Collaborators Glorified

Sad Day for Chicago (& Lithuania): Monument for Alleged Nazi Collaborator, an Icon of Lithuania’s Far Right, Unveiled on May 4 in Chicago by Visiting Foreign Minister


[LATEST UPDATE]

A Tale of Three Cities

New Britain.  Chicago.  Vilnius.

UPDATE OF JUNE 1: Head of Jewish Agency calls for  monument in Chicago to Nazi collaborator to be removed “as soon as possible”

It was turned down by the New Britain, Connecticut City Council one year ago

THE RAMANAUSKAS SAGA

Other reports in: Algemeiner; BBCIndependent; Simon Wiesenthal CenterTelegraph.

On Ramanauskas’s Holocaust-era role see courageous, pioneering articles of Lithuanian ethicist Evaldas Balčiūnas in 20142017 and his latest that has just appeared.

 For years after starting his series of articles “Why does the state commemorate murderers?” Balčiūnas was hounded by prosecutors and police (scroll to May 2014).

RAMANAUSKAS: A FIVE YEAR SAGA. BEYOND THE HISTORY: WHY A MONUMENT TO A PRIME ICON OF TODAY’S NEO-NAZIS IN EASTERN EUROPE?

a major icon for neo-Nazi parades…

From left to right on the neo-Nazis’ “We know our national heroes” banner (torchlit neo-Nazi parade of Feb. 2018): Adolfas Ramanauskas-Vanagas,  Jonas Noreika,  Povilas Plechavičius,  Kazys Škirpa,  Antanas Baltūsis-Žvejas, and Juozas Ambrazevičius-Brazaitis

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Judenfrei. But not Judenrein.



OPINION

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by Chona Leibovich (Leibovičius)

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Chona Leibovich (Leibovičius)

In our country, there has for decades now been a ceaseless series of battles in the mass media, social media and other nooks and crannies of the public space.

A new surge has emerged. The subject of the various high-voltage disputes? The attitude of members of society, and particularly the cultural elite and the authorities to the collaboration of the Lithuanian population with the two adversarial branches of “socialism”: the so-called workers’ and peasants’ variety (Communist) and national socialism (Nazism). During the year before the entry of Nazi troops onto the territory of the Lithuanian Soviet republic  in June of 1941, and after World War II ended here in July 1944, many local people cooperated with the Soviets. The cooperation of an overwhelming part of the country’s population with the Soviet occupational authorities became especially enthusiastic and active during the long, peaceful postwar period. To a certain extent, it was natural because one always wants to live, and not just to survive, but also to find oneself, to be able to create something. However, by the sharpest of contrasts, during the Nazi occupation,considerable numbers became not just willing and active accomplices of the “general” Nazi policies pursued by the occupiers, but also initiators and enthusiasts of repressions and mass murder directed against Jews and, selectively, against members of other sections of the civilian population.

Some naively believed that Hitler’s invasion would help the nation break free of the “friendly” embrace of the USSR and restore independence. Others were guided by more prosaic considerations, such as robbing and killing their neighbors and fellow citizens. Others still did not disdain either and combined the useful with the pleasing. And it never occurred to the many elites leading these activities that killing a peaceful unarmed people in their own country, a whole people declared an enemy by the nationalist propaganda, cannot bring a nation the good luck it years for, even if you somehow assume that they really all were your enemies.

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Alexandra Kudukis Interviews Dovid Katz in The Lithuania Tribune



VILNIUS—The following  interview of DH editor Dovid Katz by Alexandra Kudukis appeared in the Lithuania Tribune today.

Alexandra Kudukis: Professor Katz, you shared that although you were not surprised by the decision, you believed the verdict only serves to divide and hold Lithuania as a culture and people back. Could you please expound on that thought?

My view, consolidated after twenty years of choosing to live in beautiful Vilnius, is that the Lithuanian people by and large have absolutely no interest in there being state-sponsored monuments to Holocaust perpetrators and collaborators or street names glorifying them. This is a kind of self-destructive obsession of a very small but very powerful elite that deals with “history” in government, government-sponsored research and public affairs, agencies and history departments.

