USA deports former Nazi death camp guard Jakiv Palij, 95, to Germany

Carolyn Kaster  AP

Jakiw Palij, who worked as a guard at the Trawniki Labor Camp, in what was then German-occupied Poland, had been living out his post-war years in Queens, New York City.

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

Yes, a Nazi war criminal was allowed to remain in the US from 2004 to 2014, living on welfare, until President Donald Trump finally carried out his removal.

There was no sympathy at all for New Yorker, 95-year-old Jakiw Palij as he was carried, against his will, on a stretcher down the steps of his home and taken to the airport and deported to Germany.

Six million Jews were killed in the Holocaust during World War II, many of them in gas chambers in Nazi death camps.

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"The United States will never be a safe haven for those who have participated in atrocities, war crimes, and human rights abuses", Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement on August 21.

The daily Bild said that German prosecutors had opened a criminal investigation against Palij in 2015 but closed the case for lack of evidence.

A federal judge ordered Palij deported in 2004.

He is the 68th Nazi to be removed from the United States, and was the Justice Department's final active case.

In 2003, Palij's American citizenship was revoked.

On Monday night, as ICE officers surrounded the small brick duplex in the Jackson Heights section of Queens where a Palij, who uses a wheelchair, had been living out his twilight years, a contingent of young students from the local Orthodox Jewish Rambam Mesivta school gathered on the pavement to rally around the former Nazi collaborator's deportation.

Palij, who was born in what was then Poland and is now Ukraine, admitted to federal officials in 2001 that he was trained as a Nazi guard in spring 1943, the Justice Department said.

Germany's Interior Ministry and Chancellor Angela Merkel's office did not immediately have a comment on where Palij would be taken in Germany and what exactly would happen to him.

This deportation is one more promise fulfilled under Trump.

Germany's Central Office for the Investigation of Nazi Crimes in Ludwigsburg is still investigating individuals after the 2011 conviction of Sobibor death camp guard John Demjanjuk gave it a new impetus.

Efraim Zuroff, chief Nazi hunter at the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Jerusalem, praised the "perseverance and dedication" of U.S. authorities in their efforts to have Palij removed. He became a citizen in 1957 after lying about his role during World War II. But for years, no country would accept him.

"There are now no preliminary proceedings in Germany and there is no arrest warrant", said Rommel, who heads the office.

In addition to Karkoc, there are nearly certainly others in the USA who have either not yet been identified or investigated by authorities. Thousands of Nazis and Nazi sympathizers have gone without consequences, but recently the number of people going to trial for these war crimes has risen. Some estimates say 10,000 may have made the USA their home after the war. Of the rest, 28 died while their cases were pending and 9 were ordered deported but died in the USA because no other country was willing to take them.