Illiterate Lithuanians in sober mind and hard memory so diligently killed Jews, that they were brought to Lithuania for extermination from other countries. Schoolchildren also volunteered to take part in the killings, and the Church indifferently observed the Holocaust — even the slayers were absolved. For the sake of the purity of the race and the Jewish teeth, about 200 000 Jews were killed in Lithuania.
Because of the book on the genocide of Jews in Lithuania, relatives and friends turned away from the author
These conclusions were reached by Rūta Vanaguayta, who wrote the book “Mūsiškiai” (“Ours”). An important part of the book is “Journey with the enemy,” in which Vanaguite with the famous Nazi hunter Ephraim Zuroff embarks on a journey to places where Jews were killed and communicates with the surviving eyewitnesses of those events.
“I know that Lithuania did not wait for this book. That's why I wrote it. ” These are your words. Have you already encountered a negative reaction?
“Priest Richardas Doveika told me that all doors would close in front of my nose.” From the very beginning I faced a negative reaction - my relatives said that I was betraying relatives and I am Pavlik Morozov. Several friends turned away from me altogether - they said that the Jews pay me, and I betray the Motherland.
I needed a lot of courage. I asked my children, 20 and 28, if I was writing a book like this. They said that on 120% they support me. But some friends warned me that I would be left without readers who love me for books about caring for old people and women. I wondered why I should think about commerce. I see that no one else will write such a book.
- Why do you think that no one else will write? Are you afraid of this topic?
- To such an extent they are afraid that I am confronted with absolute panic - from the institutions of power to the villagers. For six months, I met only a few people who were not afraid. Even historians in the park had to meet on a bench ... I cannot quote some historians - they do not want to, one said that from now on he would not lecture on this topic - it is dangerous.
- Where does this fear come from? Lithuania reconciled with Israel; in 1995, President Algirdas Brazauskas apologized to the Jewish people, despite the fact that he was zealously criticized for it.
- They made peace with Israel so that he would not raise this topic. For this, Lithuania will support Israel in the UN. This is politics. Even the Israeli ambassador, having seen Zuroff in Lithuania, told him - why are you driving here, will you spoil the mood of people. Even the Jewish community does not raise this topic, neither Israel nor Lithuania raises, and there are practically no eyewitnesses to those events. And there is no money for research.
Yes, Brazauskas was convicted. I think he later regretted doing so. He promised to identify and name the killers, but they did not. Here in 2012, the Lithuanian Center for the Investigation of Residents' Genocide and Resistance made a list of 2055 people who might have been involved in the genocide. The list has been transferred to the government. Where is he now?
I went to the vice-chancellor of the government and said that something had to be done with this list, because he couldn’t lie for 5 for years. I was told that whatever we do, everything is not enough for the Jews. And this list goes on.
- Maybe everyone has already investigated and evaluated?
- I read the books of all Lithuanian historians - all claim that the Holocaust was observed in the province throughout Lithuania. We think that only in Paneriai - no, the whole province of Lithuania is littered with Jewish graves, people were destroyed. This is a white spot in our historiography. Why not investigated? There are only a few historians who do this - I was told that for five years 5 had to work for years to find out how many Lithuanians participated in the Holocaust. No five people and 5 years.
Zuroff and I drove through the whole of Lithuania - people who have seen and remembered the Holocaust are now 85-90 for years. How long will we wait?
- It is no secret that Zuroff in Lithuania is hated and he himself, to put it mildly, does not burn with love to us. How did you persuade him to go on a “journey” in Lithuania?
“In the spring I was preparing the conference, all the historians told me not to invite Zuroff - if he will, they would refuse to participate, because he might cry, start a fight.” It became very interesting to me. When he came to participate in the marches of the neo-Nazis, I met him. I asked him if he was working for Putin, and he asked me if I was doing Jewish projects for money.
I replied that among my relatives there were people who, I suspect, participated in the Holocaust. He said that in 25 years he had met the first person in Lithuania who recognized this. I told him - you are attacking Lithuania, so let's get into my car and drive around Lithuania, talk to people, see who is right. Since I do not know this.
He agreed, the trip lasted three weeks. We agreed to pay for gasoline equally.
- What did you saw? How many doors are closed in front of your nose?
- Most people said, but did not agree to be photographed and give their names. Others were afraid - they said they would come and kill. Who will kill? Lithuanians! They know that in most cases Jews were escorted, guarded or killed by their fathers or grandfathers of their neighbors. So they betray their neighbors. But remember very well.
