The Baltic state-sponsored political infiltration into supposedly independent academic bodies concerned with Holocaust studies and education came into sharp focus in Washington this week with leakage to the media of a number of letters from Artūras Vazbys, Minister Counselor at the Lithuanian embassy in Washington DC. The identical letters read:
From: Artūras VAZBYS
Subject: re: International Commission
The esteemed Minister Counselor neglected, however, to inform invitees that the “Red-Brown Commission,” as it is known for short in diplomatic circles, has been a source of severe disquiet for Holocaust survivors since its founding by the Lithuanian government in 1998; that it has been condemned by survivor and remembrance organizations worldwide, and that two of its founding members, Sir Martin Gilbert (London) and Dr. Yitzhak Arad (Tel Aviv), have resigned on principle, as have a number of members of its committees of experts, including Professor Gershon Greenberg (Washington DC) and Professor Konrad Kwiet (Sydney, Australia). For years, Professor Dov Levin’s name was used on Commission letterpaper without his permission until a final 2008 demand for removal was honored.
The Commission, in partnership with the antisemitic Genocide Research Center, is now the official body representing Lithuania in the “Prague Process” Campaign to Promote “Double Genocide”
A page of links referencing problems with the Commission, and critiques of its mission and activities, is available here. A small selection of documents about the Commission’s political agenda is presented in image form here. At present, the Red-Brown Commission, in partnership with the antisemitic Genocide Research Center (one of whose “chief specialists” recently helped organize the neo-Nazi march in central Vilnius on 11 March 2012), is the “Lithuanian component” of the European-wide Double Genocide campaign known in Eurospeak as the “Platform of European Memory and Conscience” or the “Prague Process”.
[UPDATE: In April 2012 it came to light that the Commission's partner, the Genocide Center, continued to employ a "chief specialist" who has now made murder threats against three members of the Lithuanian parliament.]
Besides monopolizing Holocaust education in Lithuania (and effectively destroying independent NGOs that earlier began to build honest Holocaust education in the country), the same Commission, whose formal (some would say Orwellian) name is The International Commission for the Evaluation of the Crimes of the Nazi and Soviet Occupation Regimes in Lithuania, has served as the political engine for the Double Genocide movement in Europe, down to providing ever-newer individual points of supposed “equivalence” between Nazi and Soviet crimes that lie at the heart of the Baltic effort to write the Holocaust out of history without denying a single death.
This journal has referred to this twenty-first century replacement of Holocaust Denial as Holocaust Obfuscation.
The Commission’s chairman is right-wing Lithuanian MP Emanuelis Zingeris, who resigned from his country’s Jewish community in 1997, and has played a key role in providing “Jewish cover” for the campaign to downgrade the Holocaust. He was the only Jew in Europe to sign the 2008 Prague Declaration. The far right’s ability to “wheel him out” at will has helped to provide international cover for the simultaneous state-sponsored campaign to honor the local perpetrators as “hero rebels” as well as for unchecked antisemitism at the state level, including the legalization of swastikas, permits for neo-Nazi marches in the heart of the capital city, and silent acquiescence to 1930s style antisemitic headlines in mass circulation newspapers.
The Commission’s director general (for some audiences: executive director), is the nationalist politician Ronaldas Račinskas, well known for his very different presentations of Holocaust history to Lithuanian and to (foreign) Jewish audiences. In January 2012, he served as the main attack dog in a radio panel discussion against a courageous member of the Lithuanian parliament who signed the Seventy Years Declaration on the occasion of the anniversary of the Wannsee Final Solution conference. Last June, Mr. Račinskas was a featured keynote speaker at a parliamentary conference glorifying the Lithuanian Activist Front (LAF) Holocaust perpetrators and collaborators as supposed heroes.
To this day, the Commission has failed to publicly condemn Lithuanian prosecutors’ campaigns against Holocaust survivors who joined the anti-Nazi resistance in the forests and are heroes of the free world, including its own founding member Dr. Yitzhak Arad. To this day, Holocaust survivor and historian Dr. Rachel Margolis, who turned 90 in October 2011, is afraid to return to Vilnius for one last visit because of prosecutors’ threats against her.
At the same time, the Lithuanian foreign ministry looks for ever more naive Western (and Israeli) academics to shore up the Commission so dedicated to the Prague Declaration and the Double Genocide movement in Europe.
Incidentally, the Red-Brown Commission is housed in the Prime Minister’s office, symbolically and spatially underscoring its function as a tool of current government politics and its lack of academic, intellectual or moral independence.