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United States deports WWII-era Nazi guard to Germany

United States deports WWII-era Nazi guard to Germany
A 1959 photo of Freidrich Karl Berger, who has been deported to Germany because of his participation as a Nazi guard, is shown. Photo courtesy of U.S. Department of Justice

Feb. 20 (UPI) -- A 95-year-old Tennessee resident, who was part of acts of persecution in Nazi Germany, has been deported to Germany, the U.S. Department of Justice said Saturday.

Friedrich Karl Berger, of German citizenship, was deported because of his participation in Nazi-sponsored persecution while serving as an armed guard of the Neuengamme Concentration Camp system in Nazi Germany, in 1945, according to the statement.

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"Berger's removal demonstrates the Department of Justice's and its law enforcement partners' commitment to ensuring that the United States is not a safe haven for those who have participated in Nazi crimes against humanity and other human rights abuses," said Acting Attorney General Monty Wilkinson in a statement.

Evidence was found in European and U.S. archives, "including records of the historic trial at Nuremberg of the most notorious former leaders of the defeated Nazi regime," Wilkinson added. "In this year in which we mark the 75th anniversary of the Nuremberg convictions, this case shows that the passage even of many decades will not deter the department from pursuing justice on behalf of the victims of Nazi crimes."

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The Board of Appeals upheld in November a Tennessee immigration judge's decision last February that Berger was removable under the 1978 Holtzman Amendment to the Immigration and Nationality Act due to his "willing service as an armed guard of prisoners at a concentration camp where persecution took place."

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The court found that Berger worked at a Neuengamme sub-camp near Meppen, Germany where prisoners, included "Jews, Poles, Russians, Danes, Dutch, Latvians, French, Italians, and political opponents" of the Nazis, with the largest group including Russian, Dutch and Polish civilians.

The judge in the February trial found that Meppen prisoners were held during the winter of 1945 in "atrocious" conditions where they were exploited for outdoor forced labor, working "to the point of exhaustion and death."

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By the end of March 1945, allied British and Canadian forces had advanced, and the Nazis abandoned Meppen. Berger was part of the forcible evacuation to the Neuengamme main camp, a nearly two-week trip where inhumane conditions killed some 70 prisoners.

The court cited Berger's admission that he never requested a transfer and he continues to receive a pension from Germany based on his employment in Germany, "including his wartime service."

The Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section initiated the probe in partnership with the Nashville Homeland Security Investigations.

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Berger is the 70th Nazi persecutor removed from the United States, according to the DOJ.

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