Nazi Concentration Camp Guard Sent to Germany From Tennessee

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The U.S. sent a Tennessee man back to Germany for his role in acts of persecution while serving as an armed guard at a Nazi concentration camp in the final months of World War II.

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 of Justice said in a statement on Saturday.

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.

Nazi Concentration Camp Guard Sent to Germany From Tennessee

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.

In Germany, a criminal investigation against Berger was closed in December and he doesn’t face arrest, the Bild newspaper reported, citing a spokesman for the prosecutor’s office in the northern city of Celle. After arriving in Frankfurt on Saturday aboard an air ambulance, Berger told officials he was willing to be questioned about the allegations in the case, the spokesman was quoted as saying.

According to the Justice 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.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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