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How'd Deported Nazi Guard Get in US? With Help

Fellow SS member vouched for him on false visa application: historian
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 24, 2018 9:15 AM CDT
This 1949 photo shows a US visa photo of Jakiw Palij, a former Nazi concentration camp guard.   (US Department of Justice via AP)

(Newser) – Now that former Nazi prison guard Jakiw Palij is out of the US, the New York Times explores how he got in, and it wasn't through his efforts alone. As Nazi records of his SS membership weren't uncovered until the 1990s, Palij successfully applied for a visa under the Displaced Persons Act at the American consular office in Schweinfurt, Germany, in June 1949 alongside Jaroslaw Bilaniuk, whose SS identification number turned out to be only one digit away from Palij's, says Peter Black, a former Justice Department historian who worked on Nazi deportation cases. Both claimed to have worked in Germany during the war—Palij as a factory worker, Bilaniuk as a farmhand.

Mykola Wasylyk, who also served with the men at the Trawniki labor camp and who'd already arrived in the US after securing a visa, vouched for both. The records suggest Palij and Bilaniuk weren't coerced into joining the SS as Palij later claimed, but volunteered together in February 1943. Together with Wasylyk, they guarded prisoners who made uniforms and brushes at Trawniki, says Black, a camp known for having executed 6,000 Jews in a single day in November 1943. Upon their arrival in the US, Palij and Bilaniuk settled 100 miles from Wasylyk in Queens, NY. Bilaniuk and Wasylyk would each die in the US, even after officials uncovered their true past. Deported to Germany this week at President Trump's direction, per Reuters, Palij is unlikely to face charges. (Read more Nazis stories.)

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