The appointment of a new head of Lithuania’s state-sponsored Lithuanian Genocide and Resistance Research Center is drawing controversy.
The Center's previous president, Adas Jakubauskas, was fired at the beginning of April under a cloud of accusations. The Lithuanian parliament recently held a vote on a new leader for the Center.
According to the Algemeiner, the new head of the Center, Dr. Arūnas Bubnys, who was previously the head of the research department, has promised to repair its "recently damaged prestige." However, experts worry that the appointment won't do enough to change the Center's direction.
Grant Gochin, a descendant of Lithuanian Holocaust survivors, told the Algemeiner that he worried the appointment of Bubnys will do little to set the record straight about Lithuania's wartime record.
“The Lithuanian government, public prosecutor and courts have acted in total collusion to rewrite the history of the Holocaust in Lithuania,” said Gochin.
During the three-year period in which Lithuania was occupied by the Nazis, over 95 percent of Lithuania's 200,000 Jews were murdered.
In 2019, the Internal Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) released a statement underlining their grave concern about the Centre and its goal to “justify the wartime actions taken by Jonas Noreika in relation to the Jews of that country."
Jonas Noreika was an anti-Soviet partisan and wartime Nazi collaborator.
"The text issued by the Center on 27 March, 2019, is the most recent of a series of attempts to rehabilitate the reputation of Noreika, a man, documentary sources indicate, with a key role in the ghettoization and expropriation of property of Jews in Siauliai district in 1941," said the IHRA.
They added, “As others have pointed out, the Center’s statement contains a number of paradoxes, including claims that Lithuania at once resisted the Nazis but saw in the Third Reich an ally against the Soviet Union. It also notes Noreika’s role in the ghettoization of the Jews of Siauiai but suggests that this is not indicative of complicity in the Holocaust. It makes the largely unprovable claim that there were fewer collaborators in Lithuania than in other nations occupied by Nazi Germany. More troubling, the Center’s document strongly suggests that Noreika was an active rescuer of Jews by noting his association with meritorious individual rescuers while being unable to provide evidence of his direct role in any of their efforts."