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Thu, 17th May, 2012 - Posted by

Juozas Ambrazevicius -
Brazaitis is no hero


Darius Udrys

Opinion: Darius Udrys

If there’s one thing civilized people should all be able to agree upon, one would think that it would be not to make heroes out of Nazi collaborators. Yet here in Lithuania we are about to witness just such a moral travesty.

Somebody apparently decided it would be a good idea to move the remains of Juozas Ambrazevicius-Brazaitis, acting prime minister of Lithuania during the first months of the Nazi occupation, from the United States to Lithuania. Buried previously in Putnam, Connecticut, he has been exhumed and will be reinterred in Kaunas this Sunday with as much fanfare as can be mustered among the clueless and the callous.

Ambrazevicius-Brazaitis is no hero. As prime minister he took responsibility over the short-lived Provisional Government that sprang up in 1941 as the Germans pushed the Soviets out of Lithuania. That government was formed by an organization in collusion with German authorities from the start—the infamous Lithuanian Activist Front (LAF).

The LAF hoped to take advantage of the German advance to restore some semblance of Lithuanian independence and, as stated in one of its publications, “carry out an immediate and fundamental purging of the Lithuanian nation and its land of Jews.” Lithuania’s own International Commission for the Evaluation of the Crimes of the Nazi and Soviet Occupation Regimes in Lithuania puts it plainly: "The anti-Semitic views of the Provisional Government and the Lithuanian Activist Front are well-documented.”

The Provisional Government (PG) was populated with officials who sympathized with the Nazi worldview. Historian Saulius Suziedelis notes in particular its “public alignment with the Reich” and “its fawning rhetoric of gratitude to Hitler and ‘Greater Germany’.” Even worse: according to Suziedelis, newly discovered protocols of PG cabinet meetings make plain that “while it had no plan to kill the Jews en masse, it was ready to enact anti-Jewish economic measures modeled on the Third Reich's infamous Nuremberg Laws of the 1930s.”

Those Lithuanians who glorify the PG and the anti-Soviet uprising that spawned it go to great lengths to downplay its association with the Nazis. This contributes to a general lack of understanding among ordinary Lithuanians of what went on during that period and who was responsible.

When pressed, PG apologists excuse the Ambrazevicius-Brazaitis government by claiming that it only collaborated with the Nazis pragmatically and for noble reasons (to restore Lithuania’s sovereignty), that not every member of the LAF sympathized with the hard-line views of the Berlin leadership, that the PG “self-disbanded” as soon as it realized it would be no more than a Nazi puppet, and, anyway, there was nothing the PG could have done to prevent the Holocaust. Some have gone so far as to suggest that when the LAF instructed Jews to “get out of Lithuania,” perhaps it was simply warning them to take measures to protect themselves. Needless to say, this flies in the face of copious evidence in the LAF’s own words that its aims were far more sinister.

Whatever the moral casuistry, the bottom line is that there is no reasonable way to decouple the Ambrazevicius-Brazaitis government from the words and deeds of the LAF and the Nazis. The Ambrazevicius-Brazaitis government never publicly distanced itself from the killings of Lithuania’s Jewish citizens and signed off on orders approving their dispossession, isolation, and other measures that facilitated the Holocaust.

All of this notwithstanding, and for reasons impossible to comprehend, the Government of Lithuania as well as the Mayor of Kaunas Andrius Kupcinskas and Archbishop of Kaunas Sigitas Tamkevicius have lent their support to this week’s ill-conceived commemoration of Ambrazevicius-Brazaitis’s legacy. The Government provided 30,000 Litas or about $11,000 in funding for the reburial and the Mayor is head of the organizational committee. Archbishop Tamkevicius had particularly warm words for Ambrazevicius-Brazaitis, who will be reinterred in a place of honor at the Church of the Resurrection of Christ—this from the same ecclesiastical leadership that refused former Lithuanian prime minister Algirdas Brazauskas a Catholic burial because, according to Archbishop Tamkevicius, he showed no remorse for his communist past.

This is not only deeply hurtful and offensive to the families and the memory of the victims of the Holocaust, many of which were rounded up and murdered by LAF activists. To allow this travesty to proceed gravely compromises our country morally and confirms the already widespread perception that Lithuania is unwilling to face its own history honestly and sincerely.

Whether or not one holds Ambrazevicius-Brazaitis responsible for what was perpetrated under his Provisional Government, it does no one a service to hold up as a hero a man who utterly failed the test of a good leader: standing up for what is right and for the innocent.

