On August 30, Superintendent Tamar Bat Sharon and another Israel Police investigator reported to the office of Joseph Melamed. They came as emissaries of the Lithuanian government, which is accusing Melamed of slandering nine Lithuanians who were executed by the Soviet government for collaborating with the Nazis. In their homeland they are considered national heroes.
Attorney Melamed, 86, a survivor of the Kovno Ghetto and a partisan who fought in the forests, is chairman of the Association of Lithuanian Jews in Israel. In 1999, he sent the Lithuanian prosecutor general a document entitled “Lithuania: Crime and Punishment,” which contains a list of thousands of Lithuanians who collaborated with the Nazis and executed Jews during World War II. The list is based on testimony taken from survivors and eyewitnesses. Melamed demanded that the prosecutor general investigate their crimes.
Lithuania didn’t lift a finger. Its government waited for 12 years and has now issued an order to investigate Melamed, of all people.
One of the nine whose honor the Lithuanian government wants to uphold is Juazas Luks’a, an officer in the Lithuanian army, who in 1941 used his sword to saw off the head of Rabbi Zalman Osovsky, and then put it on public display.
Many Lithuanians gladly collaborated with the Nazis and welcomed them as liberators. In 1941, even before the “liberation,” Lithuanians began to massacre their Jewish neighbors. Most Lithuanian Jews, about 200,000, were exterminated in the Holocaust. Many of the murderers were Lithuanians. They had no need of Nazi encouragement.