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.

Here’s one:

http://www.genocid.lt/centras/lt/1215/a/. It’s brief, in two languages—English and Lithuanian—it’s about the Holocaust in the Raseiniai district and… it’s similar to an ideologized neo-Nazi version of the events there. It is typical in that the article to which the abstract refers is not provided on the internet. I’ll come back to that, but now about the summary. It is six paragraphs. The first several sentences introduce the article as one of a series by the author about the Holocaust in the Raseiniai district.

The second paragraph is two sentences of a general nature, lacking any names, presenting the Jewish community of Nemakščiai, and noting that Jews were the majority of the population of the town of Nemakščiai.

The third paragraph devotes several sentences to how the Wehrmacht occupied the Nemakščiai rural district, murdered Lithuanian men in several villages (8 in Švendrūna, 3 in Očikiai) and armed collaborators. It says that armed men carried out “the disenfranchisement, discrimination and isolation of Jews” on June 26 and 27, 1941.

The third paragraph concerns the mass murder of Jews. Besides nameless Germans and Lithuanians “brought in from Raseiniai,” it mentions a V. Miecevičius, the man appointed mayor of Nemakščiai who signed off on orders to persecute Jews, and local resident Julius Damanskis, who shot the Jewish women and children of Nemakščiai at Legotiškė village using tracer bullets on August 22, 1941. After that comes a kind of moral judgment on all of that:

“It should be noted that the Bolsheviks in 1940-1941 failed in all three rural districts to set residents against one another on an ethnic basis, to set Lithuanians against Jews, but the Nazis did succeed in the summer of 1941 in raising antisemitic sentiments among local residents. There were executions carried out by Germans based on antisemitic considerations even before the promulgation of discriminatory orders aimed at the Jews. German soldiers and operatives seized the assets of Jews isolated in ghettos (Nemakščiai), raped Jewish girls (Kražiai), sadistically tortured inmates of ghettos (Viduklė railroad station) and so on. No information was found regarding the alleged brutal behavior of Lithuanian volunteer guards (insurgents) from the rural districts and Lithuanians who later collaborated with the Nazis concerning the Jews.”

I recommend reading that last line again.

“No information was found regarding the alleged brutal behavior of Lithuanian volunteer guards (insurgents) from the rural districts and Lithuanians who later collaborated with the Nazis towards Jews.”

When I read it the first time, I had to reread it a dozen times or so, and I wondered.

Am I reading the webpage of an institution of the Republic of Lithuania, or am I reading the webpage of some neo-Nazi group? “The disenfranchisement, discrimination and isolation of Jews,” the shooting of women and children with tracer bullets. This is all in the tone of the rewriters of history, paid for by the state and its taxpayers. Is there not something untoward here?

The next paragraph shows that the rewriters know exactly what they’re doing. It’s short and on-topic:

“Preliminarily the Jewish people in 1941 lost over 560 people in Nemakščiai rural district, about 370 in Kražiai and 160-170 at Viduklė in 1941. In Raseiniai district no Jewish communities remained by September, 1941.”

The Genocide Research Center apparently doesn’t have the time to take any interest in who these murdered Jews were, since, after all, they are carrying out a crucial mission:

“not to find any information regarding the brutal behavior of Lithuanians collaborating with the Nazis toward Jews.”

 

 


 

This authorized translation from the Lithuanian original is by Geoff Vasil. 

 

 

 

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