Evaldas Balčiūnas

Why Does the State Commemorate Murderers?



O P I N I O N
by Evaldas Balčiūnas
 

Probably every mature person living in Lithuania has heard about the mass murder of people at the beginning of World War II. During the first months of the war ― in a period of less than half a year ― more than 100,000 people were murdered, most of them Jews. 

“Evil deeds uncondemned often end up idolized.”

It is sad, but there are more than enough facts corroborating that Lithuanians — regular officers of the Lithuanian military — took part in the mass murders of civilians, women and children.

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Why I am Translating Rozka Korczak’s Vilna Ghetto Memoir



O P I N I O N

by Evaldas Balčiūnas

The Vilna Ghetto memoir of Rozka Korczak-Marlé (1921–1988) is unfortunately completely unknown to Lithuanians today. I have therefore decided to translate the book into Lithuanian (from the Russian edition that Korczak herself edited), and have published two samples, here and here, on Anarchija.lt.

Rozka Korczak came to Lithuania to seek refuge from Hitler-occupied Poland in late 1939 and went on to become a major partisan hero in the anti-Nazi resistance in the Vilna Ghetto and then in the forests of Lithuania. There are numerous internet sources on her biography (e.g. here, here).

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The Posthumous Remaking of a Holocaust Perpetrator in Lithuania: Why is Jonas Noreika a National Hero?



O P I N I O N

by Evaldas Balčiūnas

 

Who was Jonas Noreika?

Jonas Noreika (1910-1947), also known by his nom de guerre, General Vėtra, has been named by the current Lithuanian government as “an important member of the resistance” and an object of every sort of heroic commemoration.

In 1997 he was posthumously awarded the Order of the Cross of Vytis, First Degree. The same year a memorial plaque was placed on the facade of the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences Library in Vilnius.

Library of the Academy of Sciences in Vilnius. The red arrow marks the Noreika plaque.

The Noreika plaque

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The History of Three “Lithuanian Freedom Army” (LFA) Colonels Who Served the Nazis



O P I N I O N

by Evaldas Balčiūnas

 

I will begin with a recent document I found while collecting information about the Lithuanian Freedom Army (LFA), an organization formed during World War II which present-day historians are attempting to portray as an organizer of the anti-Nazi and anti-Soviet resistance in Lithuania.

On 31 October 2002, President Valdas Adamkus issued decree no. 1965 titled “On Promoting Volunteer Soldiers to the Rank of Colonel”  which gave the rank of colonel to three “members of the armed resistance: volunteer soldiers and soldiers of Lithuania’s pre-war military,” namely, Tauras military district chief Antanas Baltūsis-Žvejas (posthumously); Vytautas military district chief Vincas Kaulinis-Miškinis (posthumously); and Vytis military district chief Jonas Krištaponis (also posthumously). Five years later the president noticed he had made a mistake regarding one surname and on 5 January 2007, issued decree no. 1K-849 to correct the mistake, replacing Jonas Krištaponis with Juozas Krikštaponis (aka Krištaponis).

Regarding the anti-Soviet resistance, there really isn’t any argument: most of the LFA fighters heroically fought against the occupiers and died in that struggle.

Regarding the anti-Nazi resistance, however, many doubts are raised. These doubts arise because of the LFA’s position on the mass murder of Jews.

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Another “Resistance Hero” or — War Criminal who Selected Jews for Mass Murder?



O P I N I O N

by Evaldas Balčiūnas

 

Konstantinas Liuberskis–Žvainys is a figure with a curious biography.

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Why was a Lithuanian Holocaust Perpetrator who also Murdered Belarusians Given State Honors? Open Letter to the Lithuanian Ambassador to Belarus


 


O P I N I O N

by  Evaldas Balčiūnas

 

I was surprised to learn that Lithuanian president Dalia Grybauskaitė appointed you ambassador to Belarus. She said Belarus is an important partner for Lithuania with many ties between our countries, and that cooperation should be on an equal footing, constructive and mutually beneficial. I invite you to think about whether you really are able to do this job, or whether you won’t make international relations worse because of certain matters of the past.

Let me remind you of one such thing. On 31 October 2002, you and then-president Valdas Adamkus signed presidential decree no. 1965 posthumously promoting Juozas Krikštaponis (Krištaponis) to the rank of colonel. The decree mistakenly gave his first name as Jonas, a mistake corrected in presidential decree 1K-849 issued by President Adamkus on 5 January 2007.

