NY State Assembly Member Dov Hikind (D-Brooklyn) refuses to let New York’s Nazi Jakiw Palij live happily ever after in Queens. Now, thanks to Hikind’s tireless efforts, U.S. Congressmen Chris Smith (R-New Jersey) and Lee Zeldin (R-New York) are both looking into what it will take to finally deport the Nazi war criminal living in Queens.
“The involvement of Representatives Smith and Zeldin, who I know personally and have worked with before, should be applauded by everyone,” said Hikind, the son of Holocaust survivors who has been pursuing Palij for more than a decade. “Both of these outstanding elected officials have proven themselves principled men who care about justice and know how to get things done.
“The rights and freedoms we enjoy in America should not extend to those who facilitated the death of countless innocent people. Palij’s presence here mocks the memory of the millions who perished,” Hikind added. “There is no question of his guilt. It is imperative that someone responsible for Nazi atrocities be held accountable for his crimes, regardless of his age. I will never rest while a Nazi lives comfortably among us.”
During World War II, Palij worked at the Trawniki training camp, where Nazi troops were trained to carry out the extermination of Polish Jews. Thousands of innocents were murdered there. Palij came to America claiming that he was a farmer and war refugee, concealing his work as a Nazi guard, and was granted citizenship in 1957. After his past became known, he was stripped of his U.S. citizenship. His deportation order was upheld by the courts in 2004 but as of today, Palij remains a resident of Queens.
Last month, Hikind and his colleague Michael Simanowitz (D-Queens) led 85 members of the New York State Assembly, including Majority Leader Joseph D. Morelle, in urging U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions to finally deport Palij. The next day, the World Jewish Congress echoed Hikind, calling on the State Department to do its job.
“The Attorney General has not replied, the State Department has not replied,” said Hikind. “In Queens, Jakiw Palij is laughing. He’s laughing because he has continued to evade justice for longer than most people have been alive. I’m hopeful that the involvement of these stellar Congressmen will bring the laughter to an end and peace to the souls of the thousands of victims.”
Photo: Hikind leads demonstration outside of Palij home.