At just after 10:00 A.M. on the morning of Monday, April 8, Lithuanian attorney and human rights activist Stanislovas Tomas and a camera operator filmed Tomas smashing the marble plaque commemorating Jonas Noreika on the façade of the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences in Vilnius using a sledgehammer. Tomas then turned himself in to police. The event was live-streamed on facebook. In his live-streamed video, Tomas said in English he was proud to fight Naziism and would smash any replacement plaque erected at the same site again.
Tomas reportedly earned a doctorate in law at the Sorbonne. He is reportedly not an attorney at bar in Lithuania, but has pursued cases against the Lithuanian state at the European Court of Human Rights and at the United Nations.
Noreika is considered by some a Lithuanian hero, but others claim he was directly involved in the pillage and murder of Lithuanian Jews during World War II. A recent case involving his legacy filed by Grant Gochin was dismissed by the Vilnius District Administrative Court who claimed Gochin had no standing. Gochin, a member of the Lithuanian Jewish Community, says upwards of one hundred of his relatives were murdered in part because of Noreika’s actions. In a posting in response to Tomas’s action on facebook, Gochin expressed surprise and said this wasn’t how he had envisioned the removal of the commemorative plaque.
Gochin, the LJC and numerous other parties have been seeking the removal of the Noreika plaque for many years, appealing to the courts, the Vilnius city council and others. It has been known for some time the plaque was erected illegally, without the required permission from city authorities.
Community member Pinchos Fridberg has pointed out removing the statue doesn’t solve the underlying problem, and that Noreika needs to be stripped of his posthumously-awarded state decorations. See his thoughts on that here.
The delfi.lt news website reported on the event and quoted Vilnius mayor Remigijus Šimašius saying the municipality hadn’t put up the plaque in the first place and therefore had no plans to replace it. Delfi.lt also reported Tomas is running in the upcoming elections to the European Parliament. Delfi.lt later reported reactions by Lithuanian MPs calling for the restoration of the plaque either at the expense of the Vilnius municipality or through crowd-sourcing. Full text in Lithuanian here.
Headline: “European Parliament Candidate Confesses to Smashing Famous Plaque Commemorating General Vėtra. [Vilnius mayor] Remigijus Šimašius: Municipality Not Considering Replacing Plaque.”