WASHINGTON: The White House announces that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has successfully removed a former Nazi camp guard living his final days in the United States. The White House has announced that overnight, ICE carried out a 2004 order of deportation for WWII War Criminal Jakiw Palij. Palij was a Nazi Guard in German-occupied Poland before emigrating to the US. He spent the postwar as a resident of Queens, New York.
After World War II, Palij lied about being a Nazi and became a resident of Queens, New York. Through extensive negotiations, President Trump and his team secured Palij’s deportation to Germany. The United States government has prioritized the identification, prosecution, and deportation of Nazi war criminals since the 1970s. Palij is considered to be the last known Nazi collaborator living in the U.S.
Palij was removed by wheelchair from his home on Monday.
The man is obviously frail with missing front teeth. He could be heard “howling” as ICE agents hoisted him from his wheelchair onto the ambulance stretcher.
Following his arrest this morning Palij was deported to Germany.
Past administrations were unsuccessful in expelling Palij from America
Deporting Palij from American soil has been made difficult as Palij was born in an area of Poland that is now Ukraine. German officials have been reluctant to accept Palij. According to a source familiar with the matter, Trump told U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell to make Palij’s deportation his number one priority when he got to Berlin.
In May, U.S. diplomats acknowledged Grenell’s efforts.
In meetings with senior officials this week, Ambassador @RichardGrenell continued the 12-year U.S. government push for Germany to accept Nazi collaborator Jakiw Palij.
— US-Botschaft Berlin (@usbotschaft) May 18, 2018
Palij landed in the western German city of Duesseldorf Tuesday morning. It is doubtful the 95-year-old will be prosecuted for war crimes.
The administration released a statement after Palij landed in Germany early Tuesday:
“President Trump commends his Administration’s comprehensive actions, especially ICE’s actions, in removing this war criminal from United States soil,” the statement read. “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. 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.”
The Department of Justice also made a statement:
“Jakiw Palij lied about his Nazi past to immigrate to this country and then fraudulently become an American citizen,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in the statement. “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.”
Palij’s deportation has been a long time coming.
The Justice Department’s special Nazi-hunting unit began investigating Palij in 1990 after fellow Nazi guards identified him to Canadian authorities in 1989. In 2011, Palij finally admitted to working as an armed guard at the Trawniki camp in Nazi-occupied Poland.
Operation Reinhard – the murder of Jews in Poland
According to the Justice Department, Palij was 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 in what is known as“Operation Reinhard,” a code name for the Third Reich’s plan to murder Jews in Poland.
The authorities at the Treblinka II killing center consisted of a small staff of German SS and police officials (between 25 and 35) and a police auxiliary guard unit of between 90 and 150 men, all of whom were either former Soviet prisoners of war of various nationalities or Ukrainian and Polish civilians selected or recruited for this purpose. All members of the guard unit were trained at a special facility of the SS and Police Leader in Lublin, the Trawniki training camp.
Palij was a part of the November 1943 murder of 6,000 prisoners. Court documents demonstrate that men who trained at the SS Training Camp in Trawniki participated in executing “Operation Reinhard.”
The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum writes that the SS police unit shot all 6,000 prisoners. An attachment of Jewish laborers was brought in to burn and bury the corpses.
President Trump takes action where others have failed
To protect the promise of freedom for Holocaust survivors and their families, President Trump prioritized the removal of Palij. Palij had lied about being a Nazi, remaining in the United States for decades. His long-overdue deportation 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 U.S. soil.
President Donald Trump instructions to the U.S. ambassador to Germany was to make Palij’s deportation a priority, and the deportation came after weeks of diplomatic negotiations.
“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, “the White House Press Secretary said in a statement.
Dov Hikind, a politician in the state of New York, applauds deportation, making note that his mother survived Auschwitz where his grandparents perished.
“It wasn’t even about putting him on trial, just get him out of this wonderful country that we live in,” Hikind said. “The last Nazi, this is the last Nazi.”
Palij, who was born in what was then Poland and is now Ukraine, immigrated to the United States in 1949. Palij concealed his Nazi service and his participation in human rights abuses becoming a U.S. Citizen in 1957. The Nazi lied to U.S. immigration saying his war years were spent working on a farm and in a factory.
The White House release on Jakiw Palij
“The Department of Justice learned in 2001 that Palij did train at the Nazi SS Training Camp in Trawniki, in German-occupied Poland in 1943.
Court documents show that men at the SS Training Camp in Trawniki were participants in executing “Operation Reinhard,” a code name for the Third Reich’s plan to murder Jews in Poland.
Palij also served as an armed guard at the adjacent Trawniki Labor Camp. On November 3, 1943, approximately 6,000 Jewish children, women, and men who were incarcerated at the adjacent Trawniki Labor Camp were shot to death in one of the single largest massacres of the Holocaust. By serving as an armed guard at the Trawniki Labor Camp and preventing the escape of Jewish prisoners during his Nazi service, Palij played an indispensable role in ensuring that the Trawniki Jewish victims met their horrific fate at the hands of the Nazis.
In August 2003, a federal judge revoked Palij’s United States citizenship based on his wartime activities, human rights abuses, and postwar immigration fraud. There was a deportation order 2004. His administrative appeal was denied in 2005.”
Removing Palij transcends politics
Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., was among those calling for Pal’s deportation. The senator told ABC News the U.S. is “no place for a war criminal.”
“I’m glad this man is finally being sent back. He’s a war criminal and did not deserve to live in the US. He doesn’t deserve to die in the U.S., a place of freedom and equality where we respect each other’s differences.”
One thing is certain, this war criminal, murderer and Nazi will not be buried on American soil.