A Nazi war criminal, who lives safely in the United States until his deportation to Germany last year, is dead. He had been the last known World War II Nazi who lived in the United States.
Jakiw Palij emigrated to America in 1949, claiming that he had worked on his father's farm during the Second World War. But a Department of Justice investigation, based on evidence gathered by a senior historian of the US Holocaust Observatory, found that Palij "served as an armed guard of civilian prisoners in a labor camp. forced for Jews "in the Trawniki camp in Poland. It is here that the troops of the Nazi SS were trained to kill the Polish Jews.
A federal judge stripped Jakiw Palij of his citizenship in 2003, discovering that he had lied when he arrived in the United States. He was ordained deported in 2004, but no country would have taken him until Germany finally surrendered last year. This week, at the age of 95, Palij is dead. He has never been charged for his involvement in the Holocaust.
"An evil man is dead," Rabbi Zev Meir Friedman told The Associated Press. "This, I imagine, is positive." Friedman had led numerous student protests in front of the Palij house in Queens.
Former Nazi prison guard Jakiw Palij died in Germany. I am so grateful to @realDonaldTrump for making the case a priority. The removal of the former Nazi prison guard from the United States was something many presidents have just spoken about – but President Trump made it happen.
– Richard Grenell (@RichardGrenell) 10 January 2019
It seemed that the aging of Palif would have disappeared in the United States, according to reports from CNN in 2016. But the interest continued of the legislator in deporting the war criminal. A bipartisan group of the delegation of the Congress of New York wrote to then Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in 2017, urging him to make the issue a priority. Palij's residence in New York was "a painful reminder for Americans who fought against the Nazis or lost their loved ones in the Holocaust," said the letter, signed by 21 congressmen. "We are deeply concerned that the deportation of Mr. Palij is stalled and solicits your personal intervention on the matter."
President Trump told Fox News last year he made the deportation of Palij a priority after many presidents did not. "From the beginning of the campaign, they tell me about this Nazi living in Queens, walking down the street as if he were the owner of the place," Trump said. "The Obama administration has not been able to do it," Trump said about deportation. "And frankly, the Bush administration was not able to do it and I was able to do it."
The US ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell, said he had raised the issue of Palij's deportation at every meeting with German officials, based in part on the solicitation of the president, NPR reports. With a new government installed in Berlin, there was "new energy" for the negotiations, he said. Germany agreed to accept Palij in August. In August, federal immigration agents transported Palij out of his home on a stretcher, into an ambulance and finally onto an airplane.
"The removal of Palij sends a strong message: the United States will not tolerate those who have facilitated Nazi crimes and other human rights violations and will not find a safe haven on American soil," press secretary Sarah Sanders said. .
More than 70 years after the end of the war, the pain of the Nazi atrocities still has repercussions all over the world. Today Angela Merkel, German chancellor, has apologized to the Greek president Prokopis Pavlopoulos for the damage inflicted on Greece by Hitler's forces. "We are aware of our historical responsibility," said Merkel. "We know how much suffering Germany has caused Greece during the era of National Socialism".
But the German authorities have never charged Palij for his involvement in Trawniki's atrocities. Jens Rommel, head of the Central Bureau for Nazi Crime Investigations, told reporters that there was not enough evidence to pursue him. "There are no investigations into him in Germany, which means that there is no arrest warrant and as a result it is not very likely that he will ever be convicted," Rommel told the German broadcaster Deutsche Welle l & # 39; Last year.
Kathy Willens / AP
"The difficulty lies not so much in describing the murders, the individual massacres, the functions of those in a field, but in determining the responsibility of the individual," said Rommel. "By what action, performing what duty, with what function the individual has facilitated this murder? This is what we have to prove, and with the mobile units, where some of these Trawniki men were present, it is extremely difficult."  New York attorney Dov Hikind, who had fought for deportation, said that the death of AP Palij brings "the closure of the survivors to the Holocaust needed."
German prosecutors have stepped up the hunt for the last remaining Nazis before they died of old age, USA Today reported last year. Nazi hunters estimated that dozens of Nazis could still be alive.