#AceNewsReport – Aug.21: The deportation of the 95-year-old former concentration camp guard, Jakiw Palij, came 25 years after investigators first confronted him about his World War II past and he admitted lying to get into the U.S., claiming he spent the war as a farmer and factory worker: Palij lived quietly in the U.S. for years, as a draftsman and then as a retiree, until nearly 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.” #AceNewsDesk reports
Former Nazi Labor Camp Guard Jakiw Palij Removed to Germany
Palij is 68th Nazi Removed from the United States
Jakiw Palij, a former Nazi labor camp guard in German-occupied Poland and a postwar resident of Queens, New York, has been removed by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to Germany, Attorney General Jeff Sessions of the U.S. Department of Justice, Secretary Kirstjen M. Nielsen of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and ICE Deputy Director and Acting Director Ronald D. Vitiello announced today. ICE removed Palij based on an order of removal obtained by the Department of Justice in 2004.
“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 Sessions. “Jakiw Palij lied about his Nazi past to immigrate to this country and then fraudulently become an American citizen. He had no right to citizenship or to even be in this country. Today, the Justice Department—led by Eli Rosenbaum and our fabulous team in the Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section, formerly the Office of Special Investigations—successfully helped remove him from the United States, as we have done with 67 other Nazis in the past. I want to thank our partners at the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security for all of their hard work in removing this Nazi criminal from our country.”
“Nazi war criminals and human rights violators have no safe haven on our shores,” said Secretary Kirstjen M. Nielsen of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. “We will relentlessly pursue them, wherever they may be found, and bring them to justice. The arrest and removal of Jakiw Palij to Germany is a testament to the dedication and commitment of the men and women of ICE, who faithfully enforce our immigration laws to protect the American people.”
Palij, 95, was born in a part of Poland that is situated in present-day Ukraine, immigrated to the United States in 1949 and became a U.S. citizen in 1957. He concealed his Nazi service by telling U.S. immigration officials that he had spent the war years working until 1944 on his father’s farm in his hometown, which was previously a part of Poland and is now in Ukraine, and then in a German factory.
As Palij admitted to Justice Department officials in 2001, he was trained at the SS Training Camp in Trawniki, in Nazi-occupied Poland, in the spring of 1943. Documents subsequently filed in court by the Justice Department showed that men who trained at Trawniki participated in implementing the Third Reich’s plan to murder Jews in Poland, code-named “Operation Reinhard.” On Nov. 3, 1943, some 6,000 Jewish men, women and children incarcerated at Trawniki were shot to death in one of the largest single massacres of the Holocaust. By helping to prevent the escape of these prisoners during his service at Trawniki, Palij played an indispensable role in ensuring that they later met their tragic fate at the hands of the Nazis.
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 New York filed a four-count complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, to revoke Palij’s citizenship. The complaint was based primarily upon his wartime activities as an armed guard of Jewish prisoners at Trawniki, who were confined there under inhumane conditions. Palij’s U.S. citizenship was revoked in August 2003 by a federal judge in the Eastern District of New York based on his wartime activities and postwar immigration fraud. In November 2003, the government placed Palij in immigration removal proceedings.
In decisions issued on June 10 and Aug. 23, 2004, U.S. Immigration Judge Robert Owens ordered Palij’s deportation to Ukraine, Poland or Germany, or any other country that would admit him, on the basis of his participation in Nazi-sponsored acts of persecution while serving during World War II as an armed guard at the Trawniki forced-labor camp in Nazi-occupied Poland under the direction of the government of Germany and his subsequent concealment of that service when he immigrated to the United States. As Judge Owens wrote in his decision ordering Palij’s deportation, the Jews massacred at Trawniki “had spent at least half a year in camps guarded by Trawniki-trained men, including Jakiw Palij.” In December 2005, the Board of Immigration Appeals denied Palij’s appeal.
The removal of Palij to Germany was effectuated through close cooperation between the Departments of Justice, Homeland Security and State. For nearly four decades, the Justice Department has vigorously pursued its mission to expel Nazi persecutors from the United States. The Palij case was the product of the Department’s longtime efforts to identify, investigate and take legal action against participants in Nazi crimes of persecution who reside in the United States. Since OSI began operations in 1979, that office and its successor, the Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section (HRSP) of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, have won cases against 108 individuals who participated in Nazi crimes of persecution. In addition, attempts to enter the United States by more than 180 individuals implicated in wartime Axis crimes have been prevented as a result of the “Watch List” program initiated by OSI and enforced in cooperation with the Departments of State and Homeland Security.
This removal was supported by ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations and Office of the Principal Legal Advisor as well as the Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Center (HRVWCC). The HRVWCC is comprised of ICE HSI’s Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Unit, ICE’s Human Rights Law Section, FBI’s International Human Rights Unit and HRSP. Established in 2009, the HRVWCC furthers the government’s efforts to identify, locate and prosecute human rights abusers in the United States, including those who are known or suspected to have participated in persecution, war crimes, genocide, torture, extrajudicial killings, female genital mutilation and the use or recruitment of child soldiers. The HRVWCC leverages the expertise of a select group of agents, lawyers, intelligence and research specialists, historians and analysts who direct the government’s broader enforcement efforts against these offenders.
