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WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Kazys Ciurinskas, a Crown Point, Indiana man who served as an armed member of a Nazi-sponsored killing battalion during World War II, permanently departed the United States for Lithuania, the Department of Justice announced.

Ciurinskas, 81, was ordered removed from the United States by Judge Anthony Petrone of the U.S. Immigration Court in Chicago on April 15, 1999, based on his admitted participation in acts of Nazi-sponsored persecution.

Eli M. Rosenbaum, Director of the Criminal Division's Office of Special Investigations (OSI), said that the order of removal was entered according to the terms of a settlement agreement.

In that agreement, Ciurinskas admits that he served with the 2nd Lithuanian Schutzmannschaft (Protective Detachment) Battalion during World War II and admits that he concealed and misrepresented that service when he applied for a visa to enter the United States in 1949. He further concedes that he is subject to removal under a provision of U.S. immigration law that requires the removal of any alien who assisted in Nazi persecution during World War II.

Rosenbaum described the actions of the battalion in occupied Lithuania and Byelorussia (now Belarus) as "calculated and unspeakably brutal," noting that captured wartime documents show that the 2nd Battalion's killing spree in the fall of 1941 "repulsed even the Nazis."

In an October 30, 1941 report offered in evidence by the prosecution at the first Nuremberg trial, Nazi District Commissioner Heinrich Carl complained in graphic terms about the battalion's atrocities and begged his superior "in the future, keep this police battalion away from me by all means."

In 1997, following a trial, a federal district court judge in the Northern District of Indiana revoked Ciurinskas' citizenship based on his service in the 2nd Battalion. The Court noted that members of the Battalion assisted the Nazis in at least 10 killing actions in Lithuania and Byelorussia, resulting in the deaths of more than 19,000 Jewish men, women, and children in the fall of 1941, and that Ciurinskas participated in at least one such action. The Court credited the testimony of former members of the battalion who admitted that they assisted the Nazis by surrounding villages, forcibly assembling the victims, and then driving them 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. In 1998, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit unanimously affirmed the district court's denaturalization decision, calling the 2nd Battalion a force dedicated to the extermination of a large number of civilians. Following that decision, OSI initiated removal proceedings against Ciurinskas in Immigration Court in Chicago.

Rosenbaum noted that this was the second order of removal entered against a former member of the 2nd Battalion by the Immigration Court in Chicago. In 1997, Juozas Naujalis was ordered deported to Lithuania based on his service in the 2nd Battalion during the fall of 1941. That case is currently on appeal before the U.S. Board of Immigration Appeals. Several other former members of the battalion have been removed from the United States, among them Antanas Mineikis of Gulfport, Florida, who was deported to Lithuania in 1992. In a sworn statement given to OSI attorneys, Mineikis admitted that on numerous occasions, he drove multiple truckloads of civilian victims to mass shooting sites and remained there to observe some of the murders. In his sworn statement, Mineikis stated, "I saw women and children shot."

To date, 61 Nazi persecutors have been stripped of U.S. citizenship as a result of OSI's investigations and prosecutions. Ciurinskas is the 49th Nazi persecutor to be removed from the United States by OSI. More than 250 persons remain under investigation.