Holocaust in Nazi-occupied Lithuania

Holocaust in Nazi-occupied Lithuania

The Holocaust in Nazi-occupied Lithuania resulted in the near total destruction of Lithuanian JewsRef_label|a|a|none living in the Nazi-controlled Lithuanian territories, known as the "Generalbezirk Litauen" of Reichskommissariat Ostland from 17 July 1941. Out of approximately 208 to 210,000 Jews, an estimated 195,000 - 196,000 perished before the end of World War II (wider estimates are sometimes published); most between June and December 1941.Dina Porat, "“The Holocaust in Lithuania: Some Unique Aspects”", in David Cesarani, "The Final Solution: Origins and Implementation", Routledge, 2002, ISBN 0415152321, [http://books.google.com/books?id=3N9Xxc8wdu0C&pg=PA161&vq=most+of+the+lithuanian+jews&dq=%22The+Holocaust+in+Lithuania:+Some+Unique+Aspects%22&source=gbs_search_s&sig=Q51GxOA40aEQ_rhazg2g7VJpPWE Google Print, p. 161] ] Michael MacQueen, "The Context of Mass Destruction: Agents and Prerequisites of the Holocaust in Lithuania", Holocaust and Genocide Studies, Volume 12, Number 1, pp. 27-48, 1998, [http://hgs.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/abstract/12/1/27] ] The events that took place in the western regions of the USSR occupied by Nazi Germany in the first weeks after the German invasion, including Lithuania, marked the sharp intensification of the Holocaust.Christopher R. Browning, with contributions by Jürgen Matthäus, "The Origins of the Final Solution: The Evolution of Nazi Jewish Policy, September 1939-March 1942", University of Nebraska Press, 2007, ISBN 0803259794, section 7 by Jürgen Matthäus, "Operation Barbarossa and the onset of the Holocaust", pp. 244-294] Dina Porat, "“The Holocaust in Lithuania: Some Unique Aspects”", in David Cesarani, "The Final Solution: Origins and Implementation", Routledge, 2002, ISBN 0415152321, [http://books.google.com/books?id=3N9Xxc8wdu0C&pg=PA159&dq=%22The+Holocaust+in+Lithuania:+Some+Unique+Aspects%22&ei=GV_ZR7zhEba4igGM06zRAQ&sig=BC8nnQzADrvUtKwXXJ53qMJo480 Google Print, p. 159] ] Konrad Kwiet, "Rehearsing for Murder: The Beginning of the Final Solution in Lithuania in June 1941", Holocaust and Genocide Studies, Volume 12, Number 1, pp. 3-26, 1998, [http://hgs.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/abstract/12/1/3] ] Ref_label|b|b|none

A factor important to the Holocaust in Lithuania was that the occupying Nazi German administration fanned anti-Semitism by blaming the Soviet regime's annexation of Lithuania on the Jewish community. Another significant factor was the large extent to which the Nazis' design drew upon the physical organization, preparation and execution of the murders by local Lithuanian auxiliaries of the Nazi occupation regime.Dina Porat, "“The Holocaust in Lithuania: Some Unique Aspects”", in David Cesarani, "The Final Solution: Origins and Implementation", Routledge, 2002, ISBN 0415152321, [http://books.google.com/books?id=3N9Xxc8wdu0C&pg=PA159&dq=%22The+Holocaust+in+Lithuania:+Some+Unique+Aspects%22&ei=GV_ZR7zhEba4igGM06zRAQ&sig=BC8nnQzADrvUtKwXXJ53qMJo480#PPA162,M1 Google Print, p. 162] ]

The Holocaust of Lithuanian Jewry can be considered the worst tragedy in the history of Lithuania - never before or since in Lithuania have so many people died in so short a time.Arūnas Bubnys, "Holocaust in Lithuania: An Outline of the Major Stages and Their Results" in Alvydas Nikžentaitis, Stefan Schreiner, Darius Staliūnas, "The Vanished World of Lithuanian Jews", Rodopi, 2004, ISBN 9042008504, [http://books.google.com/books?id=mdXRKbcyi5oC&pg=PA219&vq=is+the+worst+tragedy+of+Lithuania's&dq=Holocaust+1941+Lithuania&as_brr=3&source=gbs_search_s&sig=ZtduokysVV6MqLWS7I9uw7tMUFE Google Print, p.219] ]


The Soviet Union annexed Lithuania in 1940. Prior to the German invasion of the Soviet Union on 22 June 1941, some people in Lithuania believed Germany would grant the country independence and in order to appease the Germans expressed significant anti-semitic sentiments. Nazi Germany, which had seized the Lithuanian territories in the first day of the offensive, used this situation to its advantage and indeed in the first days permitted a Lithuanian government to be established (see also Lithuanian Activist Front). However, when the territory was fully occupied, the Lithuanian Provisional Government was disbanded and banned in August and September 1941, and some of its supporters ended their days in concentration camps.

