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Silvia Foti
The Storm Door, portal to General Storm

Dr. Gregory Stanton on the 10 Stages of Genocide and Lithuania’s Holocaust

Interview with Dr. Gregory Stanton, Phd
Interview with Dr. Gregory Stanton

Gregory Stanton, PhD, educator and minister, established the 10 stages of genocide. He is the former research professor in Genocide Studies and Prevention at the George Mason University in Fairfax County, VA, and is best known for his work in the area of genocide studies. He is the founder and president of Genocide Watch, founder and director of the Cambodian Genocide Project, and chair of the Alliance Against Genocide.

In a three-hour interview in December 2021, I asked Dr. Stanton to discuss his ten stages of genocide as they connect to Lithuania’s role in the Holocaust. We focused on Jonas Noreika, my grandfather, who is regarded as a hero for fighting against the Communists during both occupations. He led an uprising in June 1941 that won the country of Lithuania back from the Communists, only to have it fall under Nazi control. In 1946, he tried to lead another uprising against the Communists, but failed. At that time, he called himself General Storm. He was captured by the KGB in 1946, tortured for a year, then executed in February 1947, dying as a martyr for Lithuania’s freedom at the age of thirty-six.

Noreika has a school and streets named after him, as well as a prominent plaque on a building in Vilnius in his honor. In 1997 President Algirdas Brazauskas conferred to Noreika the Cross of the Vytis, the highest possible posthumous honor.

Less acknowledged is Noreika’s role in murdering at least 8,000 Jews during the Holocaust: 2,000 in Plungė, 2,000 in Telšiai, and 4,000 in Šiauliai. His bravery in fighting against the Communists is used by the Lithuanian government to cover up his role in the Shoah. This is common among countries post genocide.

According to an eyewitness, Aleksandras Pakalniškis, Noreika, as the Commander, approved the slaughter of 2,000 Jews in Plungė in July 1941, shortly after leading the five-day uprising against the Communists in the northwestern portion of the country. Before, during, and after the five-day uprising, Noreika collaborated with Nazis, getting weapons and other supplies, as well as translating for them, according to one of his colleagues Damijonas Riaukia.

As governor of the Šiauliai region from July 1941 to March 1943 during the Nazi occupation, Noreika signed at least 70 documents related to the Holocaust.

Jonas Noreika left a rather long paper trail of Holocaust-related documents to study. The juxtaposition of these papers within Dr. Stanton’s stages of genocide provides a jarring example of Lithuania’s denial of its own role in the Holocaust.

1st Stage of Genocide: Classification

Noreika authored this anti-Semitic booklet in 1933. Author photo

There has to be an “us” and “them”. Otherwise there is no genocide. The Nazis classified the world as Aryans and others in a hierarchy with Jews as inferior beings. During World War II, Lithuania harbored about 200,000 Jews, or 7 percent of the population. The Nazis classified Lithuanians almost as Aryans since they were white and Christian. They had an elaborate racial classification system for Jews, according to the Nuremberg laws, based on how many grandparents were Jewish. There was also self-classification with orthodox Jews wearing different clothing. Jews tended to live separately from Lithuanians. They were called Litvaks, as opposed to white Christian “Lithuanians”. A Litvak could not be a Lithuanian, and a Lithuanian could not be a Jew.

In 1933, at the age of twenty-two, Noreika published an anti-Semitic screed, in which he called for the boycott of all goods from non-Lithuanians. This brochure has been called the Mein Kampf of Lithuania, written seven years after Hitler’s version.

Hold Your Head High, Lithuanian!

We must make a solemn oath in our hearts: Don’t buy products from a non-Lithuanian! Jews drive through the countryside and buy up the cattle, flax, and crops. Let us make our holy vows: Don’t sell to them! Once and for all: We won’t buy from Jews! We can sell them only butter, eggs, and cheese. And only when they won’t make a profit from them.

Jonas Noreika, “Hold Your Head High!”, 1933

2nd Stage: Symbolization

Cover . of Storm in the Land of Rain: A Mother’s Dying Wish Becomes Her Daughter’s Nightmare. Author photo

This involved identifying who was Jewish by forcing them to wear a yellow star and placing a designation on their identification papers. While Bulgarians and Danes refused to make their Jews wear stars and did all they could to stop the killing of Jews, Lithuanians were different because they enthusiastically joined in. Lithuanians knew where they lived so they could round them up easily. There was real cooperation by the Lithuanian people in naming and symbolizing Jews. Christian Lithuanians and Jews were ethnically different; distinguishing Jews by sight was easy.

Leonas Prapuolenis, leader of the Lithuanian Activist Front, to which Noreika belonged, announced the following message on the radio on June 23, 1941, the second day of the uprising against the Soviet Union. The coinciding Nazi invasion into Lithuania was also known as Operation Barbarossa.

Brothers and sisters, Lithuanians! The destined final hour of revenge against the Jews has arrived. Lithuania must be liberated not only from the slavery of the Asiatic Bolsheviks, but also from the longstanding oppression of the Jews. The Lithuanian Activist Front, in the name of the entire Lithuanian nation solemnly declares:

  1. The rights given to Jews during the ancient times of Vytautas the Great have been totally and completely revoked.
  2. Every Lithuanian Jew, without exception, is immediately warned to leave the Lithuanian land.
  3. The new Lithuanian state will be restored through the energy, work, heart, and wisdom of the Lithuanian People. Jews are completely and totally excluded from this task.

So let us all prepare for battle and victory for Lithuania’s freedom, for Lithuania’s cleansing, for its independence, for its sound and happy future.

3rd Stage: Discrimination

Where Noreika lived in Siauliai in 1941 when he signed the order. Author photo

By law or by custom, people are prohibited from having full rights. Jews had already been banned from Civil Service during Lithuania’s prior independence. Soviets removed such discriminatory regulations. Nazis fired all Jewish professors, public servants, and banned them from a full life in the rest of the empire.  Noreika was considered a desk murderer who at the very least translated orders from the Nazis for other Lithuanians to fulfill, and who it seems also wrote his own orders straight into Lithuanian that were never translations from the German language.

Jonas Noreika officially became governor of Šiauliai in August 1941, but it is likely he unofficially took over responsibilities as early as July 1941. Despite his not yet having officially assumed the position, he issued a proclamation concerning Jews living in the region:

Šiaulių District

Regional Head Proclamation Number 6

July 23, 1941

  1. All Jews who ran from the Šiaulių District to other cities have no right to return. Those who return will be arrested. Owners of homes who allow returning Jews to stay with them will be punished.
  2. All Jews, regardless of sex or age, from this date, July 25, will wear the Star of David on their left chest, 10 cm in diameter. They will pay for these symbols with their own funds. Any Jews caught without the star or trying to hide the star under a jacket will be punished.
  3. Jews are allowed to walk in public from 6 am to 8 pm. If they are outside of this time, they will be punished, except for those who have special permission from the local administration.
  4. Jews must move their belongings to their assigned places between July 25 and August 15.
  5. The organized transfer will be overseen by the local administration along with Jewish representatives:

All of the police employees will oversee the transfer.

Those who do not transfer within the assigned time will be punished.

  1. Jewish property will be expropriated.
  2. Jews cannot use people of other nationalities to work for them.

4th Stage: Dehumanization

Jonas Noreika. Author photo

Start calling the other by unhuman names, such as vermin, a cancer in the society, a disease. These metaphors are means to dehumanize. Those planning the killing want to condition their followers not to think about their victims as human. If you’re shooting somebody who is not a human, you’re not committing murder. People are usually revolted by murder, as it goes against every legal code in the world. Conditioning so that victims are dehumanized voids that sentiment.

In Lithuania, every single Jew was considered a Communist. It was a canard. It was a way of dehumanizing the opposition. The blood libel myth was also prevalent in Lithuania, in which Jews were accused of kidnapping Lithuanian children to draw their blood to make matzah bread. The symbolism of blood is a worldwide powerful sacrifice. It elicits emotions that call upon our primordial brain.

Jonas Noreika belonged to the Lithuanian Activist Front; this is one of its missives:

Lithuania’s Communist Party, the true Russian Bolshevik agents, and the gang that shoved Lithuania’s independence into the pits, is comprised of 80-90 percent Jews.

