July 2002
The Failure to Prosecute Nazi War Criminals in Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia 1991-2002

Although numerous Baltic Nazi war criminals were brought to trial by the Soviet authorities following the reoccupation of the Baltics in 1944, many Lithuanian, Latvian, and Estonian Holocaust perpetrators remained unprosecuted when these countries regained their independence in 1991. Some were still living in the Baltics, while many others had escaped towards the end of World War II to Germany or Sweden from whence most subsequently emigrated overseas to the United States, Canada, Australia, and Great Britain or other destinations. In some of these countries of refuge – primarily in the United States – successful efforts were already underway to identify and take legal action against these Holocaust perpetrators, a policy which ultimately led to the return of some of these war criminals to their native land. Thus when Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia once again became independent, there were quite a few cases of Baltic Nazi war criminals which could and should have been dealt with the local authorities. What has been achieved in this regard during the past more than eleven years of Baltic independence?


By virtue of its large prewar Jewish community, which was almost totally annihilated during the Holocaust, Lithuania had the largest number of Holocaust perpetrators in the Baltics. To date, however, not a single Lithuanian Nazi war criminal has been punished for his crimes in independent Lithuania, nor has a single such criminal ever sat a single minute in a Lithuanian jail.

The three cases that have been initiated to date - none of which resulted in a jail sentence – are those of Saugumas commanders Aleksandras Lileikis (indicted but his trial was never completed due to medical reasons) and Kazys Gimzauskas (convicted but his sentence was suspended due to medical reasons) and 12th Auxiliary Battalion officer Antanas Gecevicius (died before he could be extradited from Scotland).

During this period, at least eleven Lithuanian Nazi war criminals who escaped to the United States after World War II, have returned to Lithuania in the wake of legal action taken against them by the US Justice Department. Out of the people in this group only Lileikis and Gimzauskas were indicted and only the latter was convicted. No legal action has been taken to date against any of the others.


The only concrete action taken by the government against a Latvian Nazi war criminal was the indictment on September 27, 2000 of Arajs Kommando officer Konrad Kalejs whose extradition was sought from Australia. Kalejs died before he could be extradited to stand trial in Riga.

The only investigations currently being conducted by the Latvian Division for the Investigation of Crimes by Totalitarian Regimes are against Arajs Kommando officers Karlis Ozols and Kalejs, both already deceased.


Estonia has failed to take legal action against a single Estonian Nazi war criminal and has failed to initiate any investigations of Nazi war criminals upon its own initiative.