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 […]”.
Evaldas Balčiūnas’s 2012 Defending History essay, “Why is Jonas Noreika Considered a National Hero?” and the Balčiūnas section in DH. Scroll down to May 2014 to follow reports on the campaign by prosecutors and police to harass and discredit Mr. Balčiūnas (esp. reports of 22 May 2014, 4 July 2014, 9 July 2014, 1 Aug. 2014, 28 April 2015, 12 June 2014, 15 Nov. 2015, 17 Jan. 2016, 9 June 2016, 22 July 2016).
On February 8, 2018, Grant asked that I conduct an investigation into Noreika’s crimes against humanity. I wrote for him the query which he submitted, which the Genocide Center publicly condemned, and which the press has yet to digest. So I will explain how the investigation unfolded and will share some of the key documents mentioned in the query.
I am an expert on Lithuanian accountability for the Holocaust, the author of How Did Lithuanians Wrong Litvaks? But I do not know Russian. In order to understand the KGB interrogations, which are an important historical source and which the Genocide Center references extensively, Grant agreed to hire Evaldas Balčiūnas as well. I photographed more than 20,000 pages in various archives, and Evaldas provided summaries of the documents in Russian. However, the most important documents we found were in Lithuanian.
Originally, I thought that Jonas Noreika was a peripheral figure in the Holocaust and simply played his part as Šiauliai District Chief. However, the Genocide Center credited him as the leader of the 1941 rebels in all of Telšiai District or even all of Žemaitija. So I understood there could be related crimes against Jews. So I looked up the Telšiai rebel newspaper Žemaičių žemė. It’s enough to read through issue N0. 5 to realize that Jonas Noreika was responsible for crimes against humanity.
However, a key point in the investigation was the realization that Povilas Alimas, whom the Genocide Center blamed for the genocide in Plungė, was Noreika’s subordinate at the time. Two weeks later, Noreika included this mass murderer in his delegation to congratulate the Provisional Government in Kaunas! As our research proceeded, it became apparent that Noreika was the leader of a criminal gang in Telšiai District which called itself “the Republic of Lithuania” and which was responsible in July, 1941 for the murder of about 3,000 Jews and 300 Lithuanians. I drew the following network of Noreika’s subordinates which includes 9 organizers of mass murder and 18 others who committed crimes against humanity.
Here are some other key documents cited in Grant’s query: