 95, deported to Germany, White House says

The United States government has finally been allowed to deport former Nazi concentration camp guard Jakiv Palij, thanks to a special German government dispensation.

The 94-year-old Polish-born Palij arrived in a military airplane at Düsseldorf Airport on Tuesday morning. The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) newspaper reported that he was taken by ambulance to a nursing home in the Münsterland region.

The move comes a day after German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas visited the former Auschwitz death camp in Poland. Maas said Palij's deportation "sends a clear signal of Germany's moral responsibility," according to a Foreign Ministry statement sent to DW.

The Palij case has been the subject of complex legal and diplomatic negotiations between the U.S. and German governments for decades. Born in Poland in 1923, he was trained by the SS in the Trawniki concentration camp in southeastern Nazi-occupied Poland in 1941. So-called "Trawniki men" went on to participate in the Holocaust as guards in Belzec, Sobibor, and Treblinka concentration camps.

Trawniki men

Palij, who was never a German citizen, emigrated to the U.S. as a war refugee in 1949 and became a naturalized citizen in 1957. But in 2003, a federal judge in New York stripped him of his citizenship on the grounds that he had concealed his service at an SS slave-labor camp.

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. US administrators, senators, congressmen, and representatives of the Jewish communities in the USA emphasize that people who served the criminal NS regime should not spend the twilight of their lives in the country of their choice, the USA."

The U.S. Embassy credited Ambassador Richard Grenell with breaking the impasse, saying that President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had asked him "to make Palij's removal from the US a top priority."

"Ambassador Grenell's persistence in raising awareness about the case with every senior official he met sparked action by the new German government officials," the embassy said in a statement. "The decision to allow Palij to return to Germany was because of the political will and strong commitment of several members of the chancellor's team, as well as Ministers Maas and Seehofer. We are grateful to them for helping bring another step towards closure for the victims of the Holocaust and their families."

Legal complications

According to the FAZ, the German Interior Ministry issued a decree to allow Palij's entry based on a special dispensation of its residency law allowing a foreign national to enter the country "to preserve the political interests of the Federal Republic of Germany" or for "international legal reasons."

But what happens to Palij now remains far from clear. Jens Rommel, the German state prosecutor who heads Germany's only "Nazi hunter" office â€" officially known as the Central Office of the Land Judicial Authorities for the Investigation of National Socialist Crimes â€" said that the evidence against Palij was not strong, and no charges against him had been issued.

Rommel said that the fact that Palij had been trained in Trawniki was not necessarily enough evidence to bring him to trial. 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.

But the U.S. seems to have established Palij's role in 2003. A US Justic e Department statement from that year noted that the New York 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.'"

"Judge Ross also found that by March 1944 Palij was serving in the Deployment Company, a unit that perpetrated numerous atrocities against Polish civilians and others," the DOJ statement said. "When Palij applied for an immigration visa to the United States in 1949, the judge held, he falsely claimed that he worked on his father's farm and then in Germany during the period when he was actually in Nazi service."

Read or Share this story: https://usat.ly/2w7xUtNSource: Google News Germany | Netizen 24 Germany

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