Here, in this most delightfully democratic of countries, the one exception is freedom to disagree about history! My dear friend Evaldas Balčiūnas, for example, did the country a huge service by publishing a series of articles, starting in 2012, in both Lithuanian and English, on the topic of “Why does the state commemorate murderers?” He lost his job and career, and was lugged into court for useless kangaroo hearings for years (for the saga in English, please see his section in Defending History, here: (please scroll down to May 2014). In fact, virtually all who have spoken up on these issues have seen our jobs come to a rapid end (see a summary here).

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More Evidence: Did Adolfas Ramanauskas’s Lead a Hitlerist Militia in the Early Days of the Lithuanian Holocaust?



OPINION  |  GLORIFICATION OF COLLABORATORS  |  POLITICS OF MEMORY

by Evaldas Balčiūnas

Five years ago, I wrote about the alleged connections of Adolfas Ramanauskas to the persecution of Jews in Druskininkai. Following publication of the Lithuanian version, the English version appeared here in Defending History in 2014. The connections are based in the first instance on Ramanauskas’s own memoirs, published in post-Soviet independent Lithuania, where he boasts that he served as leader of “the rebels’ squad” during the precise days and weeks of June and July 1941 when these “rebels” of the Lithuanian Activist Front (LAF) were in fact unleashing humiliation, plunder, violence and indeed murder against Jewish neighbors (the Soviet army was escaping Hitler’s invasion, not these white-armbanded LAFers). Following upon Ramanauskas’s own memoir and boast came research into the actual police records of the summer of 1941, as well as the postwar Soviet war crimes trials’ transcripts.

When writing that first article in 2014, my goal was not to find or prove something directly compromising. I was simply disturbed by the obvious collision of this heroic myth and its historical circumstances. It was part of my series of articles in Defending History, starting in 2012, that was launched by my essay “Why does the State Commemorate Murderers?”.

LATEST MEDIA:

AlgemeinerBBCIndependentSimon Wiesenthal CenterTelegraph.

RAMANAUSKAS: A FIVE YEAR SAGA

But then, in late 2017, the Seimas (parliament) of the Republic of Lithuania declared 2018 to be the Year of Adolfas Ramanauskas-Vanagas. Indignant at the uncritical worship, Dr. Efraim Zuroff, director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s department of East European affairs, brought a copy of my article to the members of the Seimas and was condemned without them even attempting to read it. During that period, I published a second, follow-up article focused on the moral issues.

Successful resistance to the plans of the Genocide and Resistance Research Center of Lithuania to erect a monument to Ramanauskas in his native city of New Britain, Conn., were enabled exactly by the facts mentioned in the 2014 piece (that saga can be followed in Defending History). One year ago, the City Council of New Britain “just said No.”

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Latest on State Honors for Holocaust Collaborator J. Noreika



OUR TAKE ON THE LATEST IN THE 7 YEAR OLD NOREIKA SAGA

VILNIUSLRT state television reported that an American religious Jewish school would held a polite protest outside the Lithuanian consulate in New York on Yom Hashoah, 2 May, to protest the Lithuanian government’s continued state-sponsored glorification of Holocaust collaborator Jonas Noreika and others. The protest was carried out by students of the Rambam Mesivta High School, under the guidance of its renowned principal, Rabbi Zev Meir Friedman. See Defending History’s report on the event.

Lithuanian Public Television’s Special Investigation of the controversy over Holocaust perpetrator Jonas Noreika was supposed to air on Thursday May 2 at 7:30 PM (19:30), including an interview with Dr. Andrius Kulikauskas. But the program did not air. Instead, the LRT website posted an “Open Letter Regarding the Increase of Tension in Society” signed by four leaders of  Lithuanian (ultra)nationalist organizations. The letter specifically attacks Chicago resident Silvia Foti, Noreika’s granddaughter, California resident Grant Gochin, and other critics of the glorification of Holocaust collaborators, while claiming that Noreika, Škirpa, Brazaitis, Krikštaponis and Kraujelis are national heroes. LRT.lt added a remark clarifying that, according to the Genocide Center, Krikštaponis participated in the mass murder of Jews. The article claims that criticism of glorification of Holocaust collaborators is the work of “Moscow.”

