Aleksandras Lileikis was born in Lithuania on 10 June 1907 into a poor farmer family. During his schooldays, he lived off of temporary work. In 1927, he began to study law at the university in Kaunas. He took up employment with the State Security Department to pay for his education. After having finished his studies, he became deputy chief of the Lithuanian Security Police, also referred to as Saugumas in 1939. The Saugumas had six regional branches, one in Kaunas, one in Vilnius, one in Siauliai, one in Ukmerge, one in Marijapole and one in Panevezys. Lileikis was head of the Vilnius branch.
When the Soviet Army occupied Lithuania in June 1940, he fled to Germany and applied for German citizenship. From June to August 1941, while troops of German Armed Forces occupied Lithuania in the context of a so-called Blitzkrieg, he likely received instructions how to reorganise the Saugumas following the example of the Nazi-German Gestapo. In August 1941, Lileikis returned to Vilnius and began to put the concept into practice. From now on, the Saugumas was exclusively responsible for cases of Jews in hiding, persons who provided assistance to Jews and Jews suspected of communist links. After the forming of the Vilnius ghetto on 6 September 1941, the Saugumas also was in charge of cases in which Jews had attempted to escape from the ghetto. Lileikis allegedly signed the documents in at least 70 cases, in which the handover of imprisoned Jews to a special kill team called “Ypatingas Burys” was ordered. The selected Jews were imprisoned and then brought to Paneriai, a suburb of Vilnius, where they were killed there in groups and burried in three large mass graves . Along with an estimated number of 20,000 Poles and 8,000 Russians, about 70,000 Jews were murdered at Paneriai between July 1941 and August 1944. The mass-murder is also known as Paneriai massacre or Ponary massacre. The term “turned over to Ypatingas Burys” on the documents in question was soon replaced by the euphemism “turned over to the German Special Police”. The Ypatingas Burys execution file cards mostly contain the phrase “treated according to orders”.
In 1955 Lileikis emigrated to the USA, obtained US-citizenship and lived in Norwood for about 40 years. After his past life became known, the District Court of Massachusetts determined that “tens of thousands died under his command of the Saugumas.” and ordered his denaturalisation on 24 May 1996. Lileikis went back to Lithuania on his own initiative in June 1996.
Lithuanian prosecutors initially scheduled an interrogation in June 1996 but then said that Lileikis was not fit to stand interrogation. Then he was hospitalised for a few months. On 28 October 1996 Lileikis was finally questioned as a witness instead of a war crimes suspect.
Lithuanian prosecutors initially scheduled an interrogation in June 1996 but then said that Lileikis was not fit to stand interrogation. Then he was hospitalised for a few months. On 28 October 1996 Lileikis was finally questioned as a witness instead of a war crimes suspect. On 6 February 1998 Lileikis was formally charged with genocide. Commencement of proceedings was scheduled for September 1998 but delayed because his lawyers raised objections concerning the ill health of the defendant. Lileikis was examined by different doctors, who determined that he was in poor health but fit to stand trial.
On 5 November 1998 Lileikis, sitting in a wheelchair, appeared before the Vilnius court. He denied accusations (“But I can still say I did nothing wrong in my lifetime.”) and fainted just a few minutes after beginning of the hearing. He was taken to hospital by an ambulance. After that incident, the court suspended proceedings.
As a consequence of political pressure from Israel and the USA, the Lithuanian parliament passed three special laws in order to enable the continuance of proceedings against Lileikis and Kazys Gimzauskas, deputy of Lileikis. One of that laws allowed video transmissions of hearings in genocide cases.
In June 2000, the court questioned Lileikis, who was lying in bed at his relatives’ house via video conference but Lileikis fainted again.
On 26 September 2000 Lileikis died from a heart attack at the age of 93.
Until the very end, Lileikis asserted his innocence. In his autobiography, Lileikis even claimed to have been part of the anti-Nazi resistance.