Did Lithuania support the Nazi Germany during WW2? | True Lithuania
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Did Lithuania support the Nazi Germany during WW2?

No. Lithuania never did fight World War 2 on the Axis side. Adolf Hitler has offered Lithuania to do that in 1939 and invade Poland together, which Lithuania has refused, despite the deep-rooted Lithuanian-Polish conflict over Vilnius.

Even before that, Nazism was regarded in Lithuania to be a dangerous foreign ideology. While there had been nearly no ethnically Lithuanian Nazis, Nazism was becoming increasingly popular among Lithuania's German minority in the 1930s, leading to a Lithuanian-government crackdown on the Nazi organizations in 1935. This was the first anti-Nazi trial in Europe after Hitler's rise. For that, Lithuania paid a heavy price: in addition to a German economic boycott, Hitler even had Lithuanian sportsmen banned from Berlin Olympics in 1936.

During World War 2, Lithuania has declared its neutrality. However, this neutrality was not honored by the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany, who proceeded to partition Central/Eastern Europe according to their own Ribbentrop-Molotov pact. In 1939, Nazi Germany annexed Klaipėda Region; in 1940, the Soviet Union annexed the rest of Lithuania. Many Lithuanians hoped a German-Soviet war could allow Lithuania to restore independence but these hopes were all in vain: in 1941, Nazi Germany simply occupied entire Lithuania. As Lithuanian key figures were not content with Nazi German occupation, Nazi Germany sent many of them into concentration camps.

Throughout 1941-1944, Lithuanians regarded Nazi Germany to be an enemy power that has occupied their country, and the despise for the Nazi German regime grew as the occupation went on and its true nature became apparent. Therefore, unlike even in Latvia and Estonia, Germans were unable to erect a local SS legion in Lithuania due to Lithuanian officers and soldiers fleeing en masse after they have learned the German plans for them. Lithuania also became the 2nd country in the world and 1st in Central/Eastern Europe by the number of righteous-among-nations people per capita (i.e. Yad-Vashem-recognized non-Jews who saved Jews from the Holocaust).

In 1944, as the Soviet-German front reached Lithuania once again, tens of thousands of Lithuanians once again attempted to win freedom by establishing their own guerilla armies to secure free Lithuania. Once again, this ended in failure as the Soviet Union defeated first the Germans (1945) and then (by the 1950s) the Lithuanian guerillas.

Weapons and symbolics confiscated from a German Nazi cell in Klaipėda after the 1935 Lithuanian crackdown on the local German Nazis

How did the myth that Lithuania supported Nazi Germany came into being?

The major source for this misconception is Soviet propaganda. In order to excuse their domination of the Eastern/Central Europe and the occupation of Lithuania, they sought to portray everyone who fought against them as Nazis ("fascists"), including all the Lithuanian pro-freedom activists. In the Soviet historiography, "fascist" was a catch-all term used for many non-communists, including pre-Soviet Lithuanian leaders, Lithuanian guerillas, Lithuanian emigre. Interestingly, even the entire post-war West Germany was called fascist, and the Berlin wall was officially known as "Anti-fascist wall" in the communist areas.

Furthermore, Soviets sought to present Eastern Front to have been the same as the Western Front where the "rightful side" (Allies) has defeated the "wrongful side" (Axis). The Eastern Front reality was extremely different, however.
*In Western Front, Axis was represented by a genocidal totalitarian regime (Nazi Germany) while the Allies were represented by democratic nations (Britain, France, the Netherlands, etc.) who fought for their own independence.
*In the Eastern Front, on the other hand, both the Axis and the Allies were represented by genocidal totalitarian regimes (Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, respectively), and these regimes both (in full cooperation until 1941) were invading and partitioning the independent countries in-between, among them Lithuania, Poland, Finland, and others. These nations were essentially a third force in the conflict and they tried as best as they could to stand against the overwhelming foreign forces. Obviously, any attempt to fight both powers at one time would have ended in quick defeat, therefore, some of them tried to save their own independence (and thus their own people from genocides) by making various low-scale agreements with one totalitarian regime or the other. Many of them "switched sides" during the war once their leaders came to believe that this would help lower casualties and increase the likelihood of post-war independence.

Lithuanians murdered by the Soviets in Rainiai massacre, one of the brutal mass murders in World War 2 Lithuania. Out of the at least 73 bodies, only 27 could be identified due to mutilations. Prior to death, the victims were tortured: their genitals severed and put into their mouths, eyes picked out, bones crushed, skin burned by hot water and acid, they suffered electrocution. The victims were recently arrested by the Soviets for such 'crimes' as participating in the Boy Scout movement or owning a Lithuanian flag.

The claims about "fascist" Lithuanians also often point to the real Lithuanian collaborators with the Nazi German regime and make a logical fallacy claiming that the fact that such collaborators existed somehow implies that Lithuania or the Lithuanian nation supported them. However, all these stories are entirely taken out of context and they invariably fail to mention that:
*In every Nazi-occupied land and, in fact, in every occupied land during any war there were some collaborators with the enemy forces.
*In the same fashion as there were Lithuanians who collaborated with Nazi Germany, there were also Lithuanians who collaborated with the Soviet Union (and that also happened in every Soviet-occupied land).
*Neither collaborators with Nazi Germany nor collaborators with the Soviets had any official or popular support from any Lithuanian institutions or organizations, which were nearly all banned by both occupational regimes.

By the same "logic" that says that "Lithuania supported Nazi Germany because there were Lithuanians who collaborated with the Nazi Germany" it would be equally possible to "prove" that any occupied nation has supported any occupying regime (and, in fact, such arguments are indeed regularly used in any pro-occupation propaganda anywhere in the world). It would even be equally possible to "prove" that countries like Sweden, USA, Australia, Germany supported the Islamic State - simply because their citizens were fighting for the Islamic State.

By the way, in order to artificially increase the number of Lithuanians who collaborated with the Nazis, the anti-Lithuanian propagandists and those who inadvertently cite them sometimes lump various Lithuanian freedom fighters with Nazi collaborators. One of the most popular targets for such smearing is the 1941 June mutineers. As the Soviet-German war began, the June mutineers deposed the Soviet Union occupational regime hoping that Nazi Germany could then be persuaded to recognize Lithuanian independence. Their plot failed - Nazi Germany has occupied Lithuania (just as the Soviet Union did before) and many June mutineers ended up in German concentration camps. The key argument in favor of June mutineers being Nazis is based on the fallacy of undistributed middle: "The June mutineers fought the Soviet Union. The Nazis fought the Soviet Union. This means the June mutineers must have been Nazis".

However, here we remind that in the Eastern Front, World War 2 was fought between three sides, not two. June mutineers, just like the Republic of Lithuania before them and Lithuanian guerillas after World War 2, represented that third side (independent Lithuania). Clearly, they had very different goals from the Nazi German goals. In fact, their goals of free Lithuania seemed dangerous enough to Nazi Germany to get them locked up.

A 'righteous-amog-nations' certificate issued by Yad Vashem museum in Jerusalem proves that Kazys Grinius, an interwar president of Lithuania, himself participated in saving Lithuania's Jews from the Holocaust. In comparison, no key political figures of interwar Lithuania murdered people in the Holocaust.

