Removal Order Upheld Against Tennessee Man Who Served as Nazi Concentration Camp Guard During WWII

The Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) has dismissed the appeal of Tennessee resident Friedrich Karl Berger, a German citizen who was ordered removed from the United States earlier this year on the basis of his service in Nazi Germany in 1945 as an armed guard of concentration camp prisoners in the Neuengamme Concentration Camp system (Neuengamme).

“Berger’s willing service as an armed guard at a Nazi concentration camp cannot be erased and will not be ignored,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Brian C. Rabbitt of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.  “On the eve of tomorrow’s 75th anniversary of the commencement of the Nuremberg trials of the surviving leaders of the defeated Nazi regime, this case shows that the passage of time will not deter the department from fulfilling the moral imperative of seeking justice for the victims of their heinous crimes.”

“Berger was an active participant in one of the darkest chapters in human history. He attempted to shed his nefarious past to come to America and start anew, but thanks to the dedication of those at the Department of Justice and Homeland Security Investigations, the truth was revealed,” said Deputy Assistant Director Louis A. Rodi III of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) National Security Investigations Division, which oversees the Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Center.  “War criminals and violators of human rights will not be allowed to evade justice and find safe haven here.”

The BIA upheld a Memphis, Tennessee, Immigration Judge’s Feb. 28, 2020, decision that Berger was removable under the 1978 Holtzman Amendment to the Immigration and Nationality Act because his “willing service as an armed guard of prisoners at a concentration camp where persecution took place” constituted assistance in Nazi-sponsored persecution.  The court found that Berger served at a Neuengamme sub-camp near Meppen, Germany, and that the prisoners there included “Jews, Poles, Russians, Danes, Dutch, Latvians, French, Italians, and political opponents” of the Nazis.  The largest groups of prisoners were Russian, Dutch and Polish civilians.

After a two-day trial in February, the presiding judge issued an opinion finding that Meppen prisoners were held during the winter of 1945 in “atrocious” conditions and were exploited for outdoor forced labor, working, “to the point of exhaustion and death.”  The court further found, and Berger admitted, that he guarded prisoners to prevent them from escaping during their dawn-to-dusk workday, and on their way to the worksites and also on their way back to the SS-run subcamp in the evening. 

At the end of March 1945, as allied British and Canadian forces advanced, the Nazis abandoned Meppen.  The court found that Berger helped guard the prisoners during their forcible evacuation to the Neuengamme main camp – a nearly two-week trip under inhumane conditions, which claimed the lives of some 70 prisoners.  The decision also cited Berger’s admission that he never requested a transfer from concentration camp guard service and that he continues to receive a pension from Germany based on his employment in Germany, “including his wartime service.”

In 1946, British occupation authorities in Germany charged SS Obersturmführer Hans Griem, who had headed the Meppen sub-camps, and other Meppen personnel with war crimes for “ill-treatment and murder of Allied nationals.”  Although Griem escaped before trial, the British court tried and convicted the remaining defendants of war crimes in 1947.

The trial and appeal of the removal case were handled by Eli Rosenbaum, Director of Human Rights Enforcement and Policy in the Criminal Division’s Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section (HRSP), HRSP Senior Trial Attorney Susan Masling, and attorneys from ICE New Orleans, Office of the Principal Legal Advisor (Memphis), with assistance from HRSP Chief Historian Jeffrey S. Richter, and the Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Center.  The investigation was initiated by the HRSP and was conducted in partnership with the Nashville ICE HSI office.

Since the 1979 inception of the Justice Department’s program to detect, investigate, and remove Nazi persecutors, it has won cases against 109 individuals.  Over the past 30 years, the Justice Department has won more cases against persons who participated in Nazi persecution than have the law enforcement authorities of all the other countries in the world combined. HRSP’s case against Berger was part of its ongoing efforts to identify, investigate and prosecute individuals who engaged in genocide, torture, war crimes, recruitment or use of child soldiers, female genital mutilation, and other serious human rights violations.  HRSP attorneys prosecuted the first torture case brought in the United States and have successfully prosecuted criminal cases against perpetrators of human rights violations committed in Guatemala, Ethiopia, Liberia, Cuba, and the former Yugoslavia, among others.

