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CRM 202-616-2771 202-514-1888
JUSTICE DEPARTMENT MOVES TO REVOKE U.S. CITIZENSHIP OF FORMER SECURITY POLICE CHIEF OF NAZI-OCCUPIED VILNIUS, LITHUANIA WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Department of Justice announced today that it has commenced denaturalization proceedings to revoke the United States citizenship of a Norwood, Massachusetts, man who it charged concealed his involvement in the mass murder and other persecution of Jews and others while serving during World War II as the head of the Nazi-sponsored Lithuanian Security Police for the city and province of Vilnius, Lithuania. A complaint filed today in U.S. District Court in Boston by the Office of Special Investigations (OSI) of the Justice Department's Criminal Division and the U.S. Attorney's office in Boston alleges that the defendant, Aleksandras Lileikis, a retired publishing company employee, was the chief of the Lithuanian Security Police (Saugumas) for all of Vilnius Province during the German occupation. OSI Acting Director Eli M. Rosenbaum described the Lileikis case as "one of the most important Nazi cases brought anywhere in the world in recent history." As the commander of a force whose responsibilities closely paralleled those of the German Gestapo, the complaint alleges that Lileikis, 87, was a senior figure in the Nazis' largely successful effort to annihilate the Jewish population of Vilnius Province. The Saugumas was a component of Einsatzkommando 3 (Operational Detachment 3), a unit of the German Security Police and Security Service (Sipo and SD) responsible for the physical destruction of the Jews of Lithuania, among other tasks. During much of the 19th century and continuing in the 20th century until the Nazi invasion, Vilnius and Warsaw were Europe's two preeminent centers of Jewish cultural, intellectual, religious and political life. In June 1941, at the start of the German occupation, approximately 30 percent of Vilnius' 200,000 residents were Jews. In the summer of 1941, the Nazis launched a genocidal campaign of mass murder and deportations to concentration camps that, in three years, systematically killed at least 55,000 of Vilnius city's approximately 60,000 Jewish residents. The complaint alleges that from August 1941 until the German occupation ended in July 1944, Lileikis directed his force to seek out and arrest Jews who violated the Nazis' anti-Jewish decrees, especially those who escaped or attempted to escape from
the barbed wire-enclosed ghettos in which they had been interned under catastrophically inhumane conditions. Captured records preserved at the Lithuanian State Archives and quoted in the complaint show that Lileikis repeatedly signed and issued orders directing that arrested Jews, among them a sixyear-old girl, be held at his disposition in the Vilnius Hard Labor Prison and then turned over to the infamous "Special Detachment" (Ypatingas Burys) killing squad and the German Security Police for execution. Most of the victims were executed by gunfire at the killing pits in the nearby Paneriai woods. A conservative estimate of the number of Vilnius Jews shot to death there is 40,000, and the Paneriai killings are among the most notorious Nazi atrocities of the Second World War. The complaint alleges that Lileikis' activities constituted assistance in Nazi-sponsored persecution based on race, religion and national origin, and that Lileikis willfully concealed from U.S. officials the nature of his wartime service in applying for immigration to the United States from Germany in 1955, and again in applying for U.S. citizenship in 1976. The initiation of denaturalization proceedings against Lileikis is a result of OSI's continuing efforts to identify and deport participants in Nazi persecution who now reside in the United States. To date, 50 Nazi persecutors have been stripped of U.S. citizenship as a result of OSI's efforts, and 42 have been removed from the United States. Rosenbaum expressed gratitude to the Government of the Republic of Lithuania for the archival access it authorized for OSI personnel during the Lileikis investigation. "The free access we were granted to Lithuanian archives proved decisive in the development of this important case," he said. # # # 94-537