The Department of Justice’s Office of Special Investigations was charged with “Nazi-hunting” in 1979 after it became known that many Nazis had left Europe to escape trial in the United States after World War II.
As time went on, however, the division found living witnesses and evidence to be even more scarce. Despite this, the DOJ and OSI have still made it possible to “hunt” down those who contributed to the killing of 11 million people, including 6 million Jews.
The DOJ is still able to fulfill its commitment in 2020 and on Thursday it announced a court’s decision to uphold an order to deport a Tennessee man who once served as a Nazi guard after his attempt to appeal the Court’s decision was denied.
Friedrich Karl Berger, who was ordered to be removed from the country on February 28, served as an S.S. Guard in 1945 in Germany’s Neuengamme Concentration Camp system, where Jews, Poles, Russians, Danes, Dutch, Latvians, French, Italians, and political opponents were imprisoned and killed.
“Berger’s willing service as an armed guard at a Nazi concentration camp cannot be erased and will not be ignored,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Brian C. Rabbitt of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.
Rabbitt added, “On the eve of tomorrow’s75th anniversary of the commencement of the Nuremberg trials of the surviving leaders of the defeated Nazi regime, this case shows that the passage of time will not deter the department from fulfilling the moral imperative of seeking justice for the victims of their heinous crimes.”
In the trial earlier this year, the Memphis court found that Meppen prisoners were put in “atrocious” conditions and were worked “to the point of exhaustion and death.”
“War criminals and violators of human rights will not be allowed to evade justice and find safe haven here,”-Deputy Assistant Director Louis A. Rodi III of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) National Security Investigations Division
Judge Rebecca L. Holt ruled in the earlier trial that deportation was justified under the 1978 Holtzman Amendment to the Immigration and Nationality Act for Berger’s “willing service as an armed guard of prisoners at a concentration camp where persecution took place.” Moreover, Berger admitted before the court “that he never requested a transfer from concentration camp guard service” and that he still receives a pension from the German government for “his wartime service.”
Berger was part of the Nazi’s effort in March 1945 to ‘forcibly evacuate’ Neuengamme’s main concentration camp as allied forces were advancing towards it. That mass evacuation caused nearly 70 prisoners to die in a two-week period, as noted in the decision.
The British charged the head of Meppen SS Obersturmführer Hans Griem in 1946 for “ill-treatment and murder of Allied nationals,” but Griem escaped before his trial, leaving only some of his coconspirators to be tried and convicted of war crimes in 1947, according to the DOJ.