To learn more about HRSP, visit https://www.justice.gov/criminal-hrsp.  

The year 2020 marks the 150th anniversary of the Department of Justice.  Learn more about the history of our agency at www.Justice.gov/Celebrating150Years.

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  • Joint Statement of the 47th U.S.-Israel Joint Political-Military Group
    In Crime Control and Security News
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  • Medicaid: CMS Needs More Information on States’ Financing and Payment Arrangements to Improve Oversight
    In U.S GAO News
    States and the federal government share in financing Medicaid, a health care program for low-income and medically needy individuals. States finance the nonfederal share with state general funds and other sources, such as taxes on health care providers and funds from local governments. GAO's analysis showed a change in how states finance their Medicaid programs. In particular, states relied on provider taxes and local government funds for about 28 percent, or $63 billion, of the estimated $224 billion total nonfederal share of Medicaid payments in state fiscal year 2018—7 percentage points more than state fiscal year 2008. Nonfederal Share of Medicaid Payments from Provider Taxes and Local Government Funds, State Fiscal Years 2008 and 2018 Note: Percentages do not add up due to rounding. Furthermore, GAO estimated that states' reliance on provider taxes and local government funds decreased states' share of net Medicaid payments (total state and federal payments) and effectively increased the federal share of net Medicaid payments by 5 percentage points in state fiscal year 2018. It also resulted in smaller net payments to some providers after the taxes and local government funds they contribute to their payments are taken into account. While net payments are smaller, the federal government's contribution does not change. This effectively shifts responsibility for a larger portion of Medicaid payments to the federal government and away from states. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS)—which oversees Medicaid—collects some information on states' sources of funds and payments, but it is not complete, consistent, or sufficiently documented, which hinders the agency's oversight. For example, CMS does not require states to report on the source of the nonfederal share for all payments. Absent complete, consistent, and sufficiently documented information about all Medicaid payments, CMS cannot adequately determine whether payments are consistent with statutory requirements for economy and efficiency, and with permissible financing, such as the categories of services on which provider taxes may be imposed. Medicaid cost $668 billion in fiscal year 2019. GAO has previously reported on concerns about states' use of various funding sources for the nonfederal share. Although such financing arrangements are allowed under certain conditions, they can also result in increasing the share of net costs paid by the federal government and decreasing reliance on state general funds. GAO was asked to review the sources of funds states used for Medicaid and the types of payments made to providers. This report describes states' reliance on provider and local government funds for these arrangements; the estimated effect of these arrangements on the federal share of net Medicaid payments; and the extent to which CMS collects information on these arrangements. To do this work, GAO reviewed CMS information; administered a questionnaire to all state Medicaid agencies; analyzed the estimated effects of reliance on provider and local government funds; and interviewed CMS officials, as well as Medicaid officials in 11 states selected, in part, on Medicaid spending and geographic diversity. The Administrator of CMS should collect and document complete and consistent information about the sources of funding for the nonfederal share of payments to providers. CMS neither agreed nor disagreed with GAO's recommendation, but acknowledged the need for additional financing and payment data for Medicaid oversight. For more information, contact Carolyn L. Yocom at (202) 512-7114 or yocomc@gao.gov.
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  • Statement by Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband on World AIDS Day
    In Crime News
    On December 1, as our country joins in observing World AIDS Day, the Justice Department stands with all people living with Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS). Since the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) 30 years ago, the department has worked zealously, through enforcement, outreach, and technical assistance, to protect and advance the rights of people living with HIV and AIDS. This past year is no exception. 
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  • Owner of Bitcoin Exchange Sentenced to Prison for Money Laundering
    In Crime News
    A Bulgarian national who was convicted by a federal jury for his role in a transnational and multimillion-dollar scheme to defraud American victims was sentenced today to 121 months in prison.
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  • This Week in Iran Policy
    In Crime Control and Security News
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  • The U.S. Reaches $1.5 Billion Settlement with Daimler AG Over Emissions Cheating in Mercedes-Benz Diesel Vehicles
    In Crime News
