Tillerson urged to deport Nazi guard living in Queens

New York congressman writes Secretary of State, demanding he take action to deport 92-year-old Nazi death camp guard Jakiw Palij.

Ben Ariel ,

Rex Tillerson
Rex Tillerson

A New York congressman has written to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, demanding he take action to deport a former Nazi death camp guard still living in Queens, The New York Daily News reports.

Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-Queens) wrote in the letter that time is running out to deport the man, 92-year-old Jakiw Palij.

"The United States has long acknowledged that Nazi crimes were beyond heinous, and I urge you to proceed quickly on this matter," Crowley wrote Tillerson on Tuesday, according to The New York Daily News.

He had previously sent similar letters to Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly.

"If action isn't taken, it could mean that this individual may never face any form of justice," warned Crowley.

Palij, who lives in Jackson Heights, was a guard at the Trawniki concentration camp in occupied Poland, which was a training facility for death camp guards, and Jews were killed there as part of the exercises.

He was recruited in 1943 at age 18 to help operate the Treblinka concentration camp, working as a guard.

According to Justice Department special investigator Eli Rosenbaum, Palij played an important role in the operation of the Treblinka camp, describing him as “an essential component in the machinery of annihilation”.

Palij, believed to be the last of his kind still living in the U.S., dodged deportation 13 years ago when Germany, Poland and Ukraine refused to take him once a federal judge revoked the American citizenship he received after immigrating as a war refugee in 1949.

"I strongly urge you to take action on this matter in conjunction with other government agencies and identify a country that will accept Mr. Palij," Crowley wrote to Tillerson on Tuesday, adding, "There needs to be a strong diplomatic push behind this effort."

Last month, yeshiva high school students held a protest outside Palij’s home, demanding he be returned back to Europe.

Palij claims he was forced to work as a guard and never personally killed anyone. Experts say Nazi guards were chosen because they were pitiless and unwavering in the face of so much suffering.