Jewish Press of Tampa

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US deports 95-year-old former Nazi concentration camp guard

A year after an immigration judge ordered him deported to Germany because of his work as a Nazi guard, Friedrich Karl Berger is back in his native country.

Berger, 95, served at a subcamp of the Neuengamme concentration camp system near Hamburg, where an immigration court in early 2020 found that Jews and others had been held in “atrocious” conditions. He entered the United States from Canada in 1959 and lived for many years in Tennessee, receiving a pension throughout from Germany for his military service.

Last year, a judge ordered Berger removed under a 1978 law, known as the Holtzman Amendment, that bars anyone who participated in Nazi-sponsored persecution from entering or living in the United States. An appeals board upheld the decision in November 2020.

“This case shows that the passage even of many decades will not deter the [U.S. Department of Justice] from pursuing justice on behalf of the victims of Nazi crimes,” Acting Attorney General Monty Wilkinson said in a statement.

Berger’s deportation comes as the window closes to prosecute individual perpetrators of the Holocaust. Berger was 19 when he was assigned to guard prisoners shortly before the camp was liberated by Allied forces. Earlier this month, Germany announced that it would try a 95-year-old woman who, also at 19, had served as the secretary to a concentration camp commander for her role in the murder of 10,000 Jews.

Suspected oil spill closes most of Israel’s Mediterranean coast

Israel closed its Mediterranean beaches Feb. 21 to deal with a suspected oil spill, which the Israel Nature and Parks Authority called one of the “greatest ecological disasters to afflict Israel since the founding of the state.”

It said that 105 out of 118 miles of coastline, have been affected by the spill. The consequences will be felt for years, its statement said. Thousands of volunteers are cleaning tar off the beaches and animals, including birds and turtles, have been found covered with tar. The Israeli army said it would also send soldiers to help with the cleanup.

It’s not clear what ship is responsible for the spill, which is believed to have occurred around Feb. 11 some 20 miles from shore.

‘Senator, I’m a pretty good judge of what an antisemite is’ – AG nominee Garland

WASHINGTON – Merrick Garland turned emotional when asked during his Senate confirmation hearing why he wanted to be the attorney general.

“I come from a family where my grandparents fled antisemitism and persecution,” the soft-spoken judge said before pausing for several seconds to gather himself. “The country took us in and protected us, and I feel an obligation to the country to pay back – this is the highest, best use of my own set of skills to pay back.”

Garland, 68, also said that combating white supremacists would be a priority, should he lead the Justice Department, particularly in the wake of the deadly Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, which included far-right extremists along with visible displays of racism and anti- Semitism.

He called the attack “heinous” and “sought to disrupt a cornerstone of our democracy: the peaceful transfer of power to a newly elected government.”

Garland would be the fifth Jewish official in President Joe Biden’s Cabinet. When Sen. Mike Lee, R-UT, pressed him on whether he would work with antisemites, alluding to conservative media attacks on Kristen Clarke, whom Biden has nominated to head the Justice Department’s civil rights division, Garland defended Clarke. In a rare show of annoyance, he responded: “Senator, I’m a pretty good judge of what an antisemite is.”

Garland has said a critical point of his career was in 1995, when he directed the prosecution of the white supremacists who bombed a federal building in Oklahoma City, killing at least 168 people.

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