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When I Received a Response from the Genocide Center in Vilnius



O P I N I O N

by Evaldas Balčiūnas

 

When I wrote about three glorified Lithuanian Freedom Army colonels who had in fact been implicated in the Holocaust, I did not realize quite how deep-rooted the shameful worship of Nazi-era war criminals has become here in Lithuania. I used to think that a few mistakes had been made due to patriotic excesses. A year has passed since that article, and I no longer feel that this is just some irksome problem “still encountered now and then”…

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Vylius-Vėlavičius: Patriot or Another “Tuskulėnai Peace Park” Holocaust Perpetrator?



O P I N I O N

by Evaldas Balčiūnas

 

In my recent article about the war criminals buried at Tuskulėnai Memoral Park in Vilnius I provided a list of Nazi collaborators convicted by the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union on April 19, 1943, and May 24, 1944 of murdering civilians during the Holocaust. This does not mean, however, that those convicted under other laws are guiltless.

SEE ALSO:

Milan Chersonski on Tuskulėnai Park in Vilnius

According to criminal case materials and archival material examined by Lithuanian historians, there are rabid Nazi collaborators buried at Tuskulėnai Memoral Park. Despite the facts, today falsified, but very “patriotic,” biographies for these people are being crafted and disseminated, according to which they are portrayed as fearless warriors who battled for a free Lithuania.

I have written about one of them, Jonas Noreika, nicknamed General Vėtra, convicted under sections 1a and 2 of article 58 of the criminal code of the RSFSR, but who was recently decorated posthumously by Lithuanian president Valdas Adamkus, so I won’t repeat that here.

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Juozas Šibaila, Another “Hero” with a Suppressed Biography


 


O P I N I O N

by Evaldas Balčiūnas

Following the Lithuanian parliament’s recognition of the February 16, 1949 declaration of the Council of the Union of the Struggle for Lithuanian Freedom as an act with the force of law, there was a natural interest in questions about who the partisans who signed that declaration were. It would seem the Center for the Study of the Genocide and Resistance of Residents of Lithuania would be the organization to present the most comprehensive biographies for these people.

Unfortunately that’s not the case.

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When the Politicians Run the Conferences on — History



O P I N I O N   A N D   E Y E W I T N E S S    R E P O R T

by Evaldas Balčiūnas

 

A conference called “United Europe, United History” took place at the Lithuanian parliament on November 15th  and 16th. The conference organizers and speakers repeatedly spoke of upcoming changes in the government (16 November was the first day the newly elected parliament assembled), and conference organizer and “Red-Brown Commission” chairman Emanuelis Zingeris even tried, unsuccessfully, to explain the poll results as the bad influence of the long Soviet occupation on the mentality of the people… (It was probably a good thing he didn’t call for a an international tribunal to provide compensation for the losses suffered by his party).

But one thing at a time.

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Evaldas Balčiūnas Remembers February 16th 2013 March in Central Kaunas



 

E Y E W I T N E S S    R E P O R T  /  O P I N I O N

by Evaldas Balčiūnas

Editor’s note: This adapted translation from the Lithuanian original, by Geoff Vasil, has been approved by the author.

 

On February 16 I visited Kaunas. I heard the neo-Nazis would try to desecrate the nation’s freedom, for which people of the country of all ethnicities had struggled. Sadly, the neo-Nazis are now shouting loudly: “Lithuania for Lithuanians…”

One of the organizers of the march boasted the vanguard of the march would be carrying a portrait of Ambrazevičius.

It’s worth recalling what sort of person he was. In 1941 Ambrazevičius led the Provisional Government formed by the LAF (Lithuanian Activist Front), the Provisional Government which called Lithuanian policemen to serve the Nazis, set up a concentration camp (at the Seventh Fort, where it all ended in the murder of several thousand Jews), and even while realizing the Nazis no longer needed their service, this gang went on to promulgate the “Regulations on the Situation of the Jews,” which legally deprived their neighbors of human rights, while on the ground armed people were already murdering Jews throughout Lithuania.

The author and his friends and colleagues who constituted the small “anti-fascist zone” at the March 16th neo-Nazi parade in Kaunas, Lithuania on the occasion of the nation’s independence day.

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Yad Vashem Awards Three Rescuers (Posthumously) in Žagarė (Zháger), Northern Lithuania



E Y E W I T N E S S   R E P O R T

by Evaldas Balčiūnas

Žagarė (known in Yiddish as Zháger), Lithuania, always brings a warm feeling. It is a small, multicultural town. While Jews long accounted for half the population, unfortunately they are only a memory now. Germans, Latvians, Roma and Lithuanians continue to live here. There was room enough for everyone up until 1941.

