Arkadijus Vinokuras

LT: A Bullhorn for the National Unification Party?

Lithuania’s Genocide Center: A Bullhorn for the National Unification Party?

Director of the Center for the Study of the Genocide and Resistance of Residents of Lithuania [hereinafter Genocide Center] Arūnas Bubnys in refusing to carry out the decision from the so-called De-Sovietization Commission to remove a monument commemorating murderer of Jews Juozas Krikštaponis, under pressure from public anger, has ordered the municipal administration of Ukmergės [Vilkomir] to remove the bas-relief image and name of Juozas Krikštaponis and to rededicate the monument to local Lithuanian partisans.

Finally, some initiative has been shown, although the law was grossly violated. Nonetheless, the issue of what influence the National Unification Party [Nacionalinis susivienijimas] and other interest groups have over Genocide Center commemorative policies remains unanswered.

The situation is absurd: Genocide Center director Arūnas Bubnys acting as sovereign has come up with his own pseudo-rules and has refused for months to follow the order from the De-Sovietization Commission, an order which, according to Lithuanian law, must be carried out within 5 days.

The general director of the Genocide Center, apparently out of fear of facing deserved criticism, refused to take part in a Lithuanian state radio program that posed the question “Should the Monument to Juozas Krikštaponis Be Removed?” Instead, the Genocide Center sent their senior historian Alfredas Rukšėnas to explain the strange paths taken by the general director. Without any irony at all, this historian honestly admitted to all of Lithuania the Genocide Center, despite its functions as defined in law and in its own internal regulations, is no longer a research center. Rukšėnas said the Genocide Center instead carries out the orders of political groups and organizations.

I quote: “In deciding this issue it’s necessary to take into account the opinions of political prisoners, partisans, and deportees, so that we don’t hurt their feelings, because Krikštaponis is dear to them.” What? A murderer is dear to someone? How does Rukšėnas even know that this murderer is dear to these groups? I highly doubt this is true. So maybe they should take into account the opinion held by Jewish organizations in Lithuania whose members still get the chills when they hear this murderer’s name? (Juozas Krikštaponis was part of Impuliavičius’s “Ypatingas” second battalion in Belarus in the fall of 1941 and took part with the Nazis in the extermination of 46,000 people, mainly unarmed Jews.) Yes, for many years now the so-called Genocide Center has tried to lionize people who saw Lithuania’s future as a fascist dictatorship, and is still trying to minimize the crimes of these “heroes.” Now it becomes very clear why the promise by the Genocide Center’s general director to form an agency of independent historians to advise the Genocide Center in order to put a stop to flawed practices was never kept.

The downfall of this academic institution has to be stopped as soon as possible because the Genocide Center issues findings of history that directly affect Lithuania’s cultural, educational, and commemorative policies. It’s entirely plain to see the Genocide Center with the Kremlin regime as an analog is intentionally and wantonly distorting and politicizing historical facts and lionizing war criminals in order to introduce confusion in the minds of the young, such that they no longer know whether moral and ethical norms, justice and trust in learning are even values any more to which we strive as a society.

How is the state responding? With silence, because elections are right around the corner. What does the parliament’s Commission on the Battles for Independence and State Historical Memory think of the Genocide Center director’s wanton actions? How much longer can this wantonness continue? Do the ruling majority not understand the chauvinist concept of a pure ethnicity is being cultivated by honoring Nazi collaborators and that their exaltation always leads to fascist and Nazi dictatorship? Unfortunately, they have no lack of supporters in Lithuania. Their most influential circle includes Lithuanian Conservative/Lithuanian Christian Democrat Union member of parliament Valdas Rakutis who has consistently used the Genocide Center to propagate his own narrative of a fascist nation. It’s impossible to interpret in any other way this constant worship of criminals as heroes and the macabre exhumation of new figures for worship, including fascist and Nazi collaborator Stasys Žakevičius.

Now about the Genocide Center as the bullhorn for the National Unification Party. Bearing in mind that Genocide Center general director Arūnas Bubnys was a member of this party who contested a mandate in parliament, it becomes clearer why he is repeating National Unification Party arguments regarding the removal or non-removal of the monument commemorating Krikštaponis. His colleague at the Genocide Center Gaudentas Aukštikalnis, currently the senior museum specialist at the Genocide Center, is also a member of that party’s board of directors and a former Soviet Army commander who completed sergeants’ school.

