ILLEGAL ALIEN: Friedrich Karl Berger Ordered Removed to Germany from Tennessee Based on Service as Nazi Concentration Camp Guard During WWII; Removal Order Upheld

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ILLEGAL ALIEN: Friedrich Karl Berger Ordered Removed to Germany from Tennessee Based on Service as Nazi Concentration Camp Guard During WWII

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Removal Order Upheld Against Tennessee Man Who Served as Nazi Concentration Camp Guard During WWII

Friedrich Karl Berger from 1959 visa photo

On February 19, 2021, a Tennessee resident with German citizenship was removed to Germany for participating in Nazi-sponsored acts of persecution while serving as an armed guard at a Nazi concentration camp in 1945.

In February 2020, Friedrich Karl Berger, 95, was ordered removed from the U.S. based on his participation in Nazi-sponsored persecution while serving in Nazi Germany in 1945 as an armed guard of concentration camp prisoners in the Neuengamme Concentration Camp system (Neuengamme).

“Berger’s removal demonstrates the Department of Justice’s and its law enforcement partners’ commitment to ensuring that the United States is not a safe haven for those who have participated in Nazi crimes against humanity and other human rights abuses,” said Acting Attorney General Monty Wilkinson. “The Department marshaled evidence that our Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section found in archives here and in Europe, including records of the historic trial at Nuremberg of the most notorious former leaders of the defeated Nazi regime. In this year in which we mark the75th anniversary of the Nuremberg convictions, this case shows that the passage even of many decades will not deter the Department from pursuing justice on behalf of the victims of Nazi crimes.”

“We are committed to ensuring the United States will not serve as a safe haven for human rights violators and war criminals,” said Acting ICE Director Tae Johnson. “We will never cease to pursue those who persecute others. This case exemplifies the steadfast dedication of both ICE and the Department of Justice to pursue justice and to hunt relentlessly for those who participated in one of history’s greatest atrocities, no matter how long it takes.”

UPDATE: The Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) has dismissed the appeal of Tennessee resident Friedrich Karl Berger, a German citizen who was ordered removed from the United States earlier this year on the basis of his service in Nazi Germany in 1945 as an armed guard of concentration camp prisoners in the Neuengamme Concentration Camp system (Neuengamme).

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“Berger’s willing service as an armed guard at a Nazi concentration camp cannot be erased and will not be ignored,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Brian C. Rabbitt of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.  “On the eve of tomorrow’s75th anniversary of the commencement of the Nuremberg trials of the surviving leaders of the defeated Nazi regime, this case shows that the passage of time will not deter the department from fulfilling the moral imperative of seeking justice for the victims of their heinous crimes.”

“Berger was an active participant in one of the darkest chapters in human history. He attempted to shed his nefarious past to come to America and start anew, but thanks to the dedication of those at the Department of Justice and Homeland Security Investigations, the truth was revealed,” said Deputy Assistant Director Louis A. Rodi III of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) National Security Investigations Division, which oversees the Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Center.  “War criminals and violators of human rights will not be allowed to evade justice and find safe haven here.”

The BIA upheld a Memphis, Tennessee, Immigration Judge’s Feb. 28, 2020, decision that Berger was removable under the 1978 Holtzman Amendment to the Immigration and Nationality Act because his “willing service as an armed guard of prisoners at a concentration camp where persecution took place” constituted assistance in Nazi-sponsored persecution.  The court found that Berger served at a Neuengamme sub-camp near Meppen, Germany, and that the prisoners there included “Jews, Poles, Russians, Danes, Dutch, Latvians, French, Italians, and political opponents” of the Nazis.  The largest groups of prisoners were Russian, Dutch and Polish civilians.

After a two-day trial in February, the presiding judge issued an opinion finding that Meppen prisoners were held during the winter of 1945 in “atrocious” conditions and were exploited for outdoor forced labor, working, “to the point of exhaustion and death.”  The court further found, and Berger admitted, that he guarded prisoners to prevent them from escaping during their dawn-to-dusk workday, and on their way to the worksites and also on their way back to the SS-run subcamp in the evening. 

At the end of March 1945, as allied British and Canadian forces advanced, the Nazis abandoned Meppen.  The court found that Berger helped guard the prisoners during their forcible evacuation to the Neuengamme main camp – a nearly two-week trip under inhumane conditions, which claimed the lives of some 70 prisoners.  The decision also cited Berger’s admission that he never requested a transfer from concentration camp guard service and that he continues to receive a pension from Germany based on his employment in Germany, “including his wartime service.”

In 1946, British occupation authorities in Germany charged SS Obersturmführer Hans Griem, who had headed the Meppen sub-camps, and other Meppen personnel with war crimes for “ill-treatment and murder of Allied nationals.”  Although Griem escaped before trial, the British court tried and convicted the remaining defendants of war crimes in 1947.

The trial and appeal of the removal case were handled by Eli Rosenbaum, Director of Human Rights Enforcement and Policy in the Criminal Division’s Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section (HRSP), HRSP Senior Trial Attorney Susan Masling, and attorneys from ICE New Orleans, Office of the Principal Legal Advisor (Memphis), with assistance from HRSP Chief Historian Jeffrey S. Richter, and the Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Center.  The investigation was initiated by the HRSP and was conducted in partnership with the Nashville ICE HSI office.

