A Tale of Two Cities? New Britain (Connecticut) and Chicago (Illinois)




OPINION  |  COLLABORATORS GLORIFIED  |  USA

VILNIUS—Will Chicago, Illinois, allow a planned May 4th unveiling of a sculpture glorifying alleged Holocaust collaborator Adolfas Ramanauskas (Vanagas) to proceed in its world-famous Freedom Park without due process for Holocaust victims, survivors, and their spokespeople? Without a public discussion including the many in Lithuania who oppose glorifying Hitlerist collaborators? The English news release for the project casually omits the reference to the Holocaust present in the original BNS Lithuanian report. That reference is of course the controversy that led New Britain, Connecticut to veto a Ramanauskas monument last year. Do the people of Chicago know they would be getting a New Britain reject, and most importantly, why it was rejected by the New England town after many months of deliberation?

Just one year ago a monument to Ramanauskas (the same monument) was disallowed by the city council of New Britain, Connecticut. There is no proof he personally killed anybody, but he was (and boasted of this in his own memoir) the head of the LAF (Lithuanian Activist Front) fascist  militia unit in the Druskininkai (Druskenik) area of southeastern Lithuania. The unit was responsible for dozens of murders of civilians. See comments by Dr. Efraim Zuroff and the Simon Wiesenthal Center, Evaldas  Balčiūnas (in 2014 and 2017), and Dovid Katz. Defending History documented the entire 2017-2018 New Britain, Conn. saga. Sampling of survivor testimony on “what it was that the LAF was doing” in the last week of June 1941.

Defending History’s take: “The people of Chicago, and particularly the Chicago Ridge area home to Freedom Park, should not have foisted on them a monument for someone whose planned monument (whether the same or another sculpture) was overwhelmingly rejected by the New Britain, Connecticut city council one year ago, and most certainly not without a free, public and transparent process of dialogue and consultation including Holocaust survivors and their families, as well as scholars and institutions representing a diversity of opinions. A one-year moratorium is called for to enable such a process to proceed with dignity.”

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