One Nation, Two Sufferings

by Arkadijus Vinokuras
photo © 2017 Edvard Blaževič

Lithuania remembers the victims of the Holocaust on September 23. The beastly crime carried out by the Nazis during World War II was directed namely against one people, the Jews. The goal was obvious: the final destruction of the Jewish people. The extermination was industrialized. We find no analogue in human history to this scale of mass murder as an assembly line, in gas chambers. On the other hand history is full of seemingly good neighbors suddenly becoming murderers of innocent men, women and children.

Lithuania was not able to escape this painful experience. Nor was Lithuania able to avoid another tragedy, the Soviet occupation, mass murders and deportations of Lithuanian citizens to the gulags. Judging from the fact flags hung on every building feature a black ribbon in memory of the deportees but that these flags are not flown to honor the victims of the Holocaust (although by law they should be), it’s clear something very bad lurks in the Lithuanian mind regarding these historical tragedies.

Put another way, the ethnic Lithuania is afflicted by the story of two sufferings, in which one, the Holocaust, is still alien, still someone else’s suffering. No place is left for sympathy for the other’s agony and it is still having a difficult time making inroads in the psyche of fellow Lithuanian citizens.

How could this have happened? How could the political, spiritual and commercial elite of the Lithuanian state restored in 1918 manage to foster such hatred by Lithuanians for their fellow Jewish citizens that a decorated Lithuanian soldier, farmer or attorney would volunteer to take part in the mass murder and looting of 1941-1944? Even the priest consecrated the weapon used for the mass murder of innocent people, never mind the illiterate class or bandits who took part in the Bacchanalia of the mass murder of innocent people. In which people got drunk not on wine, but from the orgy of blood.

Full editorial in Lithuanian here.