VILNIUS—Briton Mark Adam Harold, also known as Mark Splinter, this city’s sole foreign elected City Council member, spoke out in an interview published today in 15min.lt calling for the city to accept the 2015 petition of a group of intellectuals to remove plaques honoring Holocaust collaborator Jonas Noreika. In his reply to a pointed question, he also added that the city-center street named for Nazi collaborator Kazys Škirpa be renamed for Righteous of the Nations (rescuers of civilians targeted for death by the Nazis and their local partners). He also challenged the city’s mayor, implying that there might be an element of cowardice in failure to undertake simple measures that would immeasurably improve the international reputation of Lithuania’s storied capital.
The councilman’s comments appear to make him the first elected official to publicly support positions advocated by Defending History over the years, and those expressed for decades by Milan Chersonski, long-time editor (1999-2011) of the Jewish Community’s official newspaper. See our page on state shrines glorifying collaborators; DH’s section on collaborators glorified; also, our specific challenges to the mayor, and section on his record to date. At the same time, DH has hastened to praise the mayor for decisions and events representing progress in town. The international community is eager for his much delayed response to the group of major Litvak rabbis from around the world who came to plead with him to move the national convention center project away from the old Jewish cemetery, a project that has harmed the city’s reputation internationally (see paper trail and summary).
While the deeds of the major Holocaust collaborators honored throughout Lithuania have been well known to historians for decades, it is human rights advocate Evaldas Balčiūnas who has systematically brought them to the attention of the Lithuanian reading public, and via Defending History, since 2011, to the English reading world (see also our editor’s New York Times letter of 2013). Instead of being honored by Vilnius’s town council or other state and municipal bodies, Mr. Balčiūnas continues to be harassed by prosecutors and police for his articles (see Free Speech section). Defending History has turned out local members of its community to support him morally at each and every hearing. It would augur well for Vilnius to also put an end to its being the venue for prosecutions of truth tellers about the Holocaust as much as it being home to glorifying memorials for those who assisted Hitler’s final solution, which wiped out 96.4% of Lithuanian Jewry.