Lansdowne Accused Nazi War Criminal Fooled Action News

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Jonas Stelmokas in an Action News segment on Lithuania's secession from the Soviet Union
Image via WPVI-TV
Jonas Stelmokas in an Action News segment on Lithuania's secession from the Soviet Union

An accused Nazi war criminal from Lansdowne, Jonas Stelmokas, once appeared with Jim Gardner in 1991 on a segment of Action News, without anyone knowing his war background. 

His appearance is a reminder that even the most astute of us can be fooled, writes David Lee Preston for The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Gardner was in Lithuania covering its secession from the Soviet Union.

Stelmokas was a retired Lansdowne architect who appeared because he was a leader in the Lithuanian American community.

But the 75-year-old was also alleged by the U.S. Justice Department to have been a platoon commander that helped the Germans murder Lithuanian Jews in 1941 and 1942.

Stelmokas lost his U.S. citizenship in 1995 and was ordered deported to Lithuania in 1998. He died later that year in the U.S. and is buried in Drexel Hill.

Gardner said in an interview this month with Preston that he felt he’d been hoodwinked by Stelmokas.

“We certainly made him seem like what everybody else saw him as, a Lithuanian American patriot,” Gardner said. “And to find out seven months hence the allegations that he was responsible for the deaths of Jews during the Holocaust was horrifying to me.”

Read more about Jonas Stelmokas in The Philadelphia Inquirer.

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