“Memory Wars“ are fought worldwide. The United Nations and Jew-haters everywhere appear to have reasonable certitude that Jews do not have much of any historical link to Israel, and should not “occupy“ Israel. History is a tool of propagandists, able to be rewritten to fight any current conflict and to re-frame a national identity. Soviets did it, North Korea does it, Putin does it, Lukashenko in Belarus does it. But no government in the world has developed historical revisionism into the art form that Lithuania has. They have created an entire government agency to rewrite history- called “The Genocide Center“.
The following is an excerpt from a text by the Center for the Study of the Genocide and Resistance of Residents of Lithuania (the Genocide Center) titled “On Accusations against Jonas Noreika (General Storm), March 27, 2019, Vilnius”:
“The Lithuanian Provisional Government halted their activities a month and a half because of German demands unacceptable to Lithuanians; the Lithuanian Activist Front, the organizer of the [allegedly anti-Soviet] uprising [allegedly to restore Lithuanian independence], withdrew into the anti-Nazi underground and formed the organization the Lithuanian Front. For members of the Provisional Government were imprisoned for their anti-Nazi activities, some [members] were forced to go into hiding (including former head [prime minister] of the Provisional Government Juozas Ambrazevičius-Brazaitis), and some [members of the Provisional Government?] contributed to the rescue of Jews.
“Nonetheless, local municipal institutions, although they were under the leadership of the German government, continued to operate: in this manner the attempt was made to ease the effect of the occupation on people. Many public servants from the municipal organs joined different Lithuanian anti-Nazi resistance underground organizations, or at least supported the national anti-Nazi resistance by the Lithuanians.”
Creative fictional history
Comparing the source materials with their “interpretation“ reveals that their official, government, “findings of history” is merely creative fiction of the most absurd kind.
Let’s take a look at how the time-period researched by the Center actually looks according to documents issued by the Lithuanian administration. The Lithuanian Central State Archive holds a collection called R638 which contains a case-file numbered No. 2. It’s counter-intuitively titled “Case No. 1 by the Lithuanian Police Headquarters on Jewish Affairs.” It is one of the most horrifying and blood-curdling documents in that collection of documents. Hundreds of murdered Jews appear on almost every page.
The case-file is 95 pages. Possessing a certain understanding of the context and a bit of a literary bent, you could read it as an engaging detective story, or scenes for a documentary film. The characters of the work are historical personalities, enough to fill a small telephone directory. There’s Lithuanian Police Department chief Vytautas Reivytis, Police Department advisor and secretary Bronius Stasiulis, SS sturmbannführer Joachim Hamann, Šakiai district head Vincas Karalius, Šakiai police chief Balys Vilčinskas, Alytus police chief Stasys Krosniūnas, the chiefs of more than a dozen other police departments, plus a cast of several hundred Jews which were recorded, and over 10,000 other Jews whose names have not come down to us, apparently due to bureaucratic incompetence. Then there are over a dozen towns with breath-taking set decorations. Off stage there is the commander, lieutenant Skaržinskas, of the “expeditionary” units made up of German and Lithuanian forces, and the officials authorized by the Gebietskommissar who performed “apartment and body searches” of Jews from the Šakiai district before the Jews were shot. (Body searches of young virgin Jewish girls was usually a favorite).
The action begins as on the first page on August 16, 1941, when Lithuanian Police Department chief Vytautas Reivytis signed a secret circular, No. 3, sent to 18 Lithuanian police departments ordering them to arrest all Jewish men aged 15 and above and Jewish women who were allegedly noted for their Bolshevik activities, and to concentrate them at sites indicated in the notes to the circular. The second half of this document are the recipients of the letter, the chief of police for the district of Kaunas and the following list of police departments:
Josvainiai, Šilavotas, Kazlų Rūda, Jieznas, Paežerėliai, Birštonas, Žiežmariai, Žasliai, Žeimiai, Kaišiadorys, Lekėčiai, Jankai, Sasnava, Veiveriai, Kėdainiai, Prienai and Balbieriškis.
The “aktion” ended on September 16 when the head of and police chief of the Šakiai district reported there are no Jews left in the district. After just one month. The geographical borders were the Alytus, Kaunas, Kėdainiai and Šakiai districts.
In the case-files, the Lithuanian Police Department chief’s orders were where a given police department was to take arrested Jews, and for those departments to report back about the execution of that order. It also contains information from the Alytus and Šakiai police chiefs on how the orders in the circular had been carried out.
The documents from this case-file are known to historians. A portion were published in both the first and second volumes of “Masinės žudynės Lietuvoje” [Mass Murders in Lithuania] published in 1965 and 1973, respectively, during the Soviet era, and elsewhere. The first volume in this work contains an assessment of Reivytis’s order, entitled “Įsakymas suimti žydus ir perduoti žudikams” [Order to arrest Jews and turn them over to their murderers] (p. 109, volume one). That’s fairly precise.
