Arkadijus Vinokuras

The Historical Plan for the Love of Lithuania

I read the ramblings of Lithuanian MP professor Arūnas Gumuliauskas, the title of which should have been “How I Love Lithuania Tortured by Her Enemies.” He writes like a professor. I say “like” because there is doubt about the quality of the text itself. Because his entire long text could be expressed in a single sentence: “Everyone who thinks otherwise is an enemy and an agent of the Kremlin.” Back in Soviet times, a CP member would have written it like this” “Everyone who thinks otherwise is an enemy and an agent of Washington.”

The generalized “all” dominates in the text, probably stemming from the elementary fear of naming specific liars and agents. Because it might turn out some of these unnamed critics aren’t lying. And they aren’t any kind of agent. Hence the author would be dressed down naked in court for libel. The professor had a good command of this sort of jargon back in Soviet times, in 1987 when he defended his doctoral thesis “Activities of the Lithuanian Communist Party in Developing the Theater Arts in the Republic.” That was the same year the Lithuanian Freedom League held a meeting under the Adam Mickiewicz statue in Vilnius. Forgive me, I’m not trying to joke around, but it is seriously difficult to impossible to think about Gumuliauskas as some sort of sincere nationalist. But this is not surprising, he is, after all, a member of a party which doesn’t confess any ideology, not even basic political morality.

So sometimes the Lithuanian Peasants/Green Union pretend they’re on the left, sometimes on the right, but its members agree on one thing at least: democracy is just stage decoration which can be toyed with as one likes. So it’s also no surprise that the search for and discovery of enemies lurking around every corner is programmed into this part. Gumuliaksuas is no exception.

I’ll quote one anonymous comment to his article: “Metamorphosis. Former Communist propagandist Arūnas Gumuliauskas, singing the praises of the Communists in his dissertation, becomes the chairman of the Lithuanian parliament’s Commission on the Battles for Freedom and State Historical Memory, a defender of the pro-Nazi anti-Semitic LAF. All this in one man.” It cannot be stated more accurately than that.

If it were still Soviet times, Gumuliauskas most likely would still be riding that “I love the Soviet Union” horsey. (The LAF platform is indivisible from the ideology of the Nazis and fascists, from the Nazi vision of Lithuania. This “nationalist” calls this indisputable fact propaganda from the podium in parliament. So much for academic degrees and assessment criteria.) When we give similar characters the right to form historical memory policy, we get a gang pretending to be saints with the face of the Center for the Study of the Genocide and Resistance of Residents of Lithuania. We had as that institution’s director a female chemist whose employee, the geologist Dalius Stančikas, produced “historical” findings of national significance. Now as head of this institution a political scientist has been appointed, who will be supported this time, and kept in line, by Vidmantas Valiušaitis now-turned philologist and mechanic.

His methodological principle for history research is to justify any and all crimes against humanity as love of Lithuania. Demanding at the same time, of course, our understanding “of the geopolitical situation at that time” and emphasizing “they knew nothing at that time.”

The constant repetition of the latter statement makes the fallen and once well-educated heroes worshiped by the nationalists into complete morons. I am convinced these latter would take offense. Why the nationalists don’t demand understanding for the Soviet collaborators who also loved Lithuania is difficult to understand. After all, those who acted as they did out of love for Lithuania acted as the geopolitical situation of the time “demanded.” And they also “didn’t know.”

The geopolitical situation in 1990 turned recalcitrant Communists and mere kow-towers overnight into hardened nationalists and… nothing happened. The sky didn’t fall. But it is rude to talk about this in the company of nationalists (as it is among former Communists), because wherever you point your finger, there you find either a conformist, or a former Communist Youth, or a former Communist.

Incidentally, there are untouchables in the nationalists’ doctrine of history. This is the Smetona government who turned Klaipėda over to the Nazis in 1939 and at the end ordered: “greet the Soviet army warmly and integrate the Lithuanian military into the honorable ranks of the Soviet army.” So it wasn’t the Jews who greeted the Soviets with flowers, but the entire Lithuanian government and its famous generals. But today such details of no significance to the nationalists are not interesting…

So it is exactly with the manipulation of unpleasant historical facts, exalting some facts, suppressing others, justifying still others. The elite of Lithuanian historians had a good foundation for speaking out against the appointment of Vidmantas Valiušaitis as director of the Genocide Center. Lithuania’s “lovers” in parliament were unable to open the doors of the Genocide Center to Vidmantas Valiušaitis, so they pushed him in through a window instead. This appears provincial and like celebrating a Pyrrhic victory with gasoline. What next? I want to point out some of the ultra patriots’ and ultranationalists’ arguments which often become farcical.

