Steven Windmueller
Where Jews and Judaism Meet the Political Road!

When truth is distorted: The dramatic story of Lithuanian duplicity

Grant Arthur Gochin’s recent article on these pages reminds us of the longstanding efforts of the Lithuanian government to deny its national history and to distort the Holocaust narrative.[1] In the 2022 documentary film, made by Michael Krezmer, J’Accuse![2], Lithuania, A cry from the killing pits of Lithuania, we are introduced to the story behind the story in connection with Lithuania’s methodical approach to rewrite its World War II history.

Effectively told through the lens of the lives of two individuals, Sylvia Foti and the above mentioned, Grant Gochin, the viewer is transported in a dramatic 90-minute scenario into how a society and its politicians sought to cover over its past war crimes and acts of genocide. This powerful documentary is now being released in cities across the globe, allowing audiences to fully embrace this distortion of history.

Who was Jonas Noreika? For years, Sylvia Foti had been discouraged to “dig around” these past events in connection with the life of her “hero” grandfather.  As Foti would uncover, this national figure was in fact a key player working with the Nazis in the systematic and brutal killing of Lithuanian Jewry. In her writings and through this video, audiences are exposed to the dehumanization and terror directed against innocent men, women and children, to the deportation and mass murder of entire communities, and to a massive effort to cover over these atrocities, all carried out under the direction of Noreika. The film exposes the massive effort by the Lithuanian Government to simply deny these events.

In the end, this must be seen as a story of personal courage on the part of Foti, who as a journalist was compelled to tell her own family’s story and in the process would not only uncover the truth about her grandfather but would gain the friendship and support of Gochin, whose own family were among the victims of the Nazis and Noreika. In one moment, this is a deeply moving and meaningful expression of how external events can frame relationships while at the same time bring to the public stage the sad reality of how information can be distorted and even denied!



About the Author
Steven Windmueller, Ph.D. is an Emeritus Professor of Jewish Communal Service at the Jack H. Skirball Campus of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Los Angeles. Prior to coming to HUC, Dr.Windmueller served for ten years as the JCRC Director of the LA Jewish Federation. Between 1973-1985, he was the director of the Greater Albany Jewish Federation (now the Federation of Northeastern New York). He began his career on the staff of the American Jewish Committtee. The author of four books and numerous articles, Steven Windmueller focuses his research and writings on Jewish political behavior, communal trends, and contemporary anti-Semitism.
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