On the 27th of July, at the direction of the mayor of the City of Vilnius, the memorial plaque of Jonas Noreika-General Storm was removed from the wall of the Vrublevskis Library of the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences. This has received a great deal of public resonance, and the debate has continued for several days.
The mayor of Vilnius must explain and defend his decision. The mayor of Vilnius, Remigijus Šimašius, and Vidmantas Valiušaitis, head of the Adolfas Damušis Center for Democracy Studies at the Martynas Mažvydas National Library of Lithuania, spoke on the Lithuanian public television program “Theme of the Day”.
After the broadcast, V. Valiušaitis your FB wall has posted a comment, reprinted by several Lithuanian portals.
Well, there wasn’t much time during the “Theme of the Day” to respond to the mayor’s statements, in which there were quite a few inaccuracies and flawed facts, via Skype.
Šimašius on Jonas Noreika-General Storm
For example, R. Šimašius explained that, supposedly, ” Jonas Noreika-General Storm, nevertheless, assumed the responsibility from the Nazi occupation authorities to isolate the Jews in the ghetto and deprive them of their property.”
I don’t think that the mayor deliberately speaks untruths; I believe that he simply doesn’t know the history.
An interesting video is archived in the documentary collection of the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington.
The world-famed film “Shoah” was created in 1985, by the author and director Claude Lanzmann, about the Jewish extermination. He presented himself under an alias, visited with the former Gebeitskommissar of Šiauliai, Hans GEWECKE, and recorded a long conversation with a hidden camera. GEWECKE speaks there for more than an hour about his activities in the Second World War in the District of Šiauliai when, in July 1941, he was assigned to this district as a Commissioner.
“After arriving in Šiauliai, I had to carry out the orders of Rosenberg – to isolate the Jews in ghettos, – says H. GEWECKE to C. Lanzmann, whom the Allies arrested after the war, interrogated, but did not punished with imprisonment, despite the fact that among the first of his orders, as the Gebeitskommissar of Šiauliai, as published in the Šiauliai newspaper “Fatherland” on August 13, 1941, were associated exclusively with the segregation and isolation of Jews. – Rosenberg said – as GEWECKE further relates – that the Jews in Šiauliai lived in the ghetto before the war. Rosenberg considered separation in ghettos to be a humanitarian matter.”
GEWECKE does not mention Lithuanians anywhere when discussing the isolation of Jews in the ghetto.
Accounts of GEWECKE
By the account of Gebeitskommissar GEWECKE, the Rosenberg decree was implemented by the “Ordensjunker” – physically trained men specially trained in Germany, fanatical Nazis, who were sent to all District Commissariats, and to Šiauliai as well. GEWECKE doesn’t even mention J. Noreika. However, he does mention others – Linkevičius, the mayor of Šiauliai, and Dr. Juozaitis.
You can access facsimile copies of GEWECKE’S orders in the link presented in this article (in Lithuanian)
The same happened elsewhere in, for example, Kaunas.
At a meeting of the interim Lithuanian government, shortly after the German army occupied Lithuania, “Colonel Bobelis arrived and reported that General Pohl [the military field superintendent – V.V.] requires, namely: the war continues, it is very important to the German Army that the back of the Front be safe. The Reich views Jews as untrustworthy, as an element of the opposition. They must be isolated. In short – confined to a ghetto.”
Kazys Palčiauskas, the mayor of Kaunas at that time, testifies as to this episode: “the Kaunas Colonel commandant J. Bobelis arrived at the Town Hall and reported to the mayor, that General Major Pohl requires that the residents of Kaunas who have a Jewish nationality be evicted to a separate area of the city for the security reasons [Palčiauskas’ emphasis – V.V.]. The Jewish community is strongly infiltrated with hidden Communists, who could shoot German soldiers marching through the city, and in this way, provoke a retaliation-punishment campaign against innocent city residents.
At that time, the motive seemed convincing. The concentration of the Jewish ethnic population could act preventively: acting up against German soldiers would be a direct danger to Jews themselves. Therefore, the municipality must offer part of the city to which the inhabitants with a Jewish nationality should relocate. Vilijampolė was selected because historically, that had the densest population of Jews. ” (K. Palčiauskas, Notes on the evictions of the people with Jewish nationality in Vilijampolė 1941., Annex to the author’s letter to J. Brazaitis on August 30, 1974).
You can find more here (in Lithuanian).
Jonas Noreika-General Storm and property
Jonas Noreika-General Storm did not take away any property – neither Jewish nor someone else’s. Assets were first of all taken by the Soviet Communist government when they occupied Lithuania on June 15, 1940. Practically everything was nationalized – from land, businesses, and real estate to personal savings. When the Germans took over Lithuania, they didn’t need to nationalize anything; they only had to announce that, henceforward, all Soviet government assets are the property of the Third Reich. On June 25, 1941, the German military commander already published an order in which, among other things, was written:
“Guns, ammunition and various other war materials, as well as the property of the battered Red Army and the Soviet institutions, must be handed over immediately to the nearest unit of the German army or the nearest commandant, or you shall inform me where it is … It is also necessary to immediately report, where there are any hidden Soviet officers, soldiers, and Bolshevik commissars. Whoever withholds the Soviet troops or weapons, ammunition, and other Soviet ownership, or who have misappropriated it, will be executed. Anyone who resists or tries to contact the enemy will also be shot.”
Facsimiles of this and other documents may be found – in this article.
Although this article addressed the mayor of Vilnius personally, he seems not to have read it because he repeats statements which have no basis.
He confirms, that K. Škirpos encouraged “getting rid of the Jews”, but remained silent on the fact that, already on June 25, 1941, the press of the free world clearly communicated K. Škirpa’s attitude and had written it in black on white: “the Jews in Lithuania will not be persecuted”, “General Škirpa has forbidden the persecution of Jews in Lithuania.”
This is a fact. Something must be done with it. Do not pretend that it is not.
In regards to K. Škirpa
At the meeting of the Vilnius Board of Governors, the mayor cited words, which he attributed to K. Škirpa, although those words were not K. Škirpa’s. There’s even more. He did not say and did not provide evidence that these words were actually publicly published in Lithuania, and they’re certainly were consequences.
There are accusations of K. Škirpa, who was sitting in Berlin, confined under house arrest, at the time of the Uprising, based on the nonconclusive evidence and assumption, interpretations, and speculation. Even the statement of the Genocide and Resistance Research Center certificate is based only on the assumption that IT COULD HAVE… Whether it was published, and whether it certainly had consequences – they cannot confirm.
Since when are decisions made in Lithuania by guesswork, assumptions, and interpretations, and not based on facts and the basis of irrefutable evidence?