(JTA) — A former guard at a Nazi concentration camp was deported to Germany overnight from the United States, where he had lived for decades.
Jakiw Palij, 95, had lived Queens in the United States. He served as a guard at a Nazi forced labor camp during World War II. He may face prosecution in Germany for his actions.
Members of New York’s Congressional delegation last year urged the administration of President Donald Trump to deport Palij, whose citizenship was revoked in 2003 based on his wartime activities, human rights abuses and immigration fraud. NBD reported. A federal court also ruled that he had assisted in the persecution of prisoners at the camp, though it stopped short of finding him responsible for deaths.
A statement released by the White House after Palij landed in Germany early Tuesday commended President Trump commended the actions of Immigration and Customs Enforcement for “removing this war criminal from United States soil.”
Palij was born on former Polish territory, an area now located in Ukraine. He immigrated to the United States in 1949 and became a citizen in 1957, but concealed his Nazi service saying that he spent World War II working in a factory on a farm.
He later admitted to officials that he attended a Nazi SS training camp in Trawniki in German-occupied Poland and then served as an armed guard at its adjacent labor camp. According to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the Trawniki camp was part of “Operation Reinhard,” the Nazi operation to murder the approximately two million Jews residing in German-occupied Poland.
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.