aA
Talking about the massacre of Jews in Lithuania in 1941 is still taboo 75 years later, according to the Lