Builders’ Curtain Down, Scaffolding Still Up, at Vilnius Science Library’s Facade: Will the Gov. Step in to ‘Just Say No’ to Plaque Glorifying a Collaborator in Genocide of Lithuanian Jewry during the Holocaust?




OPINION | COLLABORATORS GLORIFIED | INS AND OUTS OF THE NOREIKA PLAQUE IN CENTRAL VILNIUSNOREIKA SAGA | U.S.A.

Will the government of Lithuania, a proud, successful and delightful member of the European Union and NATO, stand up and state clearly that the Vilnius city-center plaque glorifying J. Noreika, a brutal Holocaust collaborator, removed a year ago in the run-up to July’s NATO conference (pretext: “renovations of the facade”), will not be put back?

“A state’s moral decisions are vital in determining the path for the future”

The builders’ sheets have come down. The scaffolding is still up. When the plaque was removed for renovations, Delfi.lt reported one year ago that the director of the National Library of Sciences, whose Noreika facade has damaged Lithuania’s standing, gave the plaque to a far-right, pro-fascist youth group “for safekeeping” while assuring the public that “the sign will be put back when the renovation works are completed.” Sources in the government have told Defending History that the plan of the far right is to replicate the “success of 2019” when removal of the plaque was followed by a far-right Nazi-sympathizing group coming by one night with a crowd to put it up (in that instance —to put up a bigger and better plaque with bas relief of the Holocaust collaborator), after which “nobody in the government or municipality would dare defy their fait accompli.”

America’s ambassador to Lithuania, H.E. Cara McDonald, mentioned Noreika by name in her historic Jan. 2024 statement that included the indelible words: “I will continue to speak out strongly against the glorification of individuals who are known and documented to have participated in the Holocaust. This is part of the definition of antisemitism.”

Though this Noreika plaque in central Vilnius is today’s focus of attention, it is the tip of the proverbial iceberg. See the listings by Lev Golinkin in the New York Forward and Genocide Watch, and Defending History’s illustrative samplings for Vilnius, and Lithuania. A group of Kaunas citizens have started an interactive map for Kaunas, whose major state university, Vytautas Magnus University (VMU), continues to sport a lecture hall name and bas-relief glorifying Juozas Ambrazevičius-Brazaitis,the head of Hitler’s 1941 Nazi puppet government. See coverage of the collaborator’s 2012 reburial with full honors in Kaunas, and one take, by the former editor of the Jewish community’s quadrilingual newspaper, on a university official’s response to it allegedly being forced by “the Jews” to cancel an event glorifying the Nazi puppet prime minister.  [Update of 24 May: VMU officials report that the Brazaitis shrines were “temporarily taken down before renovations and not yet replaced”. This is hopefully not the Kaunas version of the Noreika saga, wherein the “restoration” will take place after this summer’s international Holocaust conference…]


 

 

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