Yet another tale of the Israeli government turning a blind to favourable regimes in Eastern Europe who are engaged in rehabilitating or remembering Nazi collaborators. This time it is Lithuania. In return Israel gets diplomatic support from these same regimes.
VILNIUS—Israel may have crossed a red line today when it was flaunted on the major News portal Delfi.lt here, both in Lithuanian and in English, that
Israeli ambassador Amir Maimon had found the time this week to stage a
demonstrative PR-photographed visit to the chief campaigner for the parliament’s decision
less than one month ago to name 2018 in honor of Adolfas Ramanauskas —
his daughter in Vilnius, Auksutė Ramanauskaitė-Skokauskienė, who is
a prime icon of the ultranationalist camp that often glorifies various
collaborators and participants in the Holocaust on the grounds that they
were also anti-Soviet activists. The PR move came just after a major
political commentator asked what Lithuania is getting in return for its staunch political support for the Netanyahu government.
One of the PR photos released shows the ambassador posing underneath adulatory photos of the 1941 pro-Nazi militiaman (from
various other periods in his life). Of course Lithuania has a vast
number of inspirational historical heroes, including many anti-Soviet
heroes, who were not Holocaust collaborators, and state decisions to
honor collaborators cause untold pain to survivors, their families, and
the remnant Jewish communities in Eastern Europe. They all send a
message that becomes part of the history-revision campaign to downgrade
the Holocaust in the context of “Double Genocide” revisionism.
To be sure, there is
no hard evidence that during the Holocaust, Adolfas Ramanauskas (later
nom de guerre: Vanagas) killed anyone. But in his own memoir he confirmed
what was known: that he commanded a group of pro-Nazi militia
(affiliated with the “Lithuanian Activist Front”) in the days and weeks
from 22 June 1941 onward, when the Nazis launched the invasion of the
USSR and when the Lithuanian Holocaust was itself unleashed by these
very local militias before the Germans even arrived and then until their
final establishment of German administration in the conquered lands in
the weeks following. Local ultranationalists call these militias
“anti-Soviet rebels,” an historic nonsense — the Soviet army was fleeing
Hitler’s Operation Barbarossa, the largest invasion in human history,
not the local white-armbanded nationalists who were busy killing their
Jewish neighbors. Not a shot was fired at a Soviet military person or
site until the Soviets were in flight from the Wehrmacht and the
PHOTOS: DELFI.LT caption
Just last week, the major Lithuanian historical ethicist Evaldas Balčiūnas published a piece in Defending History asking: if it was wise — and what message it sends — for the Lithuanian parliament to name 2018 for someone who “just” led a pro-Nazi “partisan squad” in Lithuania in June and July of 1941.
After the war, Ramanauskas played a major role in the anti-Soviet
resistance (and was unquestionably brutally tortured and murdered by the
KGB). The question that has caused so much pain to Lithuania’s Jews in
recent days is why 2018 could not be named for a hero who did not in
any way, shape or form collaborate with the Nazis, least of all as a
commander of a unit in the very days when such units were molesting,
humiliating and murdering their Jewish neighbors? 2018 is the hundredth
anniversary of the rise of the new democratic Lithuanian republic in
1918, and people (not only Jews!) are asking why the year is not named
for one of the many heroes of the nation’s war of independence or its
first visionary political leaders who framed the country’s democratic
constitution and led it on a path to decades of successful statehood
(notwithstanding all the interwar problems and issues that had befallen
Eastern Europe). Defending History has opened a new virtual exhibition
to honor the hundredth anniversary of modern Lithuania by a celebration of the interwar republic’s grand multicultural tolerance.
This new imbroglio comes on top of a long list of instances of state honoring of Holocaust collaborators, most notoriously the 2012 reburial with
full honors of the 1941 Nazi puppet prime minister Juozas Ambrazevičius
(Brazaitis) who put his signature on documents confirming Nazi orders
for Jews of his own city, Kaunas (Kovno), to be sent to a murder camp
and then for the remainder to be incarcerated in what became the Kovno
quid-pro-quo is obvious to most observers. Lithuania has again gone out
on a diplomatic limb for Israeli Foreign Ministry desires by arranging for the recent appearance at European Union headquarters in Brussels of Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and questions were being asked
about reciprocity. The surprise is that instead of some new
sophisticated military hardware or intelligence capability or economic
investment, the major request for reciprocity seems once again to be,
incredibly — diplomatic and PR support for Baltic revisionism of the
Holocaust. Defending History has been following and reporting on this
trend from its inception and the first major Israeli “success” based on the policy, that of the 2011 vote
against Palestinian membership in UNESCO in return, according to
diplomatic sources, for the Israeli state-financed Yad Vashem rejoining
the Lithuanian state financed “red-brown commission” that is one of the European Union’s engines for Double Genocide revisionism.
ambassadors to the region took great care to invite to their table
representatives of a variety of views. The most famous was the late
Israeli Ambassador to the Baltics, Chen Ivri Apter (1958—2012), who
demonstrated that he could build the best possible relations with Baltic
states while standing up for his own citizens and for the truth of
Jewish history. When Defending History organized an evening in Tel Aviv
in June 2009 to honor the late Dr. Rachel Margolis, one of the Holocaust
survivors and partisan heroes defamed by prosecutors and afraid to go
back for a last farewell to her beloved Vilna, Ambassador Apter came specially to join the event, and gave a speech
that countered Double Genocide in simple, stark, elegant terms, one
that will go down in history. The Jews of Vilnius continue to lovingly
and loyally cherish his memory.
Israeli Ambassador to the Baltics Chen Ivri Apter (1958-2012) flew in to honor Holocaust survivor Dr. Rachel Margolis (1921-2015) at Tel Aviv’s Leivick House in 2009. She felt unable to return to her native Vilnius because of prosecutors’ campaign against survivors who joined the anti-Nazi resistance
But things have taken a
dark turn since the Israeli Foreign Ministry set up its embassy in
Vilnius in 2015 and sent Amir Maimon as ambassador. One of the many
shocks to the dwindling Holocaust survivor community here came in 2016.
Shortly after the municipality of Kaunas sanctioned a neo-Nazi march in
the heart of the interwar capital on the nation’s independence day that
year, featuring banners of local Holocaust collaborators as “the nation’s heroes,” Mr. Maimon went for one of his ubiquitous photo-ops to pay tribute to the mayor of Kaunas for “honoring” Jewish heritage with various plaques and PR events.
But does Israel really
want to become a major player in the new Holocaust revisionism movement
emanating from Eastern Europe, even in return for diplomatic
favors? Back in 2010, the Israel Journal of Foreign Affairs hosted a debate on the subject on its pages. In the meantime, there is still no Lithuanian government apology for the massive state sponsored defamation of Israeli citizens (and Holocaust resistance heroes) Yitzhak Arad, Joseph Melamed, and Rachel Margolis.
All three were alive when Maimon arrived in Vilnius in early 2015, but
he ignored pleas to reach out to them publicly, and failed to honor the
two who passed away during his tenure, Rachel Margolis and Joseph
Melamed. Historian Yitzhak Arad has written an academic paper on many of
these matters. When Yad Vashem refused to publish it, he published it in Defending History in 2012.
there is the salt on the wound. Today’s Delfi. lt reports specifically
that Maimon’s photographed PR session with the daughter and champion of
Adolfas Ramanauskas was organized by Lithuania’s “history politician”
Arvydas Anušauskas. Back in 2006, it was Anušauskas, in an interview with the antisemitic dailyRespublika, who in effect launched the campaign against Yitzhak Arad that resulted in prosecutors announcing their “pre-trial investigation”
against Yitzhak Arad several months later (see appendix below). The
photo-op shots published with some triumphalism on both Lithuanian and
English Delfi.lt likewise appear on the Facebook pages of both Anušauskas and Maimon.
Whatever happened to
the Israel that was for decades a light unto the nations on loyalty to
its citizens? Including the remains of dead soldiers. When it comes to
Holocaust survivors — alive and dead — there is a new and most
lamentable policy. But it is not too late for Israel to politely ask for
a government apology for its three maligned citizens, Yitzhak Arad,
Rachel Margolis and Yitzhak Arad, all Holocaust survivors, all veterans
of the struggle to free Europe of Hitlerism, two of them heroes of the
nation’s 1948 war of independence.◊
head of the Genocide and Resistance Research Center of Lithuania,
historian Arvydas Anušauskas, also knows the name Y. Arad very well;
however, he was very surprised to learn from this Respublika journalist
that the partisan had openly described his crimes in a book almost
thirty years ago:
“Usually the red partisans would not write about such things either in
questionnaires, or in autobiographies, and if they happened to mention
it, then they would only say a word or two,” said a surprised A.
Anušauskas. “However, their fights with the self-defense forces of
villages and the burning down of villages are known. The first to
suffer, as in every partisan war, were civilians. The ideological
political orientation of the red partisans was directed towards Moscow.
In Lithuania, there was not only the Lithuanian and Polish resistance,
but also the Jewish one; however, Y. Arad was together with the
historian is certain that a man with such a “significant” past as Y.
Arad could be only a witness and not an expert who is required to be
objective, during investigations of cases of the war period.
Anušauskas admitted that there was almost no hope that some of the red
partisans would be tried for crimes against Lithuania.
is no state of limitation for the Jewish genocide, because this is
approved at the international level. The genocide of Lithuanians has no
such status, and for the physical extermination of our nation
essentially nobody is accountable,” said A. Anušauskas.