Silvia Foti
The Storm Door, portal to General Storm

A glimmer of hope in the Land of Rain—plaque of Jonas Noreika dismantled

Jonas Noreika plaque missing (author photo)
Jonas Noreika plaque missing (author photo)

The plaque of my grandfather on the Wroblewsky Library has been taken down—although no official reason has been given with no media coverage of the event. (I happened to come across photos of the Wroblewsky Library on Facebook with the plaque missing.)

By nature an optimist, I dare to assume that Lithuania’s government officials have second thoughts about the wisdom of honoring a Holocaust perpetrator on a major building at a noteworthy intersection in its capitol.

Wroblewsky Library (author photo)

The act of taking down this plaque is existentially significant and gives me enormous hope that the country is on the verge of acting nobly—admitting that Lithuanians played a substantial role in the Holocaust, that without Lithuanian collaboration it would have been impossible to murder nearly 97 percent of its Jews.

With the plaque down, my heart soars with the possibility that the entrenched denial among Lithuanians about their own responsibility for its darkest period in history is waning, that a tipping point has been achieved, and that the moral imperative of facing the lies about its past has been grasped.

With the plaque down, I dare to trust the sun has finally emerged in the Land of Rain, that so much light has been shed on this issue that not even the Genocide Center’s nationalistically misguided and outsized rule over history could continue the injustice of glorifying Holocaust perpetrators.

Original plaque put up in 2000. (Author photo)

Now that the plaque is down, Lithuanians might truly be able to raise their heads and be proud of their new democratic nation. It isn’t easy to admit guilt and face the shame of what happened, of gazing at history genuinely and bearing witness to how brutally Lithuanians killed their own neighbors.

With the plaque down, I dare to imagine that Lithuania has turned the corner on defending Holocaust perpetrators just because they fought against Soviets, that the country has finally reached the age of maturity, and is well on the road to facing down the truth of its own evil deeds.

With the plaque removed, I have faith that Lithuania is on the path to repentance by acknowledging how it committed the sin of killing so many innocent civilians.

New plaque put up within two months after old plaque was smashed in 2019. (Author photo)

With the plaque taken away, I have opened my heart to the possibility that Lithuania is ready to redeem itself by openly confessing its role in the tragedy of the Holocaust so that it can move forward in its newfound ability to be frank with its past.

Now that the plaque is gone, I truly have reason to believe Lithuania ultimately has a chance to heal from the trauma of its history by breaking free of its delusions that it had nothing to do with killing Jews, that it was all done by the occupying Nazis.

The disappearing act of the plaque brings into sharp relief the possibility that Lithuania has a conscience and is ready to begin the act of reconciliation based on truth.

Wishing you truth and peace in the storms of your life,

Silvia Foti, granddaughter of General Storm, Jonas Noreika

About the Author
Silvia Foti, MSJ, MAT, MFA, is a journalist, creative writer, teacher, and mother. She is author of the book Storm in the Land of Rain: How a Mother's Dying Wish Becomes Her Daughter's Nighmare. The book is also known as The Nazi's Granddaughter: How I Learned My Grandfather was a War Criminal, Regnery History; Vėtra Lietaus Šalyje, Kitos Knygos; Mi Abuelo: El General Storm ¿Héroe o criminal nazi? Harper Collins Mexico. The book is also being translated into Hungarian, and Polish.
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