FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
THURSDAY, OCTOBER 29, 1998
TDD (202) 514-1888
JUSTICE DEPARTMENT INITIATES REMOVAL PROCEEDING AGAINST
FORMER MEMBER OF NAZI MOBILE KILLING UNIT
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Department of Justice has initiated removal proceedings against a Hammond, Indiana man who served during World War II as an armed member of a Nazi-sponsored unit that murdered thousands of Jews and others in German-occupied Byelorussia (now Belarus) and Lithuania.
Earlier this year, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago unanimously affirmed a 1997 decision by a U.S. District Court Judge stripping Kazys Ciurinskas, now 80, of his U.S. citizenship. The current proceedings were initiated on Monday.
Eli M. Rosenbaum, Director of the Criminal Division's Office of Special Investigations (OSI), stated, "Kazys Ciurinskas participated in horrific atrocities as part of this Nazi-backed battalion and we are seeking to have him removed from this country as expeditiously as possible." Ciurinskas immigrated to the United States from Germany in 1949, and became a citizen in 1955.
The U.S. District Court found that Ciurinskas assisted in the persecution of civilians while serving as a member of the infamous 2nd Lithuanian Schutzmannschaft Battalion, a mobile killing unit sponsored and controlled by the Nazis. The court noted that members of this 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. In its decision, the District Court stated that 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.
The court found that Ciurinskas personally took part "in at least one, and most likely more than one" such killing action, and was promoted for "conscientiously fulfilling his duties" while serving in the Battalion in 1941.
The court also found that Ciurinskas misrepresented his wartime activities in applying for immigration to the United States in 1949, falsely stating that he had been a miller from 1936 to 1944 instead of disclosing his service as a member of the 2nd/12th Battalion. The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed each of these findings.
"Mobile killing units, like the one to which Ciurinskas belonged, were critical to the Nazis genocidal campaign to eliminate the Jews of Eastern Europe," Rosenbaum stated. Rosenbaum noted that, in September 1997, another Chicago-area resident and former member of the 2nd Battalion, Juozas Naujalis, was ordered removed from the United States by an immigration court in Chicago.
Rosenbaum said that the proceedings to remove Ciurinskas 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, 61 Nazi persecutors have been stripped of U.S. citizenship, and 48 such individuals have been removed from the United States. An additional 148 Nazi persecutors who sought to enter the United States in recent years have been blocked from doing so as a result of OSI's "watchlist" program. Nearly 300 persons are currently under investigation by the Department of Justice unit.