Frederick Karl Berger: Hunting the Last Nazis in America | international

Image of Frederick Karl Berger superimposed on an image of the Buchenwald concentration camp, Weimar, Germany.Jens Meyer / AP

Frederick Karl Berger came to the United States in 1959 as one of those millions of European immigrants who at that time sought their life in this rich piece of the world. At the end of World War II, he landed for the first time in Canada, coming from Germany, but then settled in Oak Ridge, a small town in Tennessee. There he set up a home with his wife and daughter, worked in manufacturing wire stripping machines and became another member of the Model American Suburban Society. There is retirement and widowhood, and there he became very and there, and he closed the circle of any current biography, Friedrich Karl Berger was destined for death. But last Saturday, when he was 95 years old, a judge deported him to his home country for having served as a Nazi guard at the Neuengamme concentration camp near Hamburg.

Only the death of the perpetrators, the ruthless passage of years, will put an end to the pursuit of the Holocaust criminals in the United States. In 1979 the Ministry of Justice launched a special program to detect, investigate, and deport anyone collaborating in the atrocities of World War II, and has since won cases against 109 individuals. In the past 30 years, according to his data, he has hunted the Nazis more than the rest of the countries combined. He never gave up trying to find the last man hiding in his area. With Berger last Saturday, there are already 70 deportees, and due to the dates and the lack of similar pending issues, it might become one of the last, if not the end.

The dirty past of this Tennessee neighbor is revealed among the documents found on a German ship sunk by the Allied forces, which was discovered in 1950, five years after the attack. Historians of the US Department of Justice investigated the material, and found Berger over the years. He admitted in court in February 2020 that he had served in a satellite camp in Neuengamme, near the German city of Meppen, which was mainly home to Russian, Dutch and Polish prisoners. The prisoners lived in “terrible” conditions, according to the judge, and took advantage of working abroad during the winter of 1945 “to the point of exhaustion and death.” In late March, as British and Canadian forces advanced on the ground, the Nazis deserted the complex. It was then that the German citizen played a particularly harmful role.

Berger was responsible for guarding the forced evacuation of prisoners in a “inhuman” journey that took two weeks and claimed 70 lives, according to the verdict. Hundreds of other prisoners later died, being held in two boats moored in the Bay of Lübeck in the Baltic Sea, which the British mistakenly bombed. Berger’s information appeared among the wreckage. A Tennessee immigration judge issued the deportation order on February 28, after a two-day trial. Oak Ridge residents were at a loss and started a legal battle to avoid the eviction that ended last November when the order was confirmed.

The unborn man arrived in Frankfurt on Saturday and was handed over to investigators for questioning, he said News agencyAlthough German courts had long dropped the charges against him for lack of evidence, he says Washington PostIt is a decision that can be reversed after the trial in the United States. In a conversation with that newspaper last March, Berger claimed that he was only 19 years old when the events happened and that he was forced to work in a concentration camp. In that interview, he complained, in his only public statement: “After 75 years, this has become ridiculous, I cannot believe it.”

However, during the trial, he also admitted that he had never requested removal from that location, and that at that time, he was still receiving a pension from Germany for his work in the country, including his “wartime service”.

Berger was deported based on the 1978 amendment, known as the Holtzmann Amendment to the Immigration and Nationality Act, which prohibited any partner in Nazi persecution from entering or living in the United States. Acting Attorney General Monty Wilkinson said, “This year, which marks the 75th anniversary of the Nuremberg convictions, this case shows that the passage of contracts will not prevent the ministry from seeking justice on behalf of victims of Nazi crimes.”

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