VILNIUS—The official website of the President of Lithuania, Gitanas Nausėda, features a report and picture gallery of his speech on 20 September at the unveiling of a major monument, in the northwestern Lithuanian village Kryžkalnis, to postwar Lithuanian partisans who fought against the Soviet occupation of the country after World War II. As with other such events, the inclusion in the proceedings of honors for those who were recycled 1941 Holocaust collaborators turns what would be a uniting event celebrating freedom into an event that doubles as glorification also of the perpetrators and collaborators in the Lithuanian Holocaust, all of whom were in some sense ipso facto “anti-Soviet” (working for a Nazi victory).
At this event, “the problem” was a large banner of Holocaust collaborator Jonas Noreika,
and the diplomat Kazys Škirpa who founded the Lithuanian Activist Front in Hitler’s Berlin in 1941 and who passionately advocated the ethnic cleansing by Lithuania of its Jews. When Hitler invaded the Soviet Union on 22 June 11941, the nationalist locals in Lithuania who donned white armbands and “became the LAF on the ground” humiliated, pilfered, injured and murdered thousands of Jews before arrival or set-up of the administration of the first German forces. But for months before that, Škirpa’s office in Berlin was producing leaflets calling for the elimination of Lithuanian’s Jews. His sentiments and conclusions about his country’s Jewish citizens, whether passed on by various means before Operation Barbarossa or in various public media on 23 June 1941, helped to incite mass hadred and violence against defenseless neighbors.
Does the president need more sensitive advisors, event organizers, and website editors?
There is no evidence that President Nausėda necessarily noticed the banner, which faced outward toward the large crowd. What is amazing for seasoned observers of the Lithuanian scene is that photos with the offending banner are featured prominently on the president’s website. Incidentally, it is the same banner next to which Dr. Arūnas Bubnys, chief historian of the state-sponsored Genocide Center, proudly stood and preached ultranationalist history on 23 June (see DH’s on-site coverage).