BESA Center Perspectives Paper No. 1,314, October 20, 2019
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Lithuanians generally prefer to approach their own history by honoring their fighters for resisting Soviet rule – and ignoring their active collaboration with the Nazis. The “victimization” approach largely precludes discussion about Lithuanian participation in Holocaust crimes and sparks chauvinistic sentiments. Recent threats to the Lithuanian Jewish community and signs of antisemitism highlight the problem. Lithuania accuses Russia of sowing domestic discord via fake news on this issue, but the problem is real and needs to be addressed.
Last year, Pope Francis visited Lithuania to mark the annual remembrance Sunday for the country’s centuries-old Jewish community. His schedule included a visit and prayers at the Museum of Occupation and Freedom Fighters in Vilnius. That location was the former SS and KGB headquarters – in other words, it was a prison and execution site. The pope honored the Lithuanian freedom fighters, but warned against historic revisionism and any rebirth of the antisemitism that fueled the Holocaust. He was right to do so. Lithuania has adopted a comfortable, reassuring vision of its own history, a tendency not rare in the countries of Eastern Europe. READ FULL PAPER