VILNIUS—Lithuanian Social Democratic Party (LSDP) veteran Bronius Bradauskas, chairman of the parliament’s powerful Budget and Finance Committee, has sparked controversy in comments he made about whether those who rescued Jews during World War II deserve state pensions in line with “freedom fighters’ pensions” received among others by veterans of the postwar “Forest Brothers,” some of whom were recycled Holocaust perpetrators.
He told Baltic News Service (BNS):
“I don’t see why the Lithuanian state should pay. It would be very logical if we approached Israel, and Israel could pay. But no, the Jews don’t want to pay, they just want to take from Lithuania.”
In a clip aired on the evening news on national television Monday, Bradauskas said Israel should pay pensions to Righteous Gentiles for “saving their citizens” during World War II.
Updates to 28 Dec 2013:
Earlier reaction by Evaldas Balčiūnas; Lrytas.lt plus video; Lithuania Tribune; Romualdas Bakutis’s interview in Alfa.lt with Faina Kukliansky, chair of Lithuania’s Jewish Community; Chronology plus brief commentary by Pinchos Fridberg in Defending History; Arkadijus Vinokuras in Lietuvos rytas; Censure by PM / Social Democrats; JTA.
See also: Milan Chersonski on Real and Supposed Heroes…
The comments came in the wake of deliberations in the committee Bradauskas heads over plans by the Government to pay such pensions. The debate in the ministers’ cabinet was also marked by strong opinions, and initially the Government decided not to undertake the commitment. After a public row broke out, Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevičius in essence vetoed the notion of not paying, and forced his cabinet to reconsider. The ins-and-outs are linked and briefly commented upon by Pinchos Fridberg in Defending History.
At issue as well is whether rescuers of Jews deserve the status of “freedom fighters,” a distinction usually reserved for so-called Lithuanian partisans, some of whom placed themselves in subordination to the Nazis and perpetrated Holocaust crimes. Those designated “freedom fighters” are automatically eligible for a so-called hero’s state pension in Lithuania.