Another myth born in anti-Lithuanian propaganda is the claim that, supposedly, more Jews percentage-wise were killed in Holocaust in Lithuania than anywhere else and that, supposedly, this proves Lithuanians "collaborated more eagerly" with Nazi Germany than the other nations. Both claims are simply false. The Holocaust death rates were equally high in every country directly ruled by Nazi Germany during World War 2 that had large pre-WW2 Jewish populations (i.e. Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Germany itself, the Netherlands, Czechoslovakia, etc.). There are varying estimates for exact death rates in each country and the "ranking" of the countries. That is because the margin of error is big, making differences statistically insignificant. That's why the same propaganda claim that "nation X were the most avid Nazi collaborators" that is used against Lithuania is also used against many other countries of Eastern Europe. Usually, the countries that are at odds with Russia at the time are targetted (e.g. Ukraine ~2015). That's because these claims often originate in Russian media and are then republished in the West.

In reality, the only Axis-ruled countries where the majority of their large pre-WW2 Jewish communities did not perish in the Holocaust were the allies of Germany that retained at least some sovereignty (e.g. Italy, Bulgaria). That is because no other nation shared the Nazi German levels of antisemitism, and so if governments allied-to-Germany had any independence left, they typically refused to carry out the Holocaust or scaled it down as much as was possible. Lithuania, however, was directly occupied and had no autonomy left.

Why is the "Lithuania supported Nazi Germany" myth insulting to Lithuanians?

Firstly, these claims are wrong and they show the claimants' ignorance about the history of Central and Eastern Europe. Secondly, they purport that Lithuanians had no real desire for independence but instead wanted to fight for Nazi Germans who were actually their enemies throughout the period (at best, many Lithuanians may have considered them "2nd enemy after the Soviets", see the "Did the Soviet Union liberate Lithuania" myth). Thirdly and most importantly, such claims misattribute the World War 2 crimes in Lithuania on Lithuanians themselves, who (together with the neighboring nations) were actually among the biggest victims of the World War 2 era.

The facts speak for themselves: 32% of the area's ethnic Lithuanians were murdered, expelled or forced to flee (almost a million people). The entire region of Lithuania Minor was ethnically cleansed with some 130 000 Lithuanians killed there alone (and this was just a minority of all the murdered Lithuanians). Most of those who were killed or persecuted supported independent Lithuania, free from the totalitarian invaders; many fought for it actively, many others performed clandestine actions such as disseminating anti-occupational press or hiding Jews from the Holocaust.

Yet there are foreign commentators who forget all this, focusing instead on comparatively few collaborators (who were considered traitors or criminals by most of their peers) and claiming these collaborators somehow represented all Lithuania(ns). To add more hurt, they mix up these collaborators with genuine freedom fighters. Who wouldn't feel insulted?

Article written by Augustinas Žemaitis

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  1. So then why were so many Jews killed by Lithuanians – and I do not mean Germans – such that per capita Lithuania beat all other nations in the world, including Germany?

    • This statement is another regular piece of anti-Lithuanian propaganda that is baseless.

      Actually, there is no Holocaust statistics *by killer ethnicity/nationality* at all, nor such statistics would be possible to calculate.

      On the other hand, there is an authoritative source on “Righteous among nations” which is Yad Vashem where each individual is named, and it is this source that shows Lithuanians as having had the most righteous-among-nations per capita in Eastern Europe and 2nd number in the world.

      By the way, the often-cited claim that more Jews percentage-wise were killed in the Baltic States than anywhere else is a baseless claim as well. In reality, the percentages of Jewish victims of the Holocaust were rather uniform across most of the directly-Nazi-German-ruled lands, i.e. the Baltic States, Poland, the Netherlands, Germany itself, Czechoslovakia.

      The countries where the percentages of killed Jews were significantly smaller were mostly the ones that were independent Axis powers (Italy, Vichy France, Bulgaria), and thus not under direct Nazi German rule. The “Final solution” (i.e. mass murder of Europe’s Jews) was a German invention and Nazi German regime was the sole reason it was put through. Hundreds/thousands of collaborators in every occupied territory did indeed help Nazi Germany enforce the “Final solution” but whenever the countries had any decision power left they avoided enforcing it to some extent.

      Sadly, Lithuania was directly occupied by Nazi Germany and had no autonomy, just like numerous other European countries where the Holocaust was the worst.

      Ironically, this may mean that had Lithuania actually accepted the Hitler’s suggestion to join Axis in 1939 (by attacking Poland) and thus stayed independent, most of Lithuania’s Jews would have been saved. Of course, we will never know for sure but the Holocaust was far more limited in independent or semi-independent Axis countries compared to the directly-Nazi-German-occupied lands.

  2. Thank you for your facts and analysis, Augustinas.

  3. Lithuania betrayed us all! I’m a Holocaust survivor and I know this as a fact. I’ve been alive for 81 years and I remember everything and one can prove me otherwise!

    • If you are 81 now, you were 2 to 6 years old during the Holocaust and so likely received the belief about a betrayal by Lithuania from others. What particular stories made you believe it?

    • Don’t let Augustinas gaslight you. Your memories are real, as are the stories of your parent’s and family.

  4. This is the best explanation I have seen. I know I often tend to take the easiest path to understanding and that path is by generalizing, which leads straight to error by definition. Not enough has been written about this very painful time in history. And I’m sure controversy erupts at any attempt to set the facts out, which unfortunately encourages silence. You have my gratitude for so succinctly describing the nature of conflict, in Lithuania as well as elsewhere. Thank you again. Very helpful.

    • Thank you very much!

    • Please know that this is all bullshit. The stories of countless refugees, both Jewish and ethnic Lithuanian, refute the veracity of this revisionist version.

      • My Catholic Lithuanian refugee parents were never able to forget how their Jewish Lithuanian neighbors met the Soviet troops with flowers.

        This was in 1940, not 1944! This was before Nazi Germany! Soviet troops came to occupy free Lithuania and to murder Lithuanians and to take their property and the Jewish citizens celebrated this!

        My uncle’s family was exiled to Siberia with three small kids. Two of them never came back. Their exile papers were signed by a Jewish collaborator!

        So, stop your bullshit about what „Lithuanian refugees remember“! I bet you never even talked to a single one of them!

  5. I was looking something like this to explain what actually happened in WW2 Lithuania. Although I still Am curious about one thing. Were Lithuanians collaborate with SS willingly or was there force involved. For what reason did they accept to do it? I know that during XX and previous century antisemitism was common.

    • You probably meant to ask „why did some Lithuanians collaborate with the Nazi German occupational regime?“ (not with the SS, as there were very few Lithuanians in the SS as Lithuanians successfully thwarted plans to create a Lithuanian SS division).

      For general collaboration, the reasons varied among different collaborators but could be grouped into four groups.

      The reasons 1-2 were also reasons why some Lithuanians collaborated with the Soviet Union occupational regime, while the reasons 3-4 are more unique to the particular situation of Nazi German occupation.