Someone should have had the wisdom and the courage to say no to the request for public funding and support for this reburial when it was first made. The Government, Mayor of Kaunas and the Catholic Church should cancel and publicly distance themselves from any events resembling a commemoration of Ambrazevicius-Brazaitis’s legacy.

Category : Featured black / Lithuania in the world

22 Responses to “”


Grant Gochin May 17, 2012

Well said Dr. Udrys.
These actions by the Lithuanian Government and religious institutions will stand as a mark of shame on Lithuania for another generation. The commemoration of the facilitator of mass murder is a heinous offense against all civilized people.

Geoff Vasil May 17, 2012

Thank you, God, that Darius Udrys and the Vilna Gaon Jewish State Museum can speak out at least about this obvious attempt by the Lithuanian government to “double-game” this Nazi collaborator.

As I understood the issue, the Brazaitis family has been pushing for this since forever. Initially it was supposed to be a private ceremony. How the Lithuanian state got mixed up in this, I don’t know.

It’s a little hard for me, as what I consider myself to be, a rational person, to believe that Brazaitis-Ambrazevicius was somehow a misguided young man who initially believed Nazi promises (following the handover of Memel?) and became disenchanted later and formed an “anti-Nazi resistance.” His unelected “government” was formed by Nazi supporters in Berlin. He “hid” in Germany when things got hot in Lithuania. He signed off on the creation of the TDA, Auxiliary Police and the Kaunas concentration camp/ghetto. After the war, writing under a pseudonym, from the safety of occupied West Germany, he cried about “the loss of a people,” but not about the Jews he helped murder. He seems to have created organizations on paper but not to have done anything to stop the Nazis. Like so many war criminals, he seems to have become an “anti-Nazi” sometime in late 1945. Maybe Hitler himself was also an “anti-Nazi?” At least Hitler did more to stop the German war machine, subverting it from within and exposing it to Allied attack.

It IS a travesty that this dyed-in-the-wool Lithuanian Nazi is being commemorated by the Lithuanian state and the Catholic Church and the City of Kaunas. If the Kubilius government believes it is alright to commemorate Holocaust perpetrators and that ethnic cleansing is acceptable, someone outside Lithuania ought to set them straight. What a shame.

Nida Vasiliauskaitė May 17, 2012

Well said, indeed.

Aage Myhre May 17, 2012

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Grant Gochin May 17, 2012

There is absolutely no end to the duplicity of the Lithuanian Government. Read the following: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-18101716

The "Spokesperson" says Brazaitis was persecuted by the Nazi's. Really? Which one? His puppy bit his toe and the puppy's name was "nazi". Are they kidding? He sought refuge in Nazi Germany.

They drag out that 1975 investigation which said they couldn't find evidence IN 1975. But it's all been found since. So by obfuscating truth, it just comes out as a complete lie.

They "suggest" this could be an opportunity for reconciliation – are they insane? Glorifying a mass murderer with full State Honors is a path to reconciliation? Honoring a death merchant is a positive in their eyes? It is a full on assault against the memory of our murdered families to bury that monster with State Honors, and they call that reconciliation? This is so offensive that it is not even describable.

Who was this Spokesperson? I thought it impossible to make this any worse, but they just did.

Sarah Williams May 17, 2012

Morality and ethics have lost all meaning in the new world of moral relativism. Thank you, Darius Udrys, for speaking out at a time when most people don't.

Olga Zabludoff May 17, 2012

Darius Udrys, your compelling words are an inspiration to all people who know the meaning of justice and sincerity. To try to make a living legend out of a dead murderer is almost beyond imagination. The government of Lithuania has taken some ill-advised actions in the recent past, but this event makes one wonder more than ever why they are working so hard to earn the scorn of decent people everywhere. At a time when the Lithuanian people are struggling to make ends meet , how can their government use their tax monies for such a repugnant venture?

I hope that all people of conscience will support the position of Darius by signing a petition which is currently in circulation: http://www.change.org/petitions/to-the-lithuanian

Sergey Kanovich May 17, 2012

Thank you, Darius. It is rather difficult to comprehend this moral madness related to state participation of any form in this re-burial.

Mikhail Iossel May 18, 2012

Very strong and timely and much-needed piece. Thank you.

Val Ramonis May 18, 2012

Some of these comments make no sense to me. Ignorance of history, that's all. Blaming those who escaped to Nazi Germany and calling them criminals? I did it with my parents and so did tens of thousands of Lithuanians who were escaping the second Soviet invasion and the following Lithuanian genocide. Is that a crime? Where could one run to? Jump into the Baltic Sea?

