Chaffetz: Former Nazi Who Lived in US Should 'Rot in Hell'

Chaffetz: Former Nazi Who Lived in US Should 'Rot in Hell'

Chaffetz: Former Nazi Who Lived in US Should 'Rot in Hell'

Palij, 95, was born in what was then-Poland and now Ukraine, and immigrated to the USA in 1949, becoming a citizen in 1957.

A 95-year-old former Nazi concentration camp guard who lived more than 60 years in the United States has been deported to Germany, the Justice Department announced Tuesday. In 2003, a federal judge revoked Palij's citizenship.

Decades later, when confronted about his past, Palij told investigators that "everybody lied" on their visas, The Associated Press reports.

Jakiw Palij, who worked as a guard at the Trawniki Labor Camp, in what was then German-occupied Poland, had been living out his post-war years in Queens, New York City. His continued presence there outraged the Jewish community, attracting frequent protests over the years that featured such chants as, "Your neighbor is a Nazi!"

Palij was born in Piadyki, Poland (which is now part of Ukraine), the Justice Department says, and he became a USA citizen in 1957. Palij has acknowledged serving in Trawniki but denied any involvement in war crimes.

"Today's news of Palij's deportation is a win for justice and an affirmation of the United States' opposition to hate". But no European country would accept him, CNN and NY magazine reported. Ambassador Grenell says he brought this up repeatedly with the new German government with his counterparts there and decided to make a moral case.

The deportation Tuesday came after weeks of diplomatic negotiations.

The US ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell, who has clashed repeatedly with Berlin officials over policy differences since his arrival in May, welcomed Palij's arrival and thanked German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas for his efforts.

Federal agents made a 95-year-old Jacob Palia home on a stretcher. As he was carried away, he ignored shouted questions from a reporter, "Are you a Nazi?"

His attorney, Ivars Berzins, did not immediately return telephone or email messages. The local government in Warendorf county, near Muenster, said Palij would be taken to a care facility in the town of Ahlen. Jens Rommel, the German state prosecutor who heads Germany's only "Nazi hunter" office - officially known as the Central Office of the Land Judicial Authorities for the Investigation of National Socialist Crimes - said that the evidence against Palij was not strong, and no charges against him had been issued.

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The daily Bild said that German prosecutors had opened a criminal investigation against Palij in 2015 but closed the case for lack of evidence.

Efraim Zuroff, chief Nazi hunter at the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Jerusalem, praised the "perseverance and dedication" of USA authorities in their efforts to have Palij removed.

"The efforts invested by the United States in getting Palij deported are really noteworthy and I'm very happy to see that they finally met with success". Palij's wife has since died, according to USA officials. He worked in 1943 at a German concentration camp in what was German-occupied Poland. That was the same year thousands of prisoners, many of whom were Jews from occupied Poland, were executed.

Germany also did not immediately accept Palij, saying he had never been a German citizen.

Germany has a mixed record on convicting Nazi war criminals.

Palij and his wife purchased their Queens home in 1966, from a Polish Jewish couple who had survived the Holocaust and were not aware of his past, the AP says. But for years, no country would take him in.

It wasn't until after a second interview in 2001 that he signed a document acknowledging he had been a guard at Trawniki and a member of the Streibel Battalion.

He was stripped of his citizenship by a United States judge after his past came to light, and he was ordered deported in 2004.

SARAH MCCAMMON, BYLINE: Well, he was born in what was then Poland and what's now Ukraine. The 99-year-old who now lives in Minneapolis was the subject of a series of 2013 reports by the AP that led Polish prosecutors to issue an arrest warrant for him.

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