“For All Posterity, Let Us Remove Lithuania from the Jewish Yoke,” Lithuanian Activist Front, Document LXIV, 1941

5th Stage: Organization

Drawing by Damiijonas Riaukia on the 5-day uprising, which was also the launch of the Holocaust in Lithuania. Author photo

Jew hatred is a societal conspiracy theory. Racial annihilation is not only an individual crime, but a crime of society in which one group tries to kill and destroy another group. Lithuania had a genocide machine, which involved many Lithuanians, up to 20,000. The genocide took an enormous effort of organization.

Noreika’s booklet Raise Your Head Lithuanian, in which he calls for Lithuanians to boycott all goods sold by Jews and to avoid selling any goods to Jews is an example of this.

Some quotes from this 32-page brochure:

“Jews in nice clothes sit in cafés thinking how to extract from us as much money as possible.”

“The Jew gives you a chance to earn, but he will find an opportunity to steal from you three times more! Once and forever: do not buy anything from the Jews!”

“Remember: when you sell a big thing to a Jew, you are doing harm! You are harming your brother: an ethnic Lithuanian”

“If all ethnic Lithuanians had an agreement to boycott the Jew, the life would be much better! Yes! Yes, indeed!!!”

6th Stage: Polarization

Building where Noreika worked in Siauliai in 1941 when he signed the order. Author photo

Society becomes divided into an “us” and “them”. If you’re not with us, then you’re against us. Sympathizers of the victims were considered a threat. In Lithuania, society was divided so that moderates would become bystanders, not resistors. Bystanders were highly valued by those who want to commit genocide. While there were 900-1,300 Lithuanians who helped rescue Jews, according to Yad Vashem and the Lithuanian government, the rest of Lithuanians (2.9 million) did not rescue Jews, nor protest against what was happening.

As governor of the Šiauliai region, Noreika called for the rounding up of all Jews and half-Jews in his region, sending the order to all the mayors of the towns in his region. The Lithuanian mayors in turn called upon other Lithuanians in their respective towns to round up the Jews, bring them to Žagarė, and guard them there.

Jonas Noreika signed this order on August 22, 1941:

Šiauliai City and County

Governor

August 22, 1941

No. 962

To all chiefs of principalities of the Šiauliai County

And burgomasters 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:

  1. 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.
  2. Lists of abandoned Jewish property must be delivered to me in two copies by August 29. Resettled Jews can take the most necessary household items and clothes and up to 200 RM [Reichsmarks] in case for each Jewish family.
  3. 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.
  4. Non-Jewish citizens of the district appointed for the Jews are allowed to choose other locations in the country. 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.
  5. 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 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 County Governor

 7th Stage: Preparation

Plaque on the building in Mardosai, from which Noreika led the uprising in Zemaitija, also the launch of the Holocaust in Lithuania in June 1941. Author photo

Before Nazis invaded Lithuania, some Lithuanians, such as Jonas Noreika, were already planning the elimination of Jews. The Nazis had their Wannsee Conference in January 1942, in which they decided to murder Jews across Europe. By that point, most Jews in Lithuania had already been murdered. Efficiency was an important part of the genocide of Jews in Lithuania. The extermination of Jews in Lithuania was so effective that Nazis must have been inspired by how Lithuania had accomplished this so rapidly and may have been encouraged to believe it was possible to replicate the extermination of Jews across all Europe.

Noreika received a letter from the Žagare mayor, informing him of the space that will be allotted to house the Jews in the newly formed ghetto.

Telefonogram Nr. 188

To Šiaulių Region Chairman

From Žagarės city mayor

I am letting you know that Žagarė’s city has allotted the Jews to live in 12,135 metric yards. At this time, there are 715 Jews.

Žagarė, August 25, 1941

Žagarė City Mayor

 8th Stage: Persecution

Zagare, where more than 2,000 Jews were murdered in October 1941 as a result of the order signed by Jonas Noreika. Author photo

Jews were humiliated, rounded up, put in ghettoes or concentration camps, tortured, starved. Their property was confiscated and expropriated. Legally stolen.  Noreika played a role in calling for the Jews to be rounded up and placed in a ghetto in the Plungė synagogue and in Žagarė. He appropriated a home from a Jewish family in Plungė and took their furniture, including a chess table.

