FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                         CRM
THURSDAY, JUNE 19, 1997                            (202) 514-2008
                                               TDD (202) 514-1888


     WASHINGTON, D.C.  --  The Department of Justice announced
today that the Criminal Division's Office of Special
Investigations (OSI) and the U.S. Attorney's Office in Dyer,
Indiana, had won an order from the U.S. District Court in
Hammond, Indiana, revoking the U.S. citizenship of Kazys "Casey"
Ciurinskas, a Crown Point, Indiana man who served during World
War II as an armed member of a Nazi-sponsored mobile killing unit
that murdered thousands of Jews and others in German-occupied
Byelorussia (now Belarus) and Lithuania.

     U.S. District Court Judge James Moody found yesterday that
Ciurinskas, 79, participated in the Nazi-sponsored persecution of
civilians while serving as a member of the infamous 2nd
Lithuanian Schutzmannschaft Battalion.  The court also found that
Ciurinskas had procured his U.S. visa and U.S. citizenship by
fraud and that he lacked the good moral character necessary to
become a U.S. citizen.  He immigrated to this country from
Germany in 1949 and was naturalized as a U.S. citizen in 1955.

     The 2nd Battalion was a mobile killing group recruited in
Lithuania that perpetrated numerous mass shootings of Jewish men,
women and children, as well as Soviet POWs and suspected
communists and their families, in both Lithuania and Byelorussia. 
During the month of October 1941 alone, battalion members
participated in massacres that claimed the lives of some 10,000
innocent civilians in Byelorussia.

     OSI Director Eli M. Rosenbaum noted that the Ciurinskas
decision is a result of OSI's ongoing investigation of Nazi
persecutors illegally residing in the United States.  He called
the court's decision "an important victory for historical truth,"
adding that the ruling "provides further proof that Hitler's
henchmen can still be brought to the bar of justice despite the
many years that have passed since the Third Reich's infamous
crimes were perpetrated."  Rosenbaum stated that the Justice
Department was grateful to the German government for what he
termed "outstanding assistance" in the case.

     During the June 1995 trial, the Government proved that the
Battalion was ordered to Byelorussia from its base in Kaunas, 
Lithuania in October 1941.  Prosecutors introduced testimony from
a Jewish survivor and from two former members of the battalion
living in Lithuania.  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 en masse to wooded areas where they were murdered by
gunfire.  In 1962, Major Franz Lechthaler, the German officer
under whose command the battalion conducted the killing
operations in Byelorussia, was convicted in Germany on multiple
murder charges.  He has since died.

     Judge Moody found that the Germans made "extensive use" of
Schutzmannschaft personnel in carrying out the so-called "Final
Solution," the Nazi program to annihilate Europe's Jews.  He
specifically found that Ciurinskas was a member of the 2nd
Battalion, that he participated in a September 11-12, 1941
"special mission" to execute civilians in Lithuania, and that he
travelled with the battalion to Byelorussia later that year on an
assignment to kill Jews and others deemed to be enemies of the
Third Reich.  The Court found that Ciurinskas' battalion took
part in at least nine killing actions in Byelorussia, resulting
in the deaths of over 19,000 civilians, including at least 6,000
men, women and children from the Jewish ghetto in Minsk,
Byelorussia, who were killed on November 7-12, 1941.  Judge Moody
found that Ciurinskas had been assigned on November 6, 1941 as a
guard in Minsk in accordance with orders from a German killing
squad.  "As a member of the 2nd Company of the 2nd
Schutzmannschaft Battalion, Ciurinskas participated in at least
one, and more likely more than one of the killing actions"
perpetrated by the battalion, Judge Moody wrote in a 58-page

     In denaturalizing Ciurinskas, Judge Moody relied in part on
statements that the defendant made in a 1966 application for a
German military disability pension.  Throughout the case,
Ciurinskas steadfastly denied that he had travelled to
Byelorussia and that he had served the Germans.  In his pension
application, however, he confirmed his service under German
command and stated that he had been "wounded by a land mine
explosion while on an official duty assignment during the return
from Minsk."  The German government provided Ciurinskas' pension
file to OSI in 1994 and arranged for the former German consular
official who processed the application to testify in the case,
establishing that the statements made in the application were
Ciurinskas' own.  The German authorities recently cancelled
Ciurinskas' pension based on the evidence amassed against him.

     OSI was created in 1979 to investigate and take legal action
against Axis persecutors living in the United States.  To date,
60 participants in Nazi-sponsored persecution have been stripped
of U.S. citizenship and 42 such persons have been removed from
this country.  According to Rosenbaum, some 300 persons remain
under investigation.  A deportation proceeding against another
member of the 2nd Battalion, Juozas Naujalis, is scheduled to
reconvene in Chicago on August 11, 1997.