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Hundreds of Rambam Mesivta High School Protest Peacefully at New York’s Lithuanian Consulate



NEW YORK CITY—Hundreds of Jewish high school students from the New York area, pupils at Rambam Mesivta High School, demonstrated peacefully and with dignity outside the Lithuanian Consulate in New York City yesterday, led by their renowned principal, Rabbi Zev Meir Friedman. The day was Yom Hashoah, a day of remembrance for the victims of the Holocaust, and the occasion was the Lithuanian government’s continued glorification of Jonas Noreika, a major Holocaust collaborator who participated in the destruction of thousands of the country’s citizens in 1941. The Noreika debate is now seven years old, and can be followed chronologically in Defending History (see most recent update).

Students chanted, “Your hero is a Nazi!”

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Dr. Kulikauskas to Speak on Noreika Issue at Vilnius Conference on Interdisciplinary Interaction



THE NOREIKA SAGA  |  COLLABORATORS GLORIFIED  |  GENOCIDE CENTER  |  DOUBLE GENOCIDE POLICIES  |  CHRISTIAN-JEWISH RELATIONS   |  LITHUANIAN JEWISH AFFAIRS

VILNIUS—On Friday, April 26, 18:00-18:20, Dr. Andrius Kulikauskas, curator of the Captain Jonas Noreika Museum, Archive and Forum, will give the final talk at the conference “The Territories of Interaction of Aesthetics, Art Philosophy and Art History: Intercultural Fields of the Functions of Representation”, organized by Prof. Antanas Andrijauskas at the Lithuanian Cultural Studies Institute, at Saltoniškių St. 58, Vilnius.

Dr. Kulikauskas will be speaking in Lithuanian on “How to Forego, Through Dialogue, Monumental Images of Those Who Voiced the Will of the Lithuanian Nation in 1941 But Committed Crimes Against Humanity”.

His talk will be followed by an hour of open dialogue on two questions:

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American Author Silvia Foti Launches Petition Asking Lithuanian Gov. to Abandon State Honors for her Grandfather, Collaborator J. Noreika



OPINION  |  COLLABORATORS GLORIFIED  |  GENOCIDE CENTER  |  DOUBLE GENOCIDE POLICIES  |  THE NOREIKA SAGA  |  CHRISTIAN-JEWISH RELATIONS    |  LITHUANIAN JEWISH AFFAIRS

VILNIUS—Author Silvia Foti, the American granddaughter of the notorious Lithuanian Holocaust collaborator, Jonas Noreika, has been described as “exceptionally courageous” for publicly telling the truth about her grandfather, whom far-right elements in the Lithuanian government and its “history fixing agencies” continue to revere with street names, plaques and state-contrived history. That rewriting of history has a “higher purpose” — to downgrade the Holocaust and beyond whitewashing, to recast the local perpetrators as “heroes” (because they were “anti-Soviet,” a description that could match close to 100% of the East European Holocaust murderers). He is only one of a series of collaborators in the destruction of around 96% of Lithuanian Jewry (among the highest proportions in Holocaust-era Europe) who are regarded as “national heroes” in tandem with the vast, and lavishly state-financed, campaign to rewrite World War II as “two equal genocides,” thereby, according to some, seeking to  write the Holocaust out of history as unique event here — without denying a single death.

This week, Ms. Foti launched an international petition boldly entitled  “Remove all honors awarded to my grandfather Jonas Noreika.” In some ways, it is a follow-up to an earlier petition, launched some years ago by London-based Monica Lowenberg.

TO SIGN THE PETITION 

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How I Feel about Street Names & Public Plaques for Alleged Holocaust Collaborators



OPINION  |  COLLABORATORS GLORIFIED

by Roza Bieliauskienė

The twentieth century was drenched in upheavals, blood and tears. New states were founded, others were destroyed and above all, it cost so many people a huge price: to suffer broken lives and fates or to be senselessly killed. If not for the world wars, how much more would humankind have reached in science, art, literature, technology, economy and more.

