O P I N I O N
by Geoff Vasil
I caught part of the Lithuanian “International” Red-Brown Commission’s “international” conference in the Lithuanian parliament last month, and obtained video of the parts I missed. There are a lot of things intellectually wrong with what the majority of the speakers said, but I can’t help thinking, feeling, that the emotional content was the overriding message, not the various sophistic, sham arguments and contrived non-debate “debate” between Emanuelis Zingeris and other speakers.
It was my feeling that only two of the speakers really spoke with any reverence or respect for the dead, in a tone appropriate to discussing the subject at hand. One was a sociologist I’d never heard of before who spoke in simple statistical figures about current popular Lithuanian views of the Holocaust and Jews.
The other was Saulius Sužiedėlis, a Lithuanian-American scholar (I believe that’s a fair way to characterize his national identity), who said so much that was simply wrong, but at least delivered his somewhat stochastic and very personal message with the sort of sincerity and honor which one expects in a seeker after truth, and which leads one to assume that even if that seeker has some of the details wrong at the moment, he will eventually get it right and will find the inner courage to correct himself.
According to the program and attendee Evaldas Balčiūnas, MEP Vytautas Landsbergis spoke on the second day. I searched the filmed material for him and came up empty. Balčiunas described himself as leaving in disgust before the august professor took the podium, and mentioned something I noticed earlier when he introduced his latest booklet defending Lithuania’s Nazi prime minister Brazaitis-Ambrazevičius: the hushed expectancy of those in the crowd who basically worship the man credited with leading Lithuania out of the Soviet Union.
This Lithuanian Moses and his cult of personality are intimately involved in what I call “Lithuanian activism,” and it is not genetically different from the attitudes in play toward the “activism” of the constantly sanitized, rehabilitated and glorified Lithuanian Activist Front, who co-opted the enthusiasm of citizens of the young Lithuanian state in the early 20th century for the Nazi cause, a state nominally continuing the grand traditions of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, but in fact composed of a much less sophisticated, mainly agrarian population and a corresponding leadership elite.
Lithuanian activism is sort of a simple, logical-positivist nativist boosterism which did serve the national interest at times during the interbellum, leading to the acquisition of the Memel/Klaipeda territory and fending off—diplomatically at least—Polish territorial claims. This country-bumpkin, volkish, red-neck and hick nationalism was clearly easily manipulated, which the LAF proved in the run-up to and early days of the Nazi occupation, declaring a total break with the past state in favor of a new kind of ethnic socialist state based on the race theories of the Third Reich.
Landsbergis as much as admits this in his booklet, noting the self-declared LAF Provisional Government led by Brazaitis-Ambrazevičius was not looking to restore the Smetona or any other 20th century Lithuanian regime. The LAF made it clear in its propaganda that it was not aspiring to a restoration of the glory of the Grand Duchy either, claiming the right to annul the rights of settlement the Grand Dukes extended to Jews in perpetuity.
There was so much wrong with the “international” conference at the Lithuanian parliament that it would be tedious to go over it all, but suffice it to say the actual international component was extremely wanting, from the Swedish human rights expert arguing in favor of allowing Greek neo-Nazis to contest elections in Greece, to the presentation by a Croatian on the aftermath of the war in Yugoslavia and ethnic reconciliation there. Not that the latter’s presentation was at all bad, it was just as if it was tacked on as an afterthought, or intended to lend a patina of “internationalism” to the whole thing, or both simultaneously.
The entire episode was disturbing enough I even had a dream about it. I dreamt I stood up and demanded Landsbergis tell my why the genocide committed by the Catholic Church wasn’t under the purview of the Lithuanian “International” Commission. I woke up amused at the thought, but then started to think about it. Actually it would make perfect sense: the Church is responsible for the death of millions in the Americas, natives murdered in the Catholic jihad of cross and sword, and the Church was also responsible for the lesser-known Crusades in Europe, during which many “residents” in Lithuania, Prussia, Latvia and Estonia were murdered in cold blood. If the Lithuanian “international platform” were genuinely sincere about confronting common European “totalitarian ideologies,” it would make perfect sense to cast a glance down Vatican way.