      1.Fear. If one resisted or tried to impede Nazi German occupation (and the Nazi Germany found it out), he/she would be arrested, deported to a concentration camp, or killed outright. In order to avoid becoming targets of Nazi Germany, Lithuanians had to conform to Nazi German occupational law: not to hide victims of Nazi Germany, answer questions if asked, etc.

      However, for ordinary people, this did not mean that they would be required to „either kill or be killed“: in order to save oneself, it usually was enough to simply „be passive“. Those who failed to respect the Nazi German law, however, or helped the “enemies of Nazi Germany”, were dealt with harshly (e.g. entire villages could have been burned with people inside them for actions of just a few villagers).

      There were exceptions though when „being passive“ was not enough. Some people (usually those already in trouble) were demanded active participation in order to save themselves. For example, some Lithuanian Jews were able to prolong their lives only by helping Nazi Germany to cover the traces of their other crimes or preparing conditions for their new crimes (digging holes for victims, etc.) – should they have refused, they would likely have been killed immediately.

      Also, Lithuanians could be conscripted into military or forced labor by Nazi Germany, and refusing or trying to run away would have also put one‘s life in danger.

      2.Personal benefit. On the opposite side of the spectrum were opportunists. Collaboration would allow one to get otherwise unattainable positions and privileges. If Germany would have won the war (as seemed likely in 1941-1942), such people would have had great careers. In fact, that is just what happened for those who collaborated with the Soviet occupation in 1940-1941 and after 1944 – they became the most important people in Soviet Lithuania later after the Soviet Union won the war.

      In fact, some Lithuanians even managed to successfully collaborate both Nazi Germany in 1941-1944 and then the Soviet Union since ~1944 when it became clear Soviets would win the war. Such people would typically end up avoiding trials, as a collaboration with the Soviets meant they would not be punished for crimes done while collaborating with Nazi Germany (only after Lithuanian independence in 1990 their trials could take place if they were still alive by then and the evidence had survived, which allowed many to avoid punishment).

      3.Ethnicity / ideology. A significant number of collaborators who served in German forces were ethnic Germans, especially from Klaipėda Region. In fact, ethnic Germans were the only group that promoted Nazi ideas in Lithuania even before its occupation. They saw Germany as more advanced culturally and essentially their own country, even if they were citizens of Lithuania before 1939. So, to them, it was not collaboration, they saw it as finally being able to serve their homeland Germany after years of „being forced to live“ under Lithuanian rule. Nazism as an idea gained popularity among Lithuania’s German minority (at the time some 4% of Lithuania’s population) already in the 1930s and all the truly ideological Nazis were generally ethnic Germans.

      4.Revenge. The first Soviet occupation of 1940-1941 was of brutality not witnessed for centuries in Lithuania, launching the Soviet Genocide of Lithuanians. Merely a few weeks before the Nazi German occupation, the Soviets have expelled 2% of the entire Lithuanian population in cattle carriages to Siberia – most of them never returned and died there; the Soviets have also tortured and murdered 13400 Lithuanian political prisoners a few days before Nazi occupation. So, in June 1941, perhaps the majority of Lithuanians had just lost their relatives or friends. This „atmosphere of a recent horrible crime“ presented a major propaganda opportunity for Nazi Germany. Initially, after occupying Lithuania, Nazi Germany publically mostly targeted those responsible for the Soviet Genocide and presented themselves as “civilized liberators” who were essentially trying and executing Soviet criminals and collaborators, „helping Lithuanians back on their feet“. Obviously, such actions garnered support from grieving people. Gradually, however, the tone of Nazi propaganda changed and turned against Lithuania’s Jews.

      Basically, there was just a single (though important) fact that permitted Nazi Germany to plausibly turn their propaganda this way. That fact was that many Jewish citizens of Lithuania collaborated with the Soviet Union occupation of Lithuania and the Soviet Genocide in 1940-1941 (by various modern estimates from 30% to 80% of the 1940-1941 collaborators with the Soviet regime in 1940-1941 were Jews, despite Jews representing just 7% of the total Lithuanian citizen population). Nazi Germany used this fact to promote persecuting all Jews, essentially saying “Jew=Soviet collaborator” (this was not true: while Jews were statistically significantly more likely to have collaborated with the Soviets than most other ethnic communities of Lithuania, still, only a minority of Lithuania’s Jews did collaborate with the Soviets; in fact, Jewish children couldn’t have collaborated even in theory but they were still targetted by Nazi Germany). Most Lithuanians did not buy this propaganda, already disillusioned that Nazi Germans as just another totalitarian occupational regime. But some of those who collaborated certainly did buy this propaganda, especially if they themselves or their families had been wronged by Jews who collaborated with the Soviet regime in 1940-1941. Just like with conspiracy theories today, often, people do not think logically but rather think emotionally, believe that their own situation must be universal – so, if a person had seen real Jewish Soviet collaborators in 1940-1941 (and seen far more of them than he saw ethnically Lithuanian Soviet collaborators), and then in ~1942 Nazi Germany would constantly tell him/her that every Jew was like that, accentuating the images of the crimes done by Jewish Soviet collaborators, he/she was far more likely to believe the propaganda.

      As for anti-Semitism, its dynamics were very different in Lithuania than in Germany or some other countries. In Germany, anti-Semitism was deeply rooted and growing in the early 20th century, helping Nazism to rise there. In contrast, in Lithuania, there was comparatively little anti-Semitism ~1920s-1930s – certainly not to the levels of Nazism or even to the levels of many other European countries. In general, the 1918 independence of Lithuania also meant the end of state-sponsored or elite-sponsored anti-Semitism that mostly stemmed from Russia, which ruled Lithuania until 1915 (so, anti-Semitism was actually on a major decline in Lithuania compared to times ~1900 as it was regarded to be a part of the Russian occupational legacy). Unlike in Germany and some other countries, any persecution of Jews was unimaginable in Lithuania of 1918-1939 and, besides some ethnic Germans in the Klaipėda region (who were seen as traitors), there were no Nazis in Lithuania. However, anti-Semitism did indeed grew quickly after many Jews collaborated with the Soviets in 1940-1941 and after Germans have turned their propaganda machine to amplify this and say that Soviet Union is actually not Russian but rather Russian/Jewish, and Jews are thus responsible for what happened to Lithuanians in 1940-1941. Even if only a small minority of Lithuanians believed it, a small minority armed by an occupational power is dangerous – e.g. if there are just 100 people that believed the propaganda enough to actually kill, given weapons by the Nazis and “free hand” and prisoners at their „disposal“, each of those 100 could easily kill 100 victims on average, massacring e.g. 10000 in total. Still, of course, as explained above, revenge was not the only factor.

      So, there were four very different reasons for collaboration: the first group sought to save themselves, the second were the ones who truly “sold their soul” to the enemy, the third one actually simply did not consider themselves Lithuanians despite having citizenship, while the fourth one was blinded by propaganda and/or psychologically maimed by the Soviet Genocide experience.

