OPINION | COLLABORATORS GLORIFIED | GENOCIDE CENTER | KAUNAS: 2022 CAPITAL OF EUROPEAN CULTURE
VILNIUS—Not for the first time, the annual Jewish High Holiday period encompassing Rosh Hashonna and Yom Kippur have provided “optimal timing” for state-sponsored activities glorifying Holocaust collaborators and perpetrators. Lithuania’s Seimas (parliament) had declared that the year per se, 2021, would be dedicated to the memory of Juozas Lukša, identified by eyewitnesses as one of the barbaric butchers of Jews in the Lietukis Garage Massacre in Kaunas in June 1941, during the week when fascist “LAF” (Lithuanian Activist Front) Hitlerist thugs murdered thousands of Jewish neighbors before the Nazis had even taken control. In 2011 a motion in the British Parliament referred to testimony that Lukša was also involved in the beheading of Rabbi Zalmen Osovsky the same week.
“The hard-working people of Lithuania deserve much better than for their tax euros to be squandered by ultranationalist leaders on state glorification of Hitler accomplices.”
This week’s festivities included, on 4 September 2021, a speech by the president of Lithuania to honor Lukša, a brand new Lukša monument unveiled to in a village where he operated, with participation by the director general of the Genocide Center, Dr. Arūnas Bubnys. The monument was “consecrated” by a major bishop who holds the title “president of the Commission on the External Relations of the EU”.
Next week, on 10 September, the Seimas and Genocide Center are collaborating on an international conference dedicated to the hundredth anniversary of Lukša’s birth. There is not a single paper dealing with his Holocaust activities in 1941 or even the fact that he is “perhaps controversial.” Where are the country’s Holocaust, Judaic Studies and red-brown commission scholars and educators? See more on this month’s events on DH’s chronology page for the Year of Lukša.
Chronology of the 2021 debate
Who was Juozas Lukša? (DH Lukša section)
Sept. 4 speech by president of Lithuania. Monument erection with consecration by “EU’s bishop“.
Sept. 10 Conference program
Collaborators Glorified section
This year’s international protests against the state-sponsored glorification of J. Lukša have come from, among others (in chronological order):
- Defending History;
- a joint statement from Faina Kukliansky, head of the official Jewish Community of Lithuania and Andrew Baker, head of international affairs at the American Jewish Committee;
- Dr. Laurence Weinbaum, chief editor of the Israel Journal of Foreign Affairs, published under the auspices of the Israel Council on Foreign Relations of the World Jewish Congress (WJC);
- Lithuanian ethicist Evaldas Balčiūnas;
- Yakov Faitelson, who for many years was a leader at Joint Distribution Committee and Jewish Agency projects in Eastern Europe.
Shortly after the “Lukša Year” was announced, there was coverage by Cnaan Liphshiz for JTA (also in Jerusalem Post, Times of Israel; European Jewish Congress).