The destruction of Lithuanian Jewry

Estimated number of victims

Prior the German invasion, the population of Jews was estimated to be about 210,000, although according to data from the Lithuanian statistics department, as of 1 January 1941 there were 208,000 Jews. This estimate, based on the officially accounted for prewar emigration within the USSR (approx. 8,500), the number of escapees from Kaunas and Vilnius Ghettos, (1,500-2,000), as well as the number of the survivors in the concentration camps when they were liberated by the Red Army, (2,000-3,000), puts the number of Lithuanian Jews murdered in the Holocaust at 195,000 to 196,000. It is difficult to estimate the exact number of casualties of the Holocaust and the latter number cannot be final or indisputable. The numbers given by historians differ significantly ranging from 165,000 to 254,000, the higher number probably including non-Lithuanian Jews killed in Lithuania.Arūnas Bubnys, "Holocaust in Lithuania: An Outline of the Major Stages and Their Results" in Alvydas Nikžentaitis, Stefan Schreiner, Darius Staliūnas, "The Vanished World of Lithuanian Jews", Rodopi, 2004, ISBN 9042008504, [http://books.google.com/books?id=mdXRKbcyi5oC&pg=PA205&dq=Holocaust+1941+Lithuania&as_brr=3&ei=xK7eR_OaJIa4zATMsJzrCg&sig=-X-7KH0Hr__XpZG_EZPrGBAr0Tk#PPA218,M1 Google Print, p.218] ]

The Holocaust events

Chronologically, the genocide in Lithuania can be divided into three phases: phase 1) summer to end 1941; phase 2) December 1941 - March 1943; phase 3) April 1943 - mid July 1944.Arūnas Bubnys, "Holocaust in Lithuania: An Outline of the Major Stages and Their Results" in Alvydas Nikžentaitis, Stefan Schreiner, Darius Staliūnas, "The Vanished World of Lithuanian Jews", Rodopi, 2004, ISBN 9042008504, [http://books.google.com/books?id=mdXRKbcyi5oC&pg=PA205&vq=could+be+subdivided+conditionally+into+the+following+period&dq=Holocaust+1941+Lithuania&as_brr=3&source=gbs_search_s&sig=-X-7KH0Hr__XpZG_EZPrGBAr0Tk Google Print, p.205-206] ]

The German killing squads, the Einsatzgruppen, followed the advance of the German army units and immediately begun organizing the murder of Jews. Most Lithuanian Jews perished in the first phase during the first months of the occupation and before the end of 1941. About 80,000 Jews were killed by October and about 175,000 by the end of the year. The majority of Jews in Lithuania were not required to live in ghettosRef_label|c|c|none nor sent to the Nazi concentration camps which by then were just in the preliminary stages of operation. Instead they were shot in pits near their places of residence with the most infamous mass murders taking place in the Ninth Fort near Kaunas and the Ponary Forest near Vilna. By 1942 about 45,000 Jews survived, largely those who had been sent to ghettos and camps.Ref_label|c|c|none In the second phase, the Holocaust slowed, as Germans decided to use the Jews as forced labor to fuel the German war economy.Arūnas Bubnys, "Holocaust in Lithuania: An Outline of the Major Stages and Their Results" in Alvydas Nikžentaitis, Stefan Schreiner, Darius Staliūnas, "The Vanished World of Lithuanian Jews", Rodopi, 2004, ISBN 9042008504, [http://books.google.com/books?id=mdXRKbcyi5oC&pg=PA215&vq=the+period+could+be+called+a+relatively+stable&dq=Holocaust+1941+Lithuania&as_brr=3&source=gbs_search_s&sig=nOthMU2vndK9yVcnQru7mvS0Kxs Google Print, p.215] ] In the third phase, the destruction of Jews was again given a high priority; it was in that phase that the remaining ghettos and camps were liquidated.

