Research into my grandfather, Jonas Noreika, a magnificent WWII hero of Lithuania, started going off track when rumors arose that he may have persecuted Jews. I hoped further examination would exonerate him, until that dreadful day when I discovered a booklet he had authored in 1933, titled “Raise Your Head Lithuanian”.
Initially, I assumed it would be a rallying call to patriotism and loyalty to Lithuania, then in its 15th year of independence from Russia. I found the booklet rather hidden in my mother’s archives, amid newspaper articles of my grandfather’s heroism, and so was not prepared for what I would read.
Here are some excerpted translations of the 1933 document …
Lithuania belongs only to Lithuanians!
She is held ransom with our blood. We can become the owners of the existing capital if we exert our will. Let us be open and sincere. Let’s reveal our wounded spots! Let us determine once and for all, what we are creating: A benefit for the nation, the party, or the foreigners?…
Our life is our land
All of Lithuania’s residents are well aware that we are an agricultural land. The farmer carries the entire country on his shoulders. That is why we must first examine the farmers—how are they living? What are today’s farmers doing and thinking? We can answer quickly: They are waiting with clenched teeth. They are waiting for better times! But those better times are not appearing…
…Those who live the best in our cities are the Jews! Thousands of litas rustle through their hands! They sit in the coffee shops dressed smartly and make new plans on how they can get more of our money. Let us declare our news one time loudly! We have been hiding our wounds for too long! Let us not be afraid to look with open eyes at the existing poverty and discord among us!…
…In the land of Klaipėda, the Lithuanians are being overthrown by the Germans, and in Greater Lithuania, the Jews are buying up all the farms on auction. What are we going to do if all the capital and land will be in the hands of the Jews?! . . .
Raise Your Head, Lithuanian!
Your future is full of benefits and riches! We must become aware of that! It will depend on us whether we will take advantage of those benefits or give them to the Jews, Germans, and other foreigners who are invading Lithuania! They smell the scent of a better life here! Yes! We won’t go somewhere else, but others will come here to earn piles of money!…
…Not one foot to the foreigners! The Jew will offer you a good price, but, man, you would be a traitor if you would sell him the country’s richest treasure!…
…Raise your head, Lithuanian! The richest trades in Lithuania should belong to the Lithuanians! Let us create a Lithuanian business army—the educated will stand shoulder to shoulder with the uneducated, as will the farmer with the office worker. Our future is in business!…
…We must make a solemn oath in our heart: Don’t buy from a non-Lithuanian! Jews drive through the countryside and buy up the cattle, flax, and crops. Let us make our holy vows: don’t sell to them!… Once and for all: We won’t buy from Jews! We can sell them only butter, eggs, and cheese. And only when they won’t make a profit from them. . . .
. . .Remember, that when you sell a large item to a Jew, you are creating harm! You are hurting your brother — the Lithuanian — because you give work to the Jew…
…He who supports Lithuanian business participates in the war for the benefit of the entire country, for Her Capitol! We should be ashamed before the entire world for allowing foreigners to establish themselves. That occurred because the educated Lithuanians blindly competed for the official posts. They fought among themselves and hounded others to fill those spots. In the meantime, the Jews took over the businesses!…
You are the one who can teach the entire country to pray: Remember the enslaved Lithuanian business! You must show and persuade readers that our life depends on freeing enslaved Vilnius and businesses. Free Vilnius and stop Jewish interference. That should be your daily cry!…
…All Lithuanian newspapers should stop printing advertisements from non-Lithuanian firms. Instead, they should advertise new Lithuanian businesses in big letters. The press must support them!…
You must be the Wizard who knows how to enchant! Cast a spell on that bold youth who is going to war! Show him the way! Bless him! Persuade him that victory awaits him! Riches, happiness and honor!
…I dare to think that my words will find a place in all humble Lithuanian homes and fancy halls. Because these words have been overflowing from understanding Lithuanian hearts for a long time.
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The Storm Door Blog
After reading the 32-page booklet, I halted my project to write a book about my grandfather. Did I really want to continue the mission I inherited from my mother? I resented her for giving me such an impossible task–writing the story of my grandfather, the tainted hero. Did she think I wouldn’t find out about his antisemitism? Or did she assume I’d gloss it over and make excuses for it?
The discovery of this booklet was the turning point for me. My warrior-god, who was invoked by Mama and Grandmother at every major milestone in my life, had suddenly lost his worship-appeal. He was no longer a demi-deity. My biggest fear was that if I went any further, I’d discover more…
If I continued with this story, I feared Lithuanians would hate me. They were so proud of their heritage and didn’t like anyone tarnishing it. Was it fair of me to continue? The granddaughter of Jonas Noreika wanted to stop.
But the journalist needed to continue. I gave myself permission to investigate the full scope of acts of brutality he might have committed upon the Jews, as well as the acts of viciousness that were later committed upon him by the Communists. I was in for a learning experience.
After reading this brochure, I found the strength to brace myself so that I could sift through his tumultuous and chaotic life with eyes wide open. There was no question he nobly put his country before himself. The problem—I was only beginning to suspect—was that he ignobly put his racism before innocent civilian co-citizens.
I wondered about the choices my grandfather made, and how they affected mine. I was afraid of being his granddaughter.
For a while, I willed myself to close this line of research, yet no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t walk away from my discoveries. I found myself compelled to continue the way people watch a train wreck–with hands covering my face, fingers open just enough to peek at the true horror.
I feared this dismantling of the hero who had been held up for my worship all my life. I feared that my mother was wrong about him, that my grandmother, her mother, were misled.
Yet most of all, I feared that I would deny the awful truth, just as the two generations before me had done. The time has finally come to face it.
In related news…
2,400 Jews of Biržai
Michael Kretzmer, a former BBC TV producer, has created a video commemorating the Holocaust in Lithuania. Seventy-nine years ago, the 2,400 Jews of Biržai–Birj in Yiddish–a small, pretty, northern Lithuanian town, were murdered and thrown into a pit. This included no fewer than 30 Kretzmers. Here is a link to his video filmed last summer:
Video broadcast of Efraim Zuroff, Rūta Vanagaitė, Grant Gochin, and Silvia Foti coming Tuesday, September 8. Link here.
- Efraim Zuroff, known as the last Nazi hunter in the world, has exposed Lithuanian complicity in the Holocaust and their rampant Holocaust distortion.
- Rūta Vanagaitė, a Lithuanian best-selling writer, co-authored the book, as well as another about the Holocaust in Lithuania.
- Silvia Foti, the granddaughter of the Lithuanian national hero Jonas Noreika, has exposed the crimes of her grandfather.
- Grant Gochin, a serial litigant against the Republic of Lithuania has exposed the role of the government and judiciary in rewriting their history related to the Holocaust.
Now, together the first time, hear their incredible stories and learn more about how you can help protect and preserve the memory of the Holocaust.
Wishing you truth and peace in the storms of your life,
Silvia Foti, granddaughter of General Storm—Jonas Noreika
Regnery History will release The Nazi’s Granddaughter: How I Discovered My Grandfather was a War Criminal in the spring of 2021; the book is available for pre-orders on Amazon here:
Harper Collins Mexico will release Mi Abuelo: El General Storm ¿Héroe o criminal nazi? later in 2020.