How did Lithuania’s Foreign Minister End Up Together with Defending History’s Editor in Hit Job by Nation’s Top Neo-Nazi Blogger?
“By doing the right thing, and calling for the removal of a central Vilnius plaque that honors a brutal Nazi collaborator”
See also selection of the racist, homophobic, and misogynist output of a Baltic nation’s far-right blogger who is said to be an official in the Economy Ministry
There are ome strange twists in the 21st century history of Holocaust collaborator Jonas Noreika (who continues to be honored by street names, plaques, engraved stones and more).
When Defending History’s Evaldas Balčiūnas alerted the English speaking world, back in 2012, about Noreika (and other Holocaust collaborators honored by the state), he was “rewarded” with years of police and prosecutorial harassment (scroll down his DH section to 2014 and beyond). Incidentally, while Lithuania is a genuine democracy with remarkably robust free speech, a singular exception has been dissent on Holocaust-related history policy where highly diverse figures have had their their careers, livelihoods and reputations targeted for speaking out, in effect, for the Western history of World War II and the Holocaust in opposition to the far right’s “Double Genocide” revisionism.
But when Noreika’s granddaughter, American educator and author Silvia Foti published a bold historic piece on her grandfather’s legacy in 2018, it was picked up by The New York Times. The eminent scholar Dr. Andrius Kulikauskas went on to provide reams of unearthed evidence, and now curates the online Captain Jonas Noreika Museum.
Then, the “official” state-sponsored Jewish Community finally spoke up. Then, Lithuania’s foreign minister. Linas Linkevičius, boldly called for removal of one of the Noreika plaques in central Vilnius, arguing it might halt the movement for removal of honors for all the other alleged collaborators (see e.g. Vilnius’s 2016 Škirpa debate).
A social democrat, he was pilloried by the far right ultranationalists who enjoy glorifying Nazi collaborators while “trumpeting Litvak heritage for PR and wannabe foreigners”. (It was fellow social democrats, led by (now) European Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis, who led a group of eight bold Lithuanian parliamentarians who signed the Seventy Years Declaration in 2012.)
Then, on 16 October 2018, an elite demonstration turned up at the Noreika plaque to demand that it stay in place. One of the demonstrators was former foreign minister Audronius Ažubalis (Homeland Union Conservative). Despite a 2010 protest by the Jewish community of Lithuania at his antisemitic remarks, he was honored in 2011 by Yivo in New York as part of the “moral purchase of Yivo” in the state-sponsored nationalist Holocaust revision effort. Its director duly joined the state’s “red-brown commission”. One of Lithuania’s last Vilna-born Holocaust survivors addressed him in writing and in a Yiddish video appeal, with an impassioned plea.
The affair became emblematic of entrapment of naive foreign Jewish organizations unaware they were being incorporated into Jewish projects that are linked to the movement to whitewash Holocaust collaborators in the region. Indeed, it was the same Mr. Ažubalis who came up with the “Hitler-Stalin moustache comparison” in response to the Seventy Years Declaration (see Dr. Andriukaitis’s reponse). Now, in 2018, former foreign minister Ažubalis is demonstrating on the streets of Vilnius for the retention of state honors for proven Holocaust collaborators. Comment from Yivo?