      Furthermore, there was also one type of attitude that was not truly a collaboration with Nazi Germany but is sometimes presented as such by Russian historiography and press and articles based on it elsewhere. That is, some people, especially politicians, sought opportunities to restore independent Lithuania by using the Nazi-Soviet war. Initially, they worked to root out the Soviets and declared independence, expecting independence recognition by Germany in return; when that failed and Nazi Germany did simply occupy Lithuania, these people turned against Nazi Germany, and typically ended up in Nazi German concentration camps themselves. Russians like to present them as collaborators with Nazi Germany because they fought against the Soviets at the same time as Germany did at one point (to Soviet/Russian historiography, any group that fought Soviet Union / Russia in WW2 were fascists). However, they did not participate in the Nazi Germany’s murders and by the time this became the official policy of the occupational regime they were typically themselves in the concentration camps. These are thoroughly explained in the article above.

      Read more about the ethnic relations in Lithuania throughout history here: Ethnic relations in Lithuania

  6. I wiill make it short. The Lithunian Pepole activly killed Jews. Lithuanian citizen killed my entire family from bith sides in Kaunas. I understand why thwy try to rewrite the histoy. Nut we weill never forget and never forgive.

    • The fact that there were Lithuanian citizens who collaborated with the Nazi German and the Soviet Union occupations, including in the genocides, is not denied anywhere and well explained above. Indeed, instances of collaboration have happened during every occupation anywhere in the world.

      The claims that are challenged as myths instead are:
      *The claim that in Lithuania such “collaboration with the enemy” was somehow more prevalent than in most other similarly occupied lands during World War 2, or, indeed, in occupied lands in general.
      *The claim that such collaborators were authorized / condoned by the Lithuanian government, the Lithuanian elite, or the majority of Lithuanians (rather than considered a treason / crime as it was in reality).

    • No. The opposite is true. Quit rewriting history.

  7. You can not compare the public cruelty in Lithouania and also Latvia against Jews to other European countries. For instance here in The Netherlands there were no Dutch people who helped in mass-shooting, burning or mass-burrying of Jews on Dutch soil! Yes a small part of the population helped actively with the deportations, and so on, but in general the Nazi’s kept their plans for the extermination of the Jews (their lethal fate in the camps in Germany, Poland and so on) as quiet as possible so not to cause an uprising among the Dutch people. Though the last did happened in February 1941 (Februaristaking) when the Dutch people protested against the transportation of their fellow citizens the Jews. A protest which the Nazi’s supressed with a lot of violence and many arrests. So please do not make it look better in Lithouania where within less than half a year almost 200.000 Jews were murdered in a very cruel way and with the help of a part of the population. Neither do we make a war-criminal who collaborated in this massacre into a national hero (General Storm, Jonas Noreika). Only with acknowledging that a part of the population in Europe collaborated with the Nazi’s, and in certain countries also collaborated in the immense cruelty, and being able to know who exactly these people were, something which upto today is not even in The Netherlands totally opren to the public to protect the offspring of certain families (very annoying!) and what caused their attitude, this mental disease called antisemitism can be better understood and adressed. It will never bring back the thriving Jewish communities which once flourished all through Europe, but it can lay the foundation for new ones in a safer surrounding.

    • Firstly, some facts:

      1.There were Nazi collaborators in the Netherlands, just as in any occupied country. There was even a volunteer SS legion in the Netherlands, something that Lithuanians managed to preclude in Lithuania.
      2.You are right that many in the Netherlands have saved Jews during the Holocaust. The same happened in Lithuania too, however. According to Yed Vashem-recognized righteous among nations per capita, the Netherlands is the 1st in the world and Lithuania is the 2nd, both countries surpassing every other country.
      3. Nobody who killed Jews during the Holocaust is considered a hero in Lithuania, just like they aren‘t in the Netherlands. How this misconception came into being is explained in the article above.
      4. In no country (neither Netherlands nor Lithuania) did Nazis declare Holocaust “openly” as a goal to the local population, in every place the plans were kept mostly secret.
      5. Today Lithuanians (just like people in the Netherlands and most of Europe I assume) are greatly interested in Jewish culture with some 60% of minority-related books published in Lithuania being about Jews, there being lots of Jewish tours, Jewish-history related events, many newly opened museums, plaques and monuments built at Holocaust sites, etc. I am very happy that Lithuanians discover the important and interesting history and culture of the Jewish community of Lithuania and I indeed agree with you that ethnic hatred should not exist.

      All-in-all, the real situations in Lithuania, Netherlands and most other Nazi-German-occupied countries were and are rather similar. Please note that similar articles to those that blame Lithuania for its collaborators or the supposed „unique“ refusal to admit it are also being written about the Netherands: https://www.jpost.com/opinion/op-ed-contributors/the-netherlands-a-country-which-refuses-to-admit-its-guilt-toward-the-jews-351234 .

      I can hear you saying that such an article is extremely one-sided, though. To some extent, you would be right. Being Dutch yourself, knowing the local history, you also know that most of the Dutch people were strongly against the occupation, and the comparatively few traitors that existed should not be blown out of proportion.

      However, the fact is, it was the same in nearly all the Nazi-German-occupied occupied countries (only in some ethnically German lands, such as e.g. Danzig, there were widespread genuine pro-Nazi feelings).

      And in each of these countries, the local people who know the history from more than a few articles in foreign press (written by journalists who never really researched their country) also have similar feelings.

      This is the same in Lithuania, Latvia, Poland, Ukraine, the Netherlands and everywehre. In each of the countries the majority of people wanted their countries to be free and hated occupation – yet, in each, some people chose to be collaborators/traitors (the reasons are explained in the comment above). And, in each of these Nazi-German-occupied countries, the majority of local Jews were murdered in the Holocaust.

      One key difference is that Lithuania, unlike the Netherlands (but like Ukraine, Latvia, Estonia, etc.), has been a target of the Russian and Soviet propaganda that had its own reasons for trying to promote the idea that these countries were pro-Nazi (there are numerous reasons for this, as explained in this article).

      Therefore, there are many biased articles and smear campaigns against these countries and various famous people (often long dead) of Central/Eastern Europe that are typically originally published in Russia and then republished by foreign press (often with the original source getting obscured over the time). Typically, these smear campaigns claim that either the population majority, very significant minority, most of its elite, or some particular famous people were Nazis, killed Jews (or, alternatively, were pro-Soviet), etc.

      It is not so that Lithuanians (or their neighbors) would ever consider anybody who murdered civilians a hero. Rather, it is so that these Russia/Soviet-originating propaganda campaigns typically have selected real heroes (i.e. ones who fought for independence of their own country, the lives of its people, against genocides and dictatorships, and never murdered any civilians) and made them targets of various lies, half-truths and misinformations. Some of these, unfortunately, have been in some cases picked up by foreigners, becoming a kind of supposed „public knowledge“ which people (and media) just repeat but rarely question anymore, let alone trying to find the primary sources (in the same fashion as various anti-Semitic canards were widely seen as truths and not scrutinized by many in pre-WW2 Europe).

