Jakiw Palij, 95, who was in tenth place on the list of wanted Nazi criminals established by the Wiesenthal Center, was deported from the United States to Germany on Monday, after “long negotiations,” according to a statement from the White House. An SS guard at the Trawniki concentration camp in Poland between 1943 and 1945, Palij is accused of preventing prisoners from escaping and thereby contributing to their murder. He has always denied these accusations, claiming that he was just a farmer and that he was forcibly coerced by the Nazis.
Born in Poland, Palij immigrated to the United States in 1949, where he acquired citizenship in 1957. It was only half a century later, in 1993, that he was questioned by the authorities about his past. After it was determined that he had lied on his entry application he was stripped of his citizenship in 2003 and sentenced to deportation. But since neither Germany, nor Poland, nor Ukraine, nor any other state was willing to accept him, Jakiw Palij stayed in his apartment in Queens, New York, in front of which demonstrations by the Jewish community were regularly held to demand his deportation.
The wheelchair-bound nonagenarian was arrested on Tuesday. According to US media, Palij was very weak and made no statement during his transfer in ambulance. Arriving in Germany on a military plane, he was sent to a centre for the elderly in Münster in the west of the country, says the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.
According to the US Department of Justice, quoted by the New York Times, of eleven former Nazi criminals sentenced to deportation since 2005, nine died in the United States. Only one, John Demjanjuk, died in Germany, one year after being convicted of murdering 28,000 people in Sobibor, Poland