ICE deports 95-year-old former concentration camp guard to Germany

Friedrich Berger, a German citizen, had been living in Tennessee

A 95-year-old former World War II concentration camp guard was deported to Germany on Saturday, Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced.

Friedrich Karl Berger was deported after U.S. authorities determined he served in the Neuengamme concentration camp system near Hamburg in 1945.

Berger, a German citizen, had been living in Tennessee.

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"We are committed to ensuring the United States will not serve as a safe haven for human rights violators and war criminals," acting ICE Director Tae Johnson said in a statement. "We will never cease to pursue those who persecute others."

This case exemplifies efforts by ICE and the Justice Department "to pursue justice and to hunt relentlessly for those who participated in one of history’s greatest atrocities, no matter how long it takes," he said.

An appeals board in November upheld a decision that Berger could be sent back to his home country under the 1978 Holtzman Amendment to the Immigration and Nationality Act. That amendment allows for the deportation of anyone who participation in any act of Nazi persecution or genocide.

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The initial court decision found that Berger served at a camp where the largest groups of prisoners were Russian, Dutch and Polish civilians. The judge found that prisoners at the camp were held during the winter of 1945 in "atrocious" conditions and were made to work outdoors "to the point of exhaustion and death." 

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The statement said Berger admitted he guarded prisoners to prevent them from escaping during the day and on journeys to and from the worksite. He also helped guard prisoners during their evacuation to the main camp as the Allies advanced.

Berger still receives a pension from Germany based on his employment iin that country, "including his wartime service."

The case was initiated by Justice’s Office of Immigration Litigation. Since 1979, the DOJ has won cases against 109 Nazi persecutors.

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"Berger’s removal demonstrates the Department of Justice’s and its law enforcement partners’ 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," Acting Attorney General Monty Wilkinson said in a statement.