Two factors contributed to the rapid destruction of Lithuanian Jewry. The first was the significant support for the "de-Jewification" of Lithuania coming from the Lithuanian populace. The second was the German plan for early colonization of Lithuania - which shared a border with German East Prussia - in accordance with their Generalplan Ost; hence the high priority given to the extermination of the relatively small Lithuanian Jew community.

Participation of local populace

While the Nazi German administration directed and supported the organized killing of Lithuanian Jews, most of the logistics for the preparation and execution of the murders was carried out by local Lithuanian auxiliaries of the Nazi occupation regime.Arūnas Bubnys, "Holocaust in Lithuania: An Outline of the Major Stages and Their Results" in Alvydas Nikžentaitis, Stefan Schreiner, Darius Staliūnas, "The Vanished World of Lithuanian Jews", Rodopi, 2004, ISBN 9042008504, [http://books.google.com/books?id=mdXRKbcyi5oC&pg=PA214&vq=another+specific+factor&dq=Holocaust+1941+Lithuania&as_brr=3&source=gbs_search_s&sig=dKLN7ynrWtsKQEcApAL9GRTwTIU Google Print, p.214] ] Nazi SS Brigadeführer Franz Walter Stahlecker arrived in Kaunas on 25 June 1941 and gave agitation speeches in the city to instigate the murder of Jews. Initially this was in the former State Security Department building, but officials there refused to take any action. Later, he gave speeches in the city. [cite web |url=http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Holocaust/Einsatz_Baltic.html |title=Extracts from a Report by Einsatzgruppe a in the Baltic Countries |accessdate=2008-08-06 |last= |first= |coauthors= |date= |work= |publisher=jewishvirtuallibrary.org] In a report of October 15, Stahlecker wrote that they had succeeded in covering up their vanguard unit (Vorkommando) actions, and it was made to look like it was the initiative of the local population. [http://www.genocid.lt/Leidyba/13/bubnys.htm lt icon Arūnas Bubnys. "Lithuanian Security Police and the Holocaust (1941–1944)"] F. W. Stahleckeris, pasitelkęs žurnalisto A. Klimaičio tariamą partizanų būrį (iš tikrųjų A. Klimaičio būrys nebuvo pavaldus nei LAF’ui, nei Lietuvos laikinajai vyriausybei), birželio 25 d. Kaune pradėjo kelti žydų pogromus. Tame pačiame 1941 m. spalio 15 d. raporte generolas atvirai ir išsamiai aprašė savo suorganizuotas žydų žudynes: „ […] Netikėtai paaiškėjo, kad suorganizuoti didesnio masto žydų pogromą išsyk gana nelengva. Čia visų pirma pasitelkėme anksčiau minėtų partizanų vadą A. Klimaitį, kurį tuo reikalu instruktavo veikęs Kaune mūsų nedidelis priešakinis būrys. A. Klimaičiui pavyko taip parengti pogromą, kad aikštėn neiškilo nei mūsų duoti nurodymai, nei mūsų iniciatyva. Pirmojo pogromo metu, naktį iš birželio 25-osios į 26-ąją, lietuvių partizanai likvidavo daugiau kaip 1500 žydų, padegė arba kitaip sunaikino keletą sinagogų ir sudegino žydų kvartalą, kuriame buvo apie 60 namų. Sekančiomis naktimis tuo pačiu būdu buvo padaryti nekenksmingais 2300 žydų. Kauno pavyzdžiu panašios akcijos, tik mažesnio masto, vyko ir kituose Lietuvos miestuose, jos palietė ir likusius tose vietose komunistus“] Groups of partisans, civil units of nationalist-rightist anti-Soviet affiliation, initiated contact with the Germans as soon as they entered the Lithuanian territories. A rogue unit of insurgents headed by Algirdas Klimaitis and encouraged by Germans from the Sicherheitspolizei and Sicherheitsdienst, started anti-Jewish pogroms in Kaunas (Kovno) on the night of 25 June-26 June 1941 in which over a thousand Jews perished over the next few days in what was the first pogrom in Nazi-occupied Lithuania.Zvi Gitelman (ed.), "Bitter Legacy: Confronting the Holocaust in the USSR", ISBN 0253333598. Indiana University Press, 1998, [http://books.google.com/books?vid=ISBN0253333598&id=USW9-xQ85FwC&pg=PA97&lpg=PA97&dq=klimaitis&sig=oa1kVS3fIRHYbqneBGSsK-NICzk p. 97.] ] [http://www.genocid.lt/Leidyba/13/bubnys.htm lt icon Arūnas Bubnys. "Lithuanian Security Police and the Holocaust (1941–1944)"] ] Different sources give different figures, one being 1,500 and another 3,800, with additional victims in other towns of the region.

