A 95-year-old German man living in Tennessee, who was still collecting his military pension from his time as a WWII Nazi concentration guard, was removed from the United States in the 70th such deportation in American history.
Friedrich Karl Berger was deported Friday, a year after a court ordered him removed for his work in 1945 as an armed guard in a Neuengamme concentration camp near Meppen, Germany.
“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,” Acting Attorney General Monty Wilkinson said. “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,” he added.
A judge ruled in February 2020 after a two-day trial that Meppen prisoners were held in winter 1945 in “atrocious” conditions and were exploited for outdoor forced labor. Berger admitted that he guarded the prisoners to prevent them from escaping during their dawn-to-dusk workday, on their way to worksites and on their way back to a Nazi-run subcamp in the evening, the Justice Department said.
Last November, the Board of Immigration Appeals upheld an immigration judge's Feb. 28, 2020 order from the United States because he engaged “willing service as an armed guard of prisoners at a concentration camp where persecution took place.”
The court concluded Berger served at a Neuengamme sub-camp near Meppen, where the prisoners included “Jews, Poles, Russians, Danes, Dutch, Latvians, French, Italians, and political opponents” of the Nazis, and helped guard the prisoners during a forcible evacuation to the Neuengamme main camp. Prosecutors said the nearly two-week trip under inhumane conditions claimed the lives of approximately 70 prisoners.
The court's order noted that Berger admitted he never requested a transfer from concentration camp guard service and that he continues to receive a pension as a German worker, “including his wartime service.”