      There are too many such anti-Lithuanian (also anti-Latvian, anti-Ukrainian, anti-Polish) canards or smear campaigns to list or to analyze in a single comment. Many books may be written about how these stories were invented and spread. Obviously, these stories are far too numerous and extensive for me alone to thoroughly know every single one of them (in fact, what is known in the West is merely a tip of an iceberg, as most such stories circulate only in Russia, for now at least). All the stories I have analyzed so far had no grain of truth in them, however.

      I am by no means saying that it is entirely impossible that there was at least a single person who, for example, secretly participated in the Holocaust but this participation was never proven and that person is now wrongfully seen in a positive light. However, the number of such people would be extremely small, as there was a massive neutral scrutiny of key Eastern/Central European figures on many levels (ranging from local investigations to investigations by USA if they emigrated, to investigations by Israel which then sought to capture and try Nazi criminals like Eichmann, etc.). Only people who passed this scrutiny are seen in a positive light.

      Obviously, new information could change statuses of such people into villains – but a new disinformation campaign (or an old disinformation campaign that has recently spread beyond the borders of Russia) is not the same as „new information“.

      To help you better imagine the situation: imagine, the Netherlands would have an enemy state that would initiate similar smear campaigns against the Dutch people and WW2-era heroes, political leaders of the Netherlands by claiming that “many/most of them were in fact Nazis”. Clearly, Dutch people would defend the historical truth from such lies. Imagine, however, numerous foreigners would not believe the truth but rather would believe that propaganda and accuse the Dutch people of “whitewashing the reality”, etc., simply because they stick to the truth that could be proven by documents. How would that make you (or most Dutch people) feel? That is exactly how many Lithuanians, Latvians, Poles do feel about similar accusations levied against their nations.

  8. I agree with the majority of the arguments that are well put down. Given my support of your text, I disagree with the active making of some of the few nazi collaborators into heroes. Are you to deny that Jonas Noreika is a war criminal (who have signed the decree to strip Šiauliai jews of their assets and belongings? That’s a historic fact, and also believed to have lead a group of jew-murderers)? Even if he later decided to betray the germans and was put in a concentration camp it mustn’t make him innocent. Same goes to Škirpa who was an antisemite and wasn’t hiding it, even if he didn’t participate in any activity he advocated the necessity of such activities.
    My main criticism is that your text should have included a paragraph denouncing these people and their counterparts by name! You should have also voiced against the fact that streets are named after them and that they have plaques to remember them. They were crooks and you should name them as such. With that added to it, i stand strongly by your article!

    • Discussing particular persons is beyond the scope of this article, however, their general story is explained in the section about “June mutineers” of the article above.

      Basically, June mutineers sought to restore independent Lithuania using the opportunity of the Nazi-Soviet war. As Nazi Germany was winning at the time, it essentially had a choice of whether to occupy, annex Lithuania or to let it exist as an independent country.

      June mutineers understood that the only way Germany could be theoretically persuaded to let Lithuania be independent again is if that Lithuania would be friendly to Axis powers. In the light of such persuasion, some of them made various token statements (what you probably mean by “Škirpa’s antisemitism”).

      They were probably inspired by the end-of-WW1 events, when Lithuania similarly managed to restore independence from Germany by first making statements about a pro-German state (crowning a German king as Mindaugas II), and then quickly using up the opportunity (German defeat on the Western front) to break such ties, establishing a truly independent Lithuania in 1918.

      In any case, in 1941, such “token actions” by June mutineers were not enough to Nazi Germany, which chose to occupy Lithuania and arrest many June mutineers, as independent Lithuania (even if formally pro-Axis) was seen as unwelcome development to them. They understood that June mutineers were not Nazis, and would have dropped the allegiance whenever possible. After losing any hope of receiving any recognition for Lithuania, many June mutineers themselves also “showed their real face” to the Nazis, with any pro-Axis token statements of June 1941 replaced by anti-Nazi activities in a few weeks/months time (that way they hastened their own arrests). This was not a “betrayal of the Nazis” (unlike you put it) as the June mutineers never were pro-Nazi themselves, they were always loyal to Lithuania (in the same way as the Lithuanian leaders of 1917, who never truly wanted to crown a German king – they just had been looking for a plausible way to go in the direction of more freedom, which necessited concessions to the local great power).

      On the one hand, Nazi Germany’s refusal to tolerate any independence for Lithuania reinforces the point of the article that at no point in WW2 history there was any collaboration between official Lithuanian institutions and Nazi German persecutions.

      On the other hand, an independent Lithuania (as sought by June mutineers) would have been better for all the communities, Jews possibly most of all. As evident in researching Holocaust numbers, Holocaust was perpetrated at its full scale only in countries directly occupied by Nazi Germany (where some 75-90% of the local Jews were murdered, e.g. Poland, Baltic States, etc.). In all the independent Axis powers, on the other hand, Holocaust either took place on a much lower scale or didn’t take place at all (even though there were often still antisemtic policies that were essentially required by Nazi Germany as a form of allegiance in order to ensure continuing independence of these countries).

      This is why the activities of June mutineers are often seen in good light in Lithuania – they are typically seen as a failed desperate last-ditch effort to avoid the direct Nazi German occupation and thus diminish the related casualties and losses (though not completely avoid them – it was simply impossible at the time of Nazi German domination over Europe).

      All in all, this relates to what is explained in the article above about the Eastern Front of WW2 being a complex multi-sided affair where there was no easy possible choices or good vs. evil fight of two approximately similar powers.

      What would you have done yourself in 1941 Lithuania, as an ethnic Lithuanian?

      1.Would you have tried to fight the advancing Nazis, knowing that this only helps the Soviet Union (which had exiled or murdered 2% of all the ethnic Lithuanians in that single last week before the Nazi invasion alone – and, should the Nazis be stopped, the Soviet Genocide would continue, likely targeting you and your family as well, or possibly destroying your entire nation)?

      2.Would you have “laid low” and waited how it would all play out, knowing that this would almost certainly mean a Nazi German occupation and related persecutions, as well as a likely destruction of Lithuanian cities in the Soviet-Nazi battles?

      3.Would you have first fought the Soviets and then – once they came – immediately fought the Nazi Germans, understanding that it is completely hopeless and would have only led to your own quick death as well as that of your entire family or even your entire village (due to collective punishments perpetrated by both Nazi Germany and Soviet Union)? (This cannot be compared to risks faced by e.g. French Resistance, which also faced tremendous risks but they had real hopes. In Western Europe, they still had independent democratic powers fighting on nearby (the UK) and thus hope. In Central Europe, it was either one genocidal totalitarian regime or the other with no hope anywhere nearby).

      4.Would you have joined the ranks of Nazi Germany as they were winning the war and become their servant, soiling your own hands in blood (directly or indirectly) but receiving personal safety, some authority, permission to take revenge and/or money in return? Hopefully you wouldn’t have done it but that is what the *real* collaborators did.

      5.Would you have tried to somehow take power in your own hands, hastening the Soviet departure (avoiding destructive German/Soviet battles and bombardments on Lithuanian soil, as well as shortening the Soviet Genocide), and trying to negotiate with the winning Nazi Germany, hoping to get the best possible outcome for Lithuania – understanding well the fact that even a “successful” outcome would still be far worse than that peaceful multicultural Lithuania of 1918-1939 (and you would be one of the “craftsmen” of that new, worse, Lithuania)?