Because they can be adapted for use by any ideology in defending any occupier or collaborator. This is low-level populism. A few examples:

“Let remove the ‘Nazi Chain’ around Lithuania’s Neck.” Who says this stuff? Those who for 30 years has been justifying the collaboration by some people and organizations with the Nazis. The Union for the Fight for Lithuanian Freedom with A. Ramanauskas-Vanagas at their head severely condemned the Nazis. The leaders of the Union realized the Soviets would attempt to discredit the entire partisan movement on account of a few criminals.

“When our history is rewritten and there is a constant attempt to destroy those who are worthy of it, we must pay attention.” I agree. So stop rewriting history. I wonder if any of today’s local nationalists ever did anything of merit, and for whom.

“The blackening of the Lithuanian battles for freedom by us ourselves, and, most importantly, in the eyes of the world and our Western partners…” Could we finally get the names of these damned ruiners of reputations? When you defend heroes who are documented to have screwed up during the Nazi occupation, judging their behavior by the definitions of international conventions (which are insufferable to those white-washers of reputations), you don’t have to travel far to find those reputation-blackeners of the partisans.

“They” speak from the podium in parliament, or creatively write “historical” findings at the Genocide Center in which Nazi collaborators suddenly transform into rescuers of Jews, and “the Jews themselves wanted to be isolated in the ghettos.”

Unfortunately today the discrediting of the partisans is being undertaken so successfully by the nationalists. “And the main front in this kind of propaganda war is exactly history. One line of lying awakens nostalgia for the Soviet period and beats into people’s heads the well-known maxim: ‘It was better under the Russians.’”

It certainly wasn’t better “under the Russians” except, of course, for brown-nosers who made a career for themselves in the Soviet hierarchy. How many such are now in parliament and in national and local government institutions? At the Genocide Center? “One line of lying awakens” … nostalgia for the Nazi occupation, am I right? After all, they are white-washing the Lithuanian Provisional Government, and the June “Uprising” is shamefully compared to real uprisings against Tsarist Russia, and the post-war partisans and Sąjūdis against the Soviet empire.

We are also being invited feverishly to worship those who didn’t fight against the Nazi occupation with weapons, who are being lionized and heroized. Since the white-washers were not dissidents in Soviet times, they keep trying to bust their asses proving their “love” for Lithuania and unarmed struggle. With friends like these, who needs enemies?

“Those criticizing the one true narrative of historical truth are dividing the nation!” This supposed argument is used by the extremely idiotic, without regard to education: from street sweepers to professors to members of parliament. It is used in the attempt to shut the mouths of people who think otherwise. Especially those who are not prepared to ideologize and politicize historical facts. I will repeat what I have observed many times: higher education doesn’t insure against stupidity, immorality, and bad behavior in Lithuania.

That’s enough about this unpleasant historical truth which becomes pleasant after passing into the wrong hands. After which the critics are turned into enemies of Lithuania, without naming them. Help? Please: Lithuanian History Institute, presidential Commission to Assess Soviet and Nazi Crimes, esteemed Lithuanian and foreign historians.

The Genocide Center, to historical truth’s misfortune, has become the prime example of ordinary political wafflers and kow-towers which hasn’t managed to include even one serious historian and couldn’t do so to save its own life. And so this institution has no chance of objectively investigating the years 1939 to 1944 so painful for Lithuania. It’s clear this is exactly the plain of the self-professed lovers of Lithuania.

About the Author
A professional journalist for 35 years in Sweden and Lithuania. Articles are published in Europe, Sweden, Lithuania. A member of the Lithuanian Jewish community. A frequent guest on Lithuanian TV channels and radio talk show. Comments on the internet daily of Lithuanian National Radio and TV Political observer. Writer and professional actor.
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