Photo Courtesy of Google
Jakiw Palij, 94, still lives on 89th Street.
By Michael V. Cusenza
U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) has reached out to German Ambassador Peter Wittig to work with the State Department to immediately resolve the long-standing issue of a Nazi-era guard currently living in Queens.
Jakiw Palij, 94, who has resided in a brick home on 89th Street in Jackson Heights for more than 20 years, was allowed to enter the United States because he concealed his prior service to the Nazi regime. After determining that he had lied in order to enter the country, Palij’s American citizenship was stripped and it was ordered that he be deported. However, since then, his deportation case has stalled because Germany, Poland and Ukraine refuse to accept him, Gillibrand said in a letter she penned to Wittig last week.
“Sadly, he remains, unwelcome, in the state I represent,” she added.
In October, every member of the bicameral NY delegation in Congress signed a letter to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson urging him to immediately deport Palij, who, according to the New York Daily News, served as a guard at the Trawniki concentration and Schutzstaffel (commonly referred to as the SS) training camp in German-occupied Poland.
“For Holocaust survivors, Mr. Palij’s deportation will confirm that the heinous crimes committed against them during the Nazi era will never be forgotten,” the elected officials wrote.
Gillibrand on Friday made it clear that she wants the issue resolved now.
“This letter is to add my strong support for the State Department’s efforts to press on this issue, and to ensure that the voices of my constituents are heard,” she 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. We can show that we have learned from the past and stand together today against anti-Semitism, bigotry, and hatred in all forms.”