    The U.S. Department of Justice, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and California Air Resources Board (CARB) announced today a proposed settlement with German automaker Daimler AG and its American subsidiary Mercedes-Benz USA, LLC (collectively, “Daimler”) resolving alleged violations of the Clean Air Act and California law associated with emissions cheating. 
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  • Celebrate Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter’s Views From Above
    In Space
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  • Alabama Salesman Sentenced to Prison for Tax Evasion
    In Crime News
    A Hoover, Alabama, salesman was sentenced to 24 months in prison yesterday for tax evasion, announced Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Richard E. Zuckerman of the Justice Department’s Tax Division and U.S. Attorney Prim F. Escalona for the Northern District of Alabama.
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  • Secretary Pompeo’s Call with Foreign Minister Mahuta 
    In Crime Control and Security News
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  • Examining Facilitating Factors for Safe, Voluntary, and Sustained Post-Conflict Refugee Returns (RAND Corporation)
    In Human Health, Resources and Services
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  • Twenty-Four Defendants, Including Alleged Aryan Circle Gang Members and Associates Indicted on Racketeering, Firearms, and Drug Charges in Multiple States
    In Crime News
    Five indictments in three different states were unsealed today as law enforcement officers arrested twenty-four defendants, including alleged Aryan Circle (AC) gang members and associates, on charges of racketeering conspiracy, violent crimes in aid of racketeering, drug conspiracy, and unlawful firearms trafficking. 
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  • J&F Investimentos S.A. Pleads Guilty and Agrees to Pay Over $256 Million to Resolve Criminal Foreign Bribery Case
    In Crime News
    J&F Investimentos S.A. (J&F), a Brazil-based investment company that owns and controls companies involved in multiple industries, including the meat and agriculture industry, has agreed to pay a criminal monetary penalty of $256,497,026 to resolve the department’s investigation into violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA).  The resolution arises out of J&F’s scheme to pay millions of dollars in bribes to government officials in Brazil in exchange for obtaining financing and other benefits for J&F and J&F-owned entities.
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  • Former DeSales University Priest Indicted on Child Pornography Offenses
    In Crime News
    A former DeSales University priest was charged by indictment with three counts of child pornography offenses.
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  • Remarks by Attorney General William P. Barr at the Funeral of Cleveland Police Detective and Operation Legend Officer James Skernivitz
    In Crime News
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  • Briefing With State Department Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor Acting Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Scott W. Busby
    In Crime Control and Security News
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  • Operation Legend: Case of the Day
    In Crime News
    Each weekday, the Department of Justice will highlight a case that has resulted from Operation Legend. Today’s case is out of the Eastern District of Michigan. Operation Legend launched in Detroit on July 29, 2020, in response to the city facing increased homicide and non-fatal shooting rates.
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  • NASA to Highlight Comet NEOWISE with Public Broadcast, Media Teleconference
    In Space
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  • Lebanon Travel Advisory
    In Travel
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  • Imposing Sanctions Related to the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines and Iranian Shipping Entities
    In Crime Control and Security News
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  • Designations of Four PRC and Hong Kong Officials Threatening the Peace, Security, and Autonomy of Hong Kong
    In Crime Control and Security News
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  • Former Indiana State Senator and Gaming Executive Indicted for Violations of Federal Campaign Finance Laws
    In Crime News
    A federal grand jury sitting in the Southern District of Indiana returned an indictment charging a former Indiana state senator and a gaming executive with violations of federal campaign finance laws, false statements, and falsification of Federal Election Campaign (FEC) records in connection with a series of illegal corporate contributions and conduit contributions they made to fund the congressional campaign of the former state politician.
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  • Owner of Texas Chain of Hospice Companies Sentenced for $150 Million Health Care Fraud and Money Laundering Scheme
    In Crime News
    A corporate executive has been ordered to serve 20 years in prison after his conviction related to falsely telling thousands of patients with long-term incurable diseases, such as Alzheimers and dementia, they had less than six months to live and subsequently enrolling them in hospice programs.
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