On 24 June 1941, the Lithuanian Security Police ("Lietuvos saugumo policija"), subordinate to Nazi Germany's Security Police and Nazi Germany's Criminal Police, was created. It would be involved in various actions against the Jews and other enemies of the Nazi regime.lt icon cite book | author =Arūnas Bubnys | coauthors = | title =Vokiečių ir lietuvių saugumo policija (1941–1944) (German and Lithuanian security police: 1941-1944)| year =2004 | publisher =Lietuvos gyventojų genocido ir rezistencijos tyrimo centras | location =Vilnius | url =http://www.genocid.lt/Leidyba/1/arunas1.htm | accessdate =2006-06-09 ] Nazi commanders filed reports purporting the "zeal" of the Lithuanian police battalions surpassed their own.Dina Porat, "“The Holocaust in Lithuania: Some Unique Aspects”", in David Cesarani, "The Final Solution: Origins and Implementation", Routledge, 2002, ISBN 0415152321, [http://books.google.com/books?id=3N9Xxc8wdu0C&pg=PA165&vq=zeal+of+the+Lithuanian+police+battalions&dq=%22The+Holocaust+in+Lithuania:+Some+Unique+Aspects%22&source=gbs_search_s&sig=HS8YJtJk4eCMePTLX_zFRuGVLRc Google Print, p. 165] ] The most notorious Lithuanian unit participating in the Holocaust was the Lithuanian Sonderkommando Squad (Ypatingasis būrys) from the Vilnius (Vilna, Wilno) area which killed tens of thousands of Jews, Poles and others in Paneriai (the Ponary massacre) and other places. pl icon [http://www.ipn.gov.pl/portal.php?serwis=pl&dzial=194&id=3327 Śledztwo w sprawie masowych zabójstw Polaków w latach 1941 - 1944 w Ponarach koło Wilna dokonanych przez funkcjonariuszy policji niemieckiej i kolaboracyjnej policji litewskiej] (Investigation of mass murders of Poles in the years 1941–1944 in Ponary near Wilno by functionaries of German police and Lithuanian collaborating police). Institute of National Remembrance documents from 2003 on the ongoing investigation] . Last accessed on 10 February 2007.] pl icon Czesław Michalski, [http://www.wsp.krakow.pl/konspekt/konspekt5/ponary.html Ponary - Golgota Wileńszczyzny] (Ponary — the Golgotha of Wilno Region). "Konspekt" nº 5, Winter 2000–2001, a publication of the Academy of Pedagogy in Kraków. Last accessed on 10 February 2007.] Another Lithuanian organization involved in the Holocaust was the Lithuanian Labor Guard. Many Lithuanian supporters of the Nazi policies came from the fascist Iron Wolf organization. Overall, the nationalistic Lithuanian administration was interested in the liquidation of the Jews as a perceived enemy and potential rivals of ethnic Lithuanians and thus not only did not oppose Nazi Holocaust policy but in effect adopted it as their own.

A combination of factors serves as an explanation for participation of some Lithuanians in genocide against Jews.Dina Porat, "“The Holocaust in Lithuania: Some Unique Aspects”", in David Cesarani, "The Final Solution: Origins and Implementation", Routledge, 2002, ISBN 0415152321, [http://books.google.com/books?id=3N9Xxc8wdu0C&pg=PA166&vq=explanations+for+the+Lithuanians&dq=%22The+Holocaust+in+Lithuania:+Some+Unique+Aspects%22&source=gbs_search_s&sig=vu8Kzi5UrSssdsjjgMI95QB1Evs Google Print, p. 166] ] Those factors include national traditions and values, including anti-semitism, common throughout contemporary Central Europe, and a more Lithuanian-specific desire for a "pure" Lithuanian nation-state with which the Jewish population was believed to be incompatible.) Additional factors were religion (Orthodox Catholic), severe economic problems (leading to killing of Jews over personal property) and opposed political orientations (support of the Soviet regime in Lithuania during 1940-1941 by Lithuanian Jews)Ref_label|d|d|none. During the period leading up to the German invasion, the Jews were blamed by some for virtually every misfortune that had befallen Lithuania.

