VILNIUS, November 9, BNS–Lithuanian Jewish Community chairwoman Faina Kukliansky has called an assessment of actions by Lithuanian officer Jonas Noreika during World War II released by the Center for the Study of the Genocide and Resistance of the Residents of Lithuania “contradictory.”
At the end of October the center announced Noreika hadn’t taken part in the mass murder of Jews in Lithuania during World War II, but that the Nazi occupational regime had involved him in the ordering of affairs connected with the isolation of Jews.
“It appears to us, the Lithuanian Jewish Community, that this assessment of the actions of Jonas Noreika is very contradictory,” the statement Faina Kukliansky issued said. She said: “the imprisoning Jews in ghettos, or any other kind of ‘isolation,’ or ‘ordering of affairs connected with the isolation of the Jews,’ is nothing other than the extermination of Jews.”
The report on Noreika was prepared after a group of public figures asked for the plaque commemorating Noreika to be removed from the library of the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences, saying Noreika had collaborated with the Nazis during the German occupation. The plaque honors the officer as an armed resister of the Soviet occupation.
“Do people deserve to be honored and have schools named after them in Lithuania for these kinds of ‘orderings of affairs’?” Kukliansky asked.
The report made public by the Center for the Study of the Genocide and Resistance of the Residents of Lithuania claims Noreika did not take part in mass extermination operations against Jews in the districts of Telšiai and Šiauliai during the German occupation.
The center said when Noreika acted as head of the Šiauliai district, his actions were connected with the isolation of Jews. He issued a directive in 1941 for Jews to be put into a ghetto. “…the Nazi occupational regime managed to involve him, as with other officials of the Lithuanian civilian administration, in the ordering of affairs connected with the isolation of Jews,” the center’s report said. The center’s report also claimed Noreika later actively contributed to the failure of a plan to establish a Waffen SS legion in Lithuania, and was later sent to the Stutthof concentration camp. They also said after the return of the Soviet occupation, Noreika contributed to preparations to organize an uprising in the event of war. They noted the organization he and like-minded people created, the Lithuanian National Council, had for its goal the reestablishment of an independent Lithuania.
Noreika was executed by verdict of Soviet military tribunal in 1947.
The public figures calling for the removal of the plaque said the establishment of ghettos was part and parcel of the Holocaust, and that Noreika “collaborated closely with the Nazi regime and significantly contributed to the destruction of the Jews of Lithuania.” Signatories included the philosopher Leonidas Donskis and the poets Antanas Jonynas and Tomas Venclova.