Reburial of Nazi Collaborator Infuriates Jewish Community
Jewish groups have condemned the Lithuanian government for financing the reburial of ex-prime minister and alleged Nazi collaborator, Juozas Ambrazevicius Brazaitis, who led the Baltic state in 1941, the BBC reported.
The Lithuanian government has decided to pay for the leader’s remains to be repatriated and buried in a four-day funeral event, sparking outrage from the Jewish community.
"Official institutions should not support this ceremony, as it discredits Lithuania in the eyes of the world," said Simonas Alperavicius, the leader of Lithuania's Jewish community.
"The Jews suffered from the policy of the provisional government which in fact supported the Nazis," he added.
Lithuania's center-right government, however, is defending its decision to allocate 30,000 litas ($11,000) for the burial.
"To condemn Lithuania for paying tribute to Brazaitis, who, by the way, was also actively persecuted by the Nazis, is rather easy," said an adviser to Lithuanian Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius.
He noted that a 1975 investigation by US Immigration found no evidence of Brazaitis being involved in anti-Semitic or pro-Nazi activities.
The official also suggested the funeral would be "yet another reminder of the Holocaust tragedy in Lithuania" and "an opportunity of further reconciliation."
Brazaitis aimed at restoring Lithuanian sovereignty after Nazi Germany drove out Soviet troops in 1941, ending their year-long occupation.
A wave of anti-Semitic pogroms occurred during his administration, and Brazaitis signed an order to set up a concentration camp and ghetto for the city’s Jewish population.
Between 1941 and 1944, up to 95% of Lithuania's Jewish community were brutally murdered at the hands of the Nazis and local collaborators.