D O C U M E N T S
Editor’s note: By agreement of Žilvinas Butkus, author of the following 12 August 2009 email, and its recipient, the Association of Lithuanian Jews in Israel, the document is now published. Note that the draft law appended at the end of the document was adapted by the parliament and signed by the parliament in revised form in June 2010. The bill’s framers had made it clear that promoting Double Genocide in Europe lay close to the heart of this legislative initiative.
August 12, 2009
As was reported in May this year, your Internet site published the lists of persons who had taken part in mass murder of the Jewish people in Lithuania in 1941–1944. Among those names there were some well-known activists of the post-war nationalist underground movement that was active in Lithuania in 1944-1953. That is what caused a scandal in Lithuania. For example, members of the parliament of the Republic of Lithuania G. Songaila, K. Uoka, S. Stoma, J. Sabatauskas and D. Teiserskyte appealed to the Attorney General to begin a defamation court case against you. It seems that we have a common opponent.
Our group, that I represent, was formed from consistent anti-fascists and was researching the post war nationalist terror in Lithuania. We created the web site www.pokaris.info, where we collect data about the activities of the post-war nationalist underground movement (archival documents and witnesses’ accounts), including information about close links of this movement with Nazi agencies and the Holocaust. On that site we also placed the information about your list of those who took part in the Holocaust and published the list itself. Our other project is an internet discussion forum where the crimes of these nationalist terrorists in Lithuania are one of the main subjects.
All of this goes against the official ideology in Lithuania that praises these underground nationalist organizations, despite the fact that they were fighting on the side of the Nazi regime.
It has been proven with documents that these organizations were collaborating closely with Nazi agencies. The task of these organizations was to commit sabotage behind the lines of the Soviet army in the interests of the Nazi regime. For example, in May/June 1944, in accordance with a decree issued by A. Hitler, within the Reich Security Main Office (RSHA) a department of “Waffen SS Jagdverband” was created, for special terrorist, spy and sabotage tasks on territories left by the Vermacht. In autumn a subdivision called “Jagdverband Ost” was created, whose task was to organize sabotage in the Baltic States and northern Poland. Direct preparations and organization of this sabotage behind the front lines of the Soviet army was directed through Abwehrkommando units that were active along with the German army groups.
Especially active in Lithuania were Abwehrgrup 210 (part of Abwehrkommando 204 that was active mainly in the Baltic states) and also Abwehrgrup 212. These organizations were collaborating closely, for example, with the members of the so-called “Army of the Freedom of Lithuania” training them and arming them. Many leaders of the nationalist organizations active in Lithuania were trained in the training canters of the Nazi regime. Thus, during the Second World War these nationalist organizations were fighting, in partnership with the Nazi regime, against the anti-Hitler coalition.
All of this was described by your compatriot who used to live in Lithuania. Peisah Freidheim, in his book “Lithuania in the Second World war (1939-1945) (Vilnius, “Politika”,2008, in Lithuanian). One should also note that a significant part of members of these organizations took part in Jewish pogroms during the Nazi occupation of Lithuania. In total, during 1941-1944, with the assistance of these nationalists, 700,000 people were killed (among them 370,000 locals, of those 200,000 Jews). After the end of the Second World War this underground movement that was created in collaboration with the Nazi regime, was continuing its terror of the Lithuanian population and another 25,000 people were murdered by these nationalists.
But these facts are not causing embarrassment to the current politicians, and they call these Nazi collaborators “national heroes” and forbid any different points of view.
Because of these reasons already for some time we are facing the attempts at prosecution by state representatives. Among other episodes, on the 9th of June this year following the initiative of parliament members P. Saudargas and P. Luomanas, the parliament approved in the first reading a law project that approves imprisonment up to three years as punishment for “defamation of partisans,” i.e. the very same nationalists who collaborated with Nazi regime and with murdering civilian people. The initiators of this law do not hide that all of this is directly linked to our internet projects.
In reality, with initiating such a law these people are attempting to hide the crimes of the nationalist organizations and criminalize the attempts to uncover these crimes. This leads to the excusing of Nazi crimes and to rehabilitation of the direct criminals.
We appeal to you to take a close look at this law because it is not only about the possibility of those Lithuanians who disagree with the ideology of fascist-like politicians in power ending up in prison. It is also about the falsification of history as a whole, about praising and rehabilitation of criminals who committed crimes against the Jewish and the Lithuanian people. This should not be allowed to happen.
Further discussions of this law project will take place in the Lithuanian parliament in the autumn session, starting in September. Your declaration on this matter or any other actions could influence these discussions because your words are of great importance.
That is why we call upon you to act to stop this law project from being adopted or at least to criticize it so that the criminals, Nazi collaborators would not defend themselves with the help of state laws and would not portray themselves as “national heroes.”
I attach the text of this proposed law.
Law project no. XIP-664 (approved in the first reading during the sitting No. 86 on the 9th of June 2009.)
Appendix to the article 154 of the Criminal Code
“Public denial of the crimes of communism and fascism or their support”
1. Those who spread propaganda, deny, diminish or justify the genocide committed by communism and fascism and other crimes of communism and fascism by public declarations, in word, in writing, using the media, placing notes on internet, using other electronic means or other technologies of public access or in any other way, shall be punished by fine or limitation of freedom,arrest or imprisonment up to three years.
3. Those who slander the Lithuanian citizens, members of the Movement of Struggle for Freedom of Lithuania, volunteer soldiers who were fighting the Soviet occupation with arms in 1944-1953, in word, in writing, using the media, placing notes on internet, using other electronic means or other technologies of public access or in any other way, shall be punished by fine or limitation of freedom, arrest or imprisonment up to three years.