Emmanuel Levinas was one of the greatest philosophers in human history, comparable to Sartre, Aristotle, Confucius, or Socrates. Levinas was French of Lithuanian Jewish heritage. He defined himself as French. By his own choosing, he was naturalized as a French citizen in 1931. Lithuania then stripped him of his Lithuanian citizenship. He self identified as a Litvak (a Jew of Lithuanian heritage) but renounced any connection to Lithuania.
In 1941, Lithuanian patriots murdered Levinas’s parents and brothers in a maniacal, savage orgy of blood-lust. These murders were in lieu of the Levinas family’s “crime” of being born Jews. Verdict and execution was by ordinary Lithuanians carrying out the orders of Lithuanian national leadership to “eliminate” Jews.
The Levinas family were among the greatest intellectuals of Lithuania. This is no different than the murder of the Einstein family in Germany. Murderers cared nothing for the humanity of the Levinas family nor the Einstein family; they cared nothing for the contributions these families made to the world or their own countries. They were just Jews freely available for murder.
Since independence in 1990, Lithuania has zealously tried to rewrite history. They have erased the crimes of Lithuanians and redefined Lithuanian murderers as Righteous Gentiles.
Lithuania claims that their own murders of Jews have made Lithuania and Lithuanians into victims. They now mysteriously deem Jews of Lithuanian heritage (such as Levinas) as Lithuanians, although, just a few decades ago, Lithuanians were murdering Jews simply for being Jews.
Kaunas University in Lithuania has created the “Emmanuel Levinas Center in Kaunas”. LSMU Emmanuel Levinas Center, established in 2018, is a department of Lithuanian University of Health Sciences. The goal of the Center is to research and disseminate the philosophical, intellectual and cultural legacy of the French Jew, Emmanuel Levinas (1906-1995). Except, Levinas himself rejected Lithuania, and his own son Michael, refused permission for Lithuania to use his father’s name.
Accompanied by representatives of the French government, Levinas’s son visited Rector Rimantas Benetis (Rector of LSMU and the Emmanuel Levinas Center) on November 11, 2022, to object to the use of his father’s name, and demand its retraction.
Michael Levinas was even willing to negotiate so as not to show complete disrespect for his father’s abnegation of Lithuania. Michael’s proposals included:
- At the entrance of this Center it should be indicated “in large letters” that it is “a place of memory”
- At the bottom of the entrance wall, names of the parents of Emmanuel Levinas and his brothers who were murdered in 1941, must be inscribed.
- Under the bust of Emmanuel it be indicated that Emmanuel Levinas was naturalized in France in 1931, and Lithuania stripped him of his Lithuanian citizenship.
All three proposals have been rejected by Lithuanian authorities.
The Emmanuel Levinas Center in Kaunas was inaugurated on December 6, 2021, without the French Embassy and without the foreknowledge of Michael. There is no other way to interpret this but that the name of the philosopher was stolen. His intellect and suffering was appropriated to his persecutor nation, along with a misrepresentation of facts.
Unlike so many of our organizations and descendants of victims who seek out business opportunities with Lithuania, Michael Levinas stood on principle and objected and fought back. In an article in the Figaro newspaper Jean Luc Marion of the French Academy and Michael Levinas affirmed their opposition in the name of the moral rights of Emmanuel Levinas to the use of the philosopher’s name.
Pierre François Veil, the son of Simone Veil (former Minister and Auschwitz survivor) and President of the French committee of Yad Vashem, wrote to Rector Benetis to tell him how upset he was by the Lithuanian refusal of Michael Levinas’ proposals to reach an agreement. To no avail. The Levinas intellectual pickings are too rich for Lithuania to disregard; to claim ownership or affiliation to Levinas is too aggrandizing of Lithuania to give up.
The city of Kaunas has similarly created a public square in “memory” of Emmanuel Levinas. Again, this was without the permission of his family. The purpose of stealing the Levinas name is to abrogate national responsibility for the murders, to claim Jews as Lithuanians, to misrepresent regret, to seek foreign funding, and to imply that they retain affiliation to those whom they have already repudiated.
When Lithuanians were urged to eliminate Jews, they gleefully did. Without hesitation. A Jew could then not be a Lithuanian. Now, they think they can hoodwink the world into believing they mourn the murders (committed by their own Lithuanian heroes). We know with absolute certainty regret is not their true sentiment because of how diligently the Lithuanian Government has converted murders into heroes, and defend and protect them.
Jews such as Levinas were stripped of their citizenship. Less publicly, the Government of Lithuania has bestowed national citizenship upon Silvia Foti, author of Storm in the Land of Rain: A Mother’s Dying Wish Becomes Her Daughter’s Nightmare. Foti is the Granddaughter of one of Lithuania’s greatest national heroes, Jonas Noreika. Noreika murdered approximately 14,500 Jews. Likely, among those were relatives of Emmanuel Levinas.
Through such artifices, Lithuania claims Jewish victims as their own losses, while honoring the murderers as their national pride. In an age of transparency, Lithuania’s tricks deceive only those deliberately averting their eyes.
On Yom Hashoah, April 17 and 18, Lithuanian diplomats will express sorrow. These words will be insincere and dishonest.