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95-year-old Nazi concentration camp guard sent to Germany from Tennessee

Barbed wire fencing around the barracks at Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp in Poland. (Dreamstime/TNS)
February 23, 2021

A Tennessee man has been sent back to Germany for his role in acts of persecution while serving as an armed guard at a Nazi concentration camp in 1945, the U.S. Department of Justice said Saturday.

Friedrich Karl Berger, 95, was found removable to Germany after a two-day trial in February 2020. His service as an armed guard at an outpost of the Neuengamme camp near Meppen in western Germany constituted assistance in Nazi-sponsored persecution, the department said in a statement.

Prisoners at the camp included “Jews, Poles, Russians, Danes, Dutch, Latvians, French, Italians, and political opponents” of the Nazis, the DOJ said. The largest groups were Russian, Dutch and Polish civilians. At least 42,900 people died at Neuengamme and its satellite camps, including during “death march” evacuations as Allied troops closed in and in bombings of prisoner ships, according to the former camp’s memorial website.

Berger is the 70th Nazi persecutor removed from the U.S., according to the Justice Department, which said it has won cases against 109 people since the government began a program to find, investigate and deport Nazi collaborators in 1979.

According to the department, Berger admitted to preventing prisoners from escaping during outdoor forced labor in the winter of 1945.

The court also found Berger guarded prisoners during a forcible evacuation that claimed about 70 lives. Berger, who holds German citizenship, continues to receive a pension from Germany based on his employment there, “including his wartime service.”

“We are committed to ensuring the United States will not serve as a safe haven for human rights violators and war criminals,” said Tae Johnson, acting director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

“We will never cease to pursue those who persecute others. This case exemplifies the steadfast dedication of both ICE and the Department of Justice to pursue justice and to hunt relentlessly for those who participated in one of history’s greatest atrocities, no matter how long it takes.

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