Holocaust dispute: reopening Lithuania's wounds

A heated debate about the culture of remembrance has reignited in Lithuania after Valdas Rakutis, a conservative MP and military historian, argued in an op-ed published on Holocaust Remembrance Day that the Jews themselves were partly to blame for the Shoah. He pointed out among other things that there had been Holocaust perpetrators among the Jews themselves in the ghettos. His subsequent attempts at appeasement failed to prevent a wave of indignation.

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Lietuvos rytas (LT) /

Unfortunately a very high-ranking debutant

This affair will do tremendous damage to Lithuania's image, says Lietuvos rytas:

“One thing our politicians don't lack is a talent for shooting the state and themselves in the foot. The debutants - including the conservative politician Valdas Rakutis who had only recently been elected to parliament for the first time - are particularly good at this. ... After a few days of making excuses that he was misunderstood, he resigned. ... But it's very doubtful that the tensions will disappear. Rakutis isn't just anyone. He is a professor of military history who is highly respected by right-wing voters, former vice-rector of the military academy, advisor to the commander in chief of the armed forces, employee of the military's strategic communications department, and one of the most popular experts in the information war with Russia.”

Delfi (LT) /

Traumas cannot heal like this

The state-run Genocide and Resistance Research Centre has also come under fire again in the debate. Its work has been politicised for years, journalist Arkadijus Vinokuras complains in Delfi:

“It is a fact that not only the Research Centre's management violated the constitution, but also the parties and MPs who supported this power-abusing management and even sacrificed objective research for it. The national discourse on the culture of remembrance has long been shaped by the far right. The protests of the Genocide Research Centre's own staff against it open up a festering wound. They confirm that politicisation and ideologisation are not only paralysing the work of the researchers but also preventing the traumas of the older generation from healing, as well as the way young people deal with the deeds of their parents and grandparents.”