BNS (Baltic News Service) today published in full a statement issued by the Public Relations Department of the Parliament, and signed by member of parliament Professor Arimantas Dumčius. The statement contains an updated schedule of events in honor of the repatriation to Lithuania of the remains of Juozas Ambrazevičius, the “prime minister” of the 1941 Nazi puppet government in Kaunas. Background here, here, here; see also Aderet, Donskis, Zuroff and Krystyna Anna Steiger’s petition).
An earlier BNS report confirmed that the Lithuanian government is financing the transatlantic reburial and four days of events honoring the Nazi collaborator. Today’s press release from the parliament’s official Public Relations Department further underscores the deep government investment in glorification of the country’s 1941 Nazi collaborators.
But one of the scheduled events, a conference on Saturday 20 May, earlier slated for Vytautas Magnus University, is moved on this version to “venue to be announced” after a major scandal that included a letter from the rector of VMU to the nation’s parliament (the Seimas). Still, two VMU professors are among the speakers honoring Ambrazevičius.
Today’s parliamentary press release confirms that the reburial mass for the Nazi collaborator will be conducted by the archbishop metropolitan, Sigitas Tamkevičius, who recently published effusive praise for him in Bernardinai.lt, offering up a deeply revised biography, one that does not mention the onset of the Holocaust during the provisional government’s reign.
The documents signed by Ambrazevičius in his capacity as “prime minister” of the 1941 “provisional government” include the 27 June 1941 statement calling for all means against the Jews but asking that executions not be public; the 30 June 1941 order for a concentration camp for Jews to be set up; and the 7 July 1941 order for all the Jews of Kaunas to be forcibly relocated into a ghetto within four weeks (English here; extract here).
Extract of the Provisional Government order of 7 July 1941 including the signature of J. Ambrazevičius and the sentence “By German order a ghetto for Jews will be established in Vilijampolė, to which all the Jews of the city of Kaunas must be moved within four weeks.”
Parliament Public Relations Department May 16, 2012, email@example.com
Press Report May 16, 2012
Report by Member of Parilament Professor Arimantas Dumčius: Juozas Brazaitis-Ambrazevičius Will Be Reburied in Lithuania
The Public Council (chairman Jonas Rytis Puodžius) of the Parliament’s Commission on the Rights and Affairs of People Victimized by the Occupational Regimes and Members of the Resistance has approached Commission chairman, member of parliament Professor Arimantas Dumčius with the request to announce to the public the program for the reburial in Lithuania of the remains of the Lithuanian academic and cultural representative, head of the Provisional Government, publicist, ideologue of resistance to the occupational regimes and Knight of the Great Cross (posthumously) Juozas Brazaitis- Ambrazevičius.
The Juozas Brazaitis- Ambrazevičius reburial commission is organizing events for his re-interment in his homeland.
Member of Parliament professor Arimantas Dumčius
PROGRAM OF EVENTS
12:05 P.M. on Thursday, May 17: the urn with the remains of the deceased will be met at Vilnius International Airport. Reporters who wish to observe the reception ceremony at the airport should send a request confirmed by the head of their media organization indicating the reporter’s name, surname, email address and telephone number to firstname.lastname@example.org . It is possible to submit a request until 4:00 P.M., May 16.
10:00 A.M.-8:00 P.M. on Friday and Saturday, May 18 and 19: farewell to the deceased at the Kaunas Church of the Resurrection of Christ (Žemaičių St 31A, Kaunas).
At 11:00 A.M. on Saturday, May 19, a conference/commemoration called “The Academic, Educational, Resistance and Political Activity of Juozas Brazaitis” is to be held (venue to be announced later).
Director of the Center for the Study of the Genocide and Resistance of Lithuanian Residents Teresė Birutė Burauskaitė and reporter Vidmantas Valiušaitis will preside over the conference. Papers will be delivered by: Dr. Augustinas Idzelis (USA), head of the Center for Lithuanian Studies and Research; Dr. Arūnas Bubnys, director of the Genocide and Resistance Department of the Center for the Study of the Genocide and Resistance of Lithuanian Residents; Professor Viktorija Skrupskelytė of Vytautas Magnus University and Dr. Ilona Strumickienė, academic staff at the Lithuanian Exile Institute at Vytautas Magnus University. Public activist Dr. Rožė Šomkaitė (USA) will say a word of thanks.
