(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
The Jewish Agency for Israel’s Chairman of the Executive Isaac Herzog on Wednesday expressed his support for the efforts of Jewish leaders in Chicago and elsewhere who had protested the recently erected monument in the city honoring a Lithuanian World War II-era commander who collaborated with the Nazis.
Earlier in May, Lithuanian-Americans unveiled a monument in Chicago to Adolfas Ramanauskas-Vanagas, a Lithuanian war hero due to his leadership of Lithuania’s resistance to Soviet occupation. Yet according to the Simon Wiesenthal Center, Ramanauskas mentions in his memoirs that he led a gang of vigilantes which persecuted the Jewish community of Druskininkai, Lithuania. While 220,000 Jews lived in Lithuania before the Nazi invasion of the country in June 1941, that Jewish community dwindled to only 40,000 within months of the invasion.
Upon meeting on Wednesday with a group of Chicago’s JUF-the Jewish United Fund of Metropolitan Chicago (the city’s Jewish Federation) — Herzog underscored the “moral obligation” to expediently remove the monument to Ramanauskas.
“It is inconceivable that on the soil of the United States — the best friend of Israel and the Jewish people in the international community — there is a memorial to an aledged murderer who cooperated with the Nazis and was involved in the mass slaughter of Jews,” Herzog said. “I discussed it at length with the incoming president of the Federation, Lonnie Nasatir-himself a lawyer with record of fighting antisemites-whom i am confident will take further action to confront local authorities so that the monument will be removed as soon as possible.”