Trawniki concentration camp
Jakiw Palij served at Trawniki concentration camp in Poland (wiki commons)

A former Nazi concentration camp guard has said he has got "used to" having angry protesters outside his home in New York.

Jakiw Palij, now 91, served as a guard at the Trawniki concentration camp after being rounded up by the German Army, which recruited teenage boys throughout Nazi occupied Poland.

He has lived in New York for over 50 years. However, efforts have been made to deport him after his former occupation was uncovered in 2003.

Since then, Palij has been subjected to over 10 years of protests, with locals demanding he be forced to leave the country.

"I am starting to get used to it," Palij told the New York Post after a rally by Jewish community leaders outside his house.

The former guard has always maintained he does not hate Jews and was forced to work at the concentration camp: "They told us we would be picking up mines. But that was a lie. In that camp they took us - 17, 18, 19-year-old boys. I am one of them.

"They did not give us Nazi uniforms. They gave us guard uniforms: pants, black; shirts, light brown; and hats with one button in the front. You could tell we were not Nazis.

"If you tried to run away, they take your family and shoot all of them."

Commenting on the protest, Palij said: "My wife, she passed away two months ago. She told me not to blame these children coming here and calling me a Nazi. They are just doing what they are taught to do. But the grown men? They talk nonsense."

In 2003, Palij told the New York Times that he never killed anyone or committed any atrocities during the war, which US officials have accepted. However, authorities want to deport him because he "directly contributed to their eventual slaughter" of Jews because he prevented them from leaving the camp.

Obligation to victims

While Palij has been stripped of his American citizenship, US authorities could not find another country that would take him. Members of the Jewish community are still fighting to have him deported and refuse to accept his version of events.

Dov Hikind, whose parents were Holocaust survivors, led a recent rally outside Palij's home. He told the Post: "There are four people, Nazis, still alive in this country that we know about. We're not going to let them enjoy their lives, their freedom.

"People have the nerve to say, 'They are old now - why bother?' But what of the hundreds and thousands of innocent victims that were personally tortured and murdered by these criminals? Do we have no obligation to their memories? It is our obligation to root out the evil from among us."

Rabbi Zev Friedman, who bought 100 students to the Queens property for the protest, added: "It's an outrage that people like Palij can walk the streets of Jackson Heights."