Lithuanian President’s Historic Apology 25 Years Ago

Lithuanian President’s Historic Apology 25 Years Ago

by Ugnius Antanavičius for

Exactly 25 years ago then-president of Lithuania Algirdas Brazauskas issued the biggest “I’m sorry” of his life. On a trip to Israel he apologized to the Jewish people for Lithuanians who robbed and murdered their Jewish fellow citizens during the Holocaust. Largely forgotten now, Brazauskas’s trip and apology caused many reactions in Israel and Lithuania then.

The apology came on March 1, 1995, when he addressed the Knesset, broadcast live on Israeli radio and television. The late Algirdas Brazauskas apologized in the name of the Lithuanian nation for the Lithuanians who robbed and murdered Jews during the Holocaust. His trip to Israel was surrounded by friction and controversy. Protesters greeted him in Israel, where Lithuania’s reputation was very bad at the time, protesting the rehabilitation of thousands of Holocaust perpetrators by the new independent Lithuanian state. Every word Brazauskas uttered and even his body language was closely scrutinized during that foreign visit.

At the time the prevailing unofficial opinion in Israel held that while the Germans were the most responsible for crimes against the Jewish people, the Lithuanians placed second, followed by Latvians, Romanians and Ukrainians.

Full story in Lithuanian here.