A former guard from a German concentration camp was transferred to Germany after spending more than 60 years in the United States. Friedrich Karl Berger, a 95-year-old German, was a camp guard in 1945 in a camp outside the Neuengamme concentration camp, south-east of Hamburg.
According to future Attorney General Wilkinson, the deportation shows the United States is not a free port for those involved in Nazi crimes and other human rights violations. “This case shows that even after many decades, we do not hesitate to seek justice for the victims of the Nazis.”
‘No harm seen’
Berger had lived in the United States since 1959. The United States Department of Justice investigated his role and he confirmed to American authorities that towards the end of World War II he worked for several weeks in the camp outside Meppen, near the border with the Netherlands. In his own words, he saw no wrongdoing or murder at the time.
Berger said he made sure people did not escape from the camp. He also confessed to having participated in the evacuation of the camp in 1945. At least 70 prisoners were killed.
About 106,000 people were imprisoned in Neuengamme. About 55,000 prisoners did not survive the stay. More than 5,500 Dutch people were deported to the Neuengamme camp. Only 600 of them returned after the war.
A US court ruled last year that Berger should be deported after an investigation was opened in the German city of Celle into his involvement in the deaths of inmates in the outer camp. Last December, German prosecutors dropped the case against him because they did not have enough evidence to refute Berger’s story.
Free man in Germany
The German prosecutor asked the Hesse state police to question Berger after he arrived at Frankfurt airport. This will have to be done voluntarily: a police spokesperson says there is currently no investigation against the former camp guard and that he is “a free individual”.
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