Bait and Switch
In the face of recent overwhelming negative publicity for honoring Holocaust perpetrators, Lithuania’s capital city has voted to change the street named in honor of Kazys Skirpa. Skirpa proposed ethnic cleansing of Jews in Lithuania, and encouraged the most efficient elimination of Jews in any European country during the Holocaust. By December 1941, the Lithuanian genocide of Jews had been completed. This proved to Nazi Germany how Jews could efficiently be eradicated. Following Lithuania’s example, Nazi’s determined the Final Solution of the Jewish problem in January 1942.
In an interview with Times Of Israel dated July 23, 2019, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linkevicius proudly described the great progress his country would be making in removing the street named in honor of Skirpa. He admitted that Lithuania needs to “come clean” about their Holocaust record. By this admission, he acknowledges that the Lithuanian government has engaged in Holocaust distortion – a fact known widely outside of Lithuania.
It is difficult for Lithuania to “come clean”, they have a Government Department to enforce their Holocaust narrative, where some of those that deviate from their approved distortions are threatened with criminal charges. Years of appeals for truth have fallen on adversarial ears inside Lithuania, where truth about the national record remains unavailable. Only after the granddaughter of one of Lithuania’s primary Holocaust perpetrators stepped forward to confront truth, was the government forced into a difficult position. Linkevicius’s statement on Noreika’s guilt is a breakthrough, and a welcome revision, and in direct contrast to his Government’s official position.
Skirpa Street in the capital has drawn international infamy. Despite the fact that over 200,000 Jews were murdered inside Lithuania, and 6,000,000 throughout Europe, the Lithuanian Government has maintained that Skirpa’s record was, at best, “ambiguous”. He remains a national hero.
Rampant intimidation of truth tellers inside Lithuania has suppressed Skirpa’s record, however international pressure forced some movement. The national government continues to decline to revoke his national honors. At long last, on 7/24/19, the Vilnius municipality voted to remove the street sign honoring him. This is supposed to placate foreign Jews and is already being touted to the international community as evidence of Lithuania “progress”. As usual, within Lithuania, nothing is as it appears.
Skirpa is ostensibly honored for raising the Lithuanian tricolor flag in 1919. (Skirpa’s Jewish “accomplishments” are acknowledged privately with nods and winks). The street will therefore be re-named Tricolor Alley. A new memorial plaque will be placed on this street to state that Skirpa was the hero that raised this flag. This will implicitly point to the new street name. This “concession” actually increases the identification of Skirpa’s national hero status by having both the street name and the new monument in his honor, in place. Can this really be true?
Diaspora Jews are being sold the narrative that the street name will be changed, without being informed of the new plan. Local Lithuanians are placated knowing that their hero will remain a hero. The Lithuanians have created a brilliant compromise, assuming that the Jews will be placated and that their version of the truth remains steadfast. So then, who will be fooled? Only trusting Jews.
For foreign audiences, the Mayor of Vilnius, Remigijus Simasius, states Skirpa was anti Semitic and so the street name needed to be changed in order to improve the image of the city. So then, why agree to the new honors for Skirpa? Mayor Simasius believes he will now be able to proudly inform foreign investors that the street name has been changed, an act which he publicly resisted for many years. It is unlikely he will also inform that he has installed a new honor for Skirpa.
The single senior member of the Lithuanian Government that openly addresses these issues, is Foreign Minister Linkevicius. These issues, he addresses only to foreigners. He interacts with Jews outside of Lithuania to create a positive image of his country. He encourage diaspora Jews to visit their ancestral homeland and to spend money to restore Jewish sites. Clearly, this serves Lithuanian needs to further enhance tourism.
Mr. Linkevicius also seeks security support from Israel, while simultaneously declining to designate Hezbollah as a terrorist organization, and refusing to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Mr. Linkevicius speaks about “coming clean” regarding the Lithuanian role in the Holocaust, yet it is his government that perpetually distorts the truth.
Lithuania has no domestic equivalent of Mr. Linkevicius. Internally, the Lithuanian Genocide Center is a bastion of Holocaust distortion. Mr. Linkevicius states that Lithuania is a democratic country and truth telling requires time. Seventy five years after the end of the Shoah, and thirty years after Lithuania regained independence, they are still pleading that they need more time to tell the truth. The installation of the new honors for Skirpa speaks volumes about their inability to tell the truth.
Skirpa Street will bear a new name. A hollow victory indeed.