Jonas Stelmokas, 82, of Lansdowne, whose World War II activities were linked to the slaughter of Jews in a Lithuanian ghetto, died Monday in a Broomall nursing home.
Mr. Stelmokas, a retired architect, died of a stroke, an Integrated Health Services nursing home spokeswoman said yesterday.
In April, a U.S. immigration judge ordered that Mr. Stelmokas be deported to his native Lithuania. In announcing his decision, Judge Donald V. Ferlise called Mr. Stelmokas ``a totally incredible witness'' who lied to the court about his wartime role. Mr. Stelmokas was appealing that decision at the time of his death.
Mr. Stelmokas was a member of a Nazi-sponsored auxiliary police unit from 1941 to 1944, the Justice Department's Office of Special Investigations said.
He was a platoon commander responsible for herding Jews into the barbed-wire ghetto of Kaunas, where they were starved, brutalized and killed, prosecutors said. Mr. Stelmokas always denied he took part in atrocities and claimed he was a victim of a frame-up concocted by the Russians, the Germans, the Jews or U.S. prosecutors.
Last November, 150 protesters outside Mr. Stelmokas' Lansdowne home called for his deportation.
``He was a murderer responsible for the deaths of thousands of innocent people - elderly people, women, children. Infants were shot,'' Rabbi Zev Friedman, who organized the demonstration, said in an interview yesterday. ``Any sense of loss would be inappropriate.''
``It is tragic that he died before he could be tried in Lithuania,'' said Rabbi Friedman, dean of the Ramban Mesivta high school in Lawrence, N.Y. ``He got to live out his life in a nursing home, where I'm sure he received very good care. He was able to take advantage of the great country we live in.''
Mr. Stelmokas lost his citizenship in 1995 when U.S. District Judge Jan E. DuBois found that he had lied about his wartime activities in order to gain entry to the United States. When he applied for immigration in 1949, Mr. Stelmokas said he was discharged from the Lithuanian army in 1940 and worked as a teacher.
Instead, government officials discovered that Mr. Stelmokas had been part of the Lithuanian Schutzmannschaft (Protective Detachment) for three years beginning in 1941.
When Mr. Stelmokas was ordered deported in April, his lawyer, John Manos, said Mr. Stelmokas commanded troops that guarded the entire city, not just the Jewish ghetto. Manos characterized Mr. Stelmokas, whose wife died two years ago, as a frail man who used his Social Security benefits to pay for the care of his 45-year-old mentally retarded son.
Ferlise saw Mr. Stelmokas differently. According to the judge, Nazi records showed that Mr. Stelmokas commanded a platoon that prevented Jews from escaping from a ghetto where prosecutors said 9,000 people were killed in one 24-hour period.
Mr. Stelmokas is survived by his son, Mindaugus.
A funeral will be held at 1 p.m. Monday at Rigby, Harting & Hagan Funeral Home, 15 E. Fourth St., Media. Burial will be in Arlington Cemetery, Upper Darby.