by Arkadijus Vinokuras
In the opinion of Vilnius City Council councilor Kamilė Šeraitė, it’s OK to throw out a portion of the nation’s population for a “big idea” and it’s OK to name an entire street after the man who deported them.
Based on Nazi race ideology–out of love for Lithuania–Kazys Škirpa decided the Jews needed to be driven out. Those who sought bring the sun from Moscow and who adopted the Bolshevik ideology also did so out of love for Lithuania. So let’s name streets after them, too. They didn’t murder people, either.
After learning Šeraitė’s opinion I was left unpleasantly surprised. The young female Lithuanian politician raised in democratic Lithuania was not able to grasp the crux of the problem of whether Škirpa and Noreika “are worthy of heroization” or not.
Intentionally or not, the author, as with her ideological coach Vidmantas Valiušaitis, is promoting the ideology of dictatorships which claims that any crimes against humanity can be committed if they are done so for the sake of great ideas.
Actually, this commentary is directed at Valiušaitis and the “Valiušaitis front” upon whose “everything’s relative” arguments Šeraitė bases hers. The “Valiušaitis front” arguments are well known: “Škirpa worked in the name of Lithuania,” “Škirpa was not an anti-Semite,” “he was an anti-Nazi,” “he forbade the murder of Jews,” “the authenticity of the documents has not been proved,” “we cannot judge the events of those times from our tower of understanding today,” “historian Augustinas Idzelis is the only reliable source,” “the critics don’t know anything and don’t understand anything.” The latter argument unfairly insults all critics as if they were one. They are also accused of being tools of the Putin regime. It smells just like the way the Bolsheviks hunted for the enemy!
So allegedly Škirpa’s activities were for the good of Lithuania and his dedication to the Homeland is beyond dispute. Also beyond dispute was his idea to use the Soviets when he believed that was beneficial to Lithuania. The same goes for his idea Nazi Germany would restore Lithuanian independence. But contrary to what Škirpa’s proponents are attempting to demonstrate, the documents show without a doubt that Škirpa intentionally engaged in anti-Semitic propaganda in order to impress the Nazis.
Sadly, the documents show this attempt to impress was not merely an oral admission. On December 5, 1941, for example, 800 copies were printed of text by the Lithuanian Activist Front, under the command of Kazys Škirpa, called “Out of Bolshevik Enslavement to a New Lithuania.” It enumerates the seven deadly sins of the Smetona regime, including “that the Jews and similar elements were not subdued in independent Lithuania and ruthlessly exploited the Lithuanian for their own ends.”
The “Valiušaitis front” intentionally omits mention of a whole slew of documents which show correspondence and meetings between Lithuanian ambassadors Stasys Lozoraitis in Italy, Petras Klimas in Paris and Eduardas Turauskas in Bern concerning the editing of a letter to the Lithuanian insurgents [inside Soviet Lithuania] containing an invitation to get rid of the Jews, and concerning the formation of the LAF platform.
All of this bears on the twentieth redaction of that letter. And no, the documents were not counterfeited, unless US professor Saulius Sužiedėlis who researched the Turauskas archive at Stanford was a KGB agent. It seems that the famous interwar Lithuanian diplomat Eduardas Turauskas (1896-1966), the futurist, attorney, journalist, diplomat and member of the Lithuanian Catholic Academy of Sciences who worked intimately with Kazys Škirpa, was also some sort of Mossad agent to whom, for some reason, Škirpa sent a portion of the originals of some of his documents. At the conclusion of this commentary I will present one of the original documents by Škirpa which he later falsified in his memoirs written in the USA.
Škirpa cites this document in 1951 in his memoirs without the anti-Semitic content. The 16th line with the anti-Jewish passage was erased from the document. (The unredacted documents by Škirpa are accessible at the Lithuanian National Martynas Mažvydas Library. Was it too difficult for Šeraitė to visit that library? His entire archive was received from the USA twenty years ago, when no trace of the KGB was left in Lithuania. So much for these “unauthentic documents”). Up to the time of his death Škirpa didn’t touch upon the topic of the fate of the Jews.
It’s important to understand the context of fear which dominated among Lithuanian immigrants in the USA at that time. It’s obvious that some of the Lithuanian political figures who fled to the USA had acted against Lithuanian Jews during the Nazi occupation, and equally obvious that these criminals against humanity erased links to their pro-Nazi activities. The 1950s [sic, 1960s] were a time when Israeli intelligence was hunting down Nazi criminals. The capture and execution of Holocaust perpetrator Adolf Eichmann sent shockwaves through the Nazi criminals living in the USA and South America and there were trials in the Soviet Union of those who butchered Jews. Therefor the whitewashing of their pasts by some refugees from Lithuania is understandable.
I quote Šeraitė: “One of the last LAF messengers who managed to cross this border, reaching Berlin and then later returning to Lithuania, was Mykolas Naujokaitis, a member of the Vilnius LAF staff headquarters. He has left behind a ‘testimonial statement’ under oath, notarized by California notary Stephen C. Clark, which states that ‘neither the Kaunas nor the Vilnius LAF staff headquarters issued any written appeals, and they warned everyone not to distribute and not to make copies of calls appearing from unknown sources.'”
Dear Šeraitė, you’d have to be suicidal to admit to the US administration that the Berlin LAF commanded by Škirpa drove Jews out of Lithuania, while the LAF Voldemarists in Lithuania took part in the mass murder of Jews. Please read the indisputable information. The highly secret “Instructions for the Liberation of Lithuania” dated March 24, 1941, which Škirpa in his apartment gave to special Vilnius messenger Mykolas Naujokaitis to read, so that the latter would pass it on orally.
The 19-page document explains how to prepare for and reach the restoration of Lithuanian independence and to use the occasion to rid Lithuania of Jews, so there would be none left in Lithuania. The Tautos darbo apsaugos batalionas or TDA was created for this purpose (Mindaugas Tamošaitis. Aktualios XX amžiaus Lietuvos istorijos temos mėnraštyje „Akiračiai“ 1988–1995 m.). The TDA shot tens of thousands of Jews.
This text was sent to the underground centers through the most reliable messengers repeatedly on April 18 and on May 5, 8, 12 and 19. Two weeks before the war [began in Lithuania] they dared send the text in written form, somewhat abbreviated. Confirmation in writing of receipt of the text was required. Therefore the LAF chain of command in Berlin was able to feel confident no misunderstandings would arise and that the underground centers would know how to respond and what to do (Kazys Škirpa “Sukilimas,”. Washington, D. C., 1973).
I understand how this unexperienced politician [Šeraitė] has become confused on these issues among the many documents which need to be read. It seems it is much easier simply to copy arguments from the right “historians” and so project the image of oneself as a Lithuanian nationalist maiden.
What I don’t understand, however, is the blind drive by the “Valiušaitis front” to whitewash that which is not whitewashable. On the one hand Škirpa’s defenders claim Škirpa wielded great influence over the uprising and the insurgents, while on the other they contend “he was unable to do anything because he knew nothing about it.”
In order just to save appearances, the activists of the “Valiušaitis front” should at least stick to the historical truth because it is becoming boring to smile at their absurd arguments. But when you’re politically engaged, it’s OK to play with the truth, isn’t it? In that case, one shouldn’t present oneself as an historian, rather as someone else, and for what? For the Lithuania which no longer exists and which, God forbid, will never exist again.
Our assessment today of the actions by Kazys Škirpa and Jonas Noreika is extremely important. I do not deny that both figures lived through a period of geopolitical circumstances which were tragic for Lithuania. Both men loved Lithuania and, sadly, both men voluntarily made a pact with the devil. If the consequences of their pact hadn’t resulted in the death of 195,000 Lithuanian Jews, no one would even care. It is well documented, however, that both these people actively contributed to the persecution of their fellow Jewish citizens of Lithuania.
It’s clear the “Valiušaitis front” believe it’s possible to come to terms with “some technical difficultes” for the sake of a big idea, for love of Lithuania. To put it directly, they believe it’s possible to come to terms with the extermination of their fellow Jewish citizens, claiming the two men never actually murdered a single Jew directly. This is what the Lithuanian Bolshevik traitors also claimed. In both cases immense disrespect is shown the victims of the Nazi and Communist collaborators. For the sake of political and personal interests, it is sought to continue to defend acquiescence to the ideology of all occupations.
There’s only one thing left to say: obsequiousness is a prerequisite for loving Lithuania, apparently at the expense of less valuable ethnic groups. And if there are documents proving participation in a crime, then to hell with those documents for the sake of the “big idea” of that same love! What one least wants to hear from young contemporary politicians is the uncritical repetition of falsehood without any cognition of the consequences of that repetition.
Incidentally, renaming the alley Tricolor Alley would be a truly Solomonic decision.
Full story in Lithuanian here.