Lithuanian nationalists celebrate Holocaust-era quisling, Pepe the Frog near execution site

Source: Defending History

Kaunas – Lithuanian ultranationalists marched near execution sites of
Jews with banners celebrating a pro-Nazi collaborationist who called for ethnic
cleansing and a symbol popular with members of the U.S. “alt-right” movement.

 

Approximately 170 people attended Thursday’s annual march in
Kaunas, Lithuania’s second city that is also known as Kovno, the website
Defending History reported.

 

The main banner featured a picture of the collaborationist Kazys
Skirpa modified to resemble Pepe the Frog, a cartoon figure that was used by
hate groups in the United States during the 2016 presidential elections, according to the Anti-Defamation League.

 

The
banner also included a quote attributed to the Pepe-like portrait of Skirpa, an
envoy of the pro-Nazi movement in Lithuania to Berlin, that read “Lithuania
will contribute to new and better European order.”

 

Skirpa,
who has a street named for him in Kaunas, “elevated anti-Semitism to a
political level” that “could have encouraged a portion of Lithuania’s residents
to get involved in the Holocaust,” the Genocide and Resistance Research Center
of Lithuania asserted in 2015. But Skirpa “proposed to solve ‘the Jewish
problem’ not by genocide but by the method of expulsion from Lithuania,” the
center said.

 

The
procession passed near the Lietovus Garage, where in 1941 locals butchered
dozens of Jews. Thousands more were killed in an around Kaunas by local
collaborators of the Nazis and by German soldiers in the following months.

 

“Kaunas
is ground zero of the Lithuanian Holocaust,” Dovid Katz, a U.S.-born scholar
and the founder of Defending History, told JTA on Friday. He condemned local
authorities for allowing the march by “folks who glorify the very
Holocaust-collaborators, theoreticians and perpetrators who unleashed the
genocide locally.” Katz was one of five people who attended the march to
protest and document it.

 

Lithuania is the only country that officially defines its domination by the
former Soviet Union as a form of genocide. The name of the state-funded entity
that wrote about Skirpa in 2005 refers both to the Holocaust and the so-called
Soviet occupation.

 

The Museum of Genocide Victims in Vilnius, which until 2011 did not mention the
more than 200,000 Lithuanian Jews who died in the Nazi Holocaust, was
established in 1992 to memorialize Lithuanians killed by the Nazi, but mostly
Soviet, states.

 

Another placard seen at the march on Feb. 16, one of Lithuania’s
two independence days, featured a list of 33 names, supposedly of Jews who
allegedly were involved in Soviet repression. “Information on Jews and
Vanagaite,” the poster also read. In previous years, marchers also displayed Nazi swastikas.

 

Vanagaite referred to Ruta Vanagaite, a Lithuanian writer who last
year co-authored an influential book about the Holocaust in Lithuania with Nazi
hunter Efraim Zuroff of the Simon Wiesenthal Center. The book triggered an acrimonious public debate about the
longtime taboo issue of local complicity in the Holocaust.


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