Lithuanian lawmakers honor an alleged perpetrator of Holocaust pogrom

Lithuanian lawmakers want to make 2021 the year of Juozas Luksa-Daumantas — a nationalist accused of participating in a Holocaust-era massacre of Jews.

The parliament’s Committee on Education and Science submitted the proposal June 23 in a draft resolution titled “The Announcement of the Year 2021 as the year of Juozas Luksa-Daumantas.”

Witnesses placed Luksa-Daumantas, a leader of the pro-Nazi Lithuanian Activist Front militia during World War II, at the 1941 Lietukis Garage massacre in Kaunas, where locals tortured and beat to death dozens of Jews. Some of the perpetrators posed for pictures, some displaying the iron bars they used as murder weapons.

Some victims were held down while their tormentors blasted jets of water from a high-powered hose down their throats, causing them to drown or die of internal bleeding.

One survivor, Aleks Faitelson, said in a 2006 book that multiple witnesses saw Luksa-Daumantas participating in the murders. Another, a former chairman of the Association of Lithuanian Jews in Israel named Joseph Melamed, wrote in a 1999 book that his research had led him to identify Luksa-Daumantas in a photograph of the scene of the massacre. Melamed died in 2017.

Advocates for Luksa-Daumantas, who was killed in 1951 by Soviet security services, deny these charges. They say he was a patriot who fought Soviet occupation.

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