Faina Kukliansky, the leader of the community, has commended a recent proposal to build a monument for Lithuanian savers of Jews in Israel, but said that such a memorial should first appear in Vilnius.
“Why build it in Israel and not in Lithuania? Should we not pay tribute to rescuers here in Lithuania? Perhaps it wouldn’t be too much, if a sculpture was built in Israel, too. There are people living there from Lithuania who survived because of those rescuers. People will not oppose it, I think. But perhaps we should do it in Lithuania,” Kukliansky told BNS on Sunday.
Vilnius Mayor Remigijus Šimašius says that the city could indeed do more to commemorate people who helped Jews escape Nazi persecution during World War Two, but the municipality has no concrete plans for that.
Ho noted that a street in the Lithuanian capital was recently named after Ona Šimaitė, a Lithuanian woman named by the Yad Vashem centre as righteous among the nations.
Vilnoja, a non-governmental organization led by liberal politician Vidmantas Martikonis, last week sent an open letter to Israeli Ambassador Amir Maimon, outlining a proposal to build a monument for Lithuanian righteous among the nations in Tel Aviv.
Over 90% of Lithuania’s pre-war Jewish community, estimated at 208,000, perished during the Holocaust, many of them at the hands of local collaborators of the Nazis.
Yad Vashem has named over 800 Lithuanians who were rescuing Jews during the Second World War as righteous among the nations.