Despite the significance of the documents conserved in the case-files, they haven’t been examined in context. Neither is it clear what the meaning and scope were of the operation carried out by the Lithuanian Police Department in the history and the crime of the Holocaust. There are two hand-written tables in the middle of the document collection. It would be fascinating to have handwriting experts analyze who actually penned those two tables. Was it Reivytis? Perhaps it was Reivytis’s assistant and secretary Stasiulis who signed the letter with issues and complaints to the Alytus district police chief?
The translation of this document is here.
Everyone else’s fault
Lithuania’s narrative is that persecution of Jews is blamed on Nazis and all other misdeeds were by the Soviets. Of course if they wanted to do so, the fictional version could be that these documents were fabricated by some Soviet officials who investigated the Holocaust. That’s negated by the fact they were written in Lithuanian, whereas Soviet officials on June 2, 1947 (when law-enforcement organs turned these documents over to the archive) used Russian as their working language. The documents were not written in German, while the Genocide Center’s story maintains the Germans “drew Lithuanians into the Holocaust”. The greater probability is that these hand-written tables were put to paper in August of 1941. These hand-written pages demonstrate planning efforts. The tables are quite simple, containing locations where Jews were concentrated, numbers of Jews and their points of origin. There are two tables, however, and the second one contains three less concentration locations. When you look at the dates of mass murder, you realize the second table was created several days after a portion of the Jews had already been exterminated, and that there was no third table most likely because all the Jews listed were already murdered. We can guess the second table was written down after August 28 with reports to Reivytis already in from Vilklija, but still not forthcoming from Kėdainiai. Comparing the numbers of people concentrated and arrested as per the circular sent out to the provincial police departments, one sees that this operation under the command of the Lithuanian Police Department, one of the largest of their Holocaust operations, was only a part of a very much larger crime.
This raises a question about the Lithuanian Police Department’s ties with other groups carrying out mass murder and the Department’s area of responsibility. The documents in this case provide more than sufficient information.
The chief of the Rumšiškės police department reported on August 19: “There were 140 Jewish men, women and children in the town. After units of our military and the German military under the command of Expedition commander lieutenant Skaržinskas arrived in Rumšiškės on August 15, all people of Jewish ethnicity from age 15 to 70 … were removed from Rumšiškės. Approximately 70 people were removed and about 70 remain” (p. 63 in the case-file). Lieutenant Skaržinskas was the unit commander of the third platoon of the Kaunas TDA (Tautinio Darbo Apsauga, National Labor Security) battalion which traveled with Hamann’s flying squad, or rollkommando, a motorized death squad.
We wanted to verify whether the people had been removed for real, or whether they had been shot at some location near Rumšiškės, so we consulted the criminal case against Lithuanian Activist Front white arm-bander Mikas Virbickas from Rumšiškės. Separate white arm-banders including Virbickas robbed and shot Jews for “revenge” and entertainment even before the arrival of this “expedition” in Rumšiškės, but when these people did arrive, the soldiers of the Kaunas TDA did simply remove Jews (perhaps to be shot at the various forts in Kaunas?). But in this case it was important in the opinion of the chief of the police department that a Lithuanian officer had been in charge. Another document about the “regulation” of Jews in the Šakiai district signed by the head of the district and the district’s police chief reveals much more.
“I report to the esteemed Director that from this day there are no Jews in the district assigned to me. They were put in order by the partisans with the auxiliary police: 890 people in Šakiai on September 13, 1941, and 650 people in Kudirkos Naumiestis on September 16, 1941.
“Before their final putting in order, by order of Herr Gebietskommissar, his authorized officials with the help of the local police performed both premises and body searches of all Jews in Kudirkos Naumiestis at their homes, and took away all the money and other valuables discovered. The remaining movable and immovable property, until a separate directive from Herr Kommissar, was transferred to the local municipalities for safekeeping” (page 86 in the case-files).
In terms of responsibility, it’s extremely clear that the arrest, search and murder of Jews was the responsibility of Lithuanian forces. The sentence which concludes the letter by the leaders of Šakiai–“Herr Gebietskommissar will be informed of this”–clearly shows the kommissar of the Kaunas military district, at least in the opinion of the Šakiai police chiefs and leaders, hadn’t organized these mass murders.
On September 3 the police chief for the Alytus district reported the orders in the Lithuanian Police Department circular were unable to be carried out for three days in the town of Jizdnas, and therefore “further arrests were carried out with the knowledge of the head of security of the Alytus region.” But there was only “Lithuanian leadership” in place there.
In this context Arūnas Bubnys’s (The chief of Lithuania’s Genocide Center) claims in the book “Holokaustas Lietuvos provincijoje” [Holocaust in the Lithuanian Countryside] published in 2021 appear very strange, especially his explanation on why the Jews thought they were being persecuted by Lithuanians rather than by Germans. He argued that even the well-informed police officials believed that to be the case, so it was no surprise uninformed Jews made the same “mistake.”
