Lithuania is a small Eastern European country with a tiny population. Few people could point to Lithuania on a map, and even fewer would be able to recall reading about Lithuania in the press. In the past few months, however, Lithuania has hit the media jackpot with front page reporting in many of the world’s largest newspapers, none of it good.
Lithuania has a complex history. Hundreds of years ago, it was a European superpower. However, that grandeur ebbed and, in the last few centuries, it has been occupied and invaded many times. Lithuania regained independence from the Soviet Union in 1990, and decided to make its new mission the creation of a new national narrative to embolden the country’s national agenda. Unfortunately, the narrative is false and does not stand up to scrutiny.
The Soviets invaded Lithuania in 1940 and retreated in 1941, but not before deporting approximately 17,000 Lithuanians to Siberia. Among the deportees, Jews were disproportionately victimized in almost twice their proportion to the local population; a statistic conveniently ignored and forgotten by anti-Semitic Lithuanians who blame the Soviet occupation on a fictional Jewish-Communist conspiracy. Yet, Lithuanians (including Jewish Lithuanians) who were deported by Soviets were not victims of genocide, unlike those Jews who remained.
Upon Soviet departure from Lithaunia in 1941, the nation began to convulse in genocide. In excess of 96% of Jews who remained on Lithuanian soil were murdered, mostly by their Lithuanian fellow citizens. Again, this is not a statistic Lithuania wishes to acknowledge, so their inaccurate historical narrative obscures these facts.
History was revised to create the impression that Lithuanians were the ultimate and almost exclusive victims of both occupations. Jews were simply “collateral damage”, if not, “deserving traitors”, and their murderers remained unidentified. Some of the most significant perpetrators of atrocities against Jews were reinvented into national heroes, and government institutions were established to construct a new official record that would validate this narrative.
In order to solidify the narrative, no murderer of a Jew has ever been punished in Lithuania, and the government has worked to avoid prosecutions in order to avoid acknowledging Lithuanian culpability. 220,000 Jews were murdered in Lithuania. Given such a number, we can surmise that there were plenty of available murderers to prosecute. Criminal trials had to be avoided simply because the truth would contradict the newly-created narrative.
Those who fought for Lithuania’s liberation from the Soviets during and after the war were identified collectively as heroic “partisans”, though some had murdered Jews. These facts are far too destructive to the national narrative, therefore, all efforts are expended to reinterpret their official records.
The Genocide and Resistance Research Centre of Lithuania is a state-funded agency that controls and writes the state’s official authorized history, and, as in the previous Soviet regime, no other history is tolerated. Repeated appeals to the Lithuanian President, Prime Minister, Parliament, Supreme Court and multiple other Government agencies with factual information about the participation of certain national heroes in Holocaust crimes has been ignored, blocked and fallen on deaf ears.
For opposing or even questioning the official narrative, righteous Lithuanians suffer intimidation and discrimination. To enforce the narrative, what can only described as “moral lynch mobs” encouraged by politicians are enlisted to publicly slam and slander the critically-minded. Needless to say, this creates an environment in which any serious historical investigation of the official narrative and the truth is not possible. Even creatives have been attacked. As I write, a public slander campaign is in progress against decorated Lithuanian writer Marius Ivaskevicius. He dared to suggest in a fictional novel that partisans were regular people with regular thoughts and feelings.
Another example: in 2017, the Director of the Vilnius Development Agency, Dr. Darius Udrys, suggested on his personal Facebook page that certain partisan tactics may deserve closer moral scrutiny. For merely suggesting this, he was publicly slandered and the current Mayor of Vilnius, Remigijus Simasius fired him. A municipal ethics panel hearing the case dismissed it, calling the lynch mob “patriots” whereas telling truth or asking questions is “unpatriotic”. These are lies by commission.
Despite an appeal from more than a dozen public intellectuals, including Lithuania’s own Member of the European Parliament, Leonidas Donskis, the Head of Lithuania’s Writers’ Union Antanas Jonynas, and the Rector of Vilnius University Arturas Zukauskas, Mayor Simasius continues to refuse to remove a commemorative plaque dedicated to Nazi collaborator Jonas Noreika, which shows his true feelings, given that it took him barely a few months in office to remove Soviet monuments from the Green Bridge in Vilnius, even against the protestations of official historical preservationists.
I have continued to vociferously object to the re-writing of Lithuanian history, and for objecting, Lithuanian government officials have identified me as an “agent of the Kremlin”, and threatened to charge me with crimes against the state for as yet unspecified actions. They have attempted to further intimidate me by the use of such tactics as publicly disclosing personal information about me in a breach of ethical conduct. These intimidation tactics are intended to silence dissent, and, apparently, they are working. There has been almost zero coverage in Lithuania of a lawsuit I have brought against the government for Holocaust distortion, despite copious international coverage.
The government is now defending itself in court for their falsified narrative about a Nazi collaborator named Jonas Noreika. They allow no deviation from their fabrications. The volume of international press regarding this case has publicly exposed Lithuania’s moral bankruptcy. The amount of press coverage is overwhelming, especially for a country as small as Lithuania. Ordinarily, the magnitude of press attention would be a national monumental moment, however, for Lithuania it is a monumental shame.
In America, the recently released movie entitled “Ashes in the Snow”, has been heavily promoted by Lithuanian diplomats. The film addresses the victimization of Lithuanians in 1941, and hews to the narrative of Lithuanians as victims. The Twitter account of the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry promotes this movie as the definitive educational tool for foreigners to fully comprehend the suffering of Lithuanians. They make no reference to the overwhelming amount of international press identifying the nation as active distorters of the Holocaust, nor to the role played by Nazi collaborators like Jonas Noreika.
In the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry’s Twitter account, between December 13, 2018 to January 13, 2019, the Ministry has referred to Lithuanian Freedom Fighters at least 18 times, but has neglected to refer to the foreign coverage of what will surely be a significant court case even once. These are lies by omission.
If Lithuania cannot be trusted on this monumental issue, how can they possibly be trusted on any other?