An organization in Tel Aviv that chronicles and records the history of Lithuanian Jews and their decimation in the Holocaust is likely to be sued by the Lithuanian government – over a scholarly study released over 13 years ago.
“It’s strange that for 13 years this study never bothered them, and that now, all of the sudden, the Lithuanian government is worried about the honor of its murderous countrymen,” says Tel Aviv Attorney Yosef Melamed sarcastically in an interview with Arutz Sheva.. “And while I wouldn’t necessarily choose to go to court to defend our accusations, I am more than prepared to do so.”
At issue is a study released over a decade ago by the organization Melamed directs, the Association of Lithuanian Jews in Israel. The study catalogs thousands of Lithuanian murderers of Jews – officials and ordinary citizens who did the “dirty work” for the Nazis, enthusiastically organizing and directing the destruction of Lithuanian Jewry, an effort, Melamed says grimly, that destroyed 96% of the country’s pre-war Jewish population.
They began to murder Jews months before the Nazis arrived, claiming that the Jews were disloyal for preferring the hated Russians occupiers to the Nazis, hardly surprising if you were a Jew.
Melamed sent the study, called “Lithuania: Crime and Punishment,” to the Lithuanian Justice Minister, who did nothing with the report. No one was brought to trial.
Until several months ago, that is, when Lithuania sought an investigation into the Association, with the intent of preparing a case against it for “defamation of character” against nine individuals named in the report who in recent years have been named Lithuanian “national heroes.”
One of those named, for example, is Juozas Lukša, who is celebrated in Lithuania as a fighter against Communism, escaping through the Iron Curtain to the West in 1947 and seeking to raise consciousness against the Soviet occupation of the country. In 1950 he secretly returned to Lithuania, and was killed by the Soviets in 1951.
While in Western Europe, Lukša wrote a book called Fighters for Freedom, depicting the suffering of the Lithuanians under the Soviet thumb. Less well known in the West, however, was Lukša’s role in persecuting and murdering Jews, the Association says. In 1941, for example, Lukša was an officer in the Lithuanian army and participated in a pogrom in the city of Kaunas, helping fellow murderer Viktoras Vitkauskas murder Rabbi Zalman Ossovski, beheading him and placing his head in a window to show off their accomplishment.