Lithuania Admits Its Citizens Murdered Jews During the Holocaust
JNS.org – The government of Lithuania has officially accepted responsibility for the mass murder of Jews carried out by Lithuanian citizens during the Holocaust, according to a document obtained by Israel Hayom.
The document states that 95% of the Jews in Lithuania at the time of the Holocaust were killed, and calls the deaths “a great tragedy for the Lithuanian state and society.”
“It is regrettable that Lithuanian civilians were personally involved in the mass killings organized by the Nazis,” the document reads.
The document was written and disseminated ahead of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s historic visit to Lithuania last week, the first by an Israeli prime minister, and in response to criticism by Jewish organizations such as the Simon Wiesenthal Center that Lithuania sweeps the murder of Jews by its citizens under the rug.
Dr. Efraim Zuroff, head of the Israeli office of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, said that “Lithuania never imprisoned the murderers of Jews who took part in the revolt against the Soviet Union.”
Israeli Ambassador to Lithuania Amir Maimon, however, has said that the current government was working to commemorate the Holocaust and taking steps in the right direction.
On Friday, Netanyahu and his wife Sara participated in a memorial ceremony for the 70,000 Jews of Vilnius who perished during the Holocaust. Lithuanian Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius, and Fania Kukliansky, the chairwoman of the Jewish community in Lithuania, were all in attendance.
Speaking at the event, Netanyahu said, “An unpardonable crime was committed here; 70,000 Jews were murdered in cold blood by the Nazis and their collaborators … all together, 200,000 Jews were murdered here and in other places in Lithuania.”
“Standing here today we remember all those who perished and all that was destroyed. … We also salute the heroism of those Lithuanians who, unlike collaborators, risked their own lives … and … saved many Jews. We will always honor their memory,” Netanyahu said.
Ariel Kahana is the diplomatic correspondent for Makor Rishon.