which was taken in Lithuania, and very substantial amounts of documentary evidence. I reserved decision. This opinion constitutes my findings of fact and conclusions of law.
I. Historical Background
The charges, defenses and evidential rulings in this case can be understood only in the light of the historical context in which the pertinent events took place.
For centuries Lithuania, like the other Baltic states, has been in the path of conquerors from the east and from the west, see, e.g., Massie, Peter the Great (Alfred A. Knopf 1980); Hatton, Charles XII of Sweden (Weybright and Lalley 1968). Once extending from the Baltic to the Black Sea, Lithuania ceased to exist as a nation altogether in 1795 at the time of the Third Partition of Poland by Russia and Prussia.
At the time of the Russian Revolution in 1917 Lithuania was occupied by Germany. It declared and achieved its independence on February 16, 1918. During the interwar years, according to documents submitted by the government in this case, Lithuania looked primarily to France and England for cultural, political and military resources.
The years 1939-40 marked the extinction once again of independent Lithuania. Nazi Germany, having absorbed Czechoslovakia's Sudetenland after the Munich Pact, occupied Czechoslovakia's principal provinces of Bohemia and Moravia on March 15, 1939. On March 23 Germany seized, without resistance, Lithuania's City of Memel. Preparations then began for the invasion of Poland, scheduled for September 1.
Seeking to avoid fighting simultaneously against major powers on the east and the west, Germany entered into negotiations with the Soviet Union. On August 23, 1939 the German-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact was signed. Discovered after the War in German archives were the secret protocols in which Germany and the Soviet Union divided between them Poland and the Baltic states. At that time Lithuania was allocated to Germany, Latvia and Estonia to the Soviet Union.
Thus secured against the Soviet Union in the east, Germany attacked Poland on September 1, rapidly overcoming the Polish armed forces. On September 17, implementing the secret protocols, the Soviet Union invaded Poland. On September 28 Germany and the Soviet Union executed a German-Soviet Boundary and Friendship Treaty establishing their common frontier in Poland. Another secret protocol added Lithuania to the Soviet Union's share of the seized territory. Later in 1939 the Soviet Union invaded Finland. In June 1940 Lithuania was occupied by and in due course incorporated into the Soviet Union. It's brief period of independence came to an end. Lithuania was a predominantly Roman Catholic country. The political and social reorganization of the nation required to transform it into a Soviet province entailed deportation of political and business leaders, intellectuals and Catholic priests.
Turning to the west, Germany conquered Denmark and Norway. This opened the way to the assault upon the Netherlands, Belgium and France in early May 1940. With the fall of France and the evacuation of the major part of the British Expeditionary Force at Dunkirk by June 4, 1940, only England stood against Germany in the west. After failing to eliminate England's air force and after cancelling plans for the invasion of England, Germany once again turned its attention to the east. It prepared to implement Operation Barbarossa -- the invasion and conquest of the Soviet Union and the territories occupied by it.
The plans for Barbarossa included "special tasks" for the Reichsfuehrer SS, headed by Heinrich Himmler. These "special tasks" were the implementation of Hitler's program for "Jews, communists, criminals and the insane." Proceeding from Nazi Germany's oppression of the Jewish population in Germany and the conquered countries of the west it was decided shortly before the invasion of the Soviet Union that the Jewish population in the east would be totally annihilated.
Overall responsibility for implementation of this "special task" was assigned to the SS's Reich Security Main Office headed by Heydrich. The actual rounding up and killing of the Jewish people was to be accomplished by four Einsatzgruppen, A, B, C and D, which were mobile units equipped with vehicles and weapons. These units were to move as rapidly as possible into the newly occupied territories in the wake of the German army, performing their assigned task as they went.
Einsatzgruppen A, which had 1000 men at its peak, was assigned to Army Group North. Army Group North was to attack through the Baltic states and adjacent areas of the Soviet Union with the ultimate objective of capturing Leningrad. Commander of Einsatzgruppen A was SS Brigadefuehrer (Brigadier General) Stahlecker, author of a report (Exh. G19) which is the source of much of the information concerning the killings in Lithuania.
Each Einsatzgruppen was subdivided into subgroups called Einsatzkommandos which were actually to carry out the killings. At the outset of the invasion Einsatzkommando 1b was to operate in Lithuania. As the German Army moved into Latvia, Einsatzkommando 1b was to follow and responsibility for Lithuanian operations was to be assumed by Einsatzkommando 3 headed by SS Colonel Jager.
The procedures to be followed were worked out in advance of the invasion. For a very brief period after the Einsatzgruppen were able to move into areas secured by the advancing armies, local people were to be incited to attack and kill members of the Jewish population, thus making it appear that the killings arose spontaneously in the occupied territories. Thus Heydrich's instructions to various Einsatzgruppen commanders and others responsible for the extermination program (Exh. G2) read, in part:
I wish to make reference to and bring into recollection the statements which I already made on 17 June in Berlin.