Since the 1979 inception of the Justice Department’s program to detect, investigate, and remove Nazi persecutors, it has won cases against 109 individuals.  Over the past 30 years, the Justice Department has won more cases against persons who participated in Nazi persecution than have the law enforcement authorities of all the other countries in the world combined. HRSP’s case against Berger was part of its ongoing efforts to identify, investigate and prosecute individuals who engaged in genocide, torture, war crimes, recruitment or use of child soldiers, female genital mutilation, and other serious human rights violations.  HRSP attorneys prosecuted the first torture case brought in the United States and have successfully prosecuted criminal cases against perpetrators of human rights violations committed in Guatemala, Ethiopia, Liberia, Cuba, and the former Yugoslavia, among others.

MEMPHIS, TENN. – Not all illegal aliens stream across the southern border of the United States. A U.S. Immigration Judge in Memphis, Tennessee, has issued a removal order against a German citizen and Tennessee resident, on the basis of his service in Nazi Germany in 1945 as an armed guard of concentration camp prisoners in the Neuengamme Concentration Camp system (Neuengamme).

Commandant-Max-Pauly-handing-out-medals-to-several-guards-in-the-SS-compound.

After a two-day trial, U.S. Immigration Judge Rebecca L. Holt issued an opinion finding Friedrich Karl Berger removable under the 1978 Holtzman Amendment to the Immigration and Nationality Act because his “willing service as an armed guard of prisoners at a concentration camp where persecution took place” constituted assistance in Nazi-sponsored persecution.  The court found that Berger served at a Neuengamme sub-camp near Meppen, Germany and that the prisoners there included “Jews, Poles, Russians, Danes, Dutch, Latvians, French, Italians, and political opponents” of the Nazis.  The largest groups of prisoners were Russian, Dutch and Polish civilians.

Concentration-camp-prisoners-working-at-the-old-brick-factory.-German-concentration-camp-guard-deported-from-Tennessee-March-5-2020

Judge Holt found that Meppen prisoners were held during the winter of 1945 in “atrocious” conditions and were exploited for outdoor forced labor, working, as at other Nazi camps, “to the point of exhaustion and death.”  The court further found, and Berger admitted, that he guarded prisoners to prevent them from escaping during their dawn-to-dusk workday, and on their way to the worksites and also on their way back to the subcamp in the evening.

At the end of March 1945, with the advance of British and Canadian forces, the Nazis abandoned Meppen

At the end of March 1945, with the advance of British and Canadian forces, the Nazis abandoned Meppen.  The court found that Berger helped guard the prisoners during their forcible evacuation to the Neuengamme main camp – a nearly two-week trip under inhumane conditions, which claimed the lives of some 70 prisoners.  The decision also cited Berger’s admission that he never requested a transfer from concentration camp guard service and that he continues to receive a pension from Germany based on his employment in Germany, “including his wartime service.”

The court further found, and Berger admitted, that he guarded prisoners to prevent them from escaping during their dawn-to-dusk workday, and on their way to the worksites and also on their way back to the subcamp in the evening.

“Berger was part of the SS machinery of oppression that kept concentration camp prisoners in atrocious conditions of confinement,” said Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Department of Justice’s Criminal Division.  “This ruling shows the Department’s continued commitment to obtaining a measure of justice, however late, for the victims of wartime Nazi persecution.”

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“This case is but one example of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s commitment to ensuring that the United States will not serve as a safe haven for human rights violators and war criminals,” said Assistant Director David C. Shaw of U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), National Security Investigations Division, who oversees the Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Center.  “We will continue to pursue these types of cases so that justice may be served.”

In 1946, British occupation authorities in Germany charged SS Obersturmführer Hans Griem, who had headed the Meppen sub-camps, and other Meppen personnel with war crimes for “ill-treatment and murder of Allied nationals.”  Although Griem escaped before trial, the British court tried and convicted the three remaining defendants of war crimes in 1947.

The removal case was jointly tried by Eli Rosenbaum, HRSP Director of Human Rights Enforcement and Policy, HRSP Senior Trial Attorney Susan Masling, and ICE New Orleans, Office of the Principal Legal Advisor (Memphis),  with assistance from HRSP Chief Historian Jeffrey S. Richter. The investigation was initiated by the HRSP and was conducted in partnership with HSI’s Nashville SAC office.

Since the 1979 inception of the Justice Department’s program to detect, investigate, and remove Nazi persecutors, it has won cases against 109 individuals.  Over the past 30 years, the Justice Department has won more cases against persons who participated in Nazi persecution than have the law enforcement authorities of all the other countries in the world combined. HRSP’s case against Berger was part of its ongoing efforts to identify, investigate and prosecute individuals who engaged in genocide, torture, war crimes, recruitment or use of child soldiers, female genital mutilation, and other serious human rights violations.  HRSP attorneys prosecuted the first torture case brought in the United States and have successfully prosecuted criminal cases against perpetrators of human rights violations in Guatemala, Ethiopia, Liberia, Cuba, and the former Yugoslavia, among others.

“It was as if we’d landed on another planet. It was a place of extreme terror. My friend who was arrested together with me – I was seventeen, he was twenty – told me when he arrived: ‘I won’t survive this more than three months.’ And indeed, three months later, he was dead.”

Georges Jidkoff from France was imprisoned in several camps, including the Neuengamme satellite camp Salzgitter-Watenstedt from May 1944 to April 1945. (Interview, 31 January 1987, ANg)

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1 thought on “ILLEGAL ALIEN: Friedrich Karl Berger Ordered Removed to Germany from Tennessee Based on Service as Nazi Concentration Camp Guard During WWII; Removal Order Upheld

  1. Meh. He was deported, but Germany will not prosecute him. Instead he will live out his last days in a nice care home courtesy of the German government, all expenses paid, because there is NO EVIDENCE TO TRY HIM.

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