Lithuanian Jews say this gesture is important for both Holocaust survivors and Christians who saved Jews.
“We’re glad the pope is sending a message to the world, paying respect to the victims on the 75th anniversary of the ghetto’s liquidation. I hope gratitude to Christian Jew savers will also be on his mind,” Faina Kukliansky, chair of the Jewish Community of Lithuania, told BNS Lithuania.
“It’s a great honor for us that the pope is visiting us, despite the fact that we are of a different religion. We are citizens of this country and we are glad that this visit takes place on the occasion of the country’s centenary. He’s a very extraordinary pope. He’s very democratic and strongly fights against violence,” she said.
The pope will honor the memory of the ghetto’s victims in Rūdininkai Square in Vilnius on Sunday, Sep. 23. Sunday will mark the exact day in 1943 when the Jewish ghetto was liquidated. Lithuania also marks the Day of Remembrance of the Genocide of Lithuanian Jews on that day.
Established in September of 1941, the ghetto was liquidated on Sept. 23-24, 1943.
Around 90 percent of the Jewish population of around 200,000 were killed by German Nazis and their collaborators in Lithuania during the Holocaust.
More than 900 Lithuanians have been awarded as Righteous Among Nations by Israel for rescuing Jews from the Holocaust.