OPINION | FILM | ARTS | MEDIA | COLLABORATOR GLORIFICATION | J. NOREIKA
by Dovid Katz
Genuine heroes of this saga—both written out of the film
- At left: Evaldas Balčiūnas (who first called his nation’s attention (in Lithuanian) and the world’s (in English) to state-sponsored adulation of Lithuanian Holocaust perpetrator J. Noreika. That was a year after his classic essay “Why does the state commemorate murderers?” appeared in Defending History in 2011. Here pictured at Vilnius County Court after one of the hearings in the litany of kangaroo cases against him (Defending History was there at each hearing to support him). He is DH’s 2023 Person of the Year.
- At right: Dr. Andrius Kulikauskas brought his self-crafted poster to a nationalist event on independence day in central Vilnius, with an image to show his people the kind of national hero Lithuania should be celebrating: the inspirational Holocaust-era rescuer Malvina Šokelytė Valeikienė (DH’s person of the year in 2018). The gentle, teetotaling mathematician and philosopher took this sign right into the heart of an alcohol-fueled ultranationalist demonstration, leaving observers of every persuasion in awe of his courage. Dr. Kulikauskas boldly led the effort to expose Noreika in Lithuania and is the de facto author of the primary documents underpinning the legal petitions to the state’s Genocide Center and its courts. A Lithuanian American born and raised in California, he and his family migrated to newly free Lithuania decades ago.
- See DH’s Evaldas Balčiūnas and Andrius Kulikauskas sections. A future film maker might even find an enchanting angle in the stark differences between the two Lithuanian heroes of this story. One is a devout Catholic, the other an atheist. One is an anarchist, the other a nationalist. One an urban family guy, the other a lone thinker and dreamer in a faraway wooden hut in the depths of the Lithuanian countryside.
VILNIUS—Michael Kretzmer’s new documentary J’Accuse! provides a terrific extended interview with legendary truth-teller Silvia Foti. The film’s narration provides effective statements on ongoing East European state adulation of Nazi collaborators though focused on just one, Jonas Noreika of Lithuanian Holocaust infamy (who was the Chicago-born Foti’s grandfather).