The following, in reverse chronological order, is the text of Monica Lowenberg’s two comments to Ronaldas Racinskas’s comment, all in the discussion following Olga Zabludoff’s article in the Algemeiner Journal on the Holocaust in Lithuania and a Yivo symposium in New York. These and other comments appear in the AJ‘s comments section.
(1) from Monica Lowenberg, 19 February 2014:
By the way, is it the same Ronaldas Racinskas from the same state commission that still goes around calling Vilna Holocaust survivors liars (on their website!) if a survivor dares disagree? See http://www.komisija.lt/en/naujiena.php?id=1361200737. More background at: https://defendinghistory.com/chronology-of-a-debate
(2) from Monica Lowenberg, 17 February 2014:
Thank you. Yitzhak Arad, former director of Yad Vashem has I believe written about the commission’s history and purposes: https://defendinghistory.com/yitzhak-arad-on-the-holocaust-in-lithuania-and-its-obfuscation-in-lithuanian-sources/46252
(3) from Ronaldas Racinskas, 17 February 2014:
This letter is the reaction to the article by Olga Zabludoff “YIVO, Lithuania, and Lies About the Holocaust” published on 2014-02-13 at http://www.algemeiner.com/2014/02/13/yivo-lithuania-and-lies-about-the-holocaust/
We at the International Commission for the Evaluation of the Crimes of the Nazi and Soviet Occupation Regimes in Lithuania are also concerned about some negative facts in Lithuania, like radicalization of some part of the society. We also condemn any manifestations of Anti-Semitism and intolerance or history falsification. The strategic goal of the Commission was, is and will be the promotion of historical truth and justice as well as reconciliation among the nations and people.
So the paragraph about our institution in above mentioned article comes as unpleasant surprise for us. Olga Zabludoff write: “The greatest threat to what may be the hidden agenda of the YIVO roundtable revolves around a body known unofficially as the “Red-Brown Commission” and officially as The International Commission for the Evaluation of the Crimes of the Nazi and Soviet Occupation Regimes in Lithuania. The Commission has sought to advance the Double Genocide theory, which seeks to equate the World War II Nazi and Soviet crimes, claiming that the suffering of the Jews under the Nazi occupiers was equal to that of the Lithuanians during the two Soviet occupations of the country.”
These statements about active role of the Commission in promoting so called “Double Genocide” have no any factual grounds. And it could not, because the Commission from the first days of establishment stands very clearly for the separate judgement of two totalitarian regimes. Our position is clear – each one must be judged separately on its own merits and for its own deeds.
During the first meeting on November 17, 1998, the Commission set clear division between research and evaluation of the crimes committed by the Nazi and Soviet totalitarian regimes, and also set the main goals and the principles of its functioning:
“The President of the Republic of Lithuania has set up the International Commission for the Evaluation of the Crimes of the Nazi and Soviet Occupation Regimes in Lithuania to investigate the circumstances and the scope of extermination. Since the Nazi Holocaust and Soviet crimes were carried out for different purposes and employed individual methods, the members of this Commission split into two sub-commissions which in their own turn would coordinate and supervise two working groups of experts which investigate crimes executed during the Holocaust and the Soviet occupation. (Quote from the first statement of the Commission, full text available on the Commissions internet site http://www.komisija.lt/Files/www.komisija.lt/File/Session%201998/Statement%201998%2011%2018.doc)”
During its second meeting on March 2, 1999, the Commission adopted and issued the “Mission statement” (http://www.komisija.lt/en/body.php?&m=1173445917). This fundamental document is like the Constitution of the Commission. It set and elaborated goals of the Commission:
• To fill in gaps in the modern history of Lithuania, by academic research and investigation conducted by specialists and experts, and disseminate the documented information both in Lithuania and abroad;
• To bring to Lithuania historical and sociological research, which has been generated in the West during the past fifty years, in essence to reverse the isolation and separation from historical information, which characterized the Soviet period;
• To publicize and disseminate the information generated, and inform citizens and students of all ages concerning the Holocaust and crimes committed by the Soviet regimes, and their consequences for Lithuanian society and the international community;
and expected concrete achievements of the Commission in the fields of:
• Provide an inventory and bibliography of books, reports, exhibits, videotaped declarations of witnesses, photographs, etc.
