NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-New York) issued a letter to the German ambassador Friday, urging the country to take back a onetime Nazi guard now living in Queens.
Gillibrand’s letter urged German Ambassador Peter Wittig to work with the U.S. State Department to resolve the issue of Jakiw Palij. Gillibrand’s office said Palij was allowed to enter the U.S. because he concealed his prior service to the Nazis, and after authorities determined that he had lied, his American citizenship was stripped and he was ordered deported.
But his case has been stalled because Germany, Poland and Ukraine all refuse to accept him, Gillibrand’s office said.
Gillibrand recently issued a letter with every member of the New York House and Senate delegations to U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson expressing concern over the issue. The letter to Wittig adds support to her call for the State Department to press the issue, her office said.
“My constituents have made clear that Mr. Palij is not welcome in our state. They agree that he lost his right to remain here when the brutal past he tried so hard to hide was revealed in an American courtroom. They have no doubt that Mr. Palij must be deported immediately. Together, the United States and Germany can show the world that Mr. Palij’s crimes have not been forgotten,” Gillibrand wrote in her letter to Wittig. “We can show that we have learned from the past and stand together today against anti-Semitism, bigotry, and hatred in all forms.”
Palij, now 94, worked as an armed guard at an SS slave labor camp for Jews in Nazi-occupied Poland during World War II and helped keep prisoners from escaping, according to court documents.