FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE THURSDAY, AUGUST 3, 1995

CRM (202) 514-2007 TDD (202) 514-1888

FEDERAL COURT REVOKES U.S. CITIZENSHIP OF FORMER MEMBER OF NAZI-SPONSORED KILLING UNIT WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Criminal Division's Office of Special Investigations (OSI) announced that a federal judge in Philadelphia yesterday revoked the U.S. citizenship of Jonas Stelmokas of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, an officer and platoon commander in the Nazi-sponsored 3rd Lithuanian Schutzmannschaft (Protective Detachment) Battalion during World War II. In a 62-page opinion, U.S. District Court Judge Jan E. DuBois found that Stelmokas, 78, a retired architect, voluntarily joined the Schutzmannschaft in July 1941, shortly after the German invasion of Lithuania, and served until August 1944, when he was transferred to the Luftwaffe. The court found that Stelmokas' Schutzmannschaft battalion, whose members swore allegiance to Adolf Hitler, was under the control of German Einsatzgruppe (mobile killing unit) A, and assisted in implementing the German policy of destroying the Jews of Lithuania. Judge DuBois further found that Stelmokas was commander of the detachment guarding the Jewish ghetto in Kaunas, Lithuania at a time that Jews confined in the ghetto "were subject to extreme deprivation, brutality, and arbitrary shootings, . . . and that [Stelmokas] was responsible for enforcing the confinement of Jews in such conditions." The judge also found that Stelmokas was on duty with his battalion on October 28, 1941 when the "entire battalion" participated in the so-called Grosse Aktion (Great Action) in which Nazi documents record that 9,200 Jews interned in the Kaunas ghetto, among them 4,273 children, were methodically shot to death during a 24-hour period. Grosse Aktion was the largest single act of mass murder carried out in all of Lithuania during World War II. In stripping Stelmokas of his naturalized U.S. citizenship, Judge DuBois concluded that the Government had "proved by clear, unequivocal, and convincing evidence" that, as a result of Stelmokas' membership and service in the Schutzmannschaft and his concealment of that service when he immigrated to the United States in 1949, his 1955 naturalization as a United States citizen "was illegally procured." OSI Director Eli M. Rosenbaum termed the Stelmokas decision "an important victory in the Government's comprehensive effort to identify and take legal action against those who helped realize Adolf Hitler's genocidal ambitions." To date, OSI has obtained the denaturalization of 52 Nazi persecutors and has removed 44 such persons from the United States. Rosenbaum noted that the Stelmokas case is the first Nazi trial in this country to make

use of what he documents that communist rule of archives in 95-429

called the "treasure trove" of captured Nazi recently became available when the collapse of in eastern and central Europe led to the opening the former Soviet Union to western investigators. # # #