Silvia Foti
The Storm Door, portal to General Storm

Day 5 of International Holocaust Remembrance Week

On this fifth day of the week leading up to International Holocaust Remembrance Day on January 27, I review this fifth document sent to my grandfather Jonas Noreika. It was in response to an order he wrote on August 22, 1941 (Day 3) demanding that all Jews and half-Jews in the district of Šiauliai (of which he was in command) be sent to Žagaré in a ghetto.

He asked the mayor of Žagarė to respond by August 29, 1941, (Day 4) a week later.  The mayor had, in fact, responded on August 24, five days early. He sent a follow-up response on August 29 to report on the progress of the ghetto. Such enthusiasm! He sent two responses instead of just the one required by Noreika who must have been so pleased by this display of passion.

The Žagarė mayor let the District Chair know that there were now 949 Jews (234 up from 715 five days earlier). These Jews had been rounded up from various villages and hamlets in the Šiauliai district, which was under the domain of Noreika.

He also let my grandfather know that posts had been driven into the ground to create the perimeter of the ghetto, which was 12,000 metric yards, as he had stated earlier. But the Žagarė mayor had a problem. He needed wire and nails. He found a blue pen and added a personalized handwritten note at the bottom of his official response, asking my grandfather to help obtain wire and nails.

The use of wire and nails to contain Jews is a detail that shows their ghettoization was against their will, and not for their safety. It is more difficult to escape if you are surrounded by wire.

The Lithuanian government absurdly and falsely claims my grandfather was trying to rescue Jews from their inevitable murder, yet here, the mayor of Žagarė had pleaded for my grandfather’s help to obtain wire and nails in a personal, handwritten note. The Lithuanian government claims that my grandfather did not directly murder Lithuanian citizens (who just happened to be Jewish), but this document alone proves his complicity in rounding them up, their ghettoization, and preparedness for slaughter.

Taken in historical context, in light of what was currently being perpetrated against Jews throughout the country, isn’t it clear that my grandfather understood the terrible fate of the Jews? He, after all, was a vigorous proponent of eliminating Jews from Lithuania.

Here is just one document sent to Jonas Noreika in the chain of events that guaranteed the genocide of 96.4 percent of Jews (more than 200,000) in Lithuania.

Translation:

August 29, 1941

Telefonogram No. 220

To Šiauliai Region Chairman
From Žagarės City Mayor

In fulfilling the Šiauliai Region Chair’s order Nr. 962 from August 22, 1941, I am letting you know that in Žagarė’s city, from today’s date, August 29, 1941, there are 949 Jews settled from other cities and villages.

Žagarė City Mayor

In a handwritten note, he added, “Posts are being placed in the ghetto, but I am requesting that you send wire and nails because we don’t have those.”

Storm Door Blog

The Storm Door blog, a portal into the life and times of Jonas Noreika. Photo by Virginia Allain

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.

By claiming that my grandfather was a rescuer instead of a genocidal monster, Lithuania demeans all the true rescuers. Lithuania has never punished a single murderer of a Lithuanian Jew. If they had, it would have reflected genuine regret that Jewish citizens had been eliminated, but they assiduously avoided prosecution and punishment.

Rescuers are the ones who should be honored. They are the citizens who bring glory to my Lithuanian homeland. Falsely converting the worst among the genocidal murderers into rescuers negates the possibility of credibility of those others who did in fact rescue. Through such obvious and deliberate falsifications, Lithuania has dishonored its finest citizens, and brings every historical finding on the subject into question.

On International Holocaust Memorial Day, Lithuania will proudly speak of Lithuanians who rescued Jews. When they revere Holocaust perpetrators like my grandfather and draw comparisons between him and Lithuanians like  Ona Šimaitė, it is an insult to those 900+ Lithuanians who have been declared by Yad Vashem as Righteous Among the Nations. Yet the government of Lithuania elevates Noreika even higher than Šimaté.  The insult to her is absolute. The insult to the intellect of every decent Lithuanian is beyond comprehension. The insult toward the moral fiber of Lithuania is a tragedy.

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.

About the Author
Silvia Foti, MSJ, MAT, MFA, is a journalist, creative writer, teacher, and mother. She is author of the book The Nazi's Granddaughter: How I Learned My Grandfather was a War Criminal, Regnery History, coming March 9, 2021; Mi Abuelo: El General Storm ¿Héroe o criminal nazi? Harper Collins Mexico.
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