The United States has carried out a deportation order against a former Nazi death camp guard believed to be the last known Nazi collaborator living on U.S. soil, the White House said Tuesday.
The US deported a 95-year-old former Nazi concentration camp guard to Germany on Tuesday, 14 years after a judge ordered his expulsion, the White House has announced. The Department of Justice says Palij is the 68th Nazi removed from the U.S.
The announcement came a day after a White House event at which Trump called a crowd of 150 officers and agents ICE and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) "great patriots" who have sought to protect the nation against crimes by undocumented immigrants.
Palij emigrated to the U.S.in 1949 and became a citizen in 1957, telling immigration officials that he had worked on his father's farm and in a German factory during the war. He wasn't deported for years, however, because the European countries where he would be sent to would not accept him. It was the first time involvement in a camp was sufficient to be found culpable even without proof of a specific crime.
"The United States will not tolerate those who facilitated Nazi crimes and other human rights violations, and they will not find a safe haven on American soil", the statement said.
"I would never have received my visa if I told the truth".
Prosecutors have previously indicated there does not appear to be enough evidence to bring wartime charges against Palij.
The camp is the site of one of the largest massacres of the Holocaust.
In 1989, a fellow former Trawniki guard identified Palij to Canadian authorities, and in 1993, agents from the US Department of Justice's Nazi-hunter unit came knocking on his door.
In August 2003, a federal judge revoked Palij's USA citizenship, based on his wartime activities, human rights abuses and postwar immigration fraud.
Palij admitted to Department of Justice officials in 2003 that he trained at a Nazi camp in German-occupied Poland.
The United States had been trying to get Palij out of the country since the issue of a 2004 deportation order, but after talks with top members of Chancellor Angela Merkel's government Germany agreed to take him in.
Palij was born on former Polish territory, an area now located in Ukraine.
"President Trump commends his Administration's comprehensive actions, especially ICE's actions, in removing this war criminal from USA soil", the White House press secretary said in a statement issued early Tuesday.
He emigrated to the U.S. in 1949 and became a USA citizen eight years later and worked as a draughtsman before retiring. U.S. authorities determined that he had been a member of the SS, the elite corps of the Nazi party. 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.
Berlin officials understood it was a "moral obligation" to accept Palij because he "served in the name of the former German government".
Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said, "There is no line under historical responsibility", but added in comment to the German daily Bild that doing justice to the memory of Nazi atrocities "means standing by our moral obligation to the victims and the subsequent generations".
USA officials say his deportation had always been stymied by Germany's reluctance to take him in. Some estimates say 10,000 may have made the USA their home after the war.