FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CRM
THURSDAY, APRIL 23, 1998 (202) 514-2008
TDD (202) 514-1888
JUDGE ORDERS REMOVAL OF FORMER OFFICER IN NAZI-SPONSORED POLICE UNITS
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Justice Department today won a deportation order against Jonas Stelmokas, a Philadelphia resident who served as a platoon commander and acting company commander in two Nazi-sponsored Lithuanian Schutzmannschaft (Protective Detachment) Battalions in Lithuania from 1941 to 1944.
U.S. Immigration Judge Donald Ferlise issued an oral opinion this afternoon, finding that Stelmokas was subject to removal to Lithuania because, among other reasons, his service and activities in the Lithuanian Schutzmannschaft constituted assistance in the persecution of civilians on the basis of their race, religion, or national origin, and assistance to the enemy Nazi forces in their military operations against the United States.
In ordering Stelmokas removed from the United States, Judge Ferlise cited captured wartime documents which established that Stelmokas, as commander of the detachment that guarded the barbed-wire enclosed ghetto in which the Jews of Kaunas, Lithuania were forcibly confined, was responsible for enforcing the internment of the Jews in the ghetto where they were subject to inhumane conditions. Judge Ferlise ruled that Stelmokas' testimony during the two-day removal hearing "lacked both credibility and plausibility," adding, "Respondent's lying to the Court pales in comparison to what he and his Nazi thug friends did to the Jews in Lithuania and throughout Europe."
In 1995, the U.S. District Court in Philadelphia stripped Stelmokas of his U.S. citizenship, finding that his Schutzmannschaft service and misrepresentation of that service to U.S. immigration officials disqualified him for the U.S. visa he received in 1949. In 1996, that decision was upheld by the Third Circuit Court of Appeals.
OSI Director Eli Rosenbaum termed the Judge's order "a significant victory and a powerful reaffirmation of the principle that those who helped the Nazis carry out their diabolical programs of murder and oppression cannot lawfully claim the privilege of U.S. residence."
He added: "The inhumane operation of the Kaunas Jewish Ghetto, one of the most deservedly notorious in all of Nazi-occupied Europe, would have been impossible without the active involvement of Stelmokas and other Schutzmannschaft officers and men."
The case against Stelmokas was tried by the Criminal Division's Office of Special Investigations (OSI) and the Philadelphia Office of the Immigration and Naturalization Service.