Lithuanian ruling party drafts bill exonerating nation from Holocaust crimes
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Lithuanian ruling party drafts bill exonerating nation from Holocaust crimes

Simon Wiesenthal Center official calls proposed legislation the ‘final stage of a long attempt to whitewash massive complicity by Lithuanians’ in Nazi murder of country’s Jews

Mourners attend a symbolic 'March of the Living' at the Paneriai memorial, in memory of Lithuanian Jews killed by Nazis during World War II, in Vilnius, Lithuania, April 26, 2017. (AP Photo/Mindaugas Kulbis)
Mourners attend a symbolic 'March of the Living' at the Paneriai memorial, in memory of Lithuanian Jews killed by Nazis during World War II, in Vilnius, Lithuania, April 26, 2017. (AP Photo/Mindaugas Kulbis)

JTA — A Lithuanian parliament committee is drafting legislation declaring that neither the Baltic nation nor its leaders participated in the Holocaust, a lawmaker working on the bill said.

Arūnas Gumuliauskas, chairman of the Freedom Fights and State Historical Memory Commission at the Seimas, made the statement at a conference last month, the news site 15min.lt reported on December 28.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Eastern Europe director, Efraim Zuroff, protested the planned legislation, calling it an “outrage” and the “final stage of a long attempt to whitewash massive complicity by Lithuanians” in the murder of more than 95 percent of about 250,000 Jews who had lived in Lithuania when the Nazis invaded in 1941.

The bill will be titled “The Lithuanian state, which was occupied in 1940-1990, did not participate in the Holocaust,” according to Gumuliauskas. He is a member of Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis’ Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union party.

“The Lithuanian state did not participate in the Holocaust because it was occupied, just as the Lithuanian nation could not participate in the Holocaust because it was enslaved,” Gumuliauskas was quoted as saying at the conference. “But individual representatives are obviously involved and it is up to the court to decide.”

The US Holocaust Memorial Museum has a different view of the Holocaust in Lithuania.

“The Lithuanians carried out violent riots against the Jews,” it writes. “In June and July 1941, detachments of German Einsatzgruppen, together with Lithuanian auxiliaries, began murdering the Jews of Lithuania.”

Zuroff said he hoped “common sense will prevail and the legislation is dropped.”

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