The USA deported a 95-year-old former Nazi focus camp guard to Germany on Saturday, the Justice Division stated.
The deportation of Friedrich Karl Berger, who had been residing in Tennessee, was “probably the final” US expulsion of a former Nazi, given the dwindling variety of survivors of the warfare, a US official stated.
Berger, who had retained German citizenship, was deported for collaborating in “Nazi-sponsored acts of persecution” whereas serving as an armed guard within the Neuengamme focus camp system in 1945, the division stated.
Berger’s deportation demonstrated “that the US shouldn’t be a protected haven for individuals who have participated in Nazi crimes in opposition to humanity,” Appearing Lawyer Normal Monty Wilkinson stated in a press release.
The Justice Division obtained proof from American and European archives, “together with data of the landmark trial in Nuremberg of essentially the most infamous former leaders of the defeated Nazi regime,” Wilkinson stated.
This 12 months marks the 75th anniversary of the Nuremberg trials, through which jurists from the Allied Powers tried main Nazis beneath worldwide legislation. Twelve defendants acquired demise sentences and have been hanged.
The deportation of Berger, who had lived in the US since 1959, was first ordered in March of final 12 months by an American immigration decide.
When he was younger, he had been stationed in a subcamp close to Meppen, Germany, the place prisoners have been held in “appalling” situations and labored “to the purpose of exhaustion and demise,” Decide Rebecca Holt stated on the time.
Prisoners within the huge camp system included “Jews, Poles, Russians, Danes, Dutch, Latvians, French, Italians and political opponents” of the Nazis, “based on the Justice Division.
Greater than 40,000 prisoners died within the Neuengamme system, data present.
Holt’s opinion adopted a two-day trial through which Berger admitted that he had prevented the prisoners from fleeing the Meppen camp throughout their lengthy working hours or whereas shifting to and from the SS-run camp.
The court docket additionally discovered that in March 1945, as British and Canadian forces superior, Berger helped shield the prisoners as they have been forcibly evacuated beneath inhumane situations that resulted within the deaths of some 70 prisoners.
“That is ridiculous”
Berger stated he didn’t know that the prisoners had been mistreated and that some had died.
In an interview final 12 months with The Washington Submit, he expressed disbelief on the risk that he may very well be deported, saying he was solely 19 years outdated whereas serving at Meppen, unarmed and following orders.
“After 75 years, that is ridiculous,” he informed the Submit. “I can not perceive how this may occur in a rustic like this.”
However he had by no means utilized for a switch from the camp and later acquired a German pension based mostly partially on his wartime service, the Justice Division stated.
Berger was transferred to Germany on Saturday and arrived in Frankfurt, the place he shall be questioned, the Celle prosecutor’s workplace stated.
It was not instantly clear if he shall be tried. German prosecutors dropped the fees in opposition to Berger in December 2020, citing inadequate proof.
However in case you are prepared to talk out concerning the allegations in opposition to you, the case may very well be revived.
In 1979, the US authorities created the Division of Justice’s Workplace of Particular Investigations devoted to discovering Nazis. The division stated Saturday that this system had gained circumstances in opposition to 109 individuals.
The final deportation was of former SS guard Jakiw Palij, 95, who had lived in New York since 1949 and was expelled in August 2018.
The Friedrich Berger case was “probably the final” in the US, Eli Rosenbaum, director of the Justice Division’s program, informed AFP final 12 months.
For prosecutors in such circumstances, he added, “the best enemy … is time.”
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