      These were the choices Lithuanians had to make in the summer of 1941, in the Central/Eastern Europe that was fought over by two genocidal regimes. June mutineers chose the 5th one of these.

      Was it the right choice probably also depends on your view on the ethical Trolley dilemma but, looking at examples elsewhere in the Central Europe, it is the most likely by far that had they succeeded, up to hundreds of thousands of lives would have been saved.

      And, by reading the 5 choices above, you could probably see that none of them is actually good – does that means that there could have been no heroes at all at the time? For many Lithuanians, those who risked their lives and livelihoods for the “best still-possible outcome”, even if not a truly “great outcome”, are heroes, and those were June mutineers.

      All in all, as it turned out, even these choices were meaningless, as whatever would have you (or the entire small Lithuanian nation) chosen, the end would have probably been the same: direct Nazi German occupation and Holocaust in 1941, Soviet reoccupation and Genocide in 1944.

      NOTE 1. It should be noted though, additionally, that at the time, while Soviet Genocide and crimes were well known and massive by 1941 (e.g. Holodomor was already complete, as were the 1941 mass exiles in the Baltics), Nazi German Genocide was not as well known or understood yet (for example, the vast majority of the Holocaust deaths and worst persecutions happened after summer of 1941, and there was also a delay of the common knowledge even of the events that had already took place by then). This changed over the time, obviously, but only after the summer of 1941. As such, many choices had to be made with the “card deck of history” less open. That is why whatever choice you would think you would make, you would do it with far more knowledge than those who did their choices in 1941.

      NOTE 2. Unlike in the Western Europe (e.g. France) where there were always independent powers fighting for freedom and democracy left (e.g. the UK), this was not the case in the Central/Eastern Europe, where, even if freedom or democracy would be one’s ideals, the only real choice was between Nazi German or Soviet domination – and the only real hope was ensuring as best as possible position for your own nation within the Central/Eastern Europe dominated by one of these powers. Countries thus had to “juggle” the powers. A good example is democratic Finland, which fought on the Nazi German side while Nazi Germany was winning and then on the Soviet Union side when the Soviet Union was winning, that way being the region’s only state to ensure real independence after WW2 – but even that was at the cost of having its leadership arrested, losing lots of lands, having its people deported from there by the Soviets, and forced to abide to Finlandization and self-censorship after WW2, limiting its own democracy and freedom of speech this way. And this was *the* success story of WW2-era Central/Eastern Europe! Just think that among the choices some of the region’s Jews faced in 1942-1943, for example, were a choice of “Helping Nazis achieve their goals and hide their crimes, that way hopefully prolonging your own life (by working in the Jewish ghetto institutions, Sonderkomandos, etc.)” or the choice to “Join the Soviet Partisans who were fighting Nazis but at the same time mass-murdering civilians [with you in the ranks, perhaps, Nazi occupation would be shorter and more of your own people would survive (but the Soviet occupation would return quicker and more of the other peoples would die)]”.

      As such, it is wrong to see Central/Eastern Europe though a Western European lens and to consider people like Škirpa to be on par with people like Petain / Vichy France. Those who decided to do any pro-Axis statements or actions in Western Europe essentially did so while the war was still raging in their country and region (i.e. it was them who decided to “withdraw” from the war, thus helping the enemy). In case of Central/Eastern Europe, there was no such hope; by 1941, all the neutral countries were already extinguished (in 1939-1940) and there was no hope to restore anything without a tacit agreement of the totalitarian great powers. There was no UK or USA nearby – it was just the Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union. The history just proved the hopelessness of the situation later (as all the Central/Eastern Europe fell under the Soviet yoke with the only option being between the direct annexation, as faced by the Baltic States, or vassal-like nominal independence, as happened to Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary and others – which was still a better post-WW2 outcome, as there was no Soviet Genocide in these territories after WW2, while it raged on in the directly-annexed Baltic States).

      • Long argument that resembles previous statements and doesn’t quite answer my question. Why are you scared of saying that Jonas Noreika helped murder people, regardless of the bigger picture that you try so hard to stress about keeping the state independence. Inside the big picture he committed atrocities. You even refused to mention his name in your reply, which says a lot. What should i have done out of your 5 options? The best case would have been a 6th option:
        Have you heard about the true hero called Kažys Grinius? A man who is not mentioned anywhere anymore. Except for speeches of Valdas Adamkus who i respect immensely. President Grinius understood the German might and knew straight away what their intentions are. He retired from politics the moment they entered, he issued a letter to the german occupation pleading them not to hurt Lithuanian jews as they are part of the nation, and he even hid a jew in his house for some periods of the war. So yes, he is the hero who deserves all the plaques in the world. A man who was living at the time (so you would stop saying it’s easier looking back at those issues), and did his best for humanity and the Lithuanian nation as a whole. He did his public bit with the letter and his personal bit with the saving of this jew.

        Another option would be doing what Adamkus himself has done, publishing an anti-nazi pamphlet. A very brave action.

        And at the worst case? The worst option should have been doing nothing “lay low” as you say!
        Today the Lithuanian nation is wrongly accused as murderers i agree, but they wouldn’t have in the first place if not for those who collaborated

        • As for Noreika, my answer dated 2021 12 30, here: http://www.truelithuania.com/are-lithuanians-racists-fascists-or-nazis-9880 sums it quite well. Namely, a lot of claims in such cases have been “spinned” or entirely invented by anti-Lithuanian propaganda originating in Russia. Such propaganda is aimed at all the countries of the region, as trying to label them as fascist / Nazi is meant to reduce Western support for them and even give a modern-day “casus belli” (as evident in the current invasion of Ukraine where the goal supposedly is “denazification”). Unfortunately, in the cases of some particular people, these claims totally overshadowed the more serious primary-sources-based research in the English language sources, leading to many believing false or dubious claims as indisputable truth. When trying to influence outsiders into believing some country is pro-Nazi (and thus unworthy of Western support), it is useful for Russia to attack the historical figures who are already respected there as Nazis and then claim that “the country is pro-Nazi as it supports historical Nazis”. This tactic Russia successfully used against numerous countries, at least before the current Ukraine invasion when it seems more and more of the world understands the ploy that all the “Neo-Nazis” simply means “Russia’s enemies” (hopefully various claims about Lithuanian figures will also be evaluated more critically now, starting from the entirety of primary sources and not discarding lots of Lithuanian-language research already done – unfortunately, for now, that was simply not the case, and the “implanted” “pieces of propaganda” of fake or out of the context data about some people and events simply predominated in the Western media to a point where no journalists even questioned their reality or significance, as “everybody knows it” – whereas there is often lots of data available in Lithuanian sources, including primary sources, simply pointing to the other direction, even in the direction that “they saved Jews”, for example – and *that* is the reason why that respect for these people is there in Lithuania). Also, there is typically a “progression of targets”: e.g. removal of Noreika from any kind of “pantheon” would not change anything, as, in the Russian media and propaganda historiography, nearly everybody of importance in WW2 Lithuania and pre-WW2 Lithuania is attacked as Nazi/fascist, and gradually these attacks and biased “research” are transferred from Russian collective consciousness to Western one through some kind of a series of citations and re-citations where people forget the original source.

