The first mass murders of Jews in the Holocaust began in Lithuania. Germany had not yet decided to annihilate the Jews of Europe; they had put forth the idea to relocate Jews to Madagascar or Uganda, but the war made this plan impossible. Lithuania proved to the Nazis that there was indeed an alternative.
Between occupations by Russia and Germany in 1941, Lithuania was governed by an interim Provisional Government, led by Prime Minister Juozas Ambrazevičius Brazaitis. The Lithuanian Provisional Government displayed to Nazis how easily a population could be enticed into perpetrating genocide.
Upon Nazi arrival, Einsatzkommando 2 of the German Security Police asserted charge of murders of Jews. Einsatzkommando 2 reported the murder of 114,856 Lithuanian Jews as early as December 1, 1941. One hundred and thirty-nine Nazi personnel, of whom forty-four were secretaries and drivers, and ninety-five were murderers, directed this slaughter. Local Lithuanians enthusiastically and voluntarily conducted the looting, raping, torture, enslavement and murders of their Jewish neighbors. Thereafter, Germany introduce the Final Solution of the Jewish problem in January 1942.
Overall, an estimated 80% of Lithuanian Jews were murdered at the hands of other Lithuanians, and not by Nazis.
By the end of the war, there were approximately 60,000 Lithuanians in Western Europe, of whom 10,000 were Jewish slaves, who had been liberated from concentration camps. Many sought asylum in western countries, including the US, which ostensibly barred entry to war criminals. Pragmatism prevailed in the West after the war, and Western authorities were willing to set aside any and all principles in the fight against Communism, so then, Nazi scientists were admitted to USA, along with those perceived to being able to counter Soviet influences. This covert operation was conducted often with the direct assistance of American intelligence officials. After the war, there were over one thousand Nazis utilized by USA intelligence and law enforcement agencies to provide what was considered to be invaluable intelligence regarding Communist activities.
As with many other Lithuanian Holocaust perpetrators, after the war, Lithuanian Prime Minster Ambrazevičius Brazaitis migrated to USA. To avoid detection, he lied about his identity, changed his name to from Juozas Ambrazevičius to Juozas Brazaitis, lied about having been Prime Minister, and then began to work for the CIA battling the new Soviet threat. He knew that if his identity was exposed, he could be deported from the USA. There were other members of the Lithuanian Provisional Government, such as Vytautas Landsbergis-Žemkalnis (father of Vytautas Landsbergis) who sought refuge and was admitted into Australia.
In the early 1970s, New York Congresswoman Elizabeth Holtzman was informed that American immigration authorities knew of many of these Holocaust perpetrators living in USA and she called for an investigation.
After the war, the “American Lithuanian War Veterans Association” was partly under the leadership of Antanas Impulevičius who is identified as having murdered tens of thousands of Jews in Lithuania and Belarus. The Department of Justice noted that up to 10 Battalion members who were with Impulevičius in Europe all lived within several blocks of each other in a South Philadelphia Lithuanian neighborhood. The very possibility of exposing any members of the Lithuanian population was a source of stress for the community since it clearly reflected poorly on the entire Lithuanian society. The threat of deportation caused anxiety within the immigrant Lithuanian community; as a result, during the Cold War, no one in the Lithuanian communities recognized anyone’s involvement in Holocaust crimes, but rather, many claimed that they were in fact heroes because they tried to rescue Jews. Several Lithuanians were denaturalized by US authorities after their identities and crimes were exposed.
Not one single Holocaust perpetrator was punished by post-independence Lithuania.
Lithuanian immigrants did not abandon their anti-Semitism upon arrival to the USA, Australia, Argentina, or Brazil; some went to work for US authorities and found new opportunities to attack Jews by seeing Communists everywhere, especially among Jewish Americans. These Lithuanian “Communist hunters” were among those that instigated the Hollywood Blacklist when the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC) began to summon Hollywood entertainment professionals on the suspicion that their work was Communist-inspired.
Since the Soviet Union occupied Lithuania and suppressed their archives, Brazaitis’s crimes were not widely known. Congresswoman Holtzman accused Brazaitis and the Lithuanian Provisional Government of crimes against Jews; these accusations were repeated by the New York Times, and an investigation launched.
The investigation was delegated to the US Department of Justice’s Department of Immigration and Naturalization. The US Lithuanian Community’s National Board defended the Lithuanian Provisional Government.
Brazaitis died in 1974, and so without having a living body to deport, the Immigration Service no longer had a legally valid reason to continue the investigation, and therefore the legal requirement was to close the investigation. Findings still had to be presented.