The involvement of the local population and institutions, in relatively high numbers, in the destruction of Lithuanian Jewry became a defining factor of the Holocaust in Lithuania. Not all of the Lithuanian populace supported the killings.Tadeusz Piotrowski, "Poland's Holocaust", McFarland & Company, 1997, ISBN 0786403713, [http://books.google.com/books?id=hC0-dk7vpM8C&pg=PA176&dq=Lithuanian+collaborators&sig=shBYrRsFIp7RsqsNLDgJvS0mzVU#PPA176,M1 Google Print, p.175-176] ] Out of a population of close to 3,000,000, (80% of it ethnic Lithuanians), [David J. Smith, "The Baltic States: Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania", Routledge, 2002, ISBN 0415285801, [http://books.google.com/books?id=YaYbzQQN97EC&pg=RA3-PA9&lpg=RA3-PA9&dq=lithuanian+population+1939&source=web&ots=WQ-_VKM36C&sig=NV0Qknwhn2iNMvD1VBd2N6IW2t8&hl=en Google Print, p.9] ] only a few tens of thousands took an active part in the killings while many hundreds risked their lives sheltering the Jews. Israel has recognized 723 Lithuanians as “Righteous Among the Nations” for risking their lives to save Jews during the Holocaust). [ [http://yad-vashem.org.il/righteous/index_righteous.html Righteous Among the Nations] ] [http://www.ncsj.org/Lithuania.shtml NCSJ Country Report: Lithuania] . Last accessed on 13 March 2007] In addition, many members of the Polish minority in Lithuania also helped to shelter the Jews. Lithuanians and Poles who risked their lives saving Jews were persecuted and often executed by the Nazis. lt icon Viktorija Sakaitė in "Žydų gelbėjimas" (Rescue of Jews) 2004-01-30 , on the pages of the Lietuvos gyventojų genocido ir rezistencijos tyrimo centras]

Comprehension and remembrance

The genocide in Lithuania is seen by some historians as one of the earliest large-scale implementations of the Final Solution, leading some scholars to express an opinion that the Holocaust began in Lithuania in the summer of 1941.Note_label|b|b|none Other scholars say the Holocaust started in September 1939 with the onset of the Second World War [André Mineau, "The Making of the Holocaust: Ideology and Ethics in the Systems", Rodopi 1999, ISBN 9042007052, page 117] , or even earlier, on Kristallnacht in 1938 [Joseph Freeman, "Job: The Story of a Holocaust Survivor", Greenwood Publishing Group, 1996, ISBN 0275955869] , or, according to the Jewish Virtual Library, when Hitler became Chancellor of Germany in 1933.

The Soviet government, for political reasons, tried to minimize the unique suffering of the Jews.Dov Levin, "The Litvaks: A Short History of the Jews in Lithuania", Berghahn Books, 2000, ISBN 9653080849, [http://books.google.com/books?id=p23svLo1fOMC&pg=PA240&dq=Lithuanian+collaborators&sig=Z0uAjeqLt1PqBF43ge8WKEbQwGg#PPA240,M1 Google Print, p.240-241] ] In Lithuania and throughout the Soviet Union, memorials did not mention Jews in particular; instead they were built to commemorate the suffering of "local inhabitants". People guilty of Nazi collaboration and crimes against Jews were not punished severely. Early in the war, some Lithuanian Jewish survivors fell victim to pogroms, some orchestrated by the Lithuanian nationalists.