- In an interview published in the book, Zuroff says that Lithuania is extraordinarily beautiful, but its beautiful forests hide several hundred places of massacres. When traveling in Lithuania, you can see signs indicating such places - Lithuania, at least, took care of this.
- But you will turn there, and you will see nothing. There is a pointer, and then you can wander through the woods, and nothing. But there are not specified places. I said Zuroff - we are not rich enough to look after 227 in places. He replied, it was necessary to watch when they were shot.
Zuroff cried in every place. I had to wait while he read the prayer. And then I thought - there are thousands of bones under the ground, these places are not marked. Later I could not calmly look at Lithuanian graves. It seemed too great importance to everything, everything is so theatrical.
I read the exhumation protocols — a lot of children with intact skulls — so they were buried alive. In the book there is a testimony of a military man - his father lay face down in a pit, covering the child. The military man was asked - who was the first to be shot - at the father or at the child? He replied: “What are we animals, perhaps, to shoot a child in front of my father?” Of course, a father. The child does not understand anything. "
- The book sounds terribly rhetorical about how many gold teeth were pulled out from the murdered Jews, melted down, and then used to make the teeth of the inhabitants of Joniškielis? This was about the murderer of the Jews, who then worked as a dental technician. Did the Lithuanians share the golden crowns of those killed?
- Not only in Joniškalis, many places. I remember, in Soviet times, when teeth were treated, they asked - will the gold be yours or mine? Where did dental technicians have gold? Where have all the gold crowns gone?
There is an even more interesting moment. I inherited from my grandparents an antique bed, a wardrobe, a clock. I read that in all of Lithuania there were about 50 000 Jewish houses, plus synagogues, shops, hospitals. Where did all this property go? All Lithuania has grown rich.
I read that in Panevezys things were handed over to the Drama Theater, a nursing home, a women's gymnasium, a hospital, and then sold off to residents. What failed to sell - distributed free of charge. When Jews were killed, in Panevezys there were 25 000 inhabitants, the things left after the murder of Jews were 80 000 - from bedding to cups. They were distributed free of charge. This means that every resident received for free several things.
My grandmother is from Panevezys, the bed is from Panevezys. Did she buy it? I do not know. Did my mother wear any of those clothes? All in Lithuania, who have antiques, we can ask where they came from.
The murderers of Jews were usually paid nothing, they took what they could, carried the sell or exchanged for vodka. It was their reward. in the evening they were returning home. Some had children - they came from work not empty-handed - they brought them some clothes, then something else.
- When you read a book, it seems that simple village guys were killed, who volunteered for the Lithuanian army.
- They went there themselves from nothing to do. Then there was such a logic: they were given food and shooting. And you can take clothes, shoes, chains of Jews, drink. Rimantas Zagryatskas conducted a study - a social portrait of the murderers of Jews - half of those who killed in the province - illiterate or graduated from two classes. Maybe if the Church took a different position or said that one of the commandments of God must be fulfilled - maybe it would stop them. But the Church was silent or did not call.
- When you read the memories of the murderers of the Jews, the conclusion is that the Germans did not force them to kill - they could refuse.
- First of all, these were volunteers - and white-wingers, who were volunteers. Some argued that they had been threatened with execution for refusal, but there is only one fact - a soldier who refused to kill was shot in Kaunas, in the valley of Mitskevičius.
The special detachment served 8 students of the craft school - 16-17 years. June came, there was nothing to do, they went to work - they were promised the things of the Jews. Summer is over, they left the squad. Is this violence - they themselves came, they themselves left.
In Lithuania, they say that they were forced to kill, to drink. Military Liaonas Stonkus said that if they saw that someone could not stand the nerves, the officers did not force them to shoot, they were afraid, as it were, against them weapon did not pay. And they did not drink - they gave after, in the evening, or very little - they were afraid that the commanders would not be shot. We can say that Jews were killed by young, illiterate and sober Lithuanians.
- They will attack you for the inconvenient truth and ask how you know what you rely on?
- In the book, I do not rely on any foreign source, only on what is said by Lithuanians and historians. I spent half a year in the Special Archive, read the cases, their confessions. Who will say that our boys were tortured and only after that they testified are stupid, no one talks about torture. One murderer of Jews complained of pain in his shoulder, took an x-ray, found out the cause, prescribed a massage and paraffin baths. It can be seen too much shot.
Secondly, the workers of the NKVD were consistent, accurate, each story of the murderer of the Jews was confirmed by the testimony of 15 persons, colleagues. Match every detail.
They all diminished their guilt. When asked how many times they participated in the shootings, they did not remember at first, then they remembered any one shooting, but in fact participated in 20 or 50. Everyone diminished his guilt because they did not want to sit. Many of the NKVD after the war were tried for convoy, and later 20-30 years, when it turned out that they were shooting, they were again arrested.
- In your opinion, to what extent has the tragedy been determined by the official position of the Lithuanian authorities?
- In many ways, determined. Many people say that the Lithuanian front of activists began, the provisional government continued, and then the Nazi accomplices continued: Kubiliunas, Raevitis, and others.
20 000 people worked in the Lithuanian administration: police officers, district police chiefs. Only 3% of them were Germans. A process was carried out by the Lithuanians. Of course, it was not the Lithuanians who planned, but they were told, they carried out, they did everything so well, that then they brought to Lithuania Jews from Austria and France.
In IX Fort, Jews from Austria and the Czech Republic were shot by 5000. Here they were taken to the vaccine - the Jews went into the pits with their sleeves rolled up in anticipation of vaccination. The Lithuanians worked so well that the battalion of Antanas Impulevicius was taken to Belarus - they killed 15 000 Jews. The Germans were very pleased.
- Where does such diligence come from? Many say - the Lithuanians suffered, the occupation was replaced by the occupation, we are not guilty, we suffered, we were taken to Siberia.
- Yes, this is true, but no one forced them to shoot people. There were volunteers, in part because of widespread anti-Semitism.
- So the Lithuanians killed Jews out of hate? However, it seems that until now the Lithuanians coexisted peacefully with the Jews.
- We had quite a few supporters of Voldemaras, nationalists who were influential army officers. Many of the murderers of Jews are aviators, associates of Darius and Girenas.
Under Smeton, the Jews could get along well, but when the Germans arrived, they were joined by Lithuanian nationalists, and everything became very simple. And anti-Semitism - everything went from Berlin, there was a hand of Goebbels there, the Lithuanians spread it. The first newspaper of the Provisional Government of Lithuania, “Towards Freedom,” wrote down Jews, their corpses is our path to freedom. They talked about it on the radio, wrote in the newspapers. Two months was enough, then the structures were created.
Without the approval of the Lithuanian government and without indulging Hitler, this would not have happened - we must admit, but we don’t want, we have streets and schools named after Kazys Škirpa and Juozas Ambrazevičius.
- Zuroff admitted that he did not realize that at the dawn of independence Lithuania was not able to face the past - even France took 50 years to admit its guilt for the pro-Hitler actions of the Vichy regime.
- We will need 90 years. Soon everyone will die, and the generation of my children will be interesting, only witnesses will be gone. That's why I talked with witnesses while they are alive. Let no one read this book; maybe it will be read in 10 or 15 years. I did my duty to my homeland, although she did not ask for it.
From where you can know that in the building where the well-known Panevezhe confectionery company is now located, a well-known yeshiva, a religious school, operated before. There is no sign. Students and teachers from all over the world came here.
- What do you think, what would Lithuania be like if it had not destroyed its inhabitants?
- I think we would have more scientists, great doctors. It would be a serious state. But we wanted racial purity and their teeth.
- You mentioned that relatives have renounced you. Did your relatives participate in the Holocaust?
- I dont know. My grandfather participated in the commission that made the list of 10 Jews, and my aunt's husband was the commander of white-livers, he worked in Panevezys in security structures. I know that all the police of Panevezys, under the influence of the Nazis, participated in this process. I know that none of them pulled the trigger - otherwise I would not write, it would be too hard for me.
The Holocaust consists of two crimes. One thing is that the administration is involved in drawing up lists, etc., the other is murder. I think if we all look at our relatives ...
- Are you ready for defamation charges against Lithuania with the help of Zuroff?
— But I did a good job - Zuroff will stop traveling to Lithuania. He understands that what I did, what Richardas Doveika and Thomas Šarnas said, what the historians did - he knows that we are on the right track. He can not tell us anything new - it’s up to the Lithuanians to figure out their past.
Zuroff said that he had nothing more to do here - no foreigner can make Lithuania look at his past.