On Sunday, May 20, the ceremony to rebury the remains inside the altar of the Kaunas Church of the Resurrection of Christ will take place: 1:00 P.M. – the entry of the urn with the mortal remains of the deceased to the Kaunas Church of the Resurrection of Christ; 2:00 P.M. – Holy Mass at the Kaunas Church of the Resurrection of Christ (archbishop metropolitan Sigitas Tamkevičius will conduct the Holy Mass and soloist Rasa Juzukonytė will sing hymns during the Holy Mass); at 2:30 P.M. the reburial ceremony will begin.
At 4:30 P.M. the premiere of a film about J. Brazaitis called “Likau gyvenimo paraštėje” [I Remained on the Margins of Life] will be held at the Romuva movie theater (Laisvės al. 54, Kaunas).
J. Brazaitis-Ambrazevičius was born December 9, 1903, in Trakiškiai in the Marijampolė rural district.
He studied Lithuanian literature at Kaunas University from 1922 to 1927. From 1927 to 1943 he taught Lithuanian language and literature at the Aušra Gymnasium. He did academic work at Vytautas Magnus University (1934–1940) and Kaunas University (1941–1943). He was a member of the Folklore Commission to the Ministry of Education (1938–1940), a member of the Repertoire Commission of the Kaunas State Drama Theater (1939-1940) and a member of the Lithuanian Catholic Academy of Science.
J. Ambrazevičius was actively involved in journalistic activity at the daily newspapers Lietuva and XX Amžius, in the underground [LAF/Nazi propaganda organ –trans] newspaper Į Laisvę, and the New York-based newspaper Darbininkas. In America [he] resurrected Į Laisvę as a political magazine.
Together with other renowned authors of that time, he created the bases for the theory, history and criticism of Lithuanian literature. Among his more important works were “Literatūros teorija” [Theory of Literature], “Visuotinės literatūros istorija” [History of General Literature] (multiple authors) the anthology of literature “Naujieji skaitymai” [New Readings] (multiple authors) and the literary studies “Vaižgantas” [a surname] and “Lietuvių rašytojai” [Lithuanian Writers]. He edited and prepared for press K. Donelaitis’s “Metai” [Seasons], V. Pietaris’s “Algimantas” [a personal name] and “Lapės gyvenimas ir mirtis” [Life and Death of a Fox], Lazdynų Pelėda’s “Klaida” [Error] and Maironis’s “Pavasario balsai” [Voices of Spring].
J. Ambrazevičius wrote a biography of Juozas Eretas called “Jo didysis nuotykis” [His Great Adventure] (1972) and one about Pranas Padalis called “Vienas iš rezistentų kartos” [One from the Generation of Resistors] (1974); he wrote and published an historical survey of the resistance struggles in Lithuania called “Vienų vieni” [They Were All Alone] (1964) and edited J. Lukša-Daumantas’s memoirs called “Partizanai” [Partisans] (1962) as well as the first volume of “Lietuvos Katalikų Bažnyčios kronika” [Chronicle of the Catholic Church of Lithuania] (1974). Between 1980 and 1985, the six volumes comprising J. Brazaitis’s “Raštai” [Writings] were published in the USA. An edition of his correspondence and documents called “Ugninis stulpas” [Fiery Post] was published in Lithuania in 2000.
After the Soviets occupied Lithuania in June, 1940, he became involved in underground activity against the Soviets. After war broke out on June 22, 1941, an uprising spread like wildfire in Lithuania. On June 23 the Provisional Government announced the restoration of the independent state of Lithuania. Nonetheless, the Germans weren’t prepared to cooperate with the Provisional Government. K. Škirpa, who was supposed to become Prime Minister, wasn’t allowed to leave Berlin. J. Ambrazevičius took his place temporarily. The Provisional Government attempted to convince the Germans that Lithuanian independence was possible, but the German government wasn’t prepared to allow it; an order was issued to disarm the insurgents. Political pressure against the Provisional Government began.