Since Lithuania regained independence from the Soviet Union in 1990 (according to Lithuanians; others say 1991), the debate over Lithuanian participation in the Holocaust has been fraught with difficulty. Modern Lithuanian nationalists stress anti-Soviet resistance, but many "heroes" of Lithuanian resistance against Soviet occupation were also Nazi collaborators who had cooperated in the murder of Lithuanian Jewry. [Daniel J. Walkowitz, Lisa Maya Knauer, "Memory and the Impact of Political Transformation in Public Space", Duke University Press, 2004, ISBN 0822333643, [http://books.google.com/books?id=j36rRnvHXbgC&pg=PA188&dq=Lithuanian+collaborators&sig=58lM4kEPmlohrEWD1ePGaAXkp6o Google Print, p.188] ] Even so, the post-Soviet Lithuanian government has on a number of occasions stated a commitment to commemorating the Holocaust, combating anti-Semitism, and bringing Nazi-era war criminals to justice. The National Conference on Soviet Jewry (NCSJ) have said "Lithuania has made slow but significant progress in the prosecution of suspected Lithuanian collaborators in the Nazi genocide". Lithuania was the first of the newly independent post-Soviet states to legislate for the protection and marking of Holocaust-related sites. In 1995, president of Lithuania Algirdas Brazauskas speaking before the Isreali Knesset, offered a public apology to the Jewish people for the Lithuanian participation in the Holocaust. On 20 September 2001, to mark the 60th anniversary of the Holocaust in Lithuania, the Seimas (Lithuanian parliament) held a session during which Alfonsas Eidintas, the historian nominated as the Republic's next ambassador to Israel, delivered an address accounting for the annihilation of Lithuania's Jews.

There has been criticism that Lithuania is dragging its feet on the issue; in 2001 Dr. Efraim Zuroff, Director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, criticized the Lithuanian government for its unwillingness to prosecute Lithuanians involved in the Holocaust. [ [http://www.lithuanianjews.org.il/HTMLs/article_list4.aspx?C2014=14320&BSP=14308&BSS59=14308 Can Lithuania face its Holocaust past?] - Dr. Efraim Zuroff, Director of the Wiesenthal Center, Jerusalem, excerpts from lecture at the conference on "Litvaks in the World," August 28, 2001.] In 2002 the Simon Wiesenthal Center declared its dissatisfaction with the Lithuanian government’s efforts and launched a controversial "Operation Last Chance" offering monetary rewards for evidence that leads to the prosecution of war criminals; this campaign has encountered much resistance in Lithuania and the other former Soviet-bloc countries. More recently, the Simon Weisenthal Center which had initially ranked Lithuania high during on-going trials to bring Lithuanian war criminals to justice, noted, in its annual report, no progress whatsoever and the lack of any real punishment by Lithuanian justice organs for Holocaust perpetrators.

There has been limited debate on the place of the Holocaust in Lithuanian national memory; historically Lithuanians have denied their willing national participation in the Holocaust or labelled the Lithuanian participants in genocide as fringe extreme elements,Michael MacQueen, " [http://www.ushmm.org/research/center/publications/occasional/2005-07-03/paper.pdf Lithuanian Collaboration in the “Final Solution”: Motivations and Case Studies] ", United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, " [http://www.ushmm.org/research/center/publications/occasional/2005-07-03/paper.pdf Lithuania and the Jews: The Holocaust Chapter] ", Symposium Presentations, 2005, Washington DC] despite clear evidence that Lithuanians participated voluntarily in large numbers on personal and official levels. The memories of that time and the discussion of those events in Jewish and Lithuanian historiographies are quite different, although Lithuanian historiography in the past two decades has improved, compared to the Soviet historiography, with the works of scholars such as Alfonsas Eidintas, Valentinas Brandišauskas and Arūnas Bubnys, among others, being positively reviewed by the Western and Jewish historians.Saulius Sužiedėlis, " [http://www.lituanus.org/2001/01_4_04.htm The burden of 1941] ", Lituanus, Volume 47, No. 4 - Winter 2001] Alfred E. Senn, [http://www.lituanus.org/2001/01_4_05.htm REFLECTIONS ON THE HOLOCAUST IN LITHUANIA: A NEW BOOK BY ALFONSAS EIDINTAS] , Lituanus, Volume 47, No. 4 - Winter 2001] The issue remains controversial to this day. According to Lithuanian historians, the contentious issues involve the role of the Lithuanian Activist Front, the Lithuanian Provisional Government and participation of Lithuanian civilians and volunteers in the Holocaust. The Lithuanian President Valdas Adamkus convoked a special panel of international experts to investigate what were termed "the crimes of the Nazi and Soviet occupational regimes in Lithuania," a move that initially drew criticism because the title of the commission again equated the Holocaust with an alleged genocide against Lithuanians committed by the Soviets. Initial criticism evaporated when respected figures in Holocaust Studies such as Sir Martin Gilbert and Yitzhak Arad, former head of Yad Vashem, agreed to work with the Lithuanian presidential commission. In 2007 Lithuanian prosecutors began investigations of war crimes allegedly committed by Jewish anti-Nazi partisans in Lithuania and asked Israeli authorities to question Yitzhak Arad. Arad promptly withdrew from the Lithuanian presidential commission and told the Israeli press he would not return to the Baltic country. Since then, Lithuanian prosecutors have expanded their investigation to include other anti-Nazi Jewish partisans who survived the Lithuanian Holocaust through armed struggle. The investigation has drawn international criticism and global media attention. Speaking in an interview with BBC Radio 4 documentary "Lithuania: The Battle for Memory" by Tim Whewell on 22 July 2008, Efraim Zuroff noted Lithuania's total lack of will to prosecute Nazi collaborators but enthusiasm in accusing Holocaust survivors of crimes against Lithuanian civilians.

