Seven years ago, this journal’s opinion section cheered the decision to finally, for the first time, honor one of the real Lithuanian heroes of the Holocaust era, the Rescuers, also known as Righteous of the Nations, in Vilnius. While praising the decision to so honor the inspirational Ona Šimaitė (1894–1970), Defending History lamented the decision to do so out in a suburb just north of the city. The name of our editorial in 2013 was “Vilnius Street Name Proposed for Rescuer Out in Boondocks; But Please Remove Nazi Collaborators from City Center!”
As ever, the Defending History community was pleased to play the role of catalyst while much more powerful and wealthy forces eventually came around to taking up the cause. In the end a streetlet was named for Šimaitė at the technical “edge” of the city center, not very traversed, but progress nonetheless.
Naturally, Defending History was there to report on the street name’s unveiling in 2015.
O P I N I O N
The Defending History community welcomes today’s news that a street (and/or square) in the Verkiai district, Vilnius’s northernmost neighborhood (and popularly considered to be just north of the city), may be named for Ona Šimaitė, the enormously courageous librarian who defied the Nazis and their local collaborators by risking her life to save Jewish citizens of the country. But this is a confusing signal that can easily be construed to send the wrong message. Her street deserves to be right in the city center! Šimaitė’s life has recently come to new and deserved attention thanks to Julia Sukys’s important recent book, Epistolophilia: Writing the Life of Ona Simaite.
Posted in Collaborators Glorified, Double Games, Kazys Škirpa, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory
Tagged Holocaust in Lithuania, Julia Sukys, Kazys Škirpa, Ona Simaite, Streets named for Holocaust collaborators