At the beginning of the Holocaust, Lithuanian locals began murdering Jews prior to the arrival of Nazis. Lithuania had the highest murder rate of Jews in all of Europe. The participation of locals in the persecution and slaughter of Jews was simply massive.
In the 8 months after Germany’s June 1941 invasion of Lithuania, a Lithuanian Jew’s best chance of survival was to flee to Nazi-occupied areas to the south of Lithuania.
Let me reiterate – it was safer for a Jew to be among Nazis than to be among their Lithuanian neighbors.
This is noted in accounts in the memorial books for Eišiškės and Valkininkai.
The are two reasons for this:
- Nazi Germany had no policy of mass-murder in 1941; and
- In June 1941 the Germans restored ethnic Lithuanians to the civilian and police positions that they had held immediately prior to the June 1940 Soviet takeover of Lithuania.
In the second half of 1941, ethnic Lithuanians had day-to-day control in the purple-shaded area, Generalbezirk Litauen (General District of Lithuania). Nearly all Jews in this area were murdered well before December 1941.
Most of the mass murders in the brown-shaded area, Generalbezirk Weissruthenien, occurred between mid-May and the end of July 1942, several weeks after Nazi Germany’s January 20, 1942, Wannsee Conference. By then, Jews had heard reports of the massacres in the towns in Lithuania and some were fortunately able to make plans to evade round-ups and escape to the forests.
The current government of Lithuania chooses to focus exclusively on the 0.04% of Lithuanians who are “Righteous Among the Nations” rescuers of Jews. They ignore and negate the other 99.96% of Lithuanians who are not “Righteous Among the Nations”. The relentless focus on the 0.04% is the Government’s ploy to use the rescuers as an alibi for the whole nation. It does not take a statistician to understand how manipulative and dishonest these declarations are.
Using this incredibly minute number to boast how Lithuanians helped Jews, is simply preposterous. It is utterly deceptive and constitutes Holocaust distortion.
Lithuania, it is time for an honest conversation.