Lithuanian Jews Oppose Any Commemoration of Kazys Škirpa

Lithuanian Jews Oppose Any Commemoration of Kazys Škirpa

Lithuanian Jewish Community press release

Wantonly, without any sort of permission, representative of the National Unification Party (Lithuanian: partija Nacionalinis susivienijimas) Vytautas Sinica has initiated the installation of a plaque commemorating Kazys Škirpa on the façade of the Vilnius District Court building. This is both an administrative and moral crime.

The International Commission to Assess the Crimes of the Nazi and Soviet Occupational Regimes in Lithuania has recognized the activities of the Lithuanian Activist Front (LAF) and the Provisional Government of Lithuania–both founded and led by Kazys Škirpa–as anti-Semitic.

“This is a monument to a man who led the organization which encouraged violence against Lithuanian citizens of a different ethnicity and fomented anti-Semitism. None of this is a subjective judgment or interpretation; these statements are confirmed by historical facts, sources and documents. The commemoration of this kind of person is a mistake and socially divisive,” the chairman of the Commission’s Nazi Crimes subcommittee and Millersville University professor emeritus Saulius Sužiedėlis said.

Other historians engaged in Holocaust research and international organizations are unanimous regarding the veracity of the aforementioned historical facts.

The Center for the Study of the Genocide and Resistance of Residents of Lithuania has issued as well an official finding of history which admits the actions of the LAF probably did encourage Lithuanians to become engaged in Holocaust crimes. The mass distribution of the LAF ideology led to the murder of 220,000 Jews living in Lithuania, or around 95% of the total Jewish population.

For these reasons, the commemoration of Kazys Škirpa is painful to and offends the dignity of every Lithuanian Jew, and the Lithuanian Jewish Community therefore categorically opposes any commemoration or adoration of Kazys Škirpa, and respectfully asks Vilnius mayor Valdas Benkunskas to take immediate measures for the removal of this illicitly installed commemorative plaque, and that the people behind its erection be subject to appropriate punishment.

“Five years ago, based on evidence gathered and findings made by the Genocide Center and the International Commission, Kazys Škirpa Street in Vilnius was renamed. At that time there arose public opposition to this, and the latest atrocity shows there has been too little public education since then regarding the role played by Kazys Škirpa and the organizations he led in events which led to the death of hundreds of thousands of Lithuanian citizens. This latest event is an opportunity to talk openly and courageously about the uncomfortable moments in the history of our nation, and is especially an opportunity to include the younger generation in that discussion. Only knowledge and recognition of the truth can help us avoid another such tragedy, one towards which Lithuania appears to be accelerating now,” Lithuanian Jewish Community chairwoman and attorney-at-law Faina Kukliansky said.

The European Commission has adopted the “EU Strategy on Combating Antisemitism and Fostering Jewish Life” which Lithuania has pledged to implement. Different international organizations have been observing this process very carefully, organizations which are expressing concern over the recent rapid growth of anti-Semitism and the ever-m0re-frequent attacks made against Jews and Jewish community buildings in Lithuania.

The Lithuanian Jewish Community asks the state and the heads of the city of Vilnius to become involved actively in order to insure Jewish citizens of Lithuania feel equally protected by the law, and safe and secure in their own country.