State Glorification of Holocaust Collaborator J. Noreika
Most Lithuanian Citizens Not Aware that State-Sponsored “Genocide Center” (GC) is the only (?) Gov. Body in the EU in the Business of Glorifying Holocaust Collaborators
Defending History led the way in 2010 with page and section exposing the GC (which runs the city-center “Genocide Museum”)
KAUNAS—For the fifth year running, the Defending History team was the only Lithuania-based monitoring unit on site to observe and record the neo-Nazi march in the center of Kaunas, from start to finish, on February 16th, the anniversary of Lithuania’s 1918 declaration of independence. (DH has monitored the March 11th marches in Vilnius since 2008.) Once again, the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Israel office was the only foreign partner to attend, monitor and participate in our annual silent protest. There was no sign of any of the many well-funded human rights monitors in the region.
Yet again, the center of Kaunas, the interwar capital and modern Lithuania’s second city, was gifted by the city’s authorities to the neo-Nazis for their event, which drew hundreds, and was kept orderly by a highly professional, and by now experienced, police and state security presence (which, as ever, took every care to keep the Defending History team secure throughout the day).
This year’s theme was a front-of-march We Know Our Nation’s Heroes banner featuring six figures who share the following unsettling common denominator: all were alleged Nazi collaborators and/or Holocaust perpetrators (from left): Adolfas Ramanauskas-Vanagas, Jonas Noreika, Povilas Plechavičius, Kazys Škirpa, Antanas Baltūsis-Žvejas, and Juozas Ambrazevičius-Brazaitis. It is as if the marchers are celebrating the murder of the 30,000 Jewish citizens of Kaunas, the more than 95% of the over 200,000 strong Lithuanian Jewish population on the eve of the Holocaust, and the resulting “cleansing” of Lithuania’s Jewish minority.
Background to Faina Kukliansky’s Bold Letter to Vilnius Mayor on City Plaque Honoring Holocaust Participator Jonas Noreika
VILNIUS: FOLLOWING DEFENDING HISTORY’S YEARS LONG CAMPAIGN AGAINST PUBLIC HONORS FOR HOLOCAUST COLLABORATORS, HEAD OF JEWISH COMMUNITY FAINA KUKLIANSKY SENDS POWERFUL, COURAGEOUS LETTER TO VILNIUS MAYOR CALLING FOR REMOVAL OF A PUBLIC PLAQUE HONORING HOLOCAUST PERPETRATOR JONAS NOREIKA (NOREIKA INSCRIPTION ON CAPITAL’S CENTRAL BLVD NOT YET MENTIONED).
Head of Lithuanian Jewish Community Calls on Mayor of Vilnius to Remove Plaque Honoring a Holocaust Collaborator
VILNIUS—Jewish Community chairperson Faina Kukliansky, a prominent lawyer here in the Lithuanian capital, today released on the community’s official website the text of her letter to the mayor of Vilnius calling for the removal of a plaque honoring the notorious Holocaust collaborator Jonas Noreika. The letter follows her bold speech at the 23 September Ponár (Paneriai) memorial which likewise called on government officials to remove honors for Holocaust perpetrators, citing three prominent collaborators by name.
There was immediate speculation on which human rights, Jewish and Israeli organizations, here and internationally, would react with rapid public expressions of support for the chairperson’s letter. The charismatic young mayor of Vilnius has a colorful record on Jewish issues, which Defending History has been following for years, starting with his earlier stint as justice minister.
Instead of Removing Honors for Holocaust Collaborators, New Petition is Launched to Ask for Yet Another
In a 2012 article in Defending History, I asked why Holocaust perpetrator Jonas Noreika is made into a “national hero” here in Lithuania, one honored by street names and public plaques. Since then protests have come, among others, from a somewhat obscured petition by Lithuanian intellectuals, an appeal from journalist and Declaration of Independence signatory Rimvydas Valatka, Lithuania’s official Jewish community, Grant Gochin, a South African born author resident in the United States, and others. These appeals, all from 2015, were crowned by a rare protest by Jewish students at a Noreika shrine in central Vilnius (see Defending History’s guide for English readers to the links in the 2015 debate).
“Nationalist” March in Central Vilnius on Lithuania’s 100th Birthday Ends Up in Usual Neo-Nazi Spirit
VILNIUS MARCHES | KAUNAS MARCHES | REGIONAL PRO-NAZI MARCHES | COLLABORATORS GLORIFIED | ANTISEMITISM | EVENTS | OPINION
Eyewitness Report by Defending History Staff with photos by Julius Norwilla. His photo gallery available here.
For more on the six figures depicted on the lead banner, follow the links for (from left): Adolfas Ramanauskas-Vanagas, Jonas Noreika, Povilas Plechavičius, Kazys Škirpa, Antanas Baltūsis-Žvejas, and Juozas Ambrazevičius-Brazaitis.
It started off as a sanitized version of neo-Nazi culture made to look like just “mainstream nationalist.” But by the time the event reached its peak, it featured hundreds of people carrying torches through some of the oldest streets of Vilnius Old Town, while worshiping a banner featuring six alleged Nazi collaborators, five of them deeply implicated in the Holocaust per se, thereby symbolically expressing some kind of glee at the successful ethnic cleansing which these “heroes” supported. The Catholic Church gave the events a de facto blessing. The two open voices of morally clear protest were of the Jewish activist Daniel Lupshitz and the Catholic professor Dr. Andrius Kulikauskas. Defending History’s Julius Norwilla and Dovid Katz monitored the event.
