Court Battles

Judge rules Tennessee man be deported to Germany due to service as WWII concentration camp guard

Judges use a small wooden mallet to signal for attention or order.

A U.S. immigration judge has ruled that a Tennessee man be deported to Germany due to his service as a concentration camp guard during World War II.

Judge Rebecca L. Holt ruled Friedrich Karl Berger is removable under the Immigration and Nationality Act because of his “willing service as an armed guard of prisoners at a concentration camp where persecution took place,” a release Thursday from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) said. 

Berger, a German citizen and Tennessee resident, served as an armed guard of camp prisoners in the Neuengamme concentration camp system in 1945.

After a two-day trial, Holt made her decision, saying the prisoners at a sub-camp near Meppen, Germany, faced “atrocious” conditions and were exploited for forced labor “to the point of exhaustion and death.”

Berger admitted to guarding the prisoners and preventing them from escaping during their workday lasting from dawn to dusk and while traveling to and from the work site. The prisoners at the camp included Jews, Poles, Russians, Danes, Dutch, Latvians, French, Italians and political opponents of the Nazis, according to the release.

The court also found that Berger guarded prisoners during the “forcible evacuation” to the Neuengamme main camp, which left about 70 prisoners dead. 

The Justice Department’s Human Rights and Special Prosecution (HRSP) Section launched the investigation into Berger, with ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Center and HSI’s Nashville special agent in charge office.

David Shaw, the assistant director of HSI’s National Security Investigations Divisions, said the group will “continue to pursue these types of cases so that justice may be served.”

“This case is but one example of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) commitment to ensuring that the United States will not serve as a safe haven for human rights violators and war criminals,” Shaw said.

The case was tried by the ICE New Orleans Office of the Principal Legal Advisor in Memphis and the Justice Department’s HRSP and the HSI center.

Tags concentration camp Deportation Germany ICE Tennessee U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement WWII

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