The following is a translation of the Hebrew letter from Tel Aviv attorney Joseph Melamed, head of the Association of Lithuanian Jews, to Avner Shalev, director of Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, in reaction to news reports reporting that Yad Vashem would rejoin the Vilnius-based red-brown commission. In addition, the Association issued a statement to the media today.
Tel Aviv, 3 September 2012
Hon. Avner Shalev
Chairman, Yad Vashem
The Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Authority
The Association of Lithuanian Jews in Israel was left in shock by the decision of Yad Vashem to renew its activities in the “International” Commission [for the Evaluation of the Crimes of the Nazi and Soviet Occupational Regimes in Lithuania].
Is Yad Vashem unwilling to understand that by means of its participation in the activity of the Commission it is granting clear legitimization for the Lithuanian [authorities] in the matter of alteration of the historically accurate image of the factual murderers of Lithuanian Jewry (and other Jews) to the converse status of victim?
Those who follow the campaign to change the Lithuanian image during the Holocaust can see how the Lithuanian side exploited the Commission as the first experimental step, in persuading the world that the Soviets committed genocide that is, in their view, equivalent to Nazi genocide against the Jewish people.
Moreover, whenever they have the opportunity, they repeat the claims of the Lithuanian Activist Front (L.A.F.) that Soviet genocide was carried out by the KGB, made up entirely of… Jews. In other words, that the Jews are those who committed genocide against the Lithuanians.
By the way, the L.A.F. now figures prominently on the agenda for legitimization and whitewashing, notwithstanding that the L.A.F. was the nucleus, the kernel of the Lithuanian “underground” that incited and promoted, and crucially, that planned and implemented the slaughter.
Reading the publications of the Commission thus far released, one sees that 95% of them are about what the Soviets did against them. The little that has been published on Lithuanian relations with respect to Jews does not show even 1% of the Holocaust crimes perpetrated.
It is necessary to note that most of the publications of the Commission appeared during the time that Yad Vashem was included. Is it not clear that the Lithuanian side, by virtue of their cooperation with Yad Vashem, are able to use Holocaust education as a cover for the implementation of political campaigns to downgrade and devalue the Holocaust?
The Commission supported in the most active way possible the Prague Declaration of 2008, which claimed that the crimes of the Nazis and Soviets are of identical import. The Commission, with Yad Vashem’s name tied to it, publicizes both the English and Lithuanian text of the Prague Declaration on its website, and participates in European Parliament projects aiming at the equalization of Nazi and Soviet crimes. In this way, among others, the Commission is negating the historical status of the Holocaust as a unique and one-time event.
The executive director of the Commission, Mr. Račinskas, gives speeches and makes declarations in public that deny the outbreak of Lithuanian violence and murder against Jewish citizens in most parts of Lithuania preceding the Germans’ conquest of the country.
Is this also the opinion of Yad Vashem?
I am one of the witnesses who are still alive and can confirm these things. But this is already widely demonstrated for the Lithuanian side despite their denials, just as they deny that it was they who carried out most of the murdering.
In the name of the Association of Lithuanian Jews and in my own name, we appeal to you not to renew your activities in this accursed Commission.
Yad Vashem is dear to all of us, and we do not want to see her committing an unfortunate error of such magnitude.
- With all good wishes,
- Attorney Joseph A. Melamed
- Chairman of the Association