Published: Wed, August 22, 2018
Global Media | By Garry Long

ICE Deports Last Known Nazi Collaborator Living in America

ICE Deports Last Known Nazi Collaborator Living in America

ABC News video shows a frail man moaning as ICE agents strap him to a gurney and wheel him into a truck, as reporters pepper Palij with unanswered questions about his past. He lied about his Nazi service during his immigration and naturalization process, saying instead that he spent World War II working in a farm and in a factory, the White House 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 lived quietly in the USA for years, as a draftsman and then as a retiree, until almost three decades ago when investigators found his name on an old Nazi roster and a fellow former guard spilled the secret that he was "living somewhere in America".

Palij was born in Poland and served as a guard at the Trawniki forced labor camp in Nazi-occupied Poland.

The judge ruled that people like Palij had been "an essential component in the machinery of annihilation" at the camp and that "by guarding the prisoners held under inhumane conditions at Trawniki, Jakiw Palij prevented their escape and directly contributed to their eventual slaughter at the hands of the Nazis".

Palij lived quietly in the USA for years, as a draftsman and then as a retiree, until almost three decades ago when investigators found his name on an old Nazi roster and a fellow former guard spilled the secret that he was "living somewhere in America".

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

In September past year, all 29 members of New York's congressional delegation signed a letter urging the state department to follow through on Palij's deportation. However, he continued to remain in the United States.

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"President Trump commends his administration's comprehensive actions, especially the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), in removing this war criminal from U.S. soil".

Federal authorities learned of Palij's Nazi past in 2001.

Trump has not personally commented on the Palij case, but on Monday he hailed Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents as heroes for actions he said have kept the country safe. But he concealed his Nazi service when he immigrated, the statement said. "I felt very strongly that the German government had a moral obligation and they accepted that", he said, adding that it was up to Germany to decide whether to prosecute him.

Members of New York's Congressional delegation a year ago urged the administration of President Donald Trump to deport Palij, whose citizenship was revoked in 2003 based on his wartime activities, human rights abuses and immigration fraud. "He's a war criminal and did not deserve to live in the US", Senator Chuck Schumer said today.

Eli Rosenbaum, who has worked for decades at the Justice Department hunting ex-Nazis, called Palij's deportation "a landmark victory in the USA government's decades-long quest to achieve a measure of justice and accountability for the victims of Nazi inhumanity".

The US has "initiated successful denaturalisation proceedings" against 16 former Trawniki guards, according to the museum.

"Now that ICE has literally removed a Nazi from her backyard, where does Ocasio-Cortez stand?" the RNC asked in a statement.

Germany has a mixed record on convicting Nazi war criminals. The 99-year-old who now lives in Minneapolis was the subject of a series of 2013 reports by the AP that led Polish prosecutors to issue an arrest warrant for him.

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