OPINION | IT PAYS TO DEFEND HISTORY | YAD VASHEM AND LITHUANIA | ISRAEL SECTION | ISRAEL DEBATE CHRONICLE
by Dovid Katz
The modest but resolute Defending History community, in Vilnius and internationally, in unanimity today expressed heartfelt congratulations to Yad Vashem director Dani Dayan who broke dramatically, and publicly, with decades of what the last Lithuanian Holocaust survivors considered to be tragic betrayal and appeasement, often under presumed political pressure (see our report from earlier this week and Defending History’s section “Yad Vashem and Lithuania“).
Starting over a decade ago, Defending History exposed to the English speaking world the state-sponsored public-space glorification of such brutal Holocaust collaborators as Jonas Noreika, Kazys Škirpa, and Juozas Krikštaponis (among numerous others). When Yad Vashem’s long-serving former director, the Jewish anti-Nazi hero (and Israeli War of Independence here) Yitzhak (“Tolka”) Arad (1926-2021) was absurdly accused of war crimes, soon to be followed by similar attempts to prosecute other Holocaust survivors, Defending History stood at the vanguard of alerting the Western world, from the Western diplomatic community in Vilnius to the British Parliament and American Congress.
And when Yad Vashem, under political pressure, would not publish Yitzhak Arad’s own paper on these matters, we were proud that he came to Defending History to publish the paper, back in 2012. One of the most painful and soul-wrenching responsibilities of the Defending History community has been to stand shoulder to shoulder with the last Lithuanian Holocaust survivors who could not believe the failures of Yad Vashem, when it came to Lithuania, to rise to the occasion.