The Department of Justice is still working to eradicate people who committed Nazi war crimes during the Holocaust. The latest person to be deported is a 95-year-old Tennessee man who worked as a guard at a Nazi concentration camp in Germany.
CBS News reports that Friedrich Karl Berger—who’s lived in the U.S. since 1959—was flown back to Frankfurt, Germany on Saturday “for participating in Nazi-sponsored acts of persecution” during his employment at the concentration camp in 1945, the Justice Department announced.
Acting Attorney General Monty Wilkinson also issued a statement saying that Berger’s expulsion from the U.S. proves 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 and other human rights abuses.”
“In this year in which we mark the 75th anniversary of the Nuremberg convictions,” Wilkinson continued. “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.”
The DOJ settled on deportation after a trial in February 2020 discovered that Berger was serving as a guard at a Neuengamme sub-camp near Meppen, Germany. The judge ruled that the prisoners—who were Jewish, Russian, Dutch, and Polish—were held during the winter of 1945 in “atrocious” conditions where the prisoners were forced to do manual labor outdoors “to the point of exhaustion and death.”
Meppen prisoners were made to build a supposed “friesenwall” to safeguard Germany’s northern coast. Berger served at the sub-camp until it had to evacuate in March 1945, transferring 1,773 prisoners to Neuengamme in a trip that took two weeks. The “inhumane conditions” led to the deaths of 70 people.
Berger has become the 70th person to be removed from the U.S. for his Nazi war crimes. During trial, he conceded that he guarded prisoners against escaping and that he never asked for a transfer from concentration camp guard service. He also still receives a pension from Germany for his employment in the country, “including his wartime service.”
Berger is a widower with two grandchildren. “After 75 years, this is ridiculous. I cannot believe it,” he said last year, according to The Washington Post. “I cannot understand how this can happen in a country like this. You’re forcing me out of my home.”