Jakiw Palij, 94, who worked as a guard at the Trawniki death camp in Poland, has been living in Jackson Heights, Queens, despite being stripped of his US citizenship more than 10 years ago.
The Department of Justice said it will carry out an order issued in 2005 to have Palij shipped off to Ukraine or Germany or Poland “or any other country whose government will accept him.”
”The Department agrees fully that Palij should not live out his last days in this country. The Department remains committed to ensuring that justice is done in this case and will continue, in cooperation with our interagency partners, to pursue every avenue for effectuating Palij’s removal,” said a letter, dated Nov. 6, from Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd to Assembly Member Dov Hikind.
Hikind (D-Brooklyn), one of a number of New York lawmakers who have been urging the federal government for years to deport Palij for his participation in Nazi crimes during the Holocaust, applauded the DOJ for taking up the matter.
“Palij’s presence here mocks the memory of those who perished,” said Hikind in a statement on Monday. “It mocks the U.S. servicemen who fought and died to defeat the evil Nazi regime.
It mocks the American justice system. … It’s time for our President to show the world how murderous fiends should be regarded and disposed of. It’s time to take Jakiw
Palij, this monster who is beneath contempt and unfit to breath American air, and kick him the hell out of here once and for all.”
Hikind, the son of Holocaust survivors, was among 83 members of the state Assembly who signed onto a letter sent in June urging the removal of Palij from the US.
Palij was a guard at the Polish concentration camp, where 6,000 Jewish prisoners were shot to death on Nov. 3, 1943, according to the Holocaust Memorial Museum, and immigrated to the US “under false pretenses” in 1949 by hiding his Nazi service.
He became a citizen in 1957.
An order to remove him has been in effect since 2005 when his citizenship was revoked, but the governments of Ukraine, Germany and Poland have refused to accept him, the DOJ said in the letter to Hikind.
” There is no question of his guilt. It is imperative that someone responsible for Nazi atrocities be held accountable for his crimes, regardless of his age ,” Hikind said in the statement. “I will never rest while a Nazi lives comfortably in our country.”