A man walks past a sign at a commemoration place during the March of the Living to honor Holocaust victims in Paneriai near Vilnius, Lithuania.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
A Lithuanian anti-Soviet partisan who was killed in 1965 and raised up as a national hero following the end of communism has been stripped of a government medal due to involvement in the Holocaust.
However, that move may be only a drop in the ocean, according to Nazi-hunter Efraim Zuroff.
President Dalia Grybauskaite stripped Pranas Koncius (code name Adomas) of the Order of the Cross of Vytis “in response to an appeal by the Genocide and Resistance Research Center of Lithuania,” the Lithuania Tribune reported.
“We think that what the president did now should have been done 15 years ago,” the center’s director Terese Birute Burauskaite was quoted as saying.
“An award was conferred on a person who had not deserved it.”
The Genocide and Resistance Center has been a subject of controversy is the past, with Zuroff in January accusing its output of serving as “a good example of Holocaust distortion designed to downplay the role of Lithuanians in the mass murder of Jews and emphasize the questionable behavior of the Jewish police who were operating under coercion in very difficult circumstances.”
The center, he asserted, has played a “very active role in rewriting the accepted and accurate narrative of World War II, to the detriment of historical truth.”
Speaking to The Jerusalem Post on Thursday, Zuroff said he was “very pleased” that the center had pushed the president to revoke Koncius’s award, “but having said that he is one of several people who are in the same situation, among them people who have been prominently honored in Lithuania and have streets named for them or other institutions named for them.”
Among those are Jonas Noreika (1910-1947), also known as General Vetra, who was involved in the murder of Jews in Telsiai (Telz), Shauliai (Shavel) and Plunge (Plungyan) and whose name is inscribed “in stone on the wall of the Genocide Museum [relating to the 50-year Soviet occupation of Lithuania] on the most important avenue in Vilnius,” among other places.
Kazys Skirpa (1895-1979), one of the founders of the Lithuanian Activist Front, which incited Lithuanians to murder Jews, also has numerous streets named after him, Zuroff continued.
“We urge the genocide center to continue to investigate these cases with the hope that individuals who participated in the mass murder of Jews or who were political leaders who incited against Jews or supported the implementation of the final solution will not continue to be considered heroes of Lithuania,” he said.
“There are other cases that are far more prominent in which the Genocide Center has not chosen to recommend the cancellation of honors. We hope that this is an initial step, because as far as i know this is the first time they have done something like this. We hope that this is a harbinger that will lead to additional steps against the glorification of individuals who participated in the mass murder of Lithuanian Jewry.”