In Lithuania, the failure of diplomacy has resulted in 31 years of half-truths, denial and endless talk, without any solution, and without any resolution.
What exists now is planned, manipulated subterfuge, and a complete clouding of truth. This is not unique to Lithuania. Other countries, to some degree, have also tried to manipulate the facts to reconcile the shameful truths of collaboration and the resulting slaughter of six million Jews.
I cannot quite understand the point of the March 16, 2021, Combat Antisemitism Mayors Summit. Nowhere in this Summit was the “crucial dialogue” that was sought and promised. Instead, it was a bizarre sort of auction to see who could come out as the most “Jew-friendly” place. This talkfest featured a speech by the Mayor of Vilnius, Remigijus Simasius.
The most minimal due diligence shows Mayor Simasius’s participation in honors for murderers of Jews in Lithuania, and his personal efforts against the removal of these monuments. Simasius’s intent was to pretend transparency while downplaying the facts. He manipulated Combat Antisemitism to rehabilitate Lithuania’s — and primarily his own – reputation as being antisemitic.
Simasius’s speech was packed with Holocaust distortions. The event is posted here:
To me, the words seemed to have several meanings;
40:29 – Mayor Simasius begins speaking
40:37 – Simasius says he feels it is his duty to fight antisemitism. His honoring of Holocaust perpetrators IS antisemitism at its most foul.
41:26 – he says “Jews were repressed by Soviets, not just by Nazi’s”. Throughout history most countries have, to varying degrees, exhibited antisemitism. Simasius omits that Lithuanians oppressed Jews, this is revisionism by omission.
41:32 – – Simasius says cultural heritage property was destroyed by Nazi’s and Soviets. Again, he negates the role of Lithuanians. This blame shifts and is historical revisionism.
42:50 – Complaining that the Nazis, and then later, the Soviets, destroyed cemeteries. However, he omits the role Lithuanians had in destroying Jewish cemeteries, and neglects to mention his own efforts to build a convention center on top of a Jewish cemetery in Vilnius.
44:18 – Simasius speaks eloquently about Lithuania being twice occupied. He then goes on to equate occupations with persecutions of the Jews by both Nazis and Soviets. Once again, he neglects to mention the role of Lithuanian military and civilians in the persecution, torture, dehumanization, and ultimately, the murder of 96.4% of Lithuanian Jews. This is Holocaust denial by omission.
44:42 he states that 90% of all murdered Jews were killed by Nazis. This is false. The majority of Lithuanian Jews were slaughtered by military and civilian Lithuanians, not just by Nazis. This is Holocaust denial.
44:53 – Simasius insists that the persecution of Lithuanian Jews was begun by Soviets. This is false. There had been significant antisemitism and Jewish persecution in independent Lithuania, long before Soviets even succeeded in their invasion.
45:26 – he claims that there is “Zero tolerance for collaborators in the Holocaust”. If not so egregiously dishonest, this statement would be laughable. In Vilnius, his own jurisdiction, he constantly participates in elaborate hero-worship with multiple monuments dedicated for the most horrific of Lithuanian collaborators.
This speech is not an oversight. Simasius is fully aware of the facts. His blatant dishonesty is insulting. Simasius’s summit speech heavily emphasized the antisemitism and persecutions of Jews by the Soviets. This was an attempt to transfer the blame and pitting Jews against an enemy of Lithuania. This is still the policy and agenda for the current Lithuanian government.
The balance of his speech was primarily about wonderful tourism sites that are being built to generate and encourage income from Jews. Thus, he negated – and came perilously close to completely absolving all Lithuanians of any involvement or participation in the slaughter of Jews, the plunder of property and the destruction of cultural heritage.
Mayor of Vilnius dropped hints that the Jews suffered alongside Lithuanians during the Soviet occupation. This is tantamount to throwing scraps.
Holocaust revisionism and denial have been active and ongoing in Lithuania since their independence in 1990. Scandals have repeatedly erupted when the international community has noticed Lithuanian Holocaust conduct.
Diplomacy with Lithuania has failed. Lithuania will not suddenly find truth or morals, or sudden gusts of clarity. 220,000 Jews were murdered in Lithuania. These events began 80 years ago and Lithuania has had 31 years to tell the truth. They have barely begun. Scraps will never be enough. Full and complete truth is the minimum.
We are no longer Jews with trembling knees. Lithuanians no longer have power of life or death over us. We will not be satiated by mere scraps. We are no longer victims. We will never dig our own graves again. Any strong modern Jew would never be satisfied accepting scraps. This would be an anathema to our identity.
Since independence, Lithuanians have shown no sincere regret or remorse, and no steps towards truth. There have been no consequences, they have suffered no punishment. There remains eternal hope that somehow, someday, they might admit to even the smallest of their crimes. Sadly, we realize that such acceptance will not come voluntarily.