Freidrich Karl Berger by the Forward

US deports 95-year-old concentration camp guard back to Germany

On Saturday, the Department of Justice announced that it had deported Friedrich Karl Berger, a German-born man who was a guard at Neuengamme, a concentration camp.

More than 42,000 prisoners died within the Neuengamme camp system which included some 85 satellite camps in the region of Hamburg, Germany.

According to the DOJ, Berger guarded prisoners on a death march that took 70 lives.

After the war, Berger moved from Germany to Canada before arriving in the U.S. in 1959 where he ultimately settled in Tennessee. It was there that in November of last year, a Memphis judge ruled that he was fit to be deported back to Germany due to his wartime actions.

For years, courts in both the U.S. and Germany had passed over Berger’s case due to lack of corroborating evidence. However, it was an unexpected find in a sunken ship that changed things.

In addition to the 70 who died along the way, Berger helped facilitate prisoners being loaded onto ships in the Baltic Sea where thousands more died when they were mistakenly bombed by British forces.

Years later, when the shipwrecks were raised, an index card which detailed Berger’s role in the camps was discovered.

When Berger first entered the country in 1959 he did so legally, as initial laws banning those who the had participated in Nazi-era persecution from entering the United States expired in 1957.

However, the ban was renewed in 1978 under the Holtzman Amendment which also set up a special task force to investigate former Nazis living in the U.S. According to the DOJ, Berger is the 70th such individual to be deported under the amendment.

“Berger’s removal demonstrates the Department of Justice’s and its law enforcement partners’ commitment to ensuring that the United States is not a safe haven for those who have participated in Nazi crimes against humanity and other human rights abuses,” said Acting Attorney General Monty Wilkinson.

It is unclear what will happen to Berger now that he has arrived in Germany. The country recently charged a 95-year-old woman who was a former secretary at a concentration camp as an accessory to more than 10,000 murders.


David Ian Klein

David Ian Klein

David Ian Klein covers breaking news and international Jewish communities for the Forward. You can reach him at and on Twitter @davidianklein .

US deports concentration camp guard back to Germany

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