 Over seventy years have passed since the end of the Holocaust, and, as in the legend of Till Eulenspiegel the ashes of our people‘s annihilation during the Holocaust is still in our hearts. We do not forget them, every year we come to Ponár (Paneriai), to the fortresses of Kaunas. In my case, also to the Pivonijos forest where in the period from July to September of 1941 so many of my relatives, all simple peaceful civilians, perished, they of the Reitenbort and Kahan families. We also visit other places of mass killings.

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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?

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Vilnius Plaque Glorifying Holocaust Collaborator J. Noreika is Smashed by Stanislovas Tomas, Maverick Candidate for European Parliament



All on film, streamed live Monday morning 8 April 2019, from candidate’s bilingual statements through to his calling the police and their eventual arrival to make the arrest

VIDEO ON YOUTUBE

(plaque smashing at 14:30; English segments at 04:10; 22:40)

UPDATE OF 18 APRIL 2019: PLAQUE RESTORED BY MUNICIPALITY

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Court Steps Aside, Vilnius Genocide Center ‘Shows its True Face’



OPINION  | LITHUANIAN JEWISH AFFAIRS  |  CHRISTIAN-JEWISH RELATIONS  |  COLLABORATORS GLORIFIED  |  GENOCIDE CENTER

by Andrius Kulikauskas

On March 27, 2019, the Vilnius Regional Administrative Court ruled against Grant Gochin as to his complaint against the Lithuanian Genocide and Resistance Research Center. He will have to pay the Center’s legal fees. The Genocide Center proceeded to triumphantly depict Jonas Noreika as a flawless hero, yet in places the contrary view is breaking through the one-sided, subservient reporting by most of the Lithuanian press.

The essence of Grant Gochin’s complaint was that the Center had been unobjective, incomplete, and abused its power in replying to his “Query Regarding Jonas Noreika’s Criminal Gang” and in refusing to change its certificate about Jonas Noreika. Holocaust perpetrator Captain Jonas Noreika is celebrated in Lithuania with honors, statues, plaques, and street names.

The Court ruled that “…the Court cannot take on the Center’s prescribed functions nor its powers…”

The Center’s main argument had been that Gochin had no material interest in the certificate about Jonas Noreika. This was most callous, given that Gochin counts 100 relatives as victims of the Holocaust, with quite a number of them in Šiauliai District, where Jonas Noreika was District Chief. Government agencies refer to the certificate as the basis for honoring Noreika.

DH’s eyewitness report with links to (scant) media coverage

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Eyewitness Report: Reading of Vilnius Court’s Verdict on State Adulation for Local Holocaust Collaborator



‘Sad Day for Lithuania, and for Honest Holocaust Commemoration in Years Ahead’

VILNIUS—At 1 PM on Wed. March 27th, a Vilnius Administrative Court judge read out the court’s ruling dismissing the query of US resident Grant Gochin over Lithuania’s state glorification of Nazi collaborator Jonas Noreika, active during the Holocaust in the region where Gochin lost around 100 relatives. The court said Mr. Gochin had no material interest, ruled that the state-sponsored Genocide Center had answered his query completely, without bias, and without abuse of power, in effect further enshrining in law an EU/NATO state’s glorification of Holocaust collaborators and perpetrato

rs via the financing of ultranationalist and far-right history centers and departments determined to preserve the national hero status of Holocaust collaborators. Whenever government or municipal officials are asked about the numerous street names and plaques honoring collaborators, the invariable answer is that it is all in fact a matter for the experts at the Genocide Center.

Does the ruling reflect a new East European Holocaust sensibility that holds that participation in the destruction of a country’s Jewish citizens during the Holocaust was some minute detail that must not interfere with making heroes out of the local perpetrators and collaborators?

