A 95-year-old Tennessee man who guarded a Nazi concentration camp was deported to Germany Friday, after collecting a pension for his “wartime service” as recently as a year ago — but it’s unclear whether the former guard will stand trial in Germany.
Friedrich Karl Berger was flown from the United States to Germany this week, about a year after a federal immigration judge first ordered his removal, the Department of Justice and Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced Saturday.
Fredrick Karl Berger — a former member of the German navy guarded a concentration camp near the German city of Meppen in 1945, where U.S. officials say prisoners were held in “atrocious conditions,” and Berger never asked for a transfer.
Berger moved to the United States more than 60 years ago and lived in Oak Ridge, a city outside Knoxville, Tenn.
He admitted to U.S. authorities last year he was still receiving a pension from Germany, due partly to his “wartime service.”
In a Washington Post interview last year, Berger insisted he was forced to work at the camp and did not carry a weapon: “You’re forcing me out of my home,” he said.
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Berger’s fate in Germany is uncertain. German prosecutors dropped an investigation into Berger late last year due to insufficient evidence, and Reuters reports he was not arrested after landing in Germany on Saturday, though local police plan on questioning him.
Berger was discovered partly because of evidence found on the ocean floor. In the final weeks of World War II, the British air force sunk a German ship in the Baltic Sea, and authorities later recovered thousands of index cards in the ship’s wreckage containing information on Berger and others, the Post reported last year.
Berger is the latest person to face belated consequences for their alleged ties to Nazi atrocities. The U.S. Department of Justice says it has won removal cases against more than 100 Nazi collaborators living in the United States over the last 40 years, though these efforts have slowed considerably because so much time has passed.
Regardless, German prosecutors are still pursuing a handful of cases: a 95-year-old former concentration camp secretary was indicted two weeks ago on 10,000 counts of accessory to murder, and a 100-year-old former guard was charged last week with aiding and abetting thousands of deaths.