Judge Rebecca L. Holt found German citizen Friedrich Karl Berger to be eligible for removal from the United States to Germany under the 1978 Holtzman Amendment to the Immigration and Nationality Act citing his "willing service as an armed guard for prisoners at a concentration camp where persecution took place," the U.S. Department of Justice said Thursday.
"Berger was part of the SS machinery of oppression that kept concentration camp prisoners in atrocious conditions of confinement," said Assistant Attorney General Brian Benczkowski of the Justice Department's criminal division. "This ruling shows the department's continued commitment to obtaining a measure of justice, however late, for the victims of wartime Nazi persecution."
The court found that Berger said he guarded prisoners to prevent them from escaping as they worked dawn to dusk and while they traveled to and from worksites and their Neuengamme sub-camp near Meppen, Germany.
He also said he never requested a transfer from concentration camp guard service and continues to receive a pension from Germany based on his employment there "including his wartime services."
The court also found that Berger had helped guard prisoners during their forced two-week evacuation from the site to the Neuengamme main camp as the Nazis were abandoning the location in March 1945 amid advancing British and Canadian forces.
The prisoners were evacuated under "inhumane conditions," resulting in the deaths of some 70 prisoners, the Justice Department said.
The head of the Meppen sub-camps, SS Obersturmfuhrer Hans Griem, along with other Meppen personnel were charged with war crimes by British occupation authorities in Germany in 1946 for "ill-treatment and murder of Allied nationals."
"We will continue to pursue these types of cases so that justice may be served," said Assistant Director David C. Shaw of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations.