Michael Kretzmer writes about Jewish honor. Honor seems to be scarce among some Jews engaged with Lithuania. Let’s look at some of the underlying facts.
Lithuanians perpetrated the Holocaust in Lithuania. Certainly, they were enabled by Nazis, and could not have completed their self-appointed task without Nazi intellect and assistance.
Regrets professed by the Lithuanian government are insincere and dishonest. Lithuania has systematically elevated Holocaust perpetrators into national heroes and rewrites their national history.
After gaining independence, many murderers of Lithuanian Jews were bestowed legal rehabilitation, financial grants, and national honors. It was public, with international awareness and vociferous international opposition. Lithuania had a rehabilitation law promulgated on May 2, 1990, specifically forbidding the grant of rehabilitation to anyone who had participated in genocide. Lithuania ignored its own law. The Lithuanian government also falsely and dishonestly states that the US Congress rehabilitated some of their Holocaust perpetrators.
Lithuania was forced, against their will, to place three Holocaust perpetrators on trial.
- Alexandras Lileikis
- Kazys Gimzauskas
- Algimantas Dailidė
Lileikis was head of Vilnius district police forces (Saugumas). His men guarded the Vilnius Ghetto to prevent escapes or assistance being provided to Jews. Lileikis’s men were the ones who took the Jewish prisoners of the Vilnius Ghetto to Ponary to be murdered by the Ypatinga burys – the special Lithuanian murder squad which carried out the mass murder of approximately 70,000 Jews.
The US Office of Special Investigations at the Department of Justice proved Lileikis was a direct participant in the genocide of Jews. The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) impeded the investigation – many murderers were allowed into US after the war under the guise of “anti-Communist” fighters. Lileikis was, at that time, a CIA agent, the CIA wanted to protect him.
In the United States, Nazi collaborators could not be prosecuted for their Holocaust crimes, since they were committed outside the United States, and their victims were not Americans. The punishment in the US was therefore denaturalization and deportation. In 1996, Lileikis’s US citizenship was revoked, and fearing possible extradition to Israel, he fled back to Lithuania.
The US Department of Justice naively hoped Lithuania would institute a criminal investigation, place him on trial and convict him based on massive evidence. It was not to be. A confidential study by the CIA stated, “the Lithuanian Government declined to take any action against Lileikis…he was greeted with a hero’s welcome, and the Lithuanian state prosecutor’s interrogations were friendly despite his well-documented background.
Lithuania took no action against Lileikis and, in fact, reversed Soviet-era court convictions of other Lithuanians charged with collaboration with the Nazis as “frame-ups.”
Eli Rosenbaum, head of the Office of Special Investigations, repeatedly tried to compel the Lithuanian government to start a legal prosecution against Lileikis, but faced total resistance each time. Lithuania pronounced Lileikis was “medically unfit” to face trial. Eli Rosenbaum responded: “this is an outrage. The US Government has specific, verified information that Lileikis has been feigning illness. He is fit to stand trial.”
American pressure forced Lithuania’s hand to place him on trial. Lithuania did everything they could to create continuous postponements. They placed hurdles in the path of legal discovery and prosecution in the hope that Lileikis would die before the facts were uncovered and embarrass Lithuania. Lithuania did not force Lileikis to appear in Court, he appeared voluntarily, and when asked why he murdered Jews, he responded “I did it for my country”.
Lileikis died and his Lithuanian record reflects no crime. Jewish victims were, of course, denied justice.
Kazys Gimzauskas, deputy head of Vilnius district police was directly subordinate to Lileikis and was an active participant in genocide. Gimzauskas returned to Lithuania in 1994. America “de-naturalized” him in 1996.
Lithuania did all they could not to prosecute him. American pressure was relentless and Lithuania was forced to proceed. Just like Lileikis, Lithuania did not make him appear in court.
There was no path for Lithuania to find him anything other than guilty. Nonetheless, Lithuania failed to punish him.
Algimantas Mykolas Dailidė
Algimantas Dailide, also served in the Vilnius Saugumas and emigrated to the United States, where he was denaturalized in 2003. Just like Lileikis and Gimzauskas, Lithuania also did not force him to appear in court.
In 2006, Vilnius district court found him guilty of involvement in murdering Jews. Just like Lileikis and Gimzauskas, Lithuania declined to punish him. Unlike his victims, Dailidė lived to a ripe old age in peace and security.
Efraim Zuroff, director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Jerusalem, states he is aware of fifteen ex-Nazi collaborators who relocated back to Lithuania after independence and escaped unpunished. Instead of prosecuting perpetrators of genocide, Lithuania elevated many of them into national heroes, and continues their glorification.
During the Soviet era, possibly up to 1,300 perpetrators involved in the Lithuanian genocide of Jews were sentenced for crimes. When Lithuania regained independence during the collapse of the Soviet Union, the punishment of murderers of Jews was immediately halted. Free and independent Lithuania chooses not to punish a single murderer. Free and independent Lithuania redefines many murderers into national heroes and rewrites many into rescuers of Jews. Is this not Holocaust denial?
Joseph Melamed, Chairman of the Association of Lithuanian Jews in Israel identified thousands of murderers of Jews in Lithuania. In response, Lithuania pursued charges against him for slandering their glorious national heroes.
Yitzhak Arad, Director of Yad Vashem, was the subject of an investigation by Lithuania’s state prosecutor after initiating investigations into Lithuanian war criminals.
Efraim Zuroff, known as the “World’s Last Nazi Hunter” and the Director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center is commonly referred to as “the most hated man in Lithuania” for investigating and prosecuting their Holocaust perpetrators.
I have pending criminal charges against me in Lithuania for exposing Jonas Noreika as the Lithuanian murderer of my own family.
There are definitely certain Jewish organizations that remain obsequious to the needs of the Lithuanian government. Their obsequiousness allows Lithuania to claim Jewish endorsement, and to feign friendship with Jews. They conveniently “forget” Lithuania’s Holocaust glorification, and therefore, showcase only Lithuanian platitudes. Honor indeed.
There are also some Jewish organizations who are not loyal to Lithuania, but are struggling to maintain their own relevance, and their own longevity. Lithuania is glad to accommodate them by giving them photo opportunities that portray the illusion that “Jews” have forgiven and forgotten about Lithuania’s genocide, cruelty and mass murders, and are now, simply interested in money.
We Jews are ill-served by many who claim to represent us. Truth must always be our priority. Certainly, far ahead of property restitution. Those prioritizing property over Jewish lives and truth have no claim to Jewish dignity.
This week, the Lithuanian Prime Minister will meet with Jewish organizations in the US. Will these Jewish organizations raise issues of truth and Lithuanian Holocaust fraud, or will truth be abandoned in favor of money? Who appointed these Jewish organizations to speak for the murder victims and who has the power to determine how stolen private property should be divided and who should collect the loot?
 Ruffner K. Eagle and Swastika: CIA and Nazi War Criminals and Collaborators. Washington, DC: History Staff Central Intelligence Agency, 2003. Ch. 21.