August 16, 2007 22:09
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A US immigration judge has ordered the deportation of a 91-year-old retired factory worker from Massachusetts because of his role in the Nazi destruction of the Warsaw Jewish ghetto in 1943, federal prosecutors said Thursday. Judge Wayne R. Iskra ordered that Vladas Zajanckauskas be removed to his native Lithuania because he was a member of a notorious Nazi-trained unit that aided in the brutal killings in the ghetto in Poland, said Alice S. Fisher, an assistant attorney general at the US Department of Justice. In his Aug. 2 decision, Iskra said Zajanckauskas and other members of his unit "were trained to assist in all aspects of Operation Reinhard, the Nazi plan to murder all Jews in Poland." Zajanckauskas' lawyer, Thomas Butters, did not immediately return a call Thursday seeking comment. The deportation order comes more than two years after a federal judge in Boston revoked Zajanckauskas' US citizenship, ruling he lied about his activity during the war. Zajanckauskas denied he was in Warsaw at the time and said his involvement with the Nazis was limited to working the bar at one of their camps in Poland. But Justice Department prosecutors said he was recruited as a guard in a unit called the "Trawniki men" that was deployed by the SS to help the Nazis capture and kill Jews. The Nazis killed thousands and burned down the ghetto, street by street, after the Jews resisted attempts to deport them to death camps. Iskra noted Zajanckauskas "admitted that Trawniki men sent to Warsaw stood in the cordon to prevent Jews from escaping, guarded the transit square where captured Jews awaited transportation to labor and concentration camps, conducted house-to-house searches for hidden Jews, skirmished with resistance fighters, and took part in the shooting of some captured Jews." Members of his sub-unit committed "terrible crimes," including murder and rape, the judge said. Zajanckauskas was a member of the Lithuanian army, then the Soviet army when that country annexed Lithuania in 1940. He became a German prisoner of war a year later before being recruited for German service in 1942. He received ideological instructions with other members of the Trawniki unit and got benefits, including home leave, according to the 41-page court ruling. Zajanckauskas emigrated from Austria in 1950 and became a naturalized US citizen in 1956. Zajanckauskas said he never told immigration officials about his Trawniki service because he thought it would jeopardize his chances of getting into the United States. "Vladas Zajanckauskas was an accomplice in Nazi mass murder," said Eli Rosenbaum, director of the Justice Department's Office of Special Investigations. "Had he told the truth after the war, he never would have been permitted to enter this country."

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