He was the last known Nazi collaborator living in the United States. Jake Palij, a 95-year-old former camp guard, played an “indispensable role” in the murders of thousands of Jews. He was deported to Germany after being captured by ICE officials at his New York City home early on Tuesday morning, according to the White House.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents implemented a 2004 deportation order against Jakiw Palij, who immigrated to the United States in 1949 and became a citizen in 1957. He had concealed his Nazi background, according to a statement.
Palij admitted to Department of Justice officials in 2003 that he trained at a Nazi camp in German-occupied Poland. Court documents indicated that men who trained at the SS Training camp in Trawniki carried out the Nazi regime’s plan to murder Jews in Poland.
The Nazi collaborator also served as an armed guard at the adjacent Trawniki Labor Camp. It was reported that he played an “indispensable role” in the death of roughly 6,000 Jews who were killed in one of the single largest massacres of the Holocaust in 1943, according to the statement.
Palij, who claimed he was working on a farm and in a factory during World War II, had his U.S. citizenship revoked in 2003 by a federal judge, and ordered to be deported a year later. His appeal was denied in 2005.
After the war, Palij kept friendships with other Nazi guards who the government says came to the U.S. under similar false pretenses.
Ironically, Palij and his wife purchased their Queens home near LaGuardia Airport in 1966 from a Polish Jewish couple who had survived the Holocaust and were not aware of his past.
“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 statement read.
The State Department later issued a statement saying Germany has re-admitted Palij.
“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.”
Palij’s deportation process had been thwarted due to Germany’s unwillingness to take him back because he is not a German citizen, ABC News reported.
President Trump tasked U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell to ensure Palij’s deportation was on the top of his list when he arrived to Berlin, according to the outlet.