By Alejandra O’Connell-Domenech
Jakiw Palij, the ex-Nazi guard who lived in Jackson Heights until he was deported at President Trump’s order last year, died in Germany on Jan. 10, according to reports.
The BBC reports that the 95-year-old former Nazi collaborator died in a home for the elderly in the town of Ahlen. The U.S Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell reported his passing earlier today on Twitter.
For more than a decade after learning that he worked for the Nazis during the Holocaust, Queens residents had sought Palij’s expulsion from the United States.
The former Nazi guard had been living in an apartment on 89th Street for years and was initially stripped of his naturalized citizenship in 2003. As recently as 2017, hundreds gathered outside Palij’s home demanding his deportation.
Palij was born in a part of Poland that is now part of Ukraine and in the spring of 1943, trained at the SS Training Camp in Trawniki, in Nazi-occupied Poland. On Nov. 3, 1943, 6,000 Jewish men, women and children that were incarcerated at Trawniki were shot to death as part of one of the largest massacres of the Holocaust. Palij played in instrumental role in preventing the escape of the prisoners and in “Operation Reinhard,” the Third Reich’s plan to murder Jews in Poland.
Palij emigrated to the United States in 1949 and was granted naturalized citizenship in 1957. But he concealed his involvement as a Nazi by telling U.S immigration officials that he had spent the war years working on his father’s farm, which was previously a part of Poland and is now in Ukraine, until 1944 and then worked in a German factory.
In 2001, Palij admitted to the Justice Department officials that he was trained at the SS Training Camp in Trawniki. He was deported by ICE in August 2018, sent to Düsseldorf, Germany.
“We do not rejoice or celebrate his death, but we do breathe easier knowing that such a dark soul no longer breathes the air of freedom on Earth,” said former Assemblyman Dov Hikind in a press release. “It also goes to show that our efforts in seeking justice were not in vain, and reinforces our commitment to ridding the world of any last vestige of Nazism regardless of where it may exist. It’s the closure survivors of the Holocaust needed.”
Reach reporter Alejandra O’Connell-Domenech by e-mail at adome