Photo: © 2019 DELFI/Lukas Bartkus
In an interview conducted by the Lithuanian Telegraph Agency ELTA and published on the Delfi news site, outgoing Lithuanian European Commission commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis commented on the public controversy over the removal of a sign commemorating Jonas Noreika in Vilnius.
Question: Agitation has arisen in society because of the removal of the commemorative plaque for Jonas Noreika and the renaming of Kazys Škirpa Alley. In other words, conflict has arisen because of collective historical memory and this has provoked clear conflict between the Jewish community and [ethnic] Lithuanians. Lithuanian Jewish Community chairwoman Faina Kukliansky announced the closure of the synagogue and the community building due to threats received. The prime minister and the president immediately condemned expressions of hate, but the information had already been sent out to the international community that Jews are not safe in Lithuania. You are a highly educated person as well as an historian. As an historian, how do you view interference by politicians into historical memory? Do they have the right to do this?
Answer: The biggest complaint I have to make to the conservative ideologues is very clear: they politicize and rewrite history. Putin rewrites history, but this is being done in Lithuania by Landsbergis as well. Those who attempt to place an equal sign between the crimes of Stalinism and Nazi crimes–deportations, murders, exile–are also rewriting history. The Holocaust, however, is a unique Nazi crime, because the Nazi racial ideology is unique, one of a kind in the world. Communism was a universal system of beliefs … No distinction is made in Lithuania between Stalinist and Nazi crimes … The Holocaust of Naziism was a unique crime based on the Nazi ideology, based on an ultra-racist point of view, breeding people to create a superhuman breed and placing people in genetic categories: people, genetically deformed people and subhumans. Jews and Roma were subhumans, they were scheduled for extermination … This is horrific. Show me at least one Stalinist crime committed of this nature. The Stalinist concentration camps were crimes against humanity.
Full interview in Lithuanian here.