Jan. 11, 2019 By Christian Murray
A former Nazi collaborator who lived in Jackson Heights for decades before being deported to Germany last year is dead.
Jakiw Palij, 95, died at an old age home in the town of Ahlen, according to reports. He died alone, as his wife died years ago and he had no children.
Palij, who immigrated to the United States in 1949 and was a long-time resident at 33-18 89th St., was a guard at the notorious Treblinka death camp in Nazi-occupied Poland during 1943. On Nov. 3, 1943, about 6,000 Jews were killed and buried in pits there.
He became a United States citizen in 1957, but lied to authorities during the naturalization process. He claimed that he had spent World War II working in a factory on a farm.
However, in 2001, he told the Department of Justice that he had been trained in 1943 at a Nazi SS training camp in German-occupied Trawniki. Thousands of Nazis were trained at Trawniki, according to reports, with many tasked with staffing various killing centers such as Treblinka.
Palij’s citizenship was revoked in Aug. 2003 on the basis of his wartime activities and immigration fraud, and his deportation was ordered in 2004.
But he remained in Jackson Heights until August because Germany, Ukraine and Poland refused to take him. The Trump administration, however, pressured the German government, which finally relented.
The White House said that President Trump had made it a priority to deport him. “Palij’s removal sends a strong message: The United States will not tolerate those who facilitated Nazi crimes and other human rights violations, and they will not find a safe haven on American soil,” the administration said in a statement in August.
In 2003 Palij tried to defend his actions in an interview with the New York Times.He said he never killed anyone during the war. He claimed that at the age of 18 he was taken to the camp and forced to work as a guard.
Although the federal government never accused him of being directly involved in the killings, it claimed that as a Nazi guard, he “directly contributed to their eventual slaughter” by preventing the victims from escaping.
Over the past decade, there was enormous political pressure to have Palij deported. Nearly 90 Assembly Members signed on to a letter addressed to the U.S. Attorney General in 2017 seeking his removal. The New York City Congressional delegation lobbied the Secretary of State to remove him in 2018.
Palij never faced prosecution over alleged war crimes, according to reports by the BBC. The German government cast doubt that he ever would, citing a lack of evidence.
former Nazi prison guard Jakiw Palij has died in Germany. I am so thankful to @realDonaldTrump for making the case a priority. Removing the former Nazi prison guard from the US was something multiple Presidents just talked about – but President Trump made it happen.
— Richard Grenell (@RichardGrenell) January 10, 2019