The case was investigated, litigated and supervised over the years by a host of attorneys and historians in OSI, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of New York, and HRSP, including Director Eli M. Rosenbaum, Senior Trial Attorney Susan L. Siegal and Chief Historian Dr. Jeffrey Richter, all of whom have served with HRSP since its 2010 creation.
Fox News Reported: Palij told Justice Department investigators who showed up at his door in 1993: “I would never have received my visa if I told the truth. Everyone lied.”
A judge stripped Palij’s citizenship in 2003 for “participation in acts against Jewish civilians” while an armed guard at the Trawniki camp in Nazi-occupied Poland and was ordered deported a year later.
But because Germany, Poland, Ukraine, and other countries refused to take him, he continued living in limbo in the two-story, red brick home in Queens he shared with his wife, Maria, now 86. His continued presence there outraged the Jewish community, attracting frequent protests over the years that featured such chants as “your neighbor is a Nazi!”
According to the Justice Department, Palij served at Trawniki in 1943, the same year 6,000 prisoners in the camps and tens of thousands of other prisoners held in occupied Poland were rounded up and slaughtered. Palij has admitted serving in Trawniki but denied any involvement in war crimes.
Last September, all 29 members of New York’s congressional delegation signed a letter urging the State Department to follow through on his deportation
Richard Grenell, the U.S. ambassador who arrived in Germany earlier this year, said President Donald Trump — who is from New York — instructed him to make it a priority. He said the new German government, which took office in March, brought “new energy” to the matter.
The deportation came after weeks of diplomatic negotiations
Grenell told reporters that there were “difficult conversations” because Palij is not a German citizen and was stateless after losing his U.S. citizenship, but “the moral obligation” of taking in “someone who served in the name of the German government was accepted.”
Palij landed in the western German city of Duesseldorf on Tuesday. U.S. officials referred questions on the next move to German authorities
The Foreign Ministry said the German government is “sending a clear signal of Germany’s moral responsibility by taking in Palij” but gave no details on where he would be taken in Germany or what exactly would happen to him. German prosecutors have previously said it does not appear that there’s enough evidence to charge him with wartime crimes.
Local media reported Palij was being put in a long-term care facility near the city of Muenster: Now that he is in Germany, Efraim Zuroff, the head Nazi-hunter at the Simon Wiesenthal Center, said he hoped prosecutors would revisit the case
“Trawniki was a camp where people were trained to round up and murder the Jews in Poland, so there’s certainly a basis for some sort of prosecution,” he said in a telephone interview from Jerusalem, adding that the U.S. Department of Justice “deserves a lot of credit” for sticking with the case.
“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’s deportation is the first for a Nazi war crimes suspect since Germany agreed in 2009 to take John Demjanjuk, a retired Ohio autoworker who was accused of serving as a Nazi guard. He was convicted in 2011 of being an accessory to more than 28,000 killings and died 10 months later, at age 91, with his appeal pending.
Palij, whose full name is pronounced Yah-keev PAH’-lee, entered the U.S. in 1949 under the Displaced Persons Act, a law meant to help refugees from post-war Europe
He told immigration officials that he worked during the war in a woodshop and farm in Nazi-occupied Poland; at another farm in Germany; and finally in a German upholstery factory. Palij said he never served in the military.
In reality, officials say, he played an essential role in the Nazi program to exterminate Jews in German-occupied Poland, as an armed guard at Trawniki. According to a Justice Department complaint, Palij served in a unit that “committed atrocities against Polish civilians and others” and then in the notorious SS Streibel Battalion, “a unit whose function was to round up and guard thousands of Polish civilian forced laborers.”
After the war, Palij maintained friendships with other Nazi guards who the government says came to the U.S. under similar false pretences: And in an interesting coincidence, Palij and his wife purchased their home near LaGuardia Airport in 1966 from a Polish Jewish couple who had survived the Holocaust and were not aware of his past.
The Justice Department’s special Nazi-hunting unit started piecing together Palij’s past after a fellow Trawniki guard identified him to Canadian authorities in 1989. Investigators asked Russia 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.”
Though the last Nazi suspect ordered deported, Palij is not the last in the U.S
Since 2017, Poland has been seeking the extradition of Ukrainian-born Michael Karkoc, an ex-commander in an SS-led Nazi unit that burned Polish villages and killed civilians during the war. The 99-year-old who currently 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.
In addition to Karkoc, there are almost certainly others in the U.S. who have either not yet been identified or investigated by authorities
The American public did not become fully aware until the 1970s that thousands of Nazi persecutors had gone to the U.S. after World War II. Some estimates say 10,000 may have made the U.S. their home after the war.
Since then, the Justice Department has initiated legal proceedings against 137 suspected Nazis, with about half, 67, being removed by deportation, extradition or voluntary departure. Of the rest, 28 died while their cases were pending and 9 were ordered deported but died in the U.S. because no other country was willing to take them:
DOJ Report: https://www.justice.gov/ Sisak and Herschaft reported from New York. Rising reported from Berlin. Geir Moulson contributed from Berlin: FOX News: Published: Aug.21:2108: https://ift.tt/2LbXi6
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