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Discourse on the Baltic States: What About the Painful Missing Link?


by Roland Binet  (De Panne, Belgium)

My attention was recently caught by an article in a Flemish-language newspaper here in Belgium (“Living in fear of the Russian bear” in De Standaard of 5 September 2022), where the author writes that he had studied in 2005 at the University of Vilnius. The article speaks eloquently — and accurately — about the loss of freedom that came upon the people of Lithuania when the USSR invaded and occupied (for the long haul) Lithuania in 1940. It speaks of the many people deported to Siberia by the NKVD, it speaks warmly of the postwar fight of the Forest Brothers, and it speaks openly about the current fear that Putin’s Russian Federation might try again to incorporate their country into their revanchist program, a fear the author calls “Potsdam II.”

There is, however, disturbingly, quite a stupendous missing link in this abridged history of Lithuania in the twentieth century. Where had the quarter million Jews (the figure on the eve of the Holocaust) of the country disappeared to “overnight” (as centuries go), during that fateful century? Had there ever been a Jewish minority in Lithuania at all? When I looked at the author’s pedigree, I understood why the Jews had not played any role of significance in his biased dialectical discourse. Joren Vermeersch is a historian (of sorts) and an accomplished author. He is also a representative (stand-in, as we call it) for the Belgian House of Representatives, for the “N-VA.” This is the nationalist Flemish party that has its historical roots in the collaboration with the Nazis during World War II. The party that has systematically fought for an amnesty for Nazi collaborators. The party in which the grandparents or parents of some of the present actual leaders had been condemned by the Belgian State for collaboration with the enemy. Nobody is guilty of sins of their ancestors, but when there is a pattern of such pedigree being considered a great plus for current leadership, and that pedigree is subtly glorified rather than disowned, we have a current moral problem that merits discussion in the public square.Continue reading

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