Noreika received a letter from the Žagarė mayor written August 29, 1941, concerning the procurement of barbed wire to contain the Jews in the ghetto that he ordered to be created.

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.”

9th Stage: Extermination

After more than 2,000 Jews were murdered in the town of Plunge in July 1941, a party was organized by Jonas Noreika. Author photo

Lithuania had the highest percentage of Jews killed in all of Europe.  A Jew in Lithuania had a 3 percent chance of surviving, the worst odds in all of Europe.

Noreika signed a document dated September 10, 1941, less than two weeks after all the Jews (more than 2,000 innocent victims) in his region of Šiauliai were rounded up (by his order) and sent to a ghetto in Žagarė.  This order explains how all their remaining property should be confiscated and distributed.

239

Head of Šiauliai town and district

September 10, 1941

No. 1875

Šiauliai

To all heads of parish and burgomasters of secondary towns

INSTRUCTIONS TO LIQUIDATE JEWISH AND ESCAPED COMMUNISTS’

MOVABLE PROPERTY

  1. Collected property shall be left and further safeguarded until my separate notice. Lists of excellent furniture, rolls of textile, and new shirts shall be delivered to me.
  2. Other decent property shall be furnished in your schools, parishes, post offices, sanctuaries, hospitals, etc. but no less than 1/4 of such property shall remain and be kept safe until my separate notice. Lists of remaining property shall be delivered to me.
  3. Of the remaining property, half shall be distributed to those who suffered from war; the other half sold in auction. All property not suitable for any use should be destroyed at place.
  4. Live and material inventory of agriculture, necessary for this activity, shall be leased along with immovable property to temporary lessees.
  5. Money received from sold goods [crossed out: and treasures found] shall be deposited into District Administration account.
  6. Draw up justification acts for liquidated property and keep them in your cases. Acts are confirmed by heads of parish and burgomasters.
  7. Make a commission to divide and liquidate property in the presence of a police representative.
  8. Divide and liquidate property as soon as possible and report to me.
  9. Expenses incurred in property liquidation shall be covered by money held in paragraph 5.

Head of district [signature J Noreika]

Manager of Jewish movable and immovable property [signature]

10th Stage: Denial

Lithuania’s Genocide Resistance and Research Center, which leads the movement to proclaim Jonas Noreika a hero. Author photo

Denial of genocide having occurred happens right from the beginning until the end. That’s what happened in Lithuania. When you go against the origin myths of a country or a nationality, you are challenging them. People don’t want to listen to you.

Grant Gochin, a US citizen who lost 100 relatives in Lithuania’s Holocaust where Jonas Noreika was in charge, sued the government of Lithuania, asking it to remove all honors for Jonas Noreika on the grounds that he participated in the Holocaust.  Here is the response from the Genocide and Resistance Research Centre of Lithuania, the country’s arbiter of history.

Vilnius, March 27, 2019

Throughout his life, Jonas Noreika placed the well-being of other citizens and the Fatherland above his own interests. He actively resisted the Nazi and Soviet occupations—for which he was imprisoned by both regimes—and [was] executed by the Soviets. Once freed from the Stutthof concentration camp, he had the opportunity to escape to the West, where his wife and young daughter waited; however, he returned to Soviet-occupied Lithuania in an attempt to unify the country’s armed forces in a resistance movement that would lead to an uprising [against the Communists] for Lithuania’s freedom.

“On the Accusation of Jonas Noreika (General Storm),” Genocide and Resistance Research Centre of Lithuania

While Lithuania cannot deny that the Holocaust occurred on its land, it has rewritten its own role in the extermination of Jews by blaming everything on the Nazis. Until now, Lithuania has taken no responsibility for the role of Lithuanians in the Holocaust.

A former journalist of 20 years in Chicago and now a high school literature teacher at Proviso Mathematics and Science Academy in Forest Park, Illinois, Silvia Foti is the author of : Storm in the Land of Rain: A Mother’s Dying Wish Becomes Her Daughter’s Nightmare

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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