Holocaust-Era Experience

Each Country’s Holocaust-Era Experience Was Different:

Comparing Finland and Lithuania

The Lithuanian Government validates honoring Holocaust perpetrators by claiming that the experience of each European country occupied by Germans was different. The difference can be starkly seen by comparing the conduct of the Lithuanians in the Holocaust period with that of the Finns.

The two peoples had the same reasons to hate the successive Russian, Bolshevik, and Soviet regimes. Throughout the 19th Century and until the First World War, Finland and Lithuania were occupied by Czarist Russia. With the accession of Czar Alexander III in 1881, intensive programs were undertaken to Russify the Czars’ Finnish and Lithuanian subjects.[1] Following the November 1917 Bolshevik Revolution, nationalist Finns defeated the Bolsheviks in a civil war. A year later, when the Bolsheviks invaded the new independent states of Lithuania and Poland, coordinated Lithuanian and Polish forces drove the Bolsheviks out.

During the inter-war period, nationalism grew in Finland and large segments of Finnish society admired Hitler and Mussolini.[2] Finnish nationalists saw their country as “a bastion of Christian civilization against the barbarian hordes of Bolshevism.”[3] Lithuania also saw a rise of nationalism in the 1930s.

The infamous Ribbentrop-Molotov Agreement of August 1939 gave the Soviets a free hand to seize Finland and the Baltic states. When the Soviet Union attacked Finland in November 1939, Finland largely stood alone in defending itself. By the time the “Winter War” ended, in March 1940, 25,000 Finnish men had been killed, and Finland lost more than 10% of its territory. Under the same Nazi-Soviet Pact, the Soviets occupied Lithuania in June 1940.

During the second half of 1940 and the first half of 1941, Finland, understandably bitter toward their Soviet neighbor, entered into a series of military agreements with Nazi Germany. By May 1941, the Finnish and German military commands were working out the details of plans under which the Finns would join the June 1941 Nazi invasion of Soviet-controlled territory. At the same time, the remnants of independent Lithuania’s diplomatic corps, based in Berlin, were developing plans for the Lithuanian Activist Front to rise up against the Soviets and found a Provisional Government

At this time, 1940-1941, when Finnish grievances against the Soviets were considerable and the Finns had the full backing of the anti-Semitic Nazi regime, the Finns could have fanned the flames of anti-Semitism and, in the terms of Kazys Škirpa, used the “opportunity” of the Nazi presence to rob and murder the Jews of Finland. But the Finns did not.

During World War II, no Finnish Jew was sent to a concentrations camp let alone murdered for being a Jew. At the request of the German authorities, eight Austrian Jews were deported to Nazi Germany – and soon after, seven of them were murdered. To this day, that incident haunts Finnish society. In late July 1942, Himmler came personally to Helsinki to find out what the Finns were going to do with regard to the country’s Jews. The response given was clear – Jews would not in any way be persecuted. Thus, “the Finns, even under the condition of war held fast to the principles of Western democracy and individual rights.”[1]

Yes, Lithuania’s experience in the Holocaust was “different” than that of other countries. Approximately 220,000 Jews were murdered on Lithuanian soil, including 96.4% of Lithuania’s Jewish population – the highest murder rate of any country in Europe. Higher than the murder rate of Jews in Germany. Was the difference because Lithuanians had a unique hostility to the Soviets? No. There is something else that is markedly different between the Lithuanians and the Finns – and that difference persists. The current day Lithuanian Government uses that difference to elevate murderers of Jews into their national heroes. What could that difference be?

[1] Finland and the Holocaust: The Rescue of Finland’s Jews, by Hannu Rautkallio, (English Translation) Holocaust Library (New York 1987), 169.

[1] A Short History of Finland, by Fred Singleton, revised and updated by A.F. Upton, Cambridge University Press (Cambridge 2003), 91-101.

[2] A Short History of Finland, supra, 118.

[3] A Short History of Finland, supra, 134.

[4] Finland and the Holocaust: The Rescue of Finland’s Jews, by Hannu Rautkallio, (English Translation) Holocaust Library (New York 1987), 169.

 

About the Author
Grant Arthur Gochin currently serves as the Honorary Consul for the Republic of Togo, and as Vice Dean of the Los Angeles Consular Corps, the second largest Consular Corps in the world. In March 2018, he was appointed as the Special Envoy for Diaspora Affairs for the African Union, which represents the fifty-five African nations. Gochin is actively involved in Jewish affairs, focusing on historical justice. He has spent the past twenty years documenting and restoring signs of Jewish life in Lithuania. He has served as the Chair of the Maceva Project in Lithuania, which mapped / inventoried / documented / restored over fifty abandoned and neglected Jewish cemeteries. Gochin is the author of “Malice, Murder and Manipulation”, published in 2013. His book documents his family history of oppression in Lithuania. He is presently working on a project to expose the current Holocaust revisionism within the Lithuanian government. He is Chief of the Village of Babade in Togo, an honor granted for his philanthropic work. Professionally, Gochin is a Certified Financial Planner and practices as a Wealth Advisor in California, where he lives with his family. Gochin blogs at Times of Israel at: https://blogs.timesofisrael.com/author/grant-arthur-gochin/ Personal blog: www.ggochin.wordpress.com Personal site: https://www.grantgochin.com/
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