Freidrich Karl Berger admitted to guarding prisoners while they worked, and while they moved to their worksites and back to camp Meppen. However, Berger still refutes claims that he participated in acts of cruelty, saying these accusations are “lies”, but conceded on record that he did not request a transfer from the prison camp while employed by the German Military.
On March 5th, 2020, Judge Rebecca L. Holt sentenced Berger to deportation despite the fact that Berger has been a U.S. citizen since 1954.
At the age of nineteen Berger was employed by the German military during World War II. Using the 1978 Holtzman Amendment to the Immigration and Nationality Act, Judge Holt decided Berger participated in “willing service as an armed guard of prisoners at a concentration camp where persecution took place” was sufficient to find him guilty is participating in Nazi persecution at camp Meppen.
Berger will have to leave behind his home in Memphis, Tennessee, as well as his children and grandchildren. The courts have confirmed that Berger served as a guard at a camp for political prisoners, predominantly Russian, Dutch, and Polish civilians.
Judge Holt, who oversaw the case of Berger, made note of the “atrocious” conditions of the work camp in the winter of 1945, and in March 1945 when the Nazis evacuated the camp in a two-week hell march which lead to the death of seventy prisoners.
“Berger was part of the SS machine,” said Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the DOJ’s criminal division. “This ruling shows the Department’s continued commitment to obtaining a measure of justice, however late, for the victims of wartime Nazi prosecution.”
A joint task force of ICE, Homeland Security, HRSP and Nashville’s SAC office worked together with ICE-New Orleans and the Office of the Principal Legal Advisor in Memphis to coordinate a massive effort in collecting, imprisoning, and deporting Berger, following a similar case of a 95 year old concentration camp guard deported in August 2018. The man had lived in New York for decades, dying five months after his deportation.