Lithuanian Jewish Community chairwoman demands investigation for Holocaust denial

Lithuanian Jewish Community chairwoman Faina Kukliansky reacted to MP Valdas Rakutis’s statement on the Holocaust by demanding the Office of General Prosecutor initiate a pre-trial investigation on Holocaust denial and distortion.

“Representing the Lithuanian Jewish Community, I demand … the prosecutor general begin a pre-trial investigation on Holocaust denial and distortion.

“Slaps on the hand don’t satisfy us. We, citizens of Lithuania, Jews living here, demand the rule of law and defense of our basic rights. And in the end, you should feel shame before those whose blood soaks the land of Lithuania,” Kukliansky said in a statement to the press.

The Office of Prosecutor General said they would consider beginning an investigation after they receive a complaint. “Currently this complaint has not yet been received, but if it is received, it will be considered in the prescribed manner and the corresponding decision will be made,” Office of Prosecutor General press representative Elena Martinonienė told BNS.

Chairwoman Kukliansky is also calling for the behavior by the MP who holds the chair of the Lithuanian parliament’s Committee on Battles for Freedom and State Historical Memory be assessed by the parliament’s Ethics and Procedures Commission and for the Ministry of Sports, Science and Education and the National Defense Ministry start investigations to determine whether MP Rakutis is fit to serve in the post of professor.

On Wednesday Rakutis posted a text expressing approval for Nazi collaborators and claiming Jews collaborated with the Nazi and Soviet regimes.

“But what about those collaborators? Who were those people who accepted these horrific ideas? Were they the leaders of the Lithuanian nation, people such as the first military volunteer Kazys Škirpa, or general Storm [Jonas Noreika]? Maybe Antanas Smetona? Despite great agitation in recent times, it has never been proved they organized the Holocaust. No, these were totally different people, often uneducated who tended to feel important once they got a rifle in their arms, people who sometimes had suffered greatly from Soviet oppression in 1941, who sometimes blindly followed orders. They were similar to the Soviet goons.

“Let’s get to know them, let’s realize why they did what they did. After all there was no lack of Holocaust perpetrators even among the Jews, especially in the self-governance structures in the ghettos. We must loudly name these people and try to insure people like them never appear again. But we must also answer the question of what the views of the Jews themselves were, what ideas led a portion of the Jews to collaborate with the Soviet government, to take up important posts in the Soviet structures of oppression. Sometimes understanding the reasons allows us to understand the consequences, even if it doesn’t justify the behavior,” the Lithuanian Conservative Party politician wrote.

Kukliansky responded by saying Rakutis is repeating a “mendacious and misleading narrative which has continued for decades.”

“Member of parliament V. Rakutis in his commentary hasn’t said anything new, he just repeats the same mendacious and misleading narrative which has gone on for decades: that we ourselves, the Jews, are culpable for the extermination of 95% of the Jews who lived in Lithuania during World War II,” she said.

Kukliansky said she doesn’t see any real public reaction to this, nor any reaction from Rakutis’s fellow Conservative Party members, saying there were “soft comments by fellow party members, a few observations and speculation that Rakutis ‘might have made a mistake’, which doesn’t even come close to the precise and sharp uncompromising reaction demonstrated by the foreign embassies to Lithuania.”

“I have met many of the Rakutises, they all repeat the same thing. It is disgusting that today these Rakutises speak confidently in the parliament of the Republic of Lithuania, are published and quoted, ever and ever accusing those who were accompanied by their neighbors to collections points in 1941, to synagogues, and then to the margins of forests and the gravel pits, of being responsible for the horror of the Holocaust,” Kukliansky said.

Lithuanian Jewish representatives and the ambassadors from Israel and the Untied States condemned the comments by the Lithuanian MP and the leadership of the Lithuanian Conservative Party also distanced themselves from it. Conservative Party Lithuanian foreign minister Gabrielius Landsbergis said there was a lack of proportion and understanding in Rakutis’s commentary.

Rakutis earned his degree as an historian. He has taught at the General Jonas Žemaitis Lithuanian Military Academy and served as an advisor in the Lithuanian military.

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