U.S. to deport Lithuanian accused of Nazi collaboration

  • 2007-08-22
  • By Kimberly Kweder
VILNIUSA U.S. immigration judgehas ordered the deportationof a 91-year-oldLithuanian man for his role inthe Nazi destruction of Warsaw'sJewish ghetto during World WarII, U.S. justice authoritiesannounced on Aug. 16.Immigration Judge Wayne R.Iskra issued a removal order forVladas Zajanckauskas, a retiredfactory worker who had been livingin Massachusetts, stating thatZajanckauskas participated inNazi atrocities in German-occupiedPoland and then lied about hiswartime activity when he immigratedthe U.S. in 1950."Vladas Zajanckauskas was anaccomplice in Nazi mass murder,"said Eli M. Rosenbaum, director ofthe Justice Department's Office ofSpecial Investigations.

"Had hetold the truth after the war, henever would have been permittedto enter this country."Zajanckauskas was a memberof the Lithuanian army and thenthe Soviet army when the U.S.S.Roccupied Lithuania in 1940. A yearlater, he became a German prisonerof war, but was recruited intothe German service in 1942. Hefalsely told U.S. officials that hehad been a farmer in Lithuaniauntil 1944.Zajanckauskas is accused ofbeing part of a unit based at atraining camp in Trawniki,Poland, which carried outOperation Reninhard in theWarsaw Jewish Ghetto during1943.In his Aug. 2 decision, Iskrasaid Zajanckauskas and othermembers of his unit "were trainedto assist in all aspects of OperationReinhard, the Nazi plan to murderall Jews in Poland."

In a 41-page decision, the judgenoted Zajanckauskas concededthat "Trawniki men sent toWarsaw stood in the cordon to preventJews from escaping, guardedthe transit square where capturedJews awaited transportation tolabor and concentration camps,conducted house-to-house searchesfor hidden Jews, skirmished withresistance fighters, and took partin the shooting of some capturedJews," according to a U.S.Department of Justice pressrelease on Aug. 16.Zajanckauskas admitted tolying about his wartime pastbecause he feared it would get inthe way of his naturalization, butclaims that he only worked as acook in the Trawniki training center.U.S. Department of JusticePress Assistant Jaclyn Lesch toldThe Baltic Times that an experthistorian and several Nazi documentsseized by federal prosecutorswere used as evidence for thecourt proceedings.

The Zajanckauskas case is nota new one. He had been stripped ofhis citizenship two years earlierafter it was discovered that he hadlied to immigration officials."Mr. Zajanckauskas' U.S. citizenshipwas revoked by a federaldistrict court judge in Boston in2005 on the basis that he hadobtained his U.S. visa fraudulently,"Ilya Levin, a press representativein U.S. Embassy in Vilnius,told The Baltic Times.What happens next, however, isunclear."The removal order was handeddown, but Zajanckauskas hasn'texhausted his appeals [to highercourts] yet," Lesch said.Even if the deportation is carriedout, there is no guarantee thatZajanckauskas will be prosecuted inLithuania.

Gintaras Valentukevicius, theprosecutor for the SpecialInvestigation Division of theProsecutor General's Office, toldBNS he will only begin a legalprocess against Zajanckauskas ifU.S. representatives provideLithuania will pretrial investigationmaterial into Zajanckauskas'crimes against humanity."I didn't receive any official letterfrom the U.S. nor do I knowwhere or when he will be deported.The crime was in Poland, not inLithuania," Valentukevicius toldThe Baltic Times."When it will be done, we[Prosecutor General's Office] willdecide whether to start a pretrial ornot," he added.Valentukevicius also said thatthere is no guarantee thatZajanckauskas, after being forced toleave the U.S., will in fact arrive inLithuania since U.S. law enforcementofficials are not going toaccompany him on the journey.The case echoes another thatoccurred in March 2006 whenAlgimantas Dailide, 85, who had collaboratedwith Nazis in Lithuaniaduring World War II, was stripped ofhis citizenship and given a removalorder by U.S. courts.