Lithuanian citizen Grant Gochin, a Litvak born in South Africa and living in California, has relentlessly challenged Lithuania’s Genocide Center to tell the truth about Jonas Noreika, whom the Center maintains can be considered an anti-Soviet and anti-Nazi hero despite his role as a Holocaust perpetrator. Gochin’s 40 page Query Regarding Jonas Noreika’s criminal gang, submitted on June 15, 2018, is available in a PDF file which includes the Lithuanian original (pages 49-89), the English translation (pages 1-45), and an extensive list of source materials (pages 90-100). Jonas Noreika’s granddaughter Silvia Foti also contributed a letter in support of Grant’s query (pages 47-48). The Genocide Center has posted its 18 page response in Lithuanian. On its website it warns that “G.A.G Gochin’s ‘investigation’ of J. Noreika, without providing substantial proof, possibly violating the Republic of Lithuania’s Constitution and the Republic of Lithuania’s Criminal Code, accuses many individuals […]”.
Summer 2018 Discourse on Proposed Removal of Plaques & Street Names Glorifying Holocaust Perpetrator Jonas Noreika
Pope Francis’s two-day visit to Lithuania this weekend includes a symbolic stop at the Vilna Ghetto on his second day, September 23, at roughly 4 PM at Rūdininkai Square. On that day, 75 years ago, Nazi Germans liquidated the Vilna Ghetto, murdering some of its Jews in Paneriai Forest (Ponár), and moving the rest to concentration camps in Latvia, Estonia and Germany. Since 1994, it has been the National Day of Commemoration of the Genocide of Lithuania’s Jews. Now it will surely be linked in the Lithuanian psyche with this visit by Pope Francis, and perhaps some day, Saint Francis.
However, his visit is also a chance for him to make plain to the children of God our lack of empathy for Lithuania’s Jews. A very short detour to the “Vilnius Sports Palace” — and a heavenly nod by the Pope — would let us tear down that “Soviet temple”, resurrect the holy Jewish cemetery beneath it, and enjoy a symbol of Litvak and Lithuanian friendship forever. This brings to mind the detour Jesus made in Jericho, when two blind men called out, “Lord, have mercy on us, you son of David!” And Jesus halted the crowd.
“BELIEVE IT OR NOT”
Lithuania’s State Sponsored “Genocide Center” Goes to Court to Defend Legacy of Notorious Holocaust Collaborator
The Question: Does a vibrant and successful EU/NATO democracy really need expensive far-right history “fixing” units that adore Nazi collaborators, stifle free debate of history and ethics, promote ultranationalism, and do untold damage to the country?
Dr. Kulikauskas Issues Call to Lithuanian Society to Join Together in Dealing with Legacy of Holocaust Collaborator J. Noreika
VILNIUS—Dr. Andrius Kulikauskas today released an appeal, in the Lithuanian language, that calls on fellow Lithuanian citizens to come together in opposing the ongoing national glorification of Holocaust collaborator J. Noreika in a spirit of historic integrity that would also lead to the inevitable conclusion that the controversial historical personage was in effect a Holocaust criminal. For some background on recent developments in the Noreika saga, set to culminate in a historic trial here in the Lithuanian capital on 15 January, see recent articles in DH’s Collaborators Glorified section.
The Noreika case was first brought to the attention of the English speaking world by DH’s correspondent Evaldas Balčiūnas in 2012, as part of his series on “national heroes” who were Holocaust collaborators. As a result of those articles, Mr. Balčiūnas was subjected to years of prosecutorial harassment (scroll down to 2014 in his DH section). More recently, the 2018 bold article by Noreika’s granddaughter, American author and educator Silvia Foti in Salon resulted in New York Times coverage last September, that itself followed up on the paper’s March 2018 article on Holocaust related issues in Lithuania.
VILNIUS—As the date (15 January) nears of what some have dubbed the Holocaust trial of the 21st century, an increasing number of observers request more information on the alleged Holocaust collaborator at the center of it all, Jonas Noreika (1910–1947). His case was brought to the English-reading world by Defending History’s Evaldas Balčiūnas in 2012 (as part of a series on Holocaust collaborators who are glorified with state funding). Mr. Balčiūnas was “rewarded” with years of legal harassment from police and prosecutors over his objections to state honors for Holocaust collaborators (see the Balciunas section, scroll down to May 2014 for start of the legal proceedings; while enjoying a modern freewheeling democracy on nearly all issues, Lithuania’s residents have run into troubles when challenging state policy on the Holocaust.).
OPINION | VILNIUS GENOCIDE CENTER | VILNIUS GENOCIDE MUSEUM | GLORIFICATION OF COLLABORATORS | ACADEMIC BACKGROUND
As trials of alleged criminals come to an end, is the era of ‘history on trial’ getting underway?
On January 15th, 2019, at 10 AM, a momentous historic court case will unfold in Vilnius, Lithuania, scheduled to start at the Vilnius Regional Administrative Court at Žygimantų 2 in the heart of the capital. Challenged by a call for removal of Holocaust collaborator Jonas Noreika from the pantheon of national heroes (including street names, memorials and an inscribed stone block on the capital’s central boulevard), the state-sponsored “Genocide Center”, a bastion of far-right extremism that, in the opinion of many, does grave damage to the image of modern democratic Lithuania, will be defending Noreika using the hard-earned tax euros of the nation’s noble citizens. See the remarkable 2018 Salon magazine essay by Noreika’s granddaughter, American author and educator Silvia Foti; DH report by Dr. Andrius Kulikauskas on the action brought by Grant Gochin. Documents include the original query (15 June), Genocide Center’s response (19 July), Mr. Gochin’s legal complaint (10 August) and the Genocide Center’s response (1 Oct.).