I had the opportunity today to visit Žagarė to honor those who sought to insure that Žagarė would continue to have enough space for everyone. I traveled to a ceremony to honor Edvardas Levinskas (1893-1975), Terese Levinskienė (1903-1949) and Lilija Vilandaitė (1900-1948), posthumous recipients of the Righteous Among the Nations, or Righteous Gentile, award, conferred by Yad Vashem in Jerusalem.

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The Unwritten Biography of Jonas Žemaitis: A Tale of Twists and Turns



O P I N I O N

by Evaldas Balčiūnas

 

The modern Republic of Lithuania has been creating a cult of the partisans. Statues are built to memorialize them. There are commemorative plaques and streets are named after them, as well as schools. One of the most prominent to be hallowed by the cult is Jonas Žemaitis, also called Vytautas, Luke, Matthew, the Silent and general as well as president. His biography is a tapestry of events and adventures. One could write an adventure novel about them, except that… Žemaitis isn’t necessarily a hero.

Zemaitis Military Academy

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The “Humanity” of the Rewriters of History



O P I N I O N

by Evaldas Balčiūnas

An abstract, sometimes called a summary, is a short explanation of the salient parts of an article or book. Abstracts are useful for surveying a large body of literature on a given topic, and aid in selecting specific works for a fuller reading. This selection very much depends on the honesty of the person doing the selecting.

I am interested in Holocaust research. I use the internet and search engines, and often they point to the webpage of the Lithuanian government sponsored Genocide and Resistance Research Center of Lithuania, known for short as the Genocide Center. Its own website has many summaries for this topic. These abstracts often have a strange tone.

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Where did the Money for a Monument to 1941 “Patriots” Come from? Why the Uncritical Reconstruction and Glorification Now?


 


O P I N I O N

by Evaldas Balčiūnas

 

Defending History reported earlier on the attempt to restore a monument in Obeliai (Abél in Yiddish), a town in northeastern Lithuania, not far from the Latvian border.

It is an unpleasant story and one that is still developing. Although seven decades have passed since the mass murder of the Jews of Abél, some people think that everyone has forgotten who carried out that mass murder.

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A Decision to Not (!) Regard Holocaust Rescuers as Heroes of the Nation



O P I N I O N

by Evaldas Balčiūnas

Authorized translation from Lithuanian by Geoff Vasil


 

This week the Lithuanian government resolved not to grant so-called hero’s pensions to surviving rescuers of Jews.

The decision is an odd one and raises doubts concerning the values to which this government claims to adhere. Although truth be told, this isn’t the first instance of unseemly conduct showing disrespect to hundreds of thousands of people murdered just because they were Jewish and towards those Lithuanians who attempted to save those scheduled for execution.

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Sergijus Staniškis Litas: Who’s Hiding the 1941 Gaps in His Biography — and Why?



O P I N I O N   /   P O L I T I C S  O F  M E M O R Y   /   C O L L A B O R A T O R S   G L O R I F I E D

by Evaldas Balčiūnas

Authorized translation from the Lithuanian original by Geoff Vasil.


Today Sergijus Staniškis Litas is presented as a noble partisan commander who concentrated his unusual skills on battling the occupiers. At least that’s how the writers of the Lithuanian Center for the Study of Genocide and Resistance present him on their webpage at http://www.genocid.lt/datos/stanisk.htm.

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Footprints of Adolfas Ramanauskas-Vanagas in the Mass Murder of the Jews of Druskininkai



O P I N I O N

by Evaldas Balčiūnas

 

Adolfas Ramanauskas Vanagas was a well-known post-war partisan commander. Here’s what the Center for the Study of the Genocide of the Residents of Lithuania has to say about him on their website:

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DH Staff Writer Evaldas Balčiūnas is Investigated by Lithuanian Police



Summons Issued

Statement by Evaldas BalčiūnasDH section on Free Speech

stamp in Balciunas harassment case May 2014

He is author of a series of bold articles about state sanitization and glorification of Holocaust perpetrators and collaborators

Newest investigation follows recent police and prosecutorial harassment of Giedrius Grabauskas and Saulius Beržinis

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Statement of Staff Writer Evaldas Balčiūnas on Summons from Police



My name is Evaldas Balčiūnas and I write for Defending History, in addition to various Lithuanian web journals. On May 14, 2014, I was contacted by local Lithuanian police investigator Reda Šimkutė by telephone at a number which is not registered in my name. She said she needed to “carry out inquiries” about me.

I asked her what the nature of the matter was. She refused to answer, so I suggested she follow normal procedure and send me what they call “an invitation” (in other words a summons) to come to an interrogation at the police department.

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