Of course, that’s strictly verbotten, it’s not part of the program and never will be, because what this is really about is exalting Lithuanian suffering under the Soviets and diminishing Jewish suffering at the hands of Lithuanians during the Holocaust. To enlarge the scope from the dichotomy of Nazi/Soviet would diminish the message, brand or whatever you want to call it. It has to remain binary, dualistic, to preserve domestic perceptions about the strength of the “activist” arguments against Holocaust complicity and for Lithuanian sinlessness. (My computer is saying “sinlessness” is not a word, and suggests “spinelessness” instead.)
Including the Catholic Church as one of the shared European ideologies of oppression and totalitarianism would also undermine the psychological mechanism or reflex that is behind modern Lithuanian Holocaust denial/obfuscation, namely, the ego’s desire to deny the Church’s doctrine of original—innate and inherent—sin. The nominally Catholic population of Lithuania has inherited this Catholic guilt even though most “Lithuanian Catholics” are in fact atheists and “cultural Catholics,” and while it gnaws at the psyche, its source is misapprehended, it isn’t seen as emanating from Catholic ideology, but instead, when the topic of the Holocaust comes up, Lithuanians have been programmed by their ideological leaders to perceive this as the source of a somewhat ambiguous, vague and undefined mental dis-ease, and thus various “Jews” as their accusers, cast in the ancient role of Satan, accusing the soul before God.
Not all Jews, not “our” Jews who go along with the Lithuanian activist program, only those nefarious forces of international banking and Zionism who seek to destroy Lithuania at all costs, Jews such as Dovid Katz and Efraim Zuroff, first and foremost, and “Jew-enablers” such as yours truly and that small cast of millions around the world who don’t buy the new and improved Lithuanianized version of the Lithuanian (or Baltic or East European) Holocaust.
The more I thought about a “Trilateral International Commission,” the more I liked the idea, although I perceive a small problem, the same old problem of apples and oranges. Two of the “ideologies” in play are really religions: Catholicism and Nazism. Both have been partially assimilated to the new brand of “Lithuanian activism” that emerged during and after World War II. No matter how hard the American preachers might have railed once upon a time that “Godless atheistic Communism” was in fact a religion, it never has been, except to the extent cults-of-personality have cropped up, as they do in many authoritarian regimes regardless of branding. The other problem is that while the Catholic Crusades in Europe, the Near East and South and North America can easily be called genocidal in the full sense of the word, and the Soviet program in the Baltics cannot really be made to fit that definition without some creative semantics, neither the Church nor the Soviets, or, to use the methodology of the Black Book of Communism, neither Christianity nor Communism, killed on the scale, conveyor-belt style, the Nazis did.
Up until the final occupation of Berlin, the Third Reich gave priority to trains carrying out the Final Solution over military transports, as the front was collapsing ever near the event horizon of the Fuehrer-bunker. This was motivated by religious fervor, by the religious belief of Nazism, which was in its own estimation fighting a spiritual war against the Jews first of all, but also against “Asiatic hordes” called up to Europe through the force of Jewish Bolshevism, an ideology, in the Nazi view, not a religion, aimed at the destruction of the superior Aryan race embodied best in the German people.
This religion of Nazism has various antecedents, including the crack-pot German occultist ideas of “theozoology,” but also somewhat more serious thinkers in all number of academic fields. The crest of that dark wave of hatred disguised as learning was the Third Reich. It seems to me sad and appalling that so few Lithuanian scholars really know about the Holocaust in Lithuania, or the formation of the religion that led to the Nazis’ ascension to power. It seems sad and appalling that so many from other countries who should know better have sold out their birthright for a glass of champagne, a gaudy plastic medal or a pretty female face. There is still time to pull away from the continuation of that dark pernicious wave, emanating from the 1940s and still lapping the shores of various backwaters in the Baltics, and to let it finally expend itself, rather than riding it for all it’s worth on another academic junket to the bitter and final end.
In other words, it’s one thing to be infected by the cult of Nazism and to make excuses for it, but it’s another thing entirely to come in uninfected, to breathe it deeply into your lungs, and declare it good, safe for children, and commendable for the public at large. Of course there is room for dispute and even historical revision of the events of World War II, but lift the coffin lid just a little at these “international” conferences and tell me you don’t see something dark and evil squirming around down there. I see it. I feel it. I could be wrong.
Tell me I’m wrong.