by Grant Arthur Gochin
How did it come to this? Professor Vytautas Landsbergis, first head of dtate of Lithuania after liberation from the Soviet Union and founding father of the country’s Conservative Party (Homeland Union), putting himself squarely at the forefront of defending the hero status of Holocaust perpetrators and Nazi collaborators in Lithuania?
Landsbergis has gone on record calling Vilnius mayor Remigijus Simasius delusional for removing a plaque honoring the Holocaust perpetrator Jonas Noreika from the library of the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences, a step called for years ago by a broad coalition of public intellectuals which included member of the European Parliament Leonidas Donskis, rector of Vilnius University Arturas Zukauskas and others (were they also all “delusional?”). Serving the Nazis as head of Siauliai district during World War II, Noreika signed orders forcing Jews into a ghetto and plundering their property (clearly they weren’t expected to come back).
Noreika’s granddaughter Silvia Foti, after discovering the truth, has courageously spoken out against the honoring of her grandfather. In what can only be described as an unstatesmanlike tirade, Landsbergis went so far as to publicly accuse her of “murdering him all over again” (Noreika was executed by the Soviets in 1947).
Landsbergis publicly condemned Vilnius City Council for removing the name of Kazys Skirpa, pro-Nazi leader of the Lithuanian Activist Front, the armed anti-Soviet resistance group behind the June 1941 Uprising, and nominal head of Lithuania’s provisional government under the Nazis, from a street in the middle of the capital. After the Vilnius synagogue was temporarily closed due to escalating anti-Semitism and threats of violence in the wake of these decisions, instead of calling for calm, Landsbergis continued to escalate his rhetoric, accusing head of the Lithuanian Jewish Community Faina Kukliansky of being “useful to the Kremlin.”
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