• Detailed historical and archival research, and personal interviews, in Lithuania and abroad.
• The preparation, publication, and cataloguing of series of articles, reports, and documents concerning the historical events associated with the crimes committed in Nazi occupied Lithuania, particularly the Holocaust, and under the Soviet occupations. Amongst the topics to be covered are crimes against humanity, genocide, deportations, forced labor, cultural plunder, seized property and assets restitution, etc.
2. Calculation of Moral and Material Damage:
• Calculations of the moral, economic and physical damages from the two occupation periods, utilizing in part the previous work performed in this area.
3. Disseminations of Findings:
• Support for the preparation of educational materials and curriculum for school students at all levels to promote study, discussion, and understanding of Lithuanian history during that period.
• Continuing series of informational seminars for general educational purposes.
• A series of conferences and debates for professionals in various disciplines concerning the Nazi and Soviet occupations. Scholars and officials from abroad will also be involved.
• A media campaign, using Internet as well, to disseminate the results of the Commission’s work, and thereby increase the level of public understanding and national reconciliation.
“Mission statement“ also set Commission‘s organization and operating procedures and once again stressed that the Commission is divided into two Sub-Commissions, to deal with the periods of Nazi and Soviet occupation separately. In the concluding part of the Statement it is emphasized that “Commission has a crucial role to play in the determination of Lithuania’s historical truths during the twentieth century, educating the populace, and promoting reconciliation and respect for human rights”.
During its 3rd meeting on August 29, 1999, the Commission adopted the “Outline of Work Plan” (http://www.komisija.lt/en/body.php?&m=1173548714) and divided period of Lithuanian occupation into five major periods:
II. The First Soviet Occupation, 1940-1941
III. The Nazi Occupation of 1941-1944. The Holocaust and other Nazi Crimes
IV. The Second Soviet Occupation – First phase (1944-1953)
V. The Second Phase of the Second Soviet Occupation (1953-1990)
Each of these periods is divided into concrete subject matter themes (like “The role of Lithuanians and others in the local population as perpetrators and/or collaborators in the Holocaust” or “The organized destruction of Lithuanian Jewry”). All Commission’s academic work and research was conducted according to this “Work Plan”. Research works and conclusions of the Commission could be found on http://www.komisija.lt/en/body.php?&m=1194863084#.
International Commission is among few institutions which actively tells truth about Holocaust in Lithuania (http://www.komisija.lt/Files/www.komisija.lt/File/Tyrimu_baze/Naciu%20okupacija/Zydu%20naikinimas%201941%20m.%20vasara/ENG/Approved%20Conclusions_Persecution%20and%20Mass%20Murder%20of%20Lithuanian%20Jews.pdf), discloses the role of local population as perpetrators in the Holocaust; confronts old stereotypes and prejudges by organizing seminars and other activities about centuries long Jewish history on the current territory of Lithuania, their religion, culture, traditions and the active and positive role in establishment and strengthening of the independent Republic of Lithuanian in interwar period; organizes academic conferences for historians and seminars for teachers and educators (http://www.komisija.lt/en/body.php?&m=1150465846); initiates and organizes commemorative events on the occasion of the International Holocaust Remembrance Day (January 27,http://www.komisija.lt/en/naujiena.php?id=1391082776) and National Holocaust Victims Remembrance Day (September 23,http://www.komisija.lt/en/naujiena.php?id=1380622214), as well as coordinates network of 95 Tolerance Education Centers around Lithuania (http://www.komisija.lt/en/body.php?&m=1176460068).
We think that judgments about activities of certain institutions, organizations and people (like judgments about historical events) should be based on facts and practical deeds, but not on believes, assumptions or stereotypes.
We invite Olga Zabludoff and others find more about our activities onhttp://www.komisija.lt, to meet with us and teachers from Tolerance Education Centers, to talk with our partners from Yad Vashem (Israel), Holocaust Memorial Museum (US) and many others, and then make judgments.
You present yourself as media voice with moral clarity, so, I belief that you will assume all responsibility and standards of free and democratic press and will publish my letter as response to the article of O. Zabludoff.
Executive Director of the International Commission