Many usually admiring readers of Bernardinai.lt were shocked today by an article by Archbishop S. Tamkevičius which contains the following paragraph (here in translation), and which was not followed by any editor’s comment.
“This month Juozas Brazaitis-Ambrazevičius, the former prime minister of the Provisional Government of Lithuania who worked for the anti-Nazi underground during the German occupation and after the war actively made the case for Lithuanian independence in the world, returns from America to Lithuania. His contributions to Lithuania are enourmous. But he didn’t just love Lithuania, he also loved God. Having chosen for himself in his youth friends who were sincerely faithful young people, and taking active part in the activities of the Futurists, he matured into a profoundly faithful man and for his entire life was consistently faithful to the principles of Christianity and nationalism. Professor Juozas Brazaitis is a living example of how much faith gives to a person who adheres to it consistently.”
The “return to Lithuania” refers to the flying over and reburying with full honors, at the culmination of four days of commemorative festivities, of the “prime minister” of the 1941 Nazi puppet “Provisional Government” in Kaunas which oversaw the onset of the Lithuanian Holocaust at the hands of its associated LAF (Lithuanian Activist Front), and then during the first weeks of Nazi genocide between late June and early August 1941. There was no public statement of regret from Juozas Ambrazevičius (Brazaitis) during his subsequent decades in the United States, where he died in 1974.
Ambrazevičius’s name appears atop the June 27th 1941 order confirming that all means should be taken against Jews (but asking that the executions of Jews not be “public”); the June 30th order calling for a concentraion camp for Jews to be set up; and the July 7th order mandating that all the Jews of Kaunas be incaracerated in a ghetto within four weeks.
Reactions to the glorification of a major Nazi collaborator have come, to date, among others, from Milan Chersonski, long-time editor of the Lithuanian Jewish community’s newspaper; the Simon Wiesenthal Center; DefendingHistory.com; and an international petition launched in Montreal by Krystyna Anna Steiger.