A number of Jewish and Lithuanian dignitaries gathered on Sunday in the northwestern Lithuanian town of Plunge for the dedication of a memorial wall for the more than 2,200 Jews from the town who were murdered by the Nazis in 1941.The monument, built in the nearby village of Kausenai from the bricks of the ruined Plunge synagogue, was vandalized last week and was badly chipped and scratched, but it was decided to go ahead with the ceremony anyway and for the damage to be left as it was.
Lithuanian Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs and former ambassador to Israel Asta Skaisgiryte-Liauskiene was in attendance as was Jakob Bunka, the only remaining Jewish resident of Plunge. Abel Levitt, an Israeli of Lithuanian origin who initiated the construction of the memorial, was also at the dedication service along with a number of people from the Jewish community of Vilnius.Dr. Efraim Zuroff, the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Israel director, said that while he was happy that the dedication had taken place, the vandalism is a sign of deep-seated resentment in Lithuania at being reminded of Lithuanian complicity in the murder of Jews during the Holocaust.The memorial for the Ponary massacres near Vilnius was also desecrated last week, with swastikas and offensive slogans daubed on the monuments. One of them bore the words “Hitler was right” in Russian, while the central memorial was spray painted with a picture of a penis, a phrase about oral sex and the words “128 million,” referring to the sum of money (in Lithuanian litas, $52 million) approved by the Lithuanian government in June for the compensation of Jewish property lost during the Holocaust.Approximately 100,000 people, including 70,000 Jews, were murdered in the village of Paneriai between 1941 and 1944.