          That said, it is true that this Russian propaganda may put some Lithuanians in an overly defensive stance, whereby they automatically regard any accusations against any Lithuanians as the kind of accusations by Russia that today’s Ukraine is a Nazi country that needs “de-Nazification” (i.e. as an extremely dangerous total BS). However, I doubt it is so in Noreika’s case. In any case, hopefully, once we will have real research published in English that will go beyond prejudices or “everybody knows it, so I just have to prove it” kind of “research”. Hopefully, somebody who researched Noreika’s life in particular in Lithuanian (including through primary sources, etc.) will step in to comment here and write some of his/her evaluations (and reasons for them, and the reasons why he/she thinks that allegations are not correct / anti-Lithuanian propaganda) in English language.

          Grinius’s actions surely were commendable (and they are mentioned in this very article, see the image with Yed Vashem’s “righteous among nations” certificate issued for him). However, as it was said above, we evaluate everything from today’s standpoint where we know that all the efforts to have a bigger impact in stopping the atrocities and saving the citizens of Lithuania have failed. Knowing this, clearly, the best options were possibly as you describe – as they were essentially the “maximum” one was able to achieve. But in 1941 it seemed differently to many people: while the Grinius’s 1941 summer letter was probably seen as hopeless (although morally right) even by Grinius himself (would Nazis truly drop their plans because of a letter?), June mutineers actions seemed as having some logical chance of success (Germany had what to gain from having Lithuania unoccupied-but-not-anti-Axis – saving more troops for the frontline and helping bolster other June-mutiny-like movements in other Soviet-ruled non-Russian areas they invaded after Lithuania, thus weakening the Soviets).

  9. ok, the link you sent was generalised and didn’t refer specifically to him, which in my opinion is not fair. Different people – different circumstances.

    Then you proceed to a point which claims that “removal of Noreika from any kind of “pantheon” would not change anything, as, in the Russian media and propaganda historiography, nearly everybody of importance in WW2 Lithuania and pre-WW2 Lithuania is attacked as Nazi/fascist”.

    This point is not valid in my case because I’m not Russian and i despise that regime. And yet i believe specific people like Noreika were criminals, and his presence in at least one massacre is witnessed, I wouldn’t say a bad word about someone like Žemaitis, Smetona or Ramunauskas except for maybe not doing anything for the Jews. But then i think, would I? So they are not to be blamed.

    Just an example that you can select some heroes who are worthy of being haled, needless to mention uncontroversial heroes like Basanavičius, Maironis, Kudirka etc…

    As for the June Uprising example, as a Lithuanian abroad (if it wasn’t clear I’m on the good side 😉 )… I can’t figure out how the Pastisans like the forrest brothers did bot fight the Nazi occupation as well. Is one occupation cool and the other isn’t? Wasn’t it all about independence? Why only a fraction actually continued to fight the nazis, and example would be Ramunauskas who became a teacher from all things during Nazi occupation.

    Writing this in celebration of Restoration Day abroad, wishing the Ukrainians could join us soon in celebration… happy holiday

    • I have not claimed anywhere that you are Russian or in favor of the Russian regime. I believe you are not.

      The Russian propaganda operates on two levels though. One level is aimed at „internal consumption“, i.e. Russians and Russian-speakers of neighboring countries. There, the lies are blatant – should these be simply translated into English, they would be just laughed at by nearly everybody.

      Then, another level is aimed at foreigners who are not Russian, especially at the Westerners (directly through channels such as „Sputnik“, „RT“, Russian-language Israeli media, and indrectly through hopefully getting recited from there and incorporated into mainstream Western media articles). On this level, the goal is simply to progressively establish doubt in the countries that surround Russia so, in case some of these countries are attacked, the West would be less likely to support them, or the support would be more tame.

      A key cornerstone in this second level of propaganda is the claims that any non-pro-Russian country in Russia‘s vicinity is „Nazi/fascist“ (while Muslim non-pro-Russian nations around the Russians are „terrorist“).

      Smetona, by the way, is named „fascist“ as well in the traditional Russian historiography – although this did not seep into the Western-aimed propaganda yet. Ramanauskas is also named a Nazi – this seeped into the Western-aimed propaganda enough for a successful lobbying effort against a Ramanauskas monument in New Britain, Connecticut where he was born. Of these three, clearly, Noreika is the one where targetting was the most successful.

      But should Lithuania(ns) agree to recognize the Russian-promoted view of Noreika, the pressure would definitely not stop there – the targets would change to new Lithuanian heroes, new „facts“ about them would be „uncovered“ (i.e. manufactored or taken out of context and then promoted through circular media citations). This has already happened in the past.

      In the same way as Ukraine‘s giving up of Crimea to Russia without a fight in 2014 did not „stop Russia“ as many Westerners hoped, who had even been praising Ukraine at the time for „not giving in to Russian provokations to fight war“. It merely emboldened Russia to strike further.

      And while e.g. cultural heroes might, perhaps, not be targetted by Russia anytime soon, the political heroes definitely matter. If Russians manage to make the world believe that „many“ or „most“ of those who fought for Lithuanian independence were „Nazis/fascists“, or at least „many leaders of the fight were“, clearly, that would tarnish the idea of Lithuanian independence itself, which is the goal of Russia.

      In fact, it is not truly needed to make the majority of Westerners *believe* that these countries are fascist or Nazi. Sufficient doubt („Some say they are fascist, some say they are not fascist, the region is far away, I don‘t know the truth…“) is enough for the goal of remvoing concerted Western support for such countries. If they (e.g. Western politicians, influencers) would see some target as truly a victim, they would speak out. If, however, they would have doubts about the innocence of the target, they would likely not speak out, fearing of supporting some „controversial thing“, „getting cancelled“ – and that „mass silence“ of the West is precisely what Russia needs and seeks.

      Prior to 2022, that „second level“ of Russian propaganda has been especially successful, with the West remaining divided over support for the countries attacked by Russia (the ideas that e.g. Mikheil Saakashvili was a „fascist dictator“ of Georgia were widely distributed even in the Western press around the 2008 war, likely influencing the Western decisions to give a free hand to Russia, for example).

      That seemingly changed in 2022 though as the usual „Nazi/Fascist“ label looked ridiculously misplaced when attached by Putin (a leader of a non-democratic country that proceeded to kill civilians on ethnic basis) on Ukraine (a democratic country that had elected a Russian native speaker Jew as its president). Hopefully the Westerners will now more criticlaly analyze previous claims that found their way into the „native“ Western discourse as well.

