Ashkenazi, Lithuania FM slammed for not addressing ‘Holocaust distortion’

“This is like saying to Ku Klux Klan that they improve race relations in the US.”

Simon Wiesenthal Center Director Efraim Zuroff attends a protest against the annual procession commemorating the Latvian Waffen-SS (Schutzstaffel) unit, also known as the Legionnaires, in Riga March 16, 2014. (REUTERS/Ints Kalnins) (photo credit: REUTERS/INTS KALNINS)
Simon Wiesenthal Center Director Efraim Zuroff attends a protest against the annual procession commemorating the Latvian Waffen-SS (Schutzstaffel) unit, also known as the Legionnaires, in Riga March 16, 2014. (REUTERS/Ints Kalnins)
(photo credit: REUTERS/INTS KALNINS)
The Simon Wiesenthal Center criticized Lithuania for its distortion of the Holocaust narrative, including its failure to come to terms with the high number of Nazi collaborators in the country who participated in the genocide of Lithuanian Jews, and its glorification of anti-Soviet fighters who also committed atrocities against the Jews.
Reacting to an op-ed published in The Jerusalem Post last week by Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis and Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi – in which the two ministers lauded the shared history of Lithuania and the Jewish people and the flourishing diplomatic and economic ties between the two countries – Dr. Efraim Zuroff, director of the Wiesenthal Center’s Israel office, strongly condemned a recent display of amity between Israel and Lithuania, despite what he described as the latter’s attempts to minimize its history of Nazi collaboration in the Holocaust.
Zuroff noted a monument in the city of Ukmergė to Juozas Krikštaponis, a colonel in a Lithuanian battalion who was responsible for murdering thousands of Jews, as well as a plaque at the Library of Academy of Science in Vilnius commemorating Jonas Noreika, a district chief who oversaw the murder of thousands of Jews between 1941 and 1943.

Although the plaque was placed without authorization, it has yet to be removed.
In an op-ed for the Post, Zuroff says that Lithuania has become “a leader of the post-Communist Eastern European initiatives to distort the narrative of the Shoah,” and has “brazenly promoted the canard of equivalency between Nazi and Communist crimes.”
Zuroff said that Israel does indeed enjoy excellent relations with Vilnius, but said that it was based on Israel’s “failure to condemn Lithuania’s false narrative of the Shoah.”
He noted in particular Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit to Lithuania in 2018, when he praised Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis for taking “great steps to commemorate the victims of the Holocaust.”
Said Zuroff, “This is like saying to the Ku Klux Klan that they improve race relations in the US.”