Ex-Nazi Jakiw Palij bought his home from unaware Holocaust survivors

Jack Webb@JackWebb92
Wednesday 22 August 2018 14:00
news

Unbeknownst to a Holocaust survivor, the man he sold his house to was a former a Nazi collaborator.

Jakiw Palij and his wife moved into their two-storey home in Jackson Heights and must've seemed like any other middle-aged Queens immigrant.

There's only one problem - Palij was a former Nazi collaborator who stood guard at the Trawniki concentration camp in Nazi-occupied Poland.

It was at this particular concentration camp where around 6,000 Jews were shot to death and burned in what US officials say was one of the largest massacres of the Holocaust.

The son of the couple who sold Palij the home told the New York Post that if his late dad, a holocaust survivor, had known of Palij's history then “I don’t think [Palij] would have gotten out of that house alive".

Palij joined the Nazi Party's elite Schutzstaffel - commonly known as the SS - and he gained US citizenship in 1949 under false pretences.

It's taken 75 years from when he first joined the Nazi party to now for any semblance of justice to be served.

Now a decrepit 95-year-old man, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents stormed his quiet home on Monday to finally arrest the war criminal and ship him back to Germany.

Palij confirms he worked at the concentration camp, but denies committing war crimes for the Nazis.

Speaking to the New York Post in 2013, he said: "I am not SS. I have nothing to do with SS."

The Department of Justice argued that he actively advanced the Nazi regime's atrocious genocide.

“By helping to prevent the escape of these prisoners during his service at Trawniki, Palij played an indispensable role in ensuring that they later met their tragic fate at the hands of the Nazis,” the DOJ said in a statement.

Four long years after World War II ended, Palij wanted to move to the US on a visa under the Displaced Persons Act, which was created to help refugees from post-war Europe.

To do this, he lied about his Nazi past on the paperwork, instead claming he worked on his father's farm and in a factory in Germany during the war.

His visa was granted and eight years after moving to the United States he gained citizenship.

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*Correction: A previous version of this article stated that the Trawniki concentration camp was located in Poland, this has been changed to instead say 'Nazi-occupied Poland', so as not to mislead people.

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