You are reading

Elected officials call on state secretary Rex Tillerson to deport former Nazi concentration camp guard living in Jackson Heights

Protest outside Palij’s Jackson Heights home earlier this year

Aug. 24, 2017 By Nathaly Pesantez

Elected officials are urging US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to deport a 92-year-old former Nazi guard living in Jackson Heights.

In an Aug. 23 letter to Tillerson, Congressman Joseph Crowley (D- Jackson Heights) and 20 other signees call on him to use his clout to deport Jakiw Palij, who served as a guard at Trawniki concentration camp in Poland during World War II.

Palij, who had his American citizenship revoked after an investigation by the US Department of Justice in 2003, has lived in Jackson Heights for decades, where the letter characterizes his presence in the neighborhood as “unmerited” and “a painful reminder for Americans who fought against the Nazis or lost loved ones in the Holocaust.”

Palij was granted American citizenship in 1957 after he claimed he was a farmer and a war refugee, and omitted his role as a guard at the concentration camp. After his citizenship was stripped, he was ordered in 2004 to be deported. He still remains in Jackson Height.

“Those who participated in the atrocities of the Holocaust have no place in our communities,” Crowley said in a statement. “The Nazis’ crimes were beyond heinous, and we have the responsibility to pursue justice on behalf of their victims.”

The letter signed by multiple elected officials comes after Crowley penned a letter to U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions in May, and two months after nearly 90 assembly members also urged Sessions to deport Palij.

In a 2003 interview with the New York Times, Palij said that when he was 18, he and many other young men in his hometown in Poland were forced by the Nazis to be guards. Palij also said he never set foot in any camp, and never took part in any killings during the war. While federal officials back his claims, they also say that by cooperating as a Nazi guard, Palij contributed to the eventual slaughter of the victims by forcing them to work or preventing them from escaping.

Palij Letter Copy1 by Queens Post on Scribd

email the author: [email protected]


Click for Comments 
Patricia fontaine

I live on his block. He helps people and has been a quite neighbor. WW2 if you did not join the German army your family could get killed. I know because my grandmother was from east Berlin. I lost seven family members. We were not Jewish or Christians. But did not believe in the cause. Well giving the choice of living and working for the Germany Army or death. Look at how Manny Germans were killed with Polish who were not Jewish. LEAVE THE MAN ALONE..


Jakiw Palij was from Pyadyki, next to Kolomyia, in eastern Ukraine. He is of Ukrainian nationality. This area was added to Poland after World War I (1918) but became a part of Ukraine again after World War II. It was habitated mostly by Ukrainians.


This Jackson Heights resident is not Polish. His name doesn’t even sound Polish. He might be Ukrainian. Concentration camps were NOT in Poland but in Nazi German occupied Poland. Poland, as a country, didn’t even exist from 1939 to 1945. Polish citizens were not employed by Germans to work at the concentration camps. This article is poorly researched. It is offensive to Polish community in the US and everywhere else in the world.


Leave a Comment
Reply to this Comment

All comments are subject to moderation before being posted.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Recent News

Crunching the Queens crime numbers: felony assaults across the borough on the rise, burglaries down slightly in northern Queens

Feb. 21, 2024 By Ethan Marshall

The number of felony assaults across Queens increased during the 28-day period from Jan. 22 through Feb. 18, compared to the same period of time last year, according to the latest crime stats released by the NYPD Tuesday. At the same time, the number of reported burglaries experienced a slight but noticeable drop in northern Queens.

Two men sought in attempted armored truck heist at Queens Center Mall: NYPD

Police from the 110th Precinct in Elmhurst are looking for two men who attempted to rob an armed security guard transporting money from an armored truck into the Queens Center Mall in broad daylight last week.

The attempted heist unfolded at around 2:10 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 8 as a 53-year-old woman, an armed courier, was approached by one of the suspects as she was entering 90-15 Queens Blvd. at the front of the Queens Center Mall. The perpetrator forcibly removed a courier bag containing $700 in coins causing the victim to fall to the sidewalk, police said.