On this third day of the week leading up to International Holocaust Remembrance Day on January 27, I review this third document signed by my grandfather Jonas Noreika. It is perhaps his most famous signed document during the Holocaust. He demands the transfer of all Jews and half-Jews in the Šiauliai city and district, both of which were under his dominion at this time, to a ghetto in Žagaré.
On August 20, 5,566 people lived in Žagarė; 2,402 were Jews. My grandfather ordered that all Jews and half-Jews be transferred to Žagarė by August 29; they were brought in from Šiauliai, Joniškės, Kuršėnai, Žeimelis, and other towns. By this time, tens of thousands of Jews had already been murdered in Lithuania. It was obvious why Jews were being centralized–for slave labor, sex slavery, vicarious torture, asset plunder, and murder. Nobody in any leadership position was unaware of circumstances around them, especially those of high intellect and leadership, such as my grandfather.
During the last days of August, the Lithuanian police battalion ordered Lithuanian residents to dig a ditch in the shape of the letter “L” (presumably L as in only for Lithuanians) in the city’s Naryškys Manor Park.
On October 2, the German commandant ordered Jews to go to the market square, pretending as if this time, as in the past, they would be led to slave labor. They lined them up, separating men from women, children, and elderly. He blew a whistle, and the area’s Lithuanian residents and Lithuanian police battalion surrounded the square. As the Jews panicked, they tried to escape and were shot. Wagons arrived to the market square so the bodies could be loaded, and brought to the waiting “L” pit where they were dumped like garbage, and their remains buried. But first, their money and clothes were stolen from the murdered and still living.
Jewish property was brought to Šiauliai. By the end of the day, 2,236 Jews were shot: 633 men, 1,107 women, and 496 children. Žagarė’s mayor informed the Šiaulių district leaders that no Jewish property remained. All had been plundered: six synagogues were confiscated, only torn holy books remained. The commercial stores previously belonging to Jews were plundered and shared. There was no regard for what the future of the town would be without a commercial class. Intellectual property, such as archives and libraries were destroyed. Žagarė’s ghetto was in existence from August to October 2, 1941. My grandfather created it and emptied it.
Here is just one document signed by Jonas Noreika in the chain of events that guaranteed the genocide of 96.4 percent of Jews (more than 200,000) in Lithuania.
ŠIAULIAI CITY AND DISTRICT CHIEF
August 22, 1941
TO ALL CHIEFS OF PRINCIPALITIES OF THE ŠIAULIAI DISTRICT
AND MAYORS OF SECONDARY TOWNS
(Copy for Police Precinct Chiefs)
By decree of Šiauliai District Commissioner, all citizens of Jewish ethnicity, including half-Jews, must be removed from all principalities and towns of the county and settled in one district: the Ghetto. All Jewish property must be preserved and accounted for by municipalities.
In accordance with this decree:
- Jews of all principalities, secondary towns, and townships must be moved to the town of Žagarė in the period of the 25th to the 29th of this month. Requisites for resettlement will be provided by respective municipalities.
- Lists of abandoned Jewish property must be delivered to me in 2 copies by August 29. Resettled Jews can take the most necessary household items and clothes and up to 200 RM in cash for each Jewish family.
- In Žagarė, all Jews will be settled in a separate district which has to be fenced off by August 30. Fencing off the Ghetto district will be taken care of by the Žagarė municipality. Every day, district Jews in the Ghetto will be conveyed to work and back to the Ghetto by guards.
- Non-Jewish citizens of the district appointed for the Jews are allowed to choose other locations in the county. If any of those non-Jews who are resettled have to abandon their real estate, they are allowed to choose real estate of corresponding value abandoned by the Jews in Žagarė or other townships.
- Chiefs and burgomasters are obliged to inform me on the execution of this decree by the 29th of this month, including information on what has been accomplished, and how, and how many Jews have been resettled. The Burgomaster of Žagarė must inform me how many Jews have been resettled to Žagarė.
Jonas Noreika [signature]
City and District Chief
Sekretorius Tamašauskas [signature]
Storm Door Blog
By focusing on only seven of the documents he signed in 1941, this week I remember what my grandfather, Jonas Noreika, did eighty years ago during the Shoah in Lithuania. I present these seven documents, one each day, as we approach International Holocaust Remembrance Day on January 27.
During his tenure as District Chief of the Šiauliai Region from August 1941 to March 1943, Jonas Noreika signed at least 68 known documents that profoundly impacted Jews during the Holocaust. The documents can be found at: https://www.jonasnoreika.com/wiki/EN2/TheDeskMurderer
Noreika was involved in many of the administrative details leading up to the murder of Jews under his dominion. The Lithuanian government still considers his actions heroic. The shame is not over something that happened eight decades ago. The shame is current —as current and fresh as it was when this hideous document was written. Holocaust revisionism as a national policy catapults the crime from 80 years ago in 1941 to a current event in 2021. Those who venerate genocide murderers, murder the memory of the victims all over again. They facilitate repeated events in the future.
Lithuania is the only country in the world to have gone to Court to defend the “good reputation” of a Nazi mass murderer, my own Grandfather.
Holocaust distortion erodes our understanding of history and nourishes conspiracy theories, dangerous forms of nationalism, Holocaust denial, and antisemitism. The facts of my grandfather’s crimes are so clear, so obvious, no amount of obfuscation can cleanse his record.
Lithuania has signed international guarantees they will not participate in Holocaust revisionism, but, they do it openly and regularly, not just on my own relative. What then do promises from the Lithuanian government mean?
I implore the Government of Lithuania again, as I have asked before, to please stop honoring the murderers of our own Lithuanian citizens (who just happened to be Jewish) as our Lithuanian national heroes. Please, give our Lithuanian children the right to a dignified future free of guilt. Remove the honors. Tell the truth. Start with my grandfather.
Is it ever going to end?
Wishing you truth and peace in the storms of your life,
Silvia Foti, granddaughter of General Storm—Jonas Noreika
The Nazi’s Granddaughter: How I Discovered My Grandfather was a War Criminal releases on March 9, 2021; the book is available for pre-orders: www.silviafoti.com
Taglines: International Holocaust Remembrance Day; General Storm; Jonas Noreika; Siauliai Archive documents; Silvia Foti; Writer’s Life; The Storm Door blog; Genealogy; Grant Gochin