The connection between the Lithuanian Police Department and SS sturmbannführer Joachim Hamann is significant. Lithuanian historiography tends towards accusing this man of directly leading the extermination of the Jews in Lithuania. In that sense the case-file is disappointing. There are several packets of documents within the case-file: a German translation of a report from the Raudondvaris police department about how the German command was using four Jews as slave labor with the question of whether those Jews could remain (pp. 28-29); a translation of a report from the Balbieriškis police department about two remaining Jews (pp. 78-79) and a letter from Reivytis on the town of Prienai stating 493 Jews were concentrated there, and requesting they be “deported” as soon as possible because of the threat of the spread of contagious diseases (p. 82). This “argument” is repeated in a report from the Prienai police department dated August 19 which says there were 289 Jews concentrated there (p. 73). It appears Reivytis only addressed Hamann on issues involving interactions with German structures. The question arises as to what exactly the Prienai police chief and the director of the Lithuanian Police Department were requesting. The Lithuanian Government’s consistent Holocaust inversion would state in this case that they were just naïve and didn’t know Jews were being sent directly to die by firing squad. It’s more likely, however, they were using a certain lingo where deportation meant execution by shooting. The case-file contains a report from the head of the Šakiai district and the Šakiai district police chief dated August 16 which says: “Overall, the Jews from the Šakiai district from the age of 15 upward have already been deported for labor,” where there is no doubt that “deported” actually meant “shot.” Thus Lithuanians hurried the shootings but didn’t dare do so without informing the Germans. Unequipped concentration locations for holding Jews were considered dangerous due to the risk of disease. There were other “arguments” as well. On August 28 the chief of police in Garliava queried the Lithuanian Police Department as to what to do with the arrested and concentrated Jews there, stating the location was insufficient and unfitting for holding them and the purchase of food was difficult (p. 83).
We came to the following conclusions after examining the documents in the collection:
1) All of the documents in the case-file are connected with the circular sent out by the Lithuanian Police Department on August 16, 1941.
2) In this circular, the national Police Department undertook a large-scale Holocaust crime: the arrest of all Jewish men above the age of 15 and of women suspected of “Bolshevik activities,” and their assembly and concentration at specific points along highways.
3) Lithuanian police departments and district administrations took part in the crime, and in the opinion of the police Lithuanians were in charge of the operation.
4) Germans were not in charge of this operation, but were informed of its results.
5) The documents in the case-file do not reveal who issued orders to fire weapons nor who fired those weapons, except in the case of Šakiai.
6) Different police officers and officials, the head of Šakiai district and the chief of police in Prienai understood this operation as a prelude to the extermination of the Jews, did not oppose it and some officials even accelerated the operation. The officials in Šakiai even reported there were no Jews left in that district.
7) Police officers and officials used the words “deportation” and “regulate” as euphemisms for “shooting to death,” perhaps hoping they could later use this as evidence to deny their involvement.
As a whole, the case-file collection contains all the stages of the Holocaust and shows how Lithuanian police structures contributed to the mass murder of the Jews. It is crucial to understand the documents form a kind of whole story, not leaving any space for distortions and manipulation, things which the entire stable of Genocide Center historians are noted for, attempting to create a novel interpretation of Holocaust episodes at different locations, claiming the Germans were in charge. Perhaps Reivytis and the police chiefs in Alytus, Kėdainiai, Marijampolė and Šakiai did receive some sort of orders or directives from the Germans, but that still needs to be proven. Meanwhile, police chiefs, and ordinary police officers, did receive their criminal orders from Lithuanians. The Germans appear to have been mainly interested in material goods.
The case-file contains information on the mass murder of more than 10,000 Lithuanian Jews. Lithuanians operated independently in these mass murder operations. Lithuanian police chiefs, district heads and military commanders were not following German authority. Therefore the Germans were informed post factum of the police activity. It didn’t even occur to Lithuanian police to consider whether they were acting legitimately and legally.
After the war, the issue of criminal responsibility arose. Now, decades after the Holocaust and the war, the “memory wars” favored in Lithuania are based on distortions and outright falsifications of the history of the Holocaust. In the context of this case-file, the Lithuanian Genocide Center’s statement “the attempt was made to ease the effect of the occupation on people” is utterly cynical.
Punching above its weight
Lithuania claims to be a small nation that “punches above its weight“ internationally. Certainly, in respect of Holocaust fraud and historical revisionism, they are among the world leaders. They have shown every genocidal regime in the world how to re-write history and deny culpability for national crimes.
President Nauseda of Lithuania stated: “Without an accurate, honest, and comprehensive assessment of the past, we will not be able to effectively prevent future crimes on our continent or investigate the current ones in Ukraine,”. He is correct. In the President’s own words, Lithuania has enabled crimes of genocide and has shown Mr. Putin how to deny his.
The above was coauthored by Evaldas Balčiūnas.