U.S. Deports 95 Year-Old Nazi Concentration Camp Guard Who Was Living in Tennessee

 

A 95-year-old Tennessee resident with German citizenship, Friedrich Karl Berger, was deported by the United States government on Saturday for his time as an armed Nazi concentration camp guard.

A US immigration judge ruled in February of last year that Berger’s participation in “Nazi-sponsored acts of persecution” was “willing service” and ordered him removed under the 1978 Holtzman Amendment to the Immigration and Nationality Act. In November, the Board of Immigration Appeals upheld the ruling.

“The court found that Berger served at a Neuengamme sub-camp near Meppen, Germany, and that the prisoners there included ‘Jews, Poles, Russians, Danes, Dutch, Latvians, French, Italians, and political opponents’ of the Nazis. The largest groups of prisoners were Russian, Dutch and Polish civilians,” a Saturday release from the Department of Justice explains.

After a two-day trial in February 2020, the presiding judge issued an opinion finding that Meppen prisoners were held during the winter of 1945 in “atrocious” conditions and were exploited for outdoor forced labor, working “to the point of exhaustion and death.” The court further found, and Berger admitted, that he guarded prisoners to prevent them from escaping during their dawn-to-dusk workday, on their way to worksites and on their way back to the SS-run subcamp in the evening.

At the end of March 1945, as allied British and Canadian forces advanced, the Nazis abandoned Meppen. The court found that Berger helped guard the prisoners during their forcible evacuation to the Neuengamme main camp – a nearly two-week trip under inhumane conditions, which claimed the lives of some 70 prisoners. The decision also cited Berger’s admission that he never requested a transfer from concentration camp guard service and that he continues to receive a pension from Germany based on his employment in Germany, “including his wartime service.”

In 1946, British occupation authorities in Germany charged SS Obersturmführer Hans Griem, who had headed the Meppen sub-camps, and other Meppen personnel with war crimes for “ill-treatment and murder of Allied nationals.” Although Griem escaped before trial, the British court tried and convicted other defendants of war crimes in 1947.

Berger had been in the United States for fifty years at the time of his removal.

He has admitted to being a guard and to having prevented prisoners from escaping, but in interviews since the ruling has claimed not to have known of the treatment of concentration camp victims at the time and said he was just “following orders.”

The statement addresses policy and the DOJ’s commitment to “ensuring that the United States is not a safe haven for those who have participated in Nazi crimes against humanity.”

“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. “The Department marshaled evidence that our Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section found in archives here and in Europe, including records of the historic trial at Nuremberg of the most notorious former leaders of the defeated Nazi regime. 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.”

“We are committed to ensuring the United States will not serve as a safe haven for human rights violators and war criminals,” said Acting ICE Director Tae Johnson. “We will never cease to pursue those who persecute others. This case exemplifies the steadfast dedication of both ICE and the Department of Justice to pursue justice and to hunt relentlessly for those who participated in one of history’s greatest atrocities, no matter how long it takes.”

Two years ago, another 95-year-old Nazi was deported after being discovered hiding in Queens in New York City.

Today’s removal makes Berger the 70th former Nazi persecutor to be deported from the United States.

“Over the past 30 years, the Justice Department has won more cases against persons who participated in Nazi persecution than have the law enforcement authorities of all the other countries in the world combined,” the Department of Justice states. “HRSP’s case against Berger was part of its ongoing efforts to identify, investigate and prosecute individuals who engaged in genocide, torture, war crimes, recruitment or use of child soldiers, female genital mutilation, and other serious human rights violations.”

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