My book recently came out, and I have been amazed at the power of a mere high school English teacher who initially thought she’d write a quiet book about her heroic grandfather.
A social studies teacher from my high school district told me, “Good history confronts a bad past, and that’s what your book is doing.”
But my book is a memoir, a very personal story, in which I grapple through the stages of who I thought my grandfather was. I approached this story as a granddaughter who wants to know the truth, no matter what.
First, I was so proud because I thought he was such a hero in Lithuania who fought so bravely against the Communists. I thought his codename General Storm was so romantic, Then I heard the “rumor” about him killing Jews in the school named after him. Like all Lithuanians, I went into denial, believing it was just Communist propaganda.
But because I had been a journalist for twenty years, I knew I couldn’t entirely ignore the rumor. That was when I decided to investigate the Nazi occupation in Lithuania to exonerate my grandfather. Unfortunately, I kept coming across document after document that not only made it impossible to exonerate him, but eventually, and dreadfully, proved that he willingly and enthusiastically participated in the murder of so many Jews.
I had to drill through my own layers of denial and rebuild my identity as I exposed one of the nation’s revered heroes as a perpetrator who sent thousands of Jews to their death.
Throughout this journey, I chronicle the sacrifices I have made and the struggles I have endured—how I lost my Lithuanian identity, how my family life became strained, how I was so feverishly consumed with this story that my personal life suffered.
The Nazi’s Granddaughter is available on Amazon.
It will be available in England on April 15, 2021.
NBCnews.com and Chicago Tribune
This past week I was featured on NBCnews.com: How a Chicago teacher sparked a ‘memory war,’ forcing Lithuania to confront its Nazi past.
“Foti’s revelations ignited a firestorm in Lithuania when they emerged two years ago. Laid out in painstaking detail in a book published last month, they have contributed to an increasingly toxic public debate over Noreika’s legacy and what role Lithuanians played alongside Nazi Germany during the Holocaust.”
The Chicago Tribune also published my opinion piece: Op-ed: My grandfather’s role in the Nazi occupation is forcing a reckoning in Lithuania.
“Although I had never met him, I was so proud of my grandfather and wanted to be just like him. When my dying mother asked me to take over her project of writing a book about her famous father, I enthusiastically agreed. I had no idea it would lead to an identity crisis — not just for me, but the entire nation.”
Several authors, historians, and filmmakers wrote an endorsement of The Nazi’s Granddaughter.
A historian wrote…
The Nazi’s Granddaughter is an introspective and sensitive account of Silvia Foti’s search for the truth about her “heroic” grandfather, who had been incarcerated by the Nazis in 1943 as a Lithuanian nationalist and executed by the Soviet regime as an anti-communist resister in 1947. Despite systematic prevarication by Lithuanian officials, friends, and family, she gradually assembles the contrasting portrait of a man who was also an anti-Semitic pamphleteer in the 1930s and a Nazi collaborator and Jew-killer in 1941. — Christopher R. Browning, Frank Porter Graham Professor of History Emeritus, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
A filmmaker wrote…
The Nazi’s Granddaughter is a remarkable true story about family and loyalty. Ms. Foti’s exceptional courage in confronting a dark truth in the face of familial and nationalistic pressure is especially relevant in these turbulent times. – –Dave Davis, former senior film executive at 20th Century Fox and Paramount Pictures
A Lithuanian-American author wrote…
I couldn’t put this book down. The Nazi’s Granddaughter is part detective story, part family saga, part the morality tale we so desperately need to hear today, especially those of us unwilling to examine the past because it’s emotionally easier to continue living in ignorance. It takes a courageous and deeply moral person to go to that frightening place: Silvia Foti is that person. She combines the research skills of an historian with the ethical concerns and instincts of the best investigative journalists to arrive at a very difficult truth, one that throughout her personally wrenching journey she does not want to believe. This is an important book: honest, brave, and superbly researched and written. Daiva Markelis, author of White Field, Black Sheep: A Lithuanian-American Life (University of Chicago Press); Professor Emerita at Eastern Illinois University
The Storm Door Blog
This book of creative nonfiction slowly dismantles Lithuania’s denial of its role in the Holocaust: The Germans killed the Jews; we had nothing to do with it. In a sense, the story is a portal to “time travel” from the present to the deep and murky past of World War Two. The story is told in multiple styles—memoir, literary journalism, imaginative immersion, and biography, each style representative of a new level of insight on Jonas Noreika, who in so many ways serves as an archetype for the entire country in World War II. It is mostly a sad, moving story that comes to a somewhat fulfilling conclusion, which is the truth.
If understanding how Holocaust revisionism works interests you, if a personal story of discovery interests you, I hope you will order this The Nazi’s Granddaughter.
In related news…
Vytautas Landsbergis. Buy a book about the crimes of anti-Soviet Lithuania. He is not a fan of this book and said: Maybe the Lithuanian granddaughter in distant America will one day be cared for by those Soviet war criminals.
The Femsplainers Podcast: Wait! Grandpa Was A Nazi? Journalist Silvia Foti was told her whole life that her Lithuanian grandfather was a war hero — until she began investigating a “rumor” that would eventually lead her to the shocking truth. Pulitzer-Prize winning historian Anne Applebaum joins Danielle to offer background on European collaboration.
Wishing you truth and peace in the storms of your life,
Silvia Foti, granddaughter of General Storm—Jonas Noreika
The Nazi’s Granddaughter: How I Discovered My Grandfather was a War Criminal is available.
Taglines: General Storm; Jonas Noreika; Silvia Foti; Writer’s Life; The Storm Door blog; Genealogy; Grant Gochin