The last known Nazi collaborator living in the US was deported to Germany overnight.
Washington had tried for decades to expel Palij, who had lived in Queens, New York since 1949.
"Early this morning, United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) implemented a 2004 order of deportation to the Federal Republic of Germany of Jakiw Palij, a former Nazi SS labor camp guard in German-occupied Poland and a postwar resident of Queens, New York", White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders released in a statement Tuesday morning.
Despite a court ordering Palij's deportation to Germany in 2004, past administrations had not acted to deport the former Nazi.
Palij lived quietly in the U.S. for years, as a draftsman and then as a retiree, until almost three decades ago when investigators found his name on an old Nazi roster and a fellow former guard spilled the secret that he was "living somewhere in America".
A federal judge revoked Pajil's U.S. citizenship in August 2003.
Although a U.S. court ruled he had assisted in the persecution of prisoners, he was not found personally responsible for deaths. He was born in a part of Poland which is Ukraine today.
Palij gained entry into the United States in 1949 and gained citizenship in 1957 after he concealed his work with the Nazis and falsely told immigration officials that he "spent World War II working on a farm and in a factory".
On Monday, he was sent to Germany, according to the State Department.
Palij himself has denied collaborating with the Nazis.
According to the Justice Department, Palij served 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. Court documents demonstrated that men who trained at the SS Training Camp in Trawniki participated in executing "Operation Reinhard" a code name for the Third Reich's plan to murder Jews in Poland.
"On Nov. 3, 1943, some 6,000 Jewish men, women and children incarcerated at Trawniki were shot to death in one of the largest single massacres of the Holocaust".
The White House said Jakiw Palij served as a guard at the Trawniki Labor Camp, where about 6,000 Jewish men, women and children were shot dead on November 3, 1943, in one of the single largest massacres of the Holocaust. His continued presence there outraged the Jewish community, attracting frequent protests over the years that featured such chants as "your neighbor is a Nazi!"
The White House said in a statement that President Donald Trump had "prioritised" the removal of Palij "to protect the promise of freedom for Holocaust survivors and their families". But no European country would accept him, according to reports by CNN and NY magazine.
His deportation is the first for a Nazi war crimes suspect in the U.S. since 2009 when Germany agreed to take John Demjanjuk, a retired autoworker living in OH, who was accused of serving as a Nazi guard. And in an interesting coincidence, Palij and his wife purchased their home near LaGuardia Airport in 1966 from a Polish Jewish couple who had survived the Holocaust and were not aware of his past.
The daily Bild said that German prosecutors had opened a criminal investigation against Palij in 2015 but closed the case for lack of evidence.
Palij's deportation is the first for a Nazi war crimes suspect since Germany agreed in 2009 to take John Demjanjuk, a retired OH autoworker who was accused of serving as a Nazi guard.
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