Ex-Nazi Concentration Camp Guard Who Still Receives Pension from Germany to be Deported

A judge has ordered the deportation of a 94-year-old Tennessee man and former Nazi concentration camp guard. He will be sent back to Germany, where he is still receiving a pension for his "wartime service."

Judge Rebecca L. Holt ordered the removal of Friedrich Karl Berger following a two-day trial after he was found to have worked at the Neuengamme death camp near Meppen, Germany.

Holt ruled that Berger engaged in "willing service" as a guard at the camp where prisoners were kept in "atrocious" conditions and forced into outdoor labor "to the point of exhaustion and death."

The court also found that Berger guarded prisoners during their forcible evacuation to the Neuengamme main camp, described as a near two-week trip under "inhumane conditions" which claimed the lives of roughly 70 people.

According to The Washington Post, the case against Berger was formed following the discovery of an index card which showed that Berger worked in the Neuengamme Concentration Camp system and had been retrieved from a ship sunk during World War II. The Bay of Lubeck, carrying prisoners being taken to concentration camps, was mistakenly bombed by the British Royal Air Force in May 1945. The ship was eventually raised from the sea several years later.

Berger, who has been in the U.S since 1959, is now being deported under the 1978 Holtzman Amendment, which bans anyone who took part in Nazi-orchestrated crimes from living in the country.

The court cited the fact that Berger never asked to be transferred from working at Neuengamme and that he continues to receive a pension from Germany based on his employment at the concentration camp as reasons for his deportation.

"Berger was part of the SS machinery of oppression that kept concentration camp prisoners in atrocious conditions of confinement," Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Department of Justice's Criminal Division, said in a statement.

"This ruling shows the Department's continued commitment to obtaining a measure of justice, however late, for the victims of wartime Nazi persecution."

Speaking to The Post, Berger claimed he was ordered to work in the camp as a 19-year-old and never carried a gun during his short stint there.

"After 75 years, this is ridiculous. I cannot believe it," he said. "I cannot understand how this can happen in a country like this. You're forcing me out of my home."

Berger has 30 days to appeal the decision to the Board of Immigration Appeals. German officials will decide whether or not to prosecute him if he is sent back to the country.

"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 National Security Investigations Division.

"We will continue to pursue these types of cases so that justice may be served."

Nazi concentration camp
A loading ramp extends from the upper floor of a former brick factory in which prisoners provided labor at Neuengamme, a former Nazi concentration camp in operation during World War II. A judge has ordered the deportation of a former Nazi camp guard to Germany, where he is still getting a pension for his "wartime service". Ira Nowinski/Corbis/VCG/Getty