The findings of the investigation were presented to the US Congress Justice Committee’s Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship and International Law. Subcommittee Chairman Joshua Eilberg wrote a letter on 1/13/1975 stating that the investigation had been stopped. He appended the documentation of the investigation, from which it is apparent that Immigration and Naturalization Service Commissioner, Leonard F. Chapman, Jr. reported to the US Congress that no evidence was found that the Lithuanian Provisional Government had legislated or executed any decree denying the rights of the Jewish minority. This determination was reached following the sending of 110 form letters to individuals and agencies in Israel, Germany, UK, US and other countries.
The letter requested derogatory information regarding “Ambrozevicius”. This name was a mis-spelling of his genuine identity, and therefore led nowhere. Furthermore, the information listed incorrect information regarding his date and place of birth. Clearly, given all the misinformation, it was impossible to link the inquiry to Brazaitis. From the start of the investigation, it was doomed to fail. Nonetheless, the review committee did NOT conclude that the allegations were false, but rather, that the investigation had not elicited evidence to substantiate the charges.
Over 25 years later, the documentary evidence was discovered, validated and published by the Lithuanian government. On August 1, 1941, in his capacity as Lithuanian Prime Minister, Brazaitis signed the “Statute for the Jewish Situation”. He and his Provisional Government approved the organizing of a concentration camp for Jews. Brazaitis facilitated the legal structure of the implementation of the genocide of Jews in Lithuania.
On at least four occasions during the past two years, the Lithuanian government has falsely claimed the 1975 Congressional letter is an “exoneration” and “rehabilitation” of Brazaitis by the US Judiciary and Congress. By extrapolation, they claim this letter also exonerates other accused Holocaust perpetrators – specifically Kazys Skirpa.
Neither Congress nor the Department of Justice have the power to exonerate. They did not “rehabilitate” these Holocaust perpetrators; these claims by the Lithuanian Government are simply lies. The Lithuanian Government has a long-documented track record of Holocaust distortion–of denying Lithuanian crimes and elevating Holocaust perpetrators to national hero status.
Furthermore, regarding Brazaitis, the Lithuanian government has been caught misusing US Congressional documents and misstating facts about Congress’s actions. Their Public Prosecutor has been informed of this deception. Their Journalistic Ethics Investigation Unit has been advised of the Government’s publications of falsification of Holocaust facts, and their Parliament’s Ombudsman has been informed of these deceptions. US Congress has notified the Lithuanian Prime Minister of this Holocaust deceit by his government. To date, their only response to this has been utter silence.
Lithuanian society is currently in turmoil over the removal, reinstallation, subsequent removal and subsequent reinstallation of a monument for Jonas Noreika, another Lithuanian Holocaust perpetrator. The Foreign Minister of Lithuania and the Mayor of its capital city admit that Noreika was a Holocaust perpetrator, yet the government allows a monument glorifying him to stand in a place of honor in the capital and in other cities. Lithuania has a public school named for Noreika. Thousands of schoolchildren have been taught and continue to be taught that Noreika reflects Lithuanian valor.
In an effort to deflect from negative media, the Lithuanian Government has designated 2020 as their Year of the Vilna Gaon and the History of the Jews of Lithuania. This designation of history clearly does not include truth telling about their complicity in the Holocaust and the slaughter of Jews. In a form of Holocaust denial, the Lithuanian government regularly holds events mourning the annihilation of Lithuanian Jews, ascribing those murders to Nazis, Soviets and a few “local collaborators”. They never mention that some of the “collaborators” are among their pantheon of national heroes and rise all the way up to the Prime Minister and cabinet of their Provisional Government. They promote movies and documentaries about rescues of Jews, never mentioning the rescues were mostly from Lithuanian perpetrators. It is a concerted effort to select specific facts and distort the remainder. Members of the Lithuanian government speak to international audiences about the suffering of Lithuania under foreign occupation; they talk of the loss of up to 20% of their population, omitting the inconvenient detail that this includes over 200,000 Jews who were murdered mostly by Lithuanians themselves. Their messages are therefore untruthful.
2020 is also the year the Lithuanian Supreme Administrative Court will rule on the Holocaust distortion trial regarding Jonas Noreika. These disingenuous efforts lay naked the Lithuanian government’s agenda to pursue Jewish tourist dollars and investment.
When the American public discovers Lithuanian mis-use of American Congressional documents in their efforts to distort their Holocaust history, will Americans stand up and say “Not in our name”?
When decent Lithuanians discover the depth and extent of the Holocaust distortion by their Government, will they stand up and say “Not in our name”?
Edmund Burke said: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” Please tell the Government of Lithuania: “Not in our name.”