FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASECRM
MONDAY, JUNE 14, 1999(202) 514-2777
WWW.USDOJ.GOVTDD (202) 514-1888
CHICAGO-AREA MAN DEPARTS FOR LITHUANIA
TO AVOID TRIAL IN WORLD WAR II NAZI CASE
WASHINGTON, DC. -- Vincas Valkavickas, a Chicago-area man who faced charges of guarding a facility in Nazi-occupied Lithuania during a two-day operation in which more than 3,700 Jewish men, women, and children were executed there, permanently departed the United States for Lithuania yesterday, the Department of Justice announced. He is scheduled to arrive in Lithuania today.
Valkavickas, 78, a retired factory worker, agreed to depart the United States rather than stand trial in U.S. Immigration Court in Chicago for assisting in the persecution of civilians as a member of the Nazi-controlled Lithuanian Auxiliary Police.
Eli M. Rosenbaum, Director of the Criminal Division's Office of Special Investigations (OSI), said that Valkavickas departed under a settlement agreement signed in March of this year. In that agreement, Valkavickas admitted that he concealed and misrepresented his service with the Lithuanian Auxiliary Police when he applied for a visa to enter the United States in 1950. Valkvavickas was ordered removed from the United States by Judge James R. Fujimoto of the U.S. Immigration Court in Chicago on April 2, 1999, and he agreed to depart the United States permanently for Lithuania at his own expense The removal case was initiated by OSI in September 1998.
The auxiliary police battalions were created by the Nazis in 1941 to assist with the German occupation of Lithuania. From June 1941 until December 1941, some 160,000 Lithuanian Jews -- approximately 80 percent of Lithuania's pre-war Jewish population of more than 200,000 -- were killed by the forces of Nazi Germany and their collaborators. By the end of the war, scholars estimate, the death toll reached 94 per cent. The auxiliary police played an essential role in that slaughter, Rosenbaum noted.
In the settlement agreement, Valkavickas admitted that he served in the Nazi-controlled auxiliary police in Sviencionys, Lithuania, from 1941 until 1944. Beginning on September 27, 1941, thousands of Jewish prisoners were detained at a former military installation near Sviencionys, known as the "Polygon," where they were guarded by members of the auxiliary police. Over a two-day period from October 7-8, 1941, more than 3,700 Jewish men, women, and children were executed by gunfire at the Polygon. According to wartime documents located by OSI, Valkavickas guarded Jewish prisoners at the Polygon on behalf of the Nazis and remained on duty throughout the two-day massacre.
"OSI will continue to seek to identify and remove from the United States individuals who, like Valkavickas, played a role in the Nazi regime's reign of terror," said Rosenbaum. "They are not entitled to continue to enjoy the privileges of U.S. residence and citizenship."
Rosenbaum noted that Valkavickas was the third alleged Nazi persecutor to depart the United States for Lithuania in the past month:
-- On May 13, 1999, Kazys Ciurinskas, another Chicago-area man, left after admitting that he had served in the notorious 2nd Lithuanian Schutzmannschaft Battalion during World War II and that he was subject to deportation under a law requires the removal of persons who assisted in the persecution of civilians because of race or religion.
-- On May 30, Alyozas Balsys, a New York-area man who allegedly served in the Nazi-sponsored Lithuanian Security Police, left the United States rather than comply with a Justice Department subpoena to answer questions concerning his wartime activities. Balsys' claim -- that the Fifth Amendment allowed him to remain silent because his answers could subject him to foreign prosecution -- was rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court in June 1998.
The departure of Valkavickas was the result of OSI's ongoing efforts to identify and take legal action against former participants in Nazi persecution who still reside in this country. Since OSI began operations in 1979, 61 Nazi persecutors have been stripped of their citizenship. Valkavickas is the 51st such person to have been removed from the United States. An additional 151 Nazi persecutors have been blocked from entering the country in recent years as a result of OSI's "watchlist" program. More than 250 persons are currently under investigation by the Justice Department unit.