      (You may find it strange why the reply about WW2 mentions the modern day situation so much. However, it is the modern day situation that gave rise to and support to these myths on the one hand. It is the modern day situation why these myths seem to be so dangerous to people of the Central European region on the other hand. As long as such situation continues, any neutral research will be difficult, as it will be “swayed” by moneyed propaganda machines by the one side, and disbelieved as being swayed by such machines by the other side. Only when these issues will finally be given to history [in the same way as e.g. Napoleonic Wars are given to history and no longer used to promote either French Imperialism or anti-French feelings] hopefully will real research become the most popular one here)

    • Regarding the Lithuanian relations and opinions vis-a-vis different occupations (“I can’t figure out how the Pastisans like the forrest brothers did bot fight the Nazi occupation as well”), it is thoroughly epxlained in these two articles of this website:
      *Ethnic relations in Lithuania during World War 2 – http://www.truelithuania.com/ethnic-relations-in-world-war-2-lithuania-1939-1945-10671
      *Was Soviet occupation better or worse than Nazi Germany? – http://www.truelithuania.com/did-soviet-union-liberate-lithuania-and-was-it-better-than-nazi-germany-9881

      The key note would be that different regimes were more dangerous to different ethnic/religious groups living within Lithuania, and thus different groups directed their „stongest effort“ against one of the regimes (which one depended on which regime persecuted that group more), as many believed any fight against the „other regime“ would have empowered the „worse regime“ (thus, non-violent struggle was the choice). It was so especially after the independence began looking increasingly impossible.

      Additional note would be that there was no armed resistance against the First Soviet occupation either (until the short June mutiny), as, just like with Germans in 1941, most Lithuanians initially did not expect the persecutions to reach genocide levels (in case of the First Soviet occupation, this became clear only in June 1941 when 2% of Lithuanian people were expelled in a single week and it was then clear that these actions will continue if Soviets stay in power, thus there was no „retreat“ or hope „to wait everything out“).

      In 1944, when the Soviets came back, there were no illusions anymore. Furthermore, there were lots of weapons after World War 2, rendering the armed resistance easier. Before 1944, there were no „Forest Brothers“ at all, including during the First Soviet occupation (1940-1941).

  10. Wow. Totally self-serving, revisionist hogwash.

    • Absolutely, trying to deny the guilt of their forefathers in the massacres – which is documented as so widespread that the Germans didn’t need to carry the guns, so willing were the Lithuanian non-Jewish nationalists to kill their neighbours.

  11. This article fails to mention how Jews who collaborated with the Soviets butchered the entire Polish-Lithuanian village of Koniuchy.

    It fails to mention the horrible Rainiai massacre led by Nachman Dushanski who then avoided justice by hiding in Israel.

    And there were many Jewish Soviet collaborator murderers like him.

    Israel refused to extradite or try these criminals because they killed non-Jews so it didn’t matter to them.

    Those who point fingers at the others in the comments need to look at the mirror and their own family histories first.

    • The scope of this article is to provide answers to the general questions (wherever Lithuania fought on the side of Nazi Germany). It aims to be short and yet complete enough for an outsider who wants to know the answer (and answers to various related questions) but does not have time to read books.

      The questions about particular personalities, battles, massacres of World War 2 era are far beyond this scope. If I mention those events, I‘d need to mention many other events as well, and the article would soon be book-lenght. However, somewhat more extensive story about history of ethnic relations in Lithuania is presented here: http://www.truelithuania.com/topics/history-and-politics-of-lithuania/ethnic-relations .

  12. Agree with Jeremy full stop!

  13. my grandmother who is 82 now has told me stoires of lithuanians killing their neighbours to save themselves. this is all well known by everyone. the lithuanian poeple collaborated with hesitation and this should not be looked past. Augustinas is a master at manipulation. he sways away from direct questioning and generalises his answers to avoid his own contradiction. He has not cited a single source across the whole text it seems too. The insane high percentage of jewish deaths in lithuania is justified by Augustinas by saying that this occured across alot of german states. he fails to recognise the name of Jonas Noreika and the well known atrocities. i am lithuanian born living abroad but these nationalistic beliefs of lithuania being full of heroes is not true. Those that were wrose than the devil himself must be brought to life. As mentioned before my grandmother who lived through the war, even at a young age, she knows what really happened in our cities and even at her age she has the ability to take a step back and disown the nationalistic views and see this holocoust for what it truly is. Every country has done horrible things, the only way to move past is to accept them and learn and not deny, gaslight and manipulate others into believing what we did was right.

    • Sadly, you are claiming I wrote things that I never wrote…

      The article does not deny there were ethnic Lithuanians who collaborated with the Nazi Germany – it directly aknowledges it.

      Never in my right mind would I justify genocide. The fact that the killings and collaboration happened in similar rates all over the directly-German-occupied lands does not justifies the killings anyhow, obviously. It was horrible in every of those places, including Lithuania.

      You write “Every country has done horrible things”, and it is mostly true over the course of history, although in this particular World War 2 genocide context a better quote would be “People of every ethnic group did horrible things”. While only some countries, such as Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union, actually had their leaderships ordering genocide, there were people from other countries / nations too who enlisted to help the cause of those “some countries”.

      Anyways, the fact that “People of every ethnic group did horrible things” (by collaborating), is also described in the article.

      The general style of “True Lihuania” webiste is such that sources are not cited in the article itself in order not to clog it. However, the sources for the particular data may be asked in the comments and I reply to that. It is unclear what information of the article you doubt as all information here is well known. As you said “nationalistic beliefs of lithuania being full of heroes is not true”, maybe you doubt the claim that Lithuania was second-in-the-world in terms of Yad-Vashem-recognized righteous-among-nations per capita. Well, here is the source checked by fact checkers (that includes sources):
      https://www.delfi.lt/news/melo-detektorius/tiesa/lietuvoje-didziausia-zydu-gelbetoju-koncentracija-rytu-europoje.d?id=80658821

      If you don’t believe this source as it is in Lithuanian, you may also do the maths yourself from the official Yad Vashem data. These are Yad Vashem numbers of the righteous-among-nations:
      https://www.yadvashem.org/righteous/statistics.html

      The numbers of 1939 populations are also easy to find online (a Wikipedia list with sources is here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_population_in_1939 )

      The goal of this article is to disprove these particular myths and that is all:
      *The myth that Lithuania fought on the side of Axis as a country.
      *The myth that in Lithuania “collaboration with the enemy” was somehow more prevalent than in most other similarly occupied lands during World War 2, or, indeed, in occupied lands in general.
      *The myth that such collaborators were authorized / condoned by the Lithuanian government, the Lithuanian elite, or the majority of Lithuanians (rather than considered a treason / crime as it was in reality).
      The article definitely does not try to disprove that there were collaborators in Lithuania, or that the Holocaust was horrible, I don’t know which part of the article made it seem so to you.

      By claiming that I „sway away from direct questioning“ you probably mean my avoidance to discuss particular personalities, battles, massacres, etc. However, I stick to the scope of this article which is about several particular „general“ questions. Clearly, one could write a book about each of the personalities, battles, massacres somebody mentions in the comments (and, on many of these issues, books are indeed written, often from various viewpoints). However, these stories do not influence the answers to the questions in this article.

      „True Lithuania“ aims to be exactly that – an introduction to Lithuania and the key „general“ questions raised, and not a place for long biographies of Lithuania‘s heroes and villains. Somebody else may discuss that in the comments but this is beyond the scope of what I aim to explain.


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