Lithuania’s Intensive Spring Season for New Brand of Holocaust Denial



OPINION  |  LITHUANIA  |  FREE SPEECH  |  COLLABORATORS GLORIFIED  | USA  | NEW BRITAIN, CONNECTICUT

The team at Defending History has witnessed quite a lot in Eastern Europe over the last decade when it comes to Holocaust obfuscation and its related ills, including glorification of actual Holocaust collaborators, defamation of Holocaust survivors who joined the resistance, and a progressive chipping away at Western norms of free speech and tolerance. It is almost as if the Western powers don’t care whether folks in the “Eastern EU” have the same rights of expression as others.

During these last few weeks, an unusually intensive convergence of events has been noticed here in Vilnius. To bring our loyal readers up to speed we thought it might be useful to summarize what’s been happening on the Lithuanian Holocaust obfuscation and history rewriting front. Links to articles are included for those interested in reading more.

Far right/Neo-Nazi march in Vilnius. On March 11th, the city of Vilnius once again gifted its beautiful old town center for the annual march of far right extremists and neo-Nazis. As always, the Defending History team here in Vilnius monitored the march, and captured several images of marchers flaunting the Lithuanian version of the swastika as well as various other far right symbols. And to top it all off, even Pepe the Frog made an appearance, no doubt pleasing American white nationalist Richard Spencer. Less than a month earlier, on February 16th, a march through the old town featured a front banner with “six national heroes” of whom four are proven Holocaust collaborators and two are “just” Nazi collaborators alleged to be Holocaust collaborators. Making heroes of the villains is a major component of the “Double Genocide” strategy for writing the Holocaust out of history by “showing” that the East European agents of genocide were reliably “anti-Soviet” and are therefore really heroes.

New York Times publishes major piece on Lithuanian state-sponsored Holocaust distortion. Next though was some good news. In a long overdue recognition of what’s been going on in Lithuania, the New York Times devoted a long article entitled Where the Genocide Museum Is (Mostly) Mum on the Fate of Jews to Double Genocide and the Lithuanian government’s program of promoting some Jewish projects (and compliant folks) while distorting and rewriting the history of the Holocaust and allowing local forms of antisemitism to go unchecked.

Lithuanian Holocaust obfuscation arrives on American shores. We are saddened to report that the attempt to glorify Lithuanian nationalist Nazi collaborators has just made it to American shores. It’s happening in the scenic town of New Britain, Connecticut no less, in the form of a proposal to erect a statue on city-center public space to Adolfas Ramanauskas, a major leader of the anti-Soviet resistance in the years after the war. Since he was born in 1918, he was also named 2018 “Person of the Year” by Lithuania’s Parliament. Ramanauskas fought the Soviets after the war. So far so good, right? Not really. Ramanauskas was, during the outbreak of the Holocaust in June and July 1941 a leader in a pro-Nazi Nazi collaborationist militia called the “LAF” (Lithuanian Activist Front). In the days before the Germans actually arrived (or managed to actually set up their administration), the LAF killed thousands of Jews across Lithuania, humiliating and injuring many thousands more. When the Simon Wiesenthal Center discovered last October that Ramanauskas was to be Lithuania’s Person of the Year it issued a statement, including the following: “The decision to honor Ramanauskas is another outrageous decision in a country still reluctant to honestly confront the role of its nationals in Holocaust crimes.” Ramanauskas’s alleged Holocaust involvement became known to the world some four years ago thanks to Defending History writer Evaldas Balciunas’s 2014 article (see also his recent follow-up). It was right after his 2014 article on Ramanauskas, that Mr. Balciunas began to suffer years of legal harassment for his opinions (please visit his section in DH, and scroll down to May 2014, where you can follow the shameful case against him through the years). The Defending History team attended each and every hearing to provide moral support, and reported, but we failed to interest human rights groups or foreign media.

In January Defending History was the first to report about plans in New Britain, Connecticut for a massive monument to be erected in public space honoring Ramanasukas. Despite assurances about this being a contribution of a local church, it seems certain now that the project is funded entirely by the Lithuanian government (right down to an insurance policy covering New Britain for up to one million dollars, should someone trip over the huge monument and break their neck). It would be a disaster if this statue went up. Not only would it represent an obvious victory for the movement to sanitize and glorify of Holocaust-era Nazi collaborators (thereby chipping away at the Holocaust itself in the spirit of 21st century Holocaust Denial), but it would also be the American beachhead for Eastern European revisionists of all stripes. We can expect that North American ultranationalist Ukrainian diaspora organizations that continue to celebrate the OUN-UPA and its leadership, would take note of their Lithuanian counterparts’ success. Thankfully, all is not yet lost. A principled, courageous elected alderman on the New Britain city council, Professor Aram Ayalon recently initiated a petition to halt the construction of the Ramanauskas statue to further study the issue. If you live in the US, here’s how you can help:

  • Contact the Office of New Britain’s Mayor Erin Stewart and ask her to prevent the construction of a statue honoring a leader in a Lithuanian Nazi-collaborationist militia. Here is the link to Mayor Stewart’s website with e-mail. (There is talk she will soon be running for governor, incidentally.)
  • Call or e-mail your support to Alderman Ayalon for his brave effort to stop this abomination. Here are the alderman’s contact details: aram.ayalon <a> newbritainct.gov .
Lithuania may institute the harshest book/publications ban in Europe, ending the ability to publish material critical of Lithuania’s nationalist collaborator “heroes”Last — but not least — the Lithuanian Government has tabled legislation in Parliament which would de-facto represent the broadest law in Europe banning criticism of a country’s Holocaust distortion. The bill would ban the selling of material that “distorts historical facts about the nation.” The proposed legislation is widely seen as a reaction to Ruta Vanagaite’s groundbreaking 2016 popular bestselling book about the Holocaust in Lithuania entitled “Our Guys” as well as to Defending History which has featured the independent voices of many Lithuanian citizens over the last decade. Vanagaite’s book, coauthored with Dr. Efraim Zuroff of the Wiesenthal Center, revealed the murderous activities of many local “nationalist heroes” at a time when these very collaborators are glorified by the Lithuanian government. The original Lithuanian edition has been withdrawn by the publishers. But that was a private publisher. That seems to be not enough for those who would keep the truth from readers and citizens. If this new law passes, the book and published products ban would be the harshest in the EU. Surely that cannot be what the terrific people of Lithuania want for their country. They are tired of taxpayer euros being wasted on ultranationalist crusades of those who control much of government, academia, media and the arts. Their efforts to “fix history,” failing in the open market of ideas, turns to an upswing in repression of dissidents of state “Holocaust policy” of all things, a repressive pattern that is now about a decade old.
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