A Brooklyn federal judge last week revoked the citizenship of a 79-year-old Queens resident whom the U.S. government accused of concealing his training as an SS guard during World War II, but Jakiw Palij may remain in this country for several years if he initiates what usually is a lengthy appeals process.
Judge Allyne Ross found that Palij, a retired draftsman who lives in Jamaica Heights, in applying for a U.S. visa in 1949 had misrepresented his wartime activities, making no mention of his service in 1943 at the Trawniki training base near Lublin in Nazi-occupied Poland. The so-called "Trawniki Men" rounded up and murdered Jews, took part in deporting Jews to concentration camps, and forced them into gas chambers at three death camps.
While the Justice Department’s Office of Special Investigations did not claim that the Ukrainian-born Palij participated in the persecution of Jews or other war crimes, "the fact that there is no evidence that defendant patrolled the perimeter or otherwise helped to guard the Jewish labor camp [near the SS training site] does not diminish the strength of the government’s evidence," Ross wrote in her 25-page decision.
"The ruling … affirms that no individual who assisted in the perpetration of Nazi genocide deserves the precious mantle of United States citizenship," said Eli Rosenbaum, OSI director.
Palij is subject to deportation, but his attorney, Ivars Berzins, did not indicate if an appeal would be filed, and declined to speak with the media. Deportation appeals usually take several years. OSI since 1979 has won the deportations of 57 people who assisted in Nazi persecution.