By the way, the National Unification Party with ties to the Genocide Center ought to be renamed the National Socialist (Nazi) Unification Party, and I’ll explain why. Because this party during elections used as its slogan the title of the anti-Semitic and chauvinist pamphlet “Raise Your Head High, Lithuanian” published by Lithuanian Nazi Jonas Noreika in 1933. Because party executive board member and teacher Alina Laučienė‘s article “Lithuanian, Your Country is in Danger! Foreigners are Seizing Power! Wake Up!” was featured on the party’s internet site, presenting the real program of the party, that of the Third Reich. She did this so unapologetically you would think Lithuania was now a fascist and Nazi dictatorship under the command of the Lithuanian Activists Front where the hate-filled slogans of Kazys Škirpa, Stasys Žakevičius, and Jonas Noreika against Jews, Russians, and Poles are repeated confidently, publicly and without fear. This editorial piece is a public, emotional, racist, and chauvinist ejaculation worthy of investigation under article 170 of the Lithuanian criminal code which “punishes” the sowing of ethnic discord.

Why did I place “punishes” in quotation marks? Because aside from the stereotypical fake anger of the parties in power and those who seek power, the institutions in charge are toothless, otherwise the National Unification Party would have been banned long ago. But no, the party takes part as if nothing were amiss in elections to parliament and city and regional district councils. I will provide a few passages from school teacher Alina Laučienė‘s text:

“Don’t attempt to make any demands upon Lithuania because no one is oppressing you here. You are oppressing others and desecrating the Lithuanian nation whose benefits you are exploiting every day. No one has asked you here, no one has brought you here by force and made you live here.

“Not a single self-respecting foreigner who has even a drop of non-Lithuanian blood would let himself enter Lithuanian administrative organs, much less parliament, in order to insult the Lithuanian people and to ridicule her language and writing, to ridicule her educational structures, completely destroying them.

“The Jews whom King Gediminas [sic] once upon a time invited to come to Lithuania to live in peace and settle, they always present their demands to Lithuania and interfere in the running of the state with the endless demands from Kukliansky and other figures. Perhaps Lithuania should remind them loudly what their fellow Slavinas, Dushanski, Razauskas, and others have done in Lithuania?

“And the Poles, the occupiers of Vilnius and its district Pilsudski and Rzeligowski in the period between the two world wars who lured [people] from every corner of Poland to come and settle in Vilnius and in the Vilnius and Šalčininkai districts (and what good and moral person would ever agree to leave his beloved country?), who never bothered to learn Lithuanian… (I wonder what she thinks of the over one million Lithuanians who left Lithuania since 1990. Are they bad and immoral?–A.V.).

“Only the most unlearned, ungrateful representative of his people could say this, confirming in deed and work how stupid his nation is” (about Russians–A.V.).

So the Genocide Center, supposedly an academic institution responsible for the formation of commemorative policies based on academic research, is perhaps under the direct influence of the National Unification Party. This party through its words and deed propagates a fascist and Nazi ideology, such that the position held by the Genocide Center as regards values has begun to give rise to serious doubts. We have a problem here that demands an immediate solution in the form of a multi-party agreement, otherwise, if it goes unsolved it will become, if it hasn’t already, a threat to the country’s national security. What does the parliament’s National Security and Defense Committee think about this? It’s an accomplished fact that the people at the Genocide Center have provoked numerous times now conflicts between Lithuania and Poland, Ukraine and Israel.

In terms of the threats facing Lithuania currently, the least an academic institution could do would be to pay attention to the worship of a murderer by certain anti-democratic groups. People who profess fascist and Nazi ideology which is expressly forbidden in Lithuania, such as the aforementioned Gaudentas Aukštikalnis, need to be removed from their posts, they shouldn’t be given any space at the Genocide Center for holding their alleged academic conferences. Under current circumstances, cooperation would hardly be possible between the Lithuanian Jewish Community and the Genocide Center. In any event, Genocide Center general director Arūnas Bubnys needs to be severely reprimanded for what seems to be the transformation of an academic institution into the bullhorn for fascist political parties and similar public figures.

Full text in Lithuanian here:

About the Author
A professional journalist for 35 years in Sweden and Lithuania. Articles are published in Europe, Sweden, Lithuania. A member of the Lithuanian Jewish community. A frequent guest on Lithuanian TV channels and radio talk show. Comments on the internet daily of Lithuanian National Radio and TV Political observer. Writer and professional actor.
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