On an overcast Monday afternoon members of the Kaunas Jewish Community, friends of the Community and those who care honored the victims of the Lietūkis garage massacre. Lithuanian Jewish Community chairwoman Faina Kukliansky recalled the historical event when in the first days of World War II in Lithuania when one group of citizens brutally tortured and murdered another group of citizens just because they were Jews as a crowd looked on in the middle of the day. She spoke about enduring myths about Jews, the Holocaust and the reasons the Holocaust happened.
Kaunas Jewish Community chairman Gercas Žakas and ghetto inmate Fruma Kučinskienė recalled what their family members said about those horrible and not-so-distant times and the still living, blood-curdling images fixed in memory.
Chairman of the Kaunas chapter of Sąjūdis [Lithuanian independence movement] Raimundas Kaminskas and Ninth Fort Museum deputy director Marius Pečiulis both expressed condolences to Holocaust victims and their descendants and apologized for the crimes of their countrymen.
All speakers expressed a common idea: the need to educate children, not just to talk about the historical facts, crimes against humanity and genocide, but to try to figure out together with children how and why these sorts of crimes occur, what happens to the human mind, psyche and spirit so that a person loses all sense of humanity and commits inconceivable acts.
Songs performed by Rokas and Artūras Makštutis and poetry recited by the actress Kristina Kazakevičiūtė complemented the ceremony which ended with kaddish by Iser Shreiberg.
After the ceremony at the monument to honor the victims of the Lietūkis garage massacre, participants visited other Holocaust sites including the old Jewish cemeteries in the Slobodka and Žaliakalnis neighborhoods and the Seventh Fort.