PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. — The overnight deportation from the U.S. of former Nazi guard Jakiw Palij prompted strong reaction in Jewish communities across the Bay area.
- Palij, 95, lied about Nazi involvement to become a U.S. citizen
- Palij lived in the U.S. since 1949
- "He should have been gone many years ago." -- artist Udo Schwarz
Belleair artist Udo Schwarz has been painting his life story for three years. It’s a painful story of the holocaust.
“The reason I didn’t finish it, because I get choked up, you know,” Schwarz said.
His painful story is why Schwarz was pleased to hear about the deportation of Palij, a former Nazi guard.
“One extra day in this country should be too much for him,” Schwarz said.
Palij, now 95, lied about his involvement with the Nazi party decades ago to become a U.S. citizen. He had been living in the U.S. since 1949.
Federal officials eventually found out, stripped away his citizenship, and after years of legal wrangling deported him overnight to Germany.
At Hillel Academy of Tampa, eighth graders discussed what happened and they talked of forgiveness. Instructor Beth Schlossberg had mixed feelings about Palij herself.
“He kind of got his just reward, because he hasn’t had a peaceful life towards the end here — he’s been harassed quite a bit,” Schlossberg said. “I don’t think the deportation was warranted, but I can understand why it occurred.”
Meanwhile, Schwarz wonders why the deportation didn’t happen sooner. For the Bay area artist, that grim picture of death will be forever etched in his mind.
"He should have been gone many years ago," Schwarz said.