Tennessee man who served as a Nazi camp guard is deported to Germany

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On Saturday, a plane brought Berger back to Germany, where he remains a citizen, the justice ministry said. German officials have said he will not face further prosecution in that country. Mr Berger’s attorney, Hugh B. Ward Jr., said his client was “safe, safe, free” at an assisted living center in Germany.

Since the Justice Department launched a program in 1979 to find and deport former Nazis, it has won 109 cases, the department said. But “this may be the last American Nazi case,” said Eli M. Rosenbaum, a senior official with the department’s human rights and special prosecutions unit, who was among those who tried. the case against Mr. Berger.

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“There is hardly anyone left,” said Rosenbaum. “The vast majority of the perpetrators are deceased.”

Mr Berger’s case was unique because it was the only one in the history of the Justice Department’s Nazi prosecution program in which there were no known surviving victims available to testify, Mr Rosenbaum said . German forces also destroyed the Meppen archives when they abandoned the camp in 1945, he said, so prosecutors relied on documents found elsewhere.

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Crucial evidence linking Mr Berger to his Nazi past came from SS maps that identified guards in the Neuengamme camps, discovered in 1950 on a German ship sunk by the Allies five years earlier.

Mr Rosenbaum said it was not clear how the maps were not destroyed after years underwater. After the ship left the Baltic Sea, many maps were unreadable and some were only partially readable. Those that could be read were transcribed and recorded. One of the cards identified Mr. Berger.

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“It was needle-in-a-haystack stuff, to say the least,” Rosenbaum said.

Mr. Berger, he said, enlisted in the German army in 1943 and was assigned by the SS to guard the Meppen camp. He moved to the United States in 1959, and had lived quietly in a ranch house on a cul-de-sac in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, about 25 miles west of Knoxville.

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