Another point of controversy with some in Lithuania and abroad is Lithuanian President Valdas Adamkus's service under Nazi command in late 1944 as a Lithuanian partisan, as outlined in his autobiography "Likimo vardas: Lietuva" ("Destiny's Name: Lithuania"). No fuller account of Adamkus's collaboration with the Nazis is known.


a Note_label|a|a|none While this article discusses the Holocaust on the Lithuanian territories, which primarily affected and resulted in the destruction of Lithuanian Jewry, tens of thousands of non-Lithuanian Jews also died on Lithuanian territories. This included primarily: 1) Polish Jews from Vilna and others who sought refuge in Lithuania escaping the German invasion of Poland of 1939 and 2) Jews from various Western countries shipped to extermination sites in Lithuania. [Katy Miller-Korpi, [http://depts.washington.edu/baltic/papers/holocaust.html The Holocaust in the Baltics] . Encyclopedia of Baltic History. University of Washington. Last accessed on 13 March 2008.]

b Note_label|b|b|none Some scholars have noted that the German Final Solution and the Holocaust began in Lithuania.
Dina Porat: "The Final Solution - the systematic overall physical extermination of Jewish communities one after the other - began in Lithuania.
Konrad Kweit: "Lithuanian Jews were among the first victims of the Holocaust [...] The Germans carried out the mass executions [...] signalling the beginning of the "Final Solution." See also, Konrad Kwiet, "The Onset of the Holocaust: The Massacres of Jews in Lithuania in June 1941." Annual lecture delivered as J. B. and Maurice Shapiro Senior Scholar-in-Residence at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum on 4 December 1995. Published under the same title but expanded in Power, Conscience and Opposition: Essays in German History in Honour of John A Moses, ed. Andrew Bonnell et al. (New York: Peter Lang, 1996), pp. 107-21

c Note_label|c|c|none Three major ghettos in Lithuania were established: Vilna ghetto (with a population of about 20,000), Kaunas Ghetto (17,500) and the Shavli Ghetto (5,000); there were also a number of smaller ghettos and labor camps.

d Note_label|d|d|none The propaganda line of Jewish Bolshevism was used intensively by Nazis in instigating antisemitic feelings among Lithuanians. It built upon the pre-invasion antisemitic propaganda of the anti-Soviet Lithuanian Activist Front which had seized upon the fact that more Jews than Lithuanians supported the Soviet regime. This had helped to create an entire mythos of Jewish culpability for the sufferings of Lithuania under the Soviet regime (and beyond). A LAF pamphlet read: "For the ideological maturation of the Lithuanian nation it is essential that anticommunist and anti-Jewish action be strengthened [...] It is very important that this opportunity be used to get rid of the Jews as well. We must create an atmosphere that is so stifling for the Jews that not a single Jew will think that he will have even the most minimal rights or possibility of life in the new Lithuania. Our goal is to drive out the Jews along with the Red Russians. [...] The hospitality extended to the Jews by Vytautas the Great is hereby revoked for all time because of their repeated betrayals of the Lithuanian nation to its oppressors." An extreme faction of the supporters of Augustinas Voldemaras, a group which also worked within the LAF, actually envisioned a racially exclusive "Aryan" Lithuanian state. With the start of German occupation, one of Kaunas' newspapers - "7 Laisve" (Towards Freedom), commenced a spirited antisemitic crusade, reinforcing the identity of the Jew with communism in popular consciousness: "Jewry and Bolshevism are one, parts of an indivisible entity."

