“There was no shortage of Holocaust perpetrators among the Jews themselves, especially in the ghetto self-government structures,” said Lithuanian lawmaker Valdas Rakutis.
By Yakir Benzion, United With Israel
America’s ambassador to Lithuania condemned the comments of a parliament member who tried to blame the mass murder during the Holocaust that wiped out 95% of Lithuanian Jewry on the Jews themselves.
“It is shocking that on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, of all days, a member of [the Lithuanian parliament] Seimas should espouse distortions regarding Holocaust collaborators in Lithuania and shamefully seek to accuse Jews of being the perpetrators,” Ambassador Robert Gilchrist said in a statement on the embassy’s twitter account.
“Today is a day to focus on remembering the past accurately so that Lithuania can understand its history truthfully,” Gichrist said.
Lithuanian lawmaker Valdas Rakutis, chairman of the parliamentary commission on historical memory, told a shocked audience on International Holocaust Remembrance Day that Jews and Communists helped the Nazis and their Lithuanian collaborators in the slaughter of up to 195,000 of the country’s 210,000 Jews.
“There was no shortage of Holocaust perpetrators among the Jews themselves, especially in the ghetto self-government structures,” Rakutis said “We need to name these people out loud and try not to have people like them again.”
Rakutis’ comments were also condemned by the European Jewish Commission (EJC). “This is a disgraceful statement. Holocaust distortion is dangerous and invites new forms of anti-Semitism to take hold,” the EJC said on its Facebook page.
Rakutis also said that two wartime Nazi collaborators, Kazys Škirpa and Jonas Noreika, were not to blame for the fact that more than 95% of Lithuanian Jewry was murdered, mostly by locals and often by followers of the two leaders, the EJC said in a statement from its headquarters in Brussels.
The American Jewish Committee (AJC) of Central Europe demanded that Rakutis apologize for his comments.
“For the head of Lithuanian parliament committee on historical memory to blame Jews for the Holocaust and exculpate local collaborators who bear co-responsibility for killing 1000s of Jews in WW2 is nothing short of shocking,” the AJC tweeted. “Valdas Rakutis has to apologize.”
The anti-Semitic comments were also heard in the U.S. on Capitol Hill, where Senator Jacky Rosen of Nevada tweeted, “I applaud Ambassador Robert Gilchrist for forcefully denouncing this Holocaust distortion, and fully support State Department efforts to confront anti-Semitism and promote accurate Holocaust education.”
Nazi-hunter Efraim Zuroff, director of Eastern European affairs at the Simon Wiesenthal Center, said in a statement: “Rakutis has clearly demonstrated that he is totally unsuited to head the Seimas committee on national memory, unless lying about Lithuanian history is the main requirement for the post.”
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