Mr. Gochin’s academic specialist, Dr. Andrius Kulikauskas was on hand along with attorney Rokas Rudzinskas. Of the Genocide Center’s staff, only historian Dr. Arūnas Bubnys turned up, sitting nervously in the small gallery surrounded in part by first and second generation Holocaust survivors who turned out to hear the verdict that the Western embassies, human rights organization and official (state-sponsored) Jewish community thought not worth sending an official representative to hear. By contrast the local Vilnius Jewish Community had two observers on hand.

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Court will Read Out Noreika Verdict Wednesday 27th at 1 PM in Historic Holocaust History Trial



VILNIUS—On March 27, Wednesday, at 1 PM here in Vilnius, the Vilnius Regional Administrative Court will be reading its verdict on  the case filed by California resident Grant Gochin calling on  the state-sponsored Lithuanian Genocide and Resistance Research Center, widely known as the Genocide Center, to revise its evaluation of Holocaust perpetrator Jonas Noreika as a hero who is worthy of state honors. Hundreds of documents have been produced demonstrating beyond all doubt his participation in the Lithuanian Holocaust (see sample document). One of the case’s sensations was the powerful and historic statement condemning Noreik’a crimes produced by his granddaughter, the American educator and author Silvia Foti.

The public and the press are welcome to attend the conclusion of this historic trial at Žygimantų Street 2 in central Vilnius.

BACKGROUND

DH’s take. Report on 15 Jan. hearing. Report on 5 March hearing. Evaldas Balčiūnas’s 2012 article that brought Noreika to the attention of the English speaking world. Balčiūnas’s DH section.

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Latvian Gov. Again Gifts Central Riga for Glorification of Nation’s Wartime Waffen SS



RIGA MARCHES  |  VILNIUS MARCHES  |  KAUNAS MARCHES  |  PRO-NAZI MARCHES IN EASTERN EUROPE  |  GLORIFICATION OF COLLABORATORS  |  ANTISEMITISM

AROUND 1000 TAKE PART IN 16 MARCH CENTRAL RIGA PARADE GLORIFYING LATVIA’S WARTIME NAZI WAFFEN SS

UPDATE OF 20 MARCH: CANADA CONDEMNS EVENT

Media coverage: Delfi.lvDPA;  HaaretzJerusaem Post;  Jüdisches Forum (video)LSM.lv;  Times of IsraelToronto Sun

Detail from the day

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The Strange Holocaust Trial in the Lithuanian Capital



OPINION  |  GLORIFICATION OF COLLABORATORS  |  POLITICS OF MEMORY

by Evaldas Balčiūnas

Last Tuesday, 5 March 2019, a Vilnius court sat in judgment over an appeal to the state-sponsored “Genocide Center” by Grant Arthur Gochin, a financial advisor in California who is of Litvak heritage and was himself born in South Africa (he did not come in for the trial but was represented by attorney Rokas Rudzinskas and academic specialist Dr. Andrius Kulikauskas). The request in effect asked the Genocide Center (formally “The Genocide and Resistance Research Center of Lithuania” or LGGRTC) to revisit their refusal to re-examine the historical certificate they issued whitewashing Holocaust collaborator Jonas Noreika. In support, the plaintiff submitted a big stack of documents from Lithuania’s own archives, and claimed that the Center’s conclusions ignore or misinterpret a whole series of documents and that they are biased in their justification of Noreika and taking into account only “positive aspects” of his activities. The Center explained away some documents signed by Noreika by using other documents that were signed by the German administration much later, but failed to properly name the criteria according to which some witnesses and documents are deemed important and others are rejected. Gochin’s lawyer noted that responsibility for crimes to humanity is not canceled out by the fact that the perpetrator held office and was following orders.

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After ‘Hearing Both Sides’ at Trial of March  5th, Vilnius Court Sets Verdict for 27th



EVENTS  |  GLORIFICATION OF COLLABORATORS  |  POLITICS OF MEMORY

 

Dr. Andrius Kulikauskas, moments before his historic address before the Vilnius court on state-funded Genocide Center’s policy of glorifying Holocaust collaborators. The center’s “decisions” are cited by high officials as “justification” for street names, university hall plaques and other public-space state-funded glorifications of Holocaust collaborators. Around 96% of Lithuanian Jewry was massacred in the Holocaust.

