Shortly after posting today’s report on the dramatic and historic statement by Lithuania’s MEP Leonidas Donskis, DefendingHistory.com received the following press release from Baltic News Service (BNS).
It quotes from a letter sent by the university’s rector, Zigmas Lydeka, explaining that “the university does not want to be the one who has to explain.” It also includes a reply of sorts from Angontina Rupšytė, head of the parliament’s Unit for History and Commemoration of Parliamentarianism, which explains that “another venue for the conference is yet to be found.” The reference is to the 19 May conference to honor the memory of Nazi collaborator Juozas Ambrazevicius (Brazitis), “prime minister” of the 1941 Nazi puppet government who actually signed the 7 July 1941 order mandating the forced removal of all of Kaunas’s Jews into a ghetto (in preparation for genocide).
The conference is part of a four-day program of celebratory events.
The BNS report, which confirms that the Lithuanian government is indeed paying the expenses of the transportation of the Nazi collaborator’s remains and his reinterment, follows verbatim.
University cancels sanction for conference about head of Lithuania’s 1941 provisional govt to be reburied in Kaunas
VILNIUS, May 15, BNS — Vytautas Magnus University has decided to cancel its sanction to hold a conference on the head of Lithuania’s 1941 provisional government, Juozas Brazaitis, who should be reburied in Kaunas on Sunday.
“We do not want this linked with the university. As soon as we saw the different interpretations, we said it could be held in other venues,” the university’s rector Zigmas Lydeka told BNS on Tuesday. The conference was planned for Saturday.
“We do not want to be part of certain things where a certain position should be held on the state level. The university does not want to be the one who would have to explain,” he said.
In the official letter, which was also received by BNS, the rector said “the rector’s council was not notified of the event, and the position of Vytautas Magnus University is not to host any non-academic events in venues of the university.”
Angonita Rupsyte, the head of the parliament’s Unit for History and Commemoration of Parliamentarianism, told BNS on Tuesday that another venue for the conference was yet to be found.
The conference was planned to take place at the university’s Catholic Theology Faculty on Saturday, on the eve of the reburial ceremony.
The remains of Brazaitis, who had the name of Ambrazevicius until World War II, will be flown back to Vilnius on Thursday and will be reburied in the churchyard of the Kaunas-based Christ’s Resurrection Church on Sunday.
An active researcher of Lithuanian literature in the interwar period, Brazaitis became an active underground figure after the Soviets occupied Lithuania in 1940.
The Soviet-Nazi war triggered an uprising in Lithuania, and Brazaitis started heading the provisional government that declared restoration of Lithuania’s independence on June 23 1941.
Nevertheless, Germany introduced its rule and Lithuania’s provisional government terminated its activities on Aug. 5.
Lithuania’s provisional government and organizers of the uprising have come under criticism for their collaboration with the Nazis in the efforts to restore independence, for failure to denounce Jewish massacre and for adopting documents that discriminated the Jews.
During the German occupation, Brazaitis was actively involved in the anti-Nazi movement.
To avoid arrest during the war, he changed his name to Brazaitis and fled to Germany in 1944 and moved to the United States in 1951 to become an active figure in the Lithuanian expat community.
Brazaitis passed away in 1974 and was buried in Putnam cemetery, Connecticut.
Lithuania’s government financed reburial of his remains, however, top officials of Lithuania will not attend the ceremonies.
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