Queens Nazi Deported to Germany After Years of Struggle to Find a Place that Would Take Him

Trawniki concentration camp established during World War II by Nazi Germany on the territory of occupied Poland in Trawniki near Lublin

After 15 years of statelessness, Nazi collaborator Jakiw Palij has finally been deported. It took 14 years to find a country to take him, after his expulsion from the United States was ordered in by a New York federal immigration judge in 2004. Palij’s deportation last Tuesday made him the last surviving Nazi war crime suspect left on US soil.

Palij is accused of guarding at the Trawniki Labor Camp in what was then German occupied Poland. He is suspected of preventing inmates from fleeing the camp during what is one of the single largest massacres of World War II, in which 6,000 people were murdered, on November 3, 1943. Women and children were among those slaughtered.

In 1949 Palij fled to the United States, and was granted citizenship in 1957, based on the lie that he had worked on a farm and a factory during the war, according to a statement released by the White House. In 2001 he admitted to the US Department of Justice that the truth was he has trained and worked at Trewniki during 1943.

“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,” the White House added.

Palij had been living in a two-story red-brick house in Jackson Heights, Queens, in a highly diversified neighborhood. For years protestors frequently came to the house to bring attention to the fact that a Nazi accused of war crimes was living safely in the neighborhood.

Eleven Nazi criminals faced deportation from the Justice Department since 2005, but only one was deported. John (Ivan) Demjanjuk, who was also a guard at Trawniki, was sent to Germany in 2009 after having his US citizenship revoked. He was accused and tried in a court in Munich for the murder of 27,900 Jews in the Sorbibor camp in 1943. He was found guilty in 2011 and was sentenced to five years in prison. With two years for time already served, he had only three years left to serve, if his appeal failed. He was sent to a nursing home from prison to wait for his appeal, where he died at the age of 91, in March 2012.

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James Allenby is the editor of Gowanus Lounge, bringing to his position a vast background on New York, and especially Brooklyn history, culture and lifestyle. Born and bred in the heart of "the County of Kings" James Allenby knows what it means to be a Brooklynite, and imparts this meaning at all times to his readers. Contact James at info(at)gowanuslounge.com.