Defending History was there. Evaldas Balčiūnas’s report here. Editor’s take:

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Run-Up to Vilnius Trial on March 5th



EVENTS  |  GLORIFICATION OF COLLABORATORS  |  POLITICS OF MEMORY

 

California Financial Planner Takes Lithuania’s State-Sponsored “Genocide Center” to Court on March 5th for Enabling Gov. Glorification of Holocaust Collaborator J. Noreika

   Proceedings are open to the public (Tuesday March 5th, 10 AM at Vilnius Regional Administrative Court at Žygimantų 2 in central Vilnius). Media to date includes the BBC World ServiceChicago TribuneJTA. The plaintiff is California wealth advisor Grant Arthur Gochin whose family lost around 100 relatives in the Holocaust in the area where Noreika operated. He will be represented in Vilnius by attorney Rokas Rudzinskas and specialist Dr. Andrius Kulikauskas, author of the Query that launched the case. He has a compelling letter of support from Noreika’s granddaughter, American educator and author Silvia Foti. See Ms. Foti’s remarkable 2018 essay in Salon, and the recent takes by Grant Gochin, Dovid Katz, Andrius Kulikauskas, and Efraim Zuroff.

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Lithuania Braces for Global Interest in Holocaust Perpetrator Noreika



OPINION  | LITHUANIAN JEWISH AFFAIRS  |  CHRISTIAN-JEWISH RELATIONS  |  COLLABORATORS GLORIFIED  |  GENOCIDE CENTER

by Andrius Kulikauskas

On February 14, BBC World Service Outlook presented a 23 minute conversation with Silvia Foti and Grant Gochin about Lithuanian Holocaust perpetrator Jonas Noreika. Silvia Foti, born in Chicago, is the granddaughter of Noreika, and Grant Gochin, born in South Africa, and resident in California, is related to a hundred of his victims in the Šiauliai region. The radio show, “The truth about my ‘hero’ grandfather”, reached about 75 million listeners, a well-informed 1% of humanity.

Global interest is growing as Lithuania’s Genocide Center chooses to defend in court its refusal to reconsider its estimation of Jonas Noreika. In a similar spirit, on February 5, the State Security Department together with the Defense Ministry’s Intelligence and Counterintelligence Department warned in their 2019 National Threat Assessment Report to the Seimas: “Russian officials and subordinate propagandists seek to shape the attitude that only Nazi collaborators and Holocaust-complicit criminals supported the resistance against the Soviet occupation. To compromise the Lithuanian resistance the Kremlin cynically manipulates the Holocaust tragedy to achieve the goals of its history policy.”

See also: Defending History’s take. Evaldas Balčiūnas’s series of articles which brought this issue to the English speaking world starting in 2012. Prof. Pinchos Fridberg’s position that the Noreika issue cannot be about one single plaque in the sea of national glorification. DH’s section on Collaborators Glorified. Illustrations of a number of street names and state plaques that glorify alleged Holocaust collaborators. 2012 reburial with full honors of the 1941 Holocaust collaborator prime minister. More. DH Editor’s academic papers on the wider historical and intellectual background.

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Europe’s (and ODIHR’s and the OSCE’s) So-Called “Fight Against Antisemitism”



by Vilhjálmur Örn Vilhjálmsson


Saturday February 16, 2019 will celebrated as Independence Day in Lithuania (marking the 1918 rise of the state; a second independence day, March 11th, marks its 1990 reestablishment). The far-right-nationalists of Lithuania have once again been permitted to march through the central Old Town streets of the country’s capital to praise their so-called heroes. These views on “heroes” held by the Vilnius marchers are pretty much shared by much of the present and past government establishments, as evidenced, for example, by street names and  public plaques and many episodes of glorification of collaborators, including the infamous 2012 reburial with full honors of the 1941 Nazi puppet prime minister.

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