Val Ramonis May 18, 2012

This is a followup to my last comment. I don't know where Udrys got his information, but he is completely mistaken and misinformed. The Martynas Mazvydas National Library in Vilnius has recently aquired the Brazaitis archives from a source in the U.S. (which I had a chance to see) in which there is not a single proof that he collaborated with the Nazis. There is a lot about his anti-Nazi resistance activities in Lithuania and his anti-Soviet resistance activities in the US. Udrys cannot prove any of what he is writing.

    Darius Udrys May 18, 2012

    Dear Mr. Ramonis,
    Please follow the links I've provided in the article. That's why they're there. They reference all of the evidence on which my article is based. If you still claim ignorance after reading them, I don't know what else I can do to enlighten you.

Abel Levitt May 18, 2012

Compliments to Darius Udrys.
The Lithuanian government has created and supports Tolerance Education Centres throughout Lithuania. There are 77 such centres. The young people of Lithuania are taught the history of the Genocide of the Jews and the terror of the Soviet regime against the Lithuanians.
You cannot teach one way, and then act in a completely opposite manner and expect the young people to know the difference between good and bad,right and wrong, heroes and perpetrators of evil.

Jonas Žiburkus May 18, 2012

Thank you, Darius. I am proud of you.

Violeta Shtromas May 18, 2012

As long as we have people like Darius Udrys, there is hope for Lithuania not being claustrophobic.

Violeta Shtromas May 18, 2012

Thank you, Darius. Because of people like you, there is hope for Lithuania not becomg claustrophobic.

ggochin May 18, 2012

LT learned well from their Soviet Occupiers. The lies, half truths and obfuscations are breathtaking.
The comments by Val Ramonis make no sense, of course Brazaitis escaped to Nazi Germany, he was a Jew killer, where else would he go for refuge? Certainly there were many good LT’s that escaped that route, but Brazaitis was not one of the good ones.
Ramonis expects Brazaitis memoirs to detail his murderous activities – Really? And because he doesn’t, Ramonis thinks he is innocent? Mr. Ramonis, there is so much documentary evidence of his guilt, have you done any independent research or do you only parrot the Government line? You might as well still be living under the Soviet mentality of repetition of the State dogma.
Mr. Levitt, very unfortunately, those tolerance centers are NOT teaching adequately. I know enough LT’s that report that they were never taught any of this, and were completely unaware, that shows the lack of adequate education. I do believe that if the average LT knew the facts, they would recoil in horror at what this Government is perpetrating.

Anatoly Belogorsky May 18, 2012

Dear Darius. Thank you for this great post. I truly believe that Nazi collaborators from different countries should not be allowed returning back (dead or alive) to their native countries. Very sad that some politicians try to re-write the history of their countries and pretending that different rules applied to so-called "freedom fighters". Many thousands Jews had been killed by local nationalists during 6 weeks of existence of the Provisional Government. Let be honest: the name for these actions is ethnic cleansing.

Olga Zabludoff May 19, 2012

In their address on May 17 to the Lithuanian Parliament (Seimas), two MPs have presented evidence concerning the Nazi-collaboration deeds of Juozas Brazaitis. Vytenis Povilas Andriukaitis and Algirdas Sysas have described how the Lithuanian Government has altered a description of Brazaitis's activities as the leader of the 1941 Provisional Government. This rewriting of history occurred in the booklet which accompanied the invitation to the reburial ceremonies. These two MPs are to be lauded for their courageous contribution to the preservation of a truthful historical account. Please read and circulate their important message:
http://defendinghistory.com/statement-read-in-the

For full coverage of the four-day events surrounding the Brazaitis reincarnation to the staus of Lithuanian Hero, see http://www.defendinghistory.com

M. G. Slavenas May 21, 2012

THANK YOU, DARIUS, FOR A CONCISE CLARIFICATION OF AN ISSUE WHICH SHOULD NOT NEED CLARIFYING.

AS ALWAYS I AM A FAN OF YOUR PRINCIPLED APPROACH TO DIFFICULT MORAL QUESTIONS REGARDLESS OF THE PREVAILING PUBLIC OPINION.

jura virusis June 6, 2012

sorry, I am late adding my comment, but it is not too late to thank you for sticking out your neck and saying something that hits at the very heart of the problem we have here. your article is all over the internet by now but more like an irritantant rather than the voice of truth. what does it say about the silent majority which consolidates around Brazaitis and his infamous government? is it a massive blind spot or unresolved antisemitism? whatever it is, it will not improve Lithuania's image abroad. but keep at it!



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