The Nazis were unsuccessful in their attempts to legalize their actions regarding Jews through a “Lithuanian administration.” The Provisional Government distanced itself from the mass murder of Jews being carried out in Lithuania [how and where did they do that? –trans]. As if that weren’t enough, J. Ambrazevičius personally tried more than once to convince the commanders of the German military to halt the persecution of the Jews of Lithuania.
The Cabinet of Ministers rejected German proposals to turn the Provisional Government into a board of advisors. After July 25, when German civilian administration was introduced in Lithuania, the Provisional Government saw no more opportunities for continuing to operate as the sovereign institution of government of Lithuania, and halted its activities on August 5.
J. Ambrazevičius began to organize an underground organization. At the end of 1941 he succeeded in organizing the Resistance Movement of the Lithuanian Front, and in spring of 1942 in creating upon a broader political base the liberation organ National Council. He initiated the creation of the Kęstutis [partisan] Military District.
After VLIK [Vyriausias Lietuvos Išlaisvinimo Komitetas, or Supreme Committee for the Liberation of Lithuania] in November, 1943, uniting all resistance organizations, J. Ambrazevičius was appointed chairman of the Political and Foreign Relations Commission.
In spring of 1944 the Gestapo began to pursue and arrest VLIK members. As one of the leaders of the anti-Nazi resistance, they also sough J. Ambrazevičius, but he changed his surname to Brazaitis and succeeded in crossing the border and hiding in Germany.
In 1945 Brazaitis involved himself in the activities of the reconstituted VLIK: from 1946 to 1948 he was head of information for the Executive Committee, and from 1945 to 1951 chairman of the Foreign Service. On the suggestion of Lithuanian partisan representative Juozas Lukša-Daumantas, he was made representative abroad of the national resistance. Thanks to the efforts of VLIK, Western Europe was brought back to the idea that the Baltic states were enslaved, and that their origin and aspirations were part of Western Europe. The first official breakthrough came in 1949 when the Baltic states were accepted into the European Movement.
In carrying out work to liberate Lithuania, Brazaitis prepared publications and memoranda for the United Nations (October 3, 1949, and October 13, 1950) on the genocide being committed in occupied Lithuania, and prepared for press and published in 1950 VLIK’s Great Memorandum with appendices in English and French on the case of Lithuanian independence; he prepared and published in English in 1951 a collection of VLIK memoranda for the United Nations on the genocide being committed by the Soviets in Lithuania. Together with other political commission chairmen from the Executive Committee and [sic, “of”] VLIK, he visited the Vatican in 1950 and met high Vatican officials including Tardini and Montini (later Pope Paul VI), and was granted an audience with Pope Pius XII.
After he moved to the USA in 1951, he withdrew from active politics. He remained, however, a faithful defender of Lithuanian independence, took part in social activities and coordinated the activity of the Movement of Friends of the Lithuanian Front.
On June 6, 1974, the New York Times, based on material provided from Soviet security organs, published a list of suspected war criminals, including Brazaitis. These people were suspected of cooperating with the Nazis and organizing the mass murder of Jews. This suit [sic] never reached court because the Immigration, Citizenship and International Law subcommittee of the Legal Department [sic] of Congress, led by Joshua Eilberg, announced officially that the accusations against J. Brazaitis were unfounded, and that his activity had been neither pro-Nazi nor directed against Jews. Brazaitis never received this verdict [sic].
J. Brazaitis died on November 28, 1974, in South Orange, New Jersey, USA. On December 2 he was buried at the Putnam Monastery Cemetery in the State of Connecticut.
Commission for the Reburial of Juozas Brazaitis-Ambrazevičius
Contact(s) of person(s): Member of Parliament Professor. Arimantas Dumčius
PUBLISHED NURSULTAN VETA, SEIMAS