by professor Pinchos Fridberg
The Lithuanian-language version of the internet site delfi.lt posted an article on July 29, 2019, called “A Man Who Gave His Life for Lithuania Is Not an Enemy of Lithuania.”
The author was Vytautas Landsbergis, the honorary chairman of the Homeland Union (Lithuanian Conservative Party).
The content of the title of Mr. Landsbergis’s article appears strange to me.
There is a multitude of examples in the history of the 20th century which contradict it.
Even so, based on this rather shaky claim, the author suggests we should consider deeply whether Noreika truly was “so tainted that he should be humiliated publicly.”
Well, Mr. Landsbergis, let’s talk about that. Let’s discuss it, as you propose, “comprehensively,” without pulling punches, without the qualifiers and weasel words you so like: “it seems to me,” “one should think,” “perhaps” and “who could deny the fact that…”
I think as well the discussion shouldn’t be limited to the national hero Jonas Noreika.
Let’s start with your father, the architect Vytautas Landsbergis-Žemkalnis, who by his own volition became the infrastructure minister in Juozas Ambrazevičius-Brazaitis’s government which worked with the Nazis. It was this ministry which was entrusted with “the honorable” task of creating a Jewish concentration camp in Kaunas.
To avoid empty talk, I will quote the record of protocol no. 6 from the morning sitting of the Provisional Government of Lithuania on June 30, 1941.
Protocol of the meeting of the cabinet of ministers of the Provisional Government on June 30, 1941
Presiding: acting prime minister J. Ambrazevičius
All members of the cabinet of ministers present.
[Considered:] 4. Maintenance of the Lithuanian Battalion and the establishment of a Jewish concentration camp [empahsis added].
[Resolved:]. 4. After hearing out Kaunas kommandant colonel Bobelis’s report on the matter of the battalion being formed (Hilfpolizeidienstbatalion) and the establishment of a Jewish concentration camp [empahsis added], the cabinet of ministers resolved:
2) to approve the establishment of a Jewish concentration camp and to assign the project of its establishment to deputy infrastructure minister Mr. Švipa, in coordination with Mr. colonel Bobelis.
The next sitting of the cabinet of ministers is scheduled for 7:00 P.M. today.
J. Ambrazevičius, acting prime minister [signed]
J. Švelnikas, chief of staff, cabinet of ministers [signed]
from the book “Lietuvos laikinoji vyriausybė: posėdžių protokolai, 1941 m. birželio 24 – rugpjūčio 4 d.” A. Anušauskas, ed. Lietuvos gyventojų genocido ir rezistencijos tyrimo centras. Vilnius, 2001. pp. 19-20.
Appendix no. 1 to [the protocol of the Lithuanian cabinet of ministers], August 1, 1941
Protocol No. 31
Regulations on the Status of Jews
The cabinet of ministers, taking into consideration the Jews have for whole centuries exploited the Lithuanian people economically and ruined us morally, and more recently, under the cover of Bolshevism, have embarked upon the widest possible battle against Lithuanian independence and the Lithuanian people, and seeking to put a halt to the harmful activities of the Jews and to protect the Lithuanian people from their pestilent influence, has resolved to adopt the following regulations:
August 1, 1941, Kaunas
J. Ambrazevičius, acting prime minister [signed]
J. Šlepetys, interior minister [signed]
from the book “Lietuvos laikinoji vyriausybė: posėdžių protokolai, 1941 m. birželio 24 – rugpjūčio 4 d.” A. Anušauskas, ed. Lietuvos gyventojų genocido ir rezistencijos tyrimo centras. Vilnius, 2001. pp. 135-137.
I would like to know why in our time in many of the documents describing this event the term “Jewish concentration camp” has been changed to the mediaeval term “ghetto,” which really just means a densely populated residential area for Jews, and not the seizure of their rights to life and property. It would be interesting to find out who made this change, when and for what purpose.
Why do I ask that? Because this change allows some to claim the true organizers of the persecution of the Jews in Lithuania and the true authors of the concentration camps in Lithuania did not foresee the tragic consequences of their actions. As if they didn’t take part in the Holocaust. Let’s remember the Holocaust isn’t just the brutal murder of the Jews, but also their imprisonment in concentration camps where they were deprived of legal protection, property, food, medicine and medical care and where they experienced unprecedented levels of physical and spiritual debasement.
Why am I telling you this, Mr. Landsbergis? Because my wife Anita was imprisoned in that same Jewish concentration camp in Kaunas mentioned in the documents above adopted by all members of the government including, presumably, your father, according to the statement “all members of the cabinet of ministers participated.” My wife’s ausweis number, no. 4426, is preserved at the Lithuanian Central State Archive, filing code F. R-73, ap. 2, b. 72, l. 50.
I guess you don’t know my wife’s father Hirsch and his grandfather Yosif were transported from the Kaunas concentration camp to Dachau and his grandmother Sterle to Salaspils concentration camp, where they died.
The people who signed the Regulations on the Status of Jews, Appendix No. 1 of Protocol No. 31 of the Lithuanian cabinet of ministers in August of 1941, transformed anti-Semitism into state policy. As the Genocide Center states in its findings on Kazys Škirpa, “The Lithuanian Activist Front commanded by Škirpa raised anti-Semitism to the political level, which might have pushed some Lithuanian inhabitants into participation in the Holocaust.” I think these words can and should be applied to all members of the provisional government of Ambrazevičius-Brazaitis.
You (together with like-minded people) organized the pompous ceremony with members of the military and live-fire salutes for the reburial of the mortal remains of Juozas Ambrazevičius-Brazaitis in Kaunas on June 21, 2012.
Receiving the ashes of Ambrazevičius-Brazaitis at the Vilnius airport, June 21, 2012
You publicly bow your head before the person who said “the Jews for whole centuries have exploited the Lithuanian people financially” and the Jews had “strangled us morally [spiritually].”
Vytautas Landsbergis, second from right, at the ceremony to rebury the ashes of Ambrazevičius-Brazaitis
Why have you acted this way? Do you agree with his statements? Or is it just because your father was a colleague of the late acting prime minister?
P.S. It is woeful Mr. Landsbergis is still engaging in publicly insulting his fellow citizens. I quote:
“It is interesting that Lithuanian Poles don’t differ much from Lithuanian Russians. Here’s the problem: we consider them Poles, but maybe they’re really just Russians speaking Polish.”
Article published at the request of professor Fridberg.