The decision to deport former Nazi SS guard Friedrich Karl Berger, now living in Tennessee, back to Germany was upheld after his appeal was dismissed. Berger, now 94, once worked at the Neuengamme concentration camp near Meppen, Germany in 1945.
“Berger was an active participant in one of the darkest chapters in human history,” Deputy Assistant Director Louis A. Rodi III of the US Department of Homeland Security said in a statement. “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.”
The Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) dismissed the appeal Thursday, just one day before the 75th anniversary of the start of the Nuremburg trials, held following World War II to hold Nazis accountable for their actions.
“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.
The BIA’s original decision to order his deportation was based on the 1978 Holzman Amendment to the Immigration and Nationality Act which says anyone who worked for the Nazi government could be deported or barred from entering the United States.
Berger, however, claimed the decision was unwarranted. “After 75 years, this is ridiculous. I cannot believe it,” he told the Washington Post after the February decision. “I cannot understand how this can happen in a country like this. You’re forcing me out of my home.”
He claimed that as a member of the German navy at the time, he was ordered to work at the concentration camp in the last months of the war, which the Justice Department corroborated, according to the Washington Post. Berger said he was only there for a short period of time and did not carry a weapon.
“I was 19 years old,” Berger said. “I was ordered to go there.”
He moved to Canada with his wife and daughter after the war, then to the United States in 1959, where he made a living building wire-stripping machines. Berger continues receive a pension from Germany for labor that includes “wartime services,” according to the Justice Department.
It’s not clear whether he will face prosecution upon return to Germany.