OPINION | DONSKIS SECTION | MUSEUMS | COLLABORATORS GLORIFIED | KAUNAS: 2022 CAPITAL OF EUROPEAN CULTURE
Vytautas Magnus University, once considered a beacon of tolerance and liberalism, suffered extensive (utterly self-inflicted) reputational damage back in 2009 when it inaugurated a lecture hall and bas-relief glorifying Juozas Ambrezevicius Brazaitis, “prime minister” in Lithuania’s Nazi puppet “provisional government” in 1941. During his brief period as Hitler’s chief puppet in the country, he signed documents confirming transfer of numerous Jewish fellow citizens of his native Kaunas to the nearby Seventh Fort for torture and murder, and later signed the Nazi-ordered documents ordering all remaining Jews of Kaunas into a ghetto, to become the infamous Kovno Ghetto. During his later American career, as a CIA asset and academic, he never once expressed regret over what had happened to the 30,000 Jewish residents of Kaunas.
Then, in 2012, when an international scandal broke out over the Lithuanian government’s decision to fly over and rebury with full honors the Nazi puppet prime minister’s remains, it was, alas a top historian and academic official at Vytautas Magnus who described the reburial as a grand act of Lithuania’s historic drama, while denouncing the Leonidas Donskis led effort to pull the university out of national ceremonies honoring the Nazi collaborator, in these terms: “This wasn’t the academic community but a decision of the VMU administration which became frightened that they were going to get hit over the head with a club by the Jews.” For context, see events of May 2012.