FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
THURSDAY, MAY 9, 2002
TDD (202) 514-1888
JUSTICE DEPARTMENT MOVES TO REVOKE U.S. CITIZENSHIP OF FORMER NAZI CAMP GUARD IN NEW YORK CITY
WASHINGTON, D.C.- The Justice Department today asked a federal court in Brooklyn, New York, to revoke the U.S. citizenship of a Jamaica Heights, Queens resident on the basis of his participation in acts of persecution against Jewish civilians while serving during World War II as an armed guard at an SS slave-labor camp in Nazi-occupied Poland.
In a complaint filed today, the Criminal Division's Office of Special Investigations (OSI) and the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of New York allege that Jakiw Palij, 78, trained for Nazi service at the infamous SS Trawniki Training Camp and served there as an armed guard of Jewish civilian prisoners beginning in February 1943.
Michael Chertoff, the Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Justice Department's Criminal Division, said, "The complaint filed today against Jakiw Palij reflects the Justice Department's unswerving dedication to pursuing justice against Nazi persecutors."
United States Attorney Alan Vinegrad said, "Jakiw Palij concealed the fact that he lent assistance to the perpetration of Nazi atrocities in order to obtain the privilege of residence in the United States. Today's filing signals the Department of Justice's commitment to seeing to it that this former Nazi guard no longer enjoys the benefits of his deceit."
The complaint further alleges that for approximately two months, beginning in February 1943, Palij trained at the Trawniki Training Camp, an SS-run training and base camp facility in Nazi-occupied Poland. The complaint states that during his training at Trawniki, Palij served as an armed guard at the SS Labor Camp Trawniki, a slave-labor camp for Jews adjacent to the training facility.
According to the complaint, by March 1944, Palij was serving in the Deployment Company, a unit which committed atrocities against Polish civilians and others. By late 1944, Palij had been promoted by the SS, and was serving in the SS Streibel Battalion, a unit whose function was to round up and guard thousands of Polish civilian forced laborers at fortification and construction sites in south-central Poland. He remained in the Streibel Battalion until at least early April 1945, near the end of the war.
The complaint also charges that when Palij applied for a U.S. immigration visa in 1949, he misrepresented his true wartime activities. According to the complaint, Palij falsely claimed to have worked on his father's farm in Poland from April 1942 to 1944, and in Germany from 1944 to 1945. The government's suit seeks a judgment revoking his U.S. citizenship.
The initiation of proceedings to denaturalize Palij is a result of OSI's ongoing efforts to identify, investigate, and take legal action against former participants in Nazi persecution who reside in the United States. Sixty-seven individuals who assisted in Nazi persecution have been stripped of U.S. citizenship and 54 such persons have been removed from the United States since OSI began operations in 1979. In addition, more than 150 individuals who sought to enter the United States in recent years have been blocked from doing so as a result of OSI's "Watch List" program. More than 160 persons remain under investigation by OSI.