FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASECRM
FEBRUARY 29, 2000(202) 616-2777
WWW.USDOJ.GOVTDD (202) 514-1888
APPEALS COURT UPHOLDS DEPORTATION OF
FORMER MEMBER OF NAZI MOBILE KILLING UNIT
WASHINGTON, D.C.-- The Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) has affirmed an order directing the deportation of Juozas Naujalis, a retired machinist living in Chicago, based on his participation in Nazi sponsored activities during World War II.
The BIA, in a 14-page opinion issued on February 25 and received yesterday, affirmed a 1997 decision ordering Naujalis deported to Lithuania based on his service during World War II as an armed squad leader in a Nazi-sponsored unit that murdered thousands of Jews and others in German-occupied Byelorussia (now Belarus) and Lithuania.
The case against Naujalis was brought by the Justice Department's Office of Special Investigations (OSI).
Paul W. Schmidt, the BIA chairman, writing for a unanimous three-member panel of the BIA, affirmed the Immigration Judge's decision that Naujalis assisted in Nazi persecution on the basis of race, religion, national origin, or political opinion while serving as a member of the infamous 2nd Lithuanian Schutzmannschaft Battalion. Chairman Schmidt noted that Naujalis admitted serving in the Battalion and did not dispute the fact that the Battalion participated in killing actions.
Chairman Schmidt also noted that there was no evidence to support Naujalis' "implausible" claim that his only assignment was service as a railroad guard. Chairman Schmidt wrote: "[W]e find it inherently improbable that the respondent, a squad leader with the rank of Lance Corporal who served as a gunner in the First Company, would have been given an extended guard duty assignment during the period in which the Germans were using the Battalion for the primary purpose of exterminating their perceived racial and political enemies in Byelorussia."
Eli M. Rosenbaum, Director of the Criminal Division's Office of Special Investigations (OSI), said, "Mobile killing units, like the one in which Naujalis served, were an essential component of the Nazi effort to wipe out the entire Jewish population of Eastern Europe." Rosenbaum noted that the Naujalis opinion marked the second court decision in three days upholding the deportation of a former Nazi persecutor, citing the U.S. Supreme Court's February 28 refusal to block the deportation of Ferdinand Hammer, a Sterling Heights, Michigan man accused of serving as a guard at two Nazi concentration camps during World War II.
The 2nd Lithuanian Schutzmannschaft Battalion killed thousands of Jewish men, women, and children, suspected communists and their families, and Soviet military prisoners in mass shootings in both Lithuania and Byelorussia. Members of the 2nd Battalion assisted the Nazis by rounding up doomed Jews and others, marching them to burial pits, and participating in their mass execution by gunfire. In October 1941 alone, 2nd Battalion members murdered over 10,000 innocent civilians in Byelorussia.
Naujalis, who immigrated to the United States in 1949 and never became a United States citizen, was tried in 1997. During the deportation proceeding, federal prosecutors introduced wartime documents as well as evidence from Holocaust survivors and former members of the Battalion. The former Battalion members recounted in chilling detail how their unit, along with German personnel, surrounded villages, forcibly assembled the victims, and then drove them to pits where they were murdered by gunfire. In 1962, Major Franz Lechtahler, the German officer under whose command the Battalion conducted the killing operations in Byelorussia, was convicted in Germany on multiple murder charges.
Rosenbaum said that the proceedings to remove Naujalis were a result of OSI's ongoing efforts to identify and take legal action against former participants in Nazi persecution residing in this country. Since OSI began operations in 1979, 63 Nazi persecutors have been stripped of U.S. citizenship, and 52 such individuals have been removed from the United States.