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Queens Chronicle

Old Jackson Heights Nazi dies in Germany

Jakiw Palij, 95, was concentration camp guard who lied to live in U.S.

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Posted: Monday, January 14, 2019 3:58 pm

Jakiw Palij, the Nazi concentration camp guard who lived for years in Jackson Heights after lying about his past to get into the United States, has died.

Palij, who reportedly was 95, was deported to Germany last year, 14 years after the federal government first tried to get him out of the country. He was born in a part of Poland that is now part of Ukraine, according to the U.S. government. But all three countries refused to take him until Germany finally agreed to, and he was deported last August.

State Assemblyman Dov Hikind (D-Brooklyn) announced Palij’s death in a Jan. 10 press release.

“It’s with great solemnity that we share the news of the death of a Nazi concentration camp guard, Jakiw Palij, who for many years was living comfortably in Queens, N.Y., until he was finally expelled from the United States last year by President Trump,” the statement said. “We do not rejoice or celebrate his death, but we do breathe easier knowing that such a dark soul no longer breathes the air of freedom on Earth.”

The statement quoted Hikind as saying, “It’s the closure survivors of the Holocaust needed. It also goes to show that our efforts in seeking justice were not in vain, and reinforces our commitment to ridding the world of any last vestige of Nazism regardless of where it may exist. He certainly did not deserve to die on blessed American soil, but rather in a country closer to where he committed his abhorrent crimes."

At the time of Palij’s deportation, then-U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement, “The United States will never be a safe haven for those who have participated in atrocities, war crimes, and human rights abuses. Jakiw Palij lied about his Nazi past to immigrate to this country and then fraudulently become an American citizen. He had no right to citizenship or to even be in this country.”

Palij worked as a guard at the Trawniki concentration camp in Nazi-occupied Poland in 1943. On Nov. 3 of that year, 6,000 Jewish men, women and children held there were shot to death by the Nazis.

“By helping to prevent the escape of these prisoners during his service at Trawniki, Palij played an indispensable role in ensuring that they later met their tragic fate at the hands of the Nazis,” the U.S. Department of Justice said.

He immigrated to the United States in 1949 and was granted citizenship in 1957. He first told U.S. officials he spent the war working on a farm and then a factory but in 2001 admitted he had been trained at Trawniki.

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