Law enforcement officials have arrested a man who is thought to be the last known Nazi collaborator living in the United States. On an order from President Donald Trump, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents retrieved the man from his home, located in Queens, New York, on Monday, and then deported him to Germany.
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Justice Department officials state, according to a report by ABC News, that 95-year-old Jakiw Palij served as a guard at a death camp in Poland during the Nazi occupation. They added that Palij later lied about his role when he entered the US after World War II.
Palij was removed from his home in a wheelchair. He did not answer any questions while he was being moved. The only sounds emanating from Palij were howls of pain as he was lifted from the wheelchair and placed on an ambulance stretcher.
The Trump administration issued a statement after Palij landed in Germany, which occurred early on Tuesday.
“President Trump commends his Administration’s comprehensive actions, especially ICE’s actions, in removing this war criminal from United States soil,” said the statement. “Despite a court ordering his deportation in 2004, past administrations were unsuccessful in removing Palij.”
“To protect the promise of freedom for Holocaust survivors and their families, President Trump prioritized the removal of Palij,” the statement continued. “Through extensive negotiations, President Trump and his team secured Palij’s deportation to Germany and advanced the United States’ collaborative efforts with a key European ally.”
Palij has been accused of working at the Treblinka death camp. He is said to have been present at the camp on the day 6,000 prisoners were killed in November 1943.
The US Holocaust Memorial Museum described the incident, saying that SS police opened fire on all 6,000 prisoners. Jewish laborers were then tasked with burning and burying the corpses.
“After completing this dreadful work,” the museum’s website read, “the Jewish laborers were shot and their bodies burned.”
Palij gained entry into the US in 1949 after telling authorities that he was in his hometown in Germany during the war. In 1957, he was granted citizenship.
In 2003, Palij was located by federal authorities, and his involvement in the death camp was exposed. His citizenship was revoked in 2005, and a New York immigration judge ordered his deportation.
Palij initially denied his involvement.
A statement regarding the deportation asserted that Palij lied regarding his history, saying, “Palij had lied about being a Nazi and remained in the United States for decades.”
“Palij’s removal sends a strong message: 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.”
Deportation efforts were stymied by Germany’s reluctance to take Palij in, claiming that they were not in a position do so since he was not a German citizen.
It is unknown whether Palij will face prosecution in Germany.