Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) President Morton A. Klein released the following statement:
It is unacceptable that Nazi war criminal Jakiw Palij is still living peacefully in Jackson Heights, Queens, despite the fact that a federal court ordered Palij to be deported from the United States in 2004. Palij was stripped of his U.S. citizenship in 2003, for fraudulently concealing his Nazi service when Palij was admitted to the U.S. in 1949. During an investigation by Office of Special Investigations of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) in 2001, Palij admitted that he was a guard at the Trawniki forced labor and death camp. At Trawniki, thousands of Jews were worked to death, and 6,000 Jews were massacred in a single day in 1943, as part of the Nazis’ cynically named Operation “Harvest Festival.” The stumbling block to Palij’s deportation has been that, for the past 14 years, Germany, Poland and the Ukraine have refused to admit Palij into any of those countries, where he could be legally brought to justice. The ZOA calls upon the U.S. to insist that Germany must finally admit and prosecute Palij for his crimes.
It is encouraging that the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) wrote in November that “The [DOJ] agrees fully that Palij should not live out his last days in this country. The [DOJ] 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.” (See “Trump Administration Vows to Deport Nazi living in Queens,” by Mark Moore, New York Post, Nov. 20, 2017.)
Utmost pressure needs to be placed on Germany to finally live up to its moral obligation to admit and prosecute the last known Nazi war criminal living in the United States.
In recent years, nine Nazi war criminals who were ordered deported from the U.S. died while still peacefully living in the United States, because Germany refused to admit and prosecute them. We cannot allow to this happen again.
ZOA also wishes to thank the 200 dedicated yeshiva high school students who held a rally this past November 9th, protesting Palij’s continued presence in the United States. (See “Jewish High School Students Demand the U.S. Boot Former Nazi in Rally Outside His Queens Home,” by Molly Crane Newman & Reuven Blau, New York Daily News, Nov. 9, 2017.) The rally was held on the 80th anniversary of Kristallnacht, the 1938 “Night of Broken Glass” – the violent pogroms near the outset of the Holocaust, during which Nazis plundered, burned and destroyed thousands of German-Jewish homes, synagogues and stores; raped and murdered German-Jewish citizens; and sent 30,000 German Jews to concentration camps.
ZOA president Morton A Klein, born in a displaced persons camp in Neu Ulm, Germany and especially as a child of Holocaust survivors who lost most of his grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins to unspeakable German atrocities, pleads, “President Merkel and Germany – you have a unique moral imperative to finally do your part to make Palij accountable for his horrific war crimes against the Jewish people.”