ee also

*Chiune Sugihara
*Collaboration during World War II
*Lithuanian Territorial Defense Force (1944)


External links

*United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, " [http://www.ushmm.org/research/center/publications/occasional/2005-07-03/paper.pdf Lithuania and the Jews: The Holocaust Chapter] ", Symposium Presentations, 2005, Washington DC, includes::*"Foreword" by Paul A. Shapiro and Carl J. Rheins:*"Lithuanian Collaboration in the “Final Solution”: Motivations and Case Studies" by Michael MacQueen:*"Key Aspects of German Anti-Jewish Policy" by Jürgen Matthäus:*"Jewish Cultural Life in the Vilna Ghetto" by David G. Roskies
* [http://www.ushmm.org/wlc/article.php?lang=en&ModuleId=10005444 United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Holocaust Encyclopedia: LITHUANIA]
* [http://www.genocid.lt/centras/en/ The Genocide and Resistance Research Centre of Lithuania]
* [http://www.chgs.umn.edu/museum/memorials/lithPonar/index.html Memorial to Murdered Jews of Lithuania] (w/ photos of the memorial)
*Atamukas, Solomonas. (2001), ’ [http://www.lituanus.org/2001/01_4_03.htm The hard long road toward the truth: on the sixtieth anniversary of the holocaust in Lithuania.] ’ in Lithuanus/Lithuanian Quarterly Journal of Arts and Sciences, vol. 47, 4.

Further reading

*Arūnas Bubnys, "The Holocaust in Lithuania between 1941 and 1944", Genocide and Resistance Research Centre of Lithuania, 2005, ISSN 9986-757-66-5 [http://www.genocid.lt/Leidyba/anons20.htm abstract]
*Alfonsas Eidintas, "Jews, Lithuanians and the Holocaust", Versus Aureus, 2003, ISBN 995596
*Alfonsas Eidintas, "A “Jew-Communist” Stereotype in Lithuania, 1940-1941", Lithuanian Political Science Yearbook (01/2000), pp. 1-36, [http://www.ceeol.com/aspx/issuedetails.aspx?issueid=f93baf32-c7b1-4f70-ab53-18d60bdea652&articleId=8235896d-652e-40d3-93a4-d9776a23c67f]
*Harry Gordon, "The Shadow of Death: The Holocaust in Lithuania", University Press of Kentucky, 2000, ISBN 0813190088
*Rose Lerer-Cohen, Saul Issroff, "The Holocaust in Lithuania 1941-1945: A Book of Remembrance", Gefen Booksm, 2002, ISBN 965229280X
*Dov Levin, "Lithuanian Attitudes toward the Jewish Minority in the Aftermath of the Holocaust: The Lithuanian Press, 1991–1992", # Holocaust and Genocide Studies, Volume 7, Number 2, pp. 247-262, 1993, [http://hgs.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/abstract/7/2/247]
*Dov Levin, "On the Relations between the Baltic Peoples and their Jewish Neighbors before, during and after World War II", Holocaust and Genocide Studies, Volume 5, Number 1, pp. 53-6, 1990, [http://hgs.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/abstract/5/1/53]
*Josifas Levinsonas, Joseph Levinson, "The Shoah (Holocaust) in Lithuania", The Vilna Gaon Jewish State Museum, 2006, ISBN 5415019022
*Alvydas Nikžentaitis, Stefan Schreiner, Darius Staliūnas, "The Vanished World of Lithuanian Jews", Rodopi, 2004, ISBN 9042008504
*Alfred Erich Senn, "Lithuania 1940: Revolution from Above", Rodopi, 2007, ISBN 9042022256
*Vytautas Tininis, "„Kolaboravimo“ sąvoka Lietuvos istorijos kontekste" (Definition of Lithuanian colaborationists), [http://www.genocid.lt/Leidyba/9/vytautas.htm] , Lietuvos gyventojų genocido ir rezistencijos tyrimo centras, 2004-01-30

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