The following 7 March 2014 comment by Olga Zabludoff on the video posted of the 14 February 2014 event at Yivo appears in the Comments section for her earlier article in the Algemeiner Journal, where readers can follow the entire discussion.
Many thanks to Yivo for posting the video of the discussion “Unresolved History: Jews and Lithuanians after the Holocaust.” In my opinion, the champion panelist was Leonidas Donskis who opened his heart with conviction and courage. As a Jewish Lithuanian his understanding of and sympathy for both Jews and Lithuanians have generated wise insights and pervasive truths. Among his magnitude of analytical comments to be applauded, Donskis explained that the Far Right in Lithuania has managed to get close to the center of power where they have been “mainstreamed” rather than marginalized. He also reflected on how difficult it is for Lithuanians who have decided to tell the truth. As a nation “we lack the political courage,” he remarked.
Saulius Sužiedėlis, a historian, opened his presentation with the observation that it is not the history that is unresolved, but coming to terms with that history, confronting the history. Yet I was left with a troubling sense of wondering which version of the history he advocates. For the prominent historian that he is, and as a member of the state appointed International Commission for the Evaluation of the Crimes of the Nazi and Soviet Occupation Regimes in Lithuania, Sužiedėlis seemed to be minimizing some very important thorns of Holocaust history and current political issues in Lithuania.
• He claimed the Double-Genocide concept is sheer nonsense manufactured by demagogues and noise makers.
• He shared the same opinion about the anti-Nazi Jewish partisans who were summoned, he argued, only as “witnesses.” (See http://defendinghistory.com/?p=238)
• On the subject of the Jews massacred in the provinces, Sužiedėlis commented, “They did not die at the hands of their neighbors.” He insisted they were victims of the Einsatzgruppen mobile killing units. A historian certainly must know that the German Nazis in those mobile killing squads served essentially as observers and photographers; they did not need to do the killing; they had sufficient numbers of volunteer Lithuanian executioners, in many cases whom the victims knew by name. David Bankier’s book Expulsion and Extermination and Kazimierz Sakowicz’s Ponary Diary: 1941-1943 testify to the history of how the Jews were exterminated in the provinces and at Ponary.
Mikhail Iossel was a worthy moderator, steering the dialogue well. It is worth watching the video more than once.