Jakiw Palij, 91, is a former Nazi concentration camp guard who was recruited by the German Army when Nazi occupied Poland.
He has been a target for demonstration for a decade since the U.S Department of Justice identified his occupation during the war. Protestors have been protesting outside his home in New York where he had lived for over 5o years. Efforts are being made to deport him. He said he is used to the demonstration that happens outside his home because they are very frequent.
He maintains that he was forced to work there at an early age of around 18 years together with other boys they were picked with against their will; at the time they were recruited they were told that they were going to pick mines. When they reached the camp they were not given Nazi uniforms but instead they were given guards uniforms which would differentiate them from the Nazis. If one of them tried to run or refuse to guard the camps, their family members would be killed as they watch.
His wife who passed away two months ago told him not to blame children who are calling him a Nazi because they are only doing what they are told to do.
In 2003, Palij told New York Times that he never killed or mistreated anyone during the Second World War. U.S officials have accepted that indeed he never killed anyone but they still want to deport him because he directly contributed to the mass murder of the Jewish, he guarded the camps preventing the Jewish from leaving. He has already lost his American citizenship but no more has been done because no country has volunteered to take him.
Dov Hikind, who his parents were among the Holocaust survivors led the recent protest against Palij saying that they would not let him enjoy his life or even freedom. Concern has been raised that he is an old man who should be let be but Dov argues that it is not his age that should be looked at but the millions of innocent people they tortured and murdered.
Rabbi Zev Friedman who brought 100 students to queens during the 75th anniversary said it is an outrage for people like Palij to walk in the streets of Jackson Heights.
According to INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS TIMES, these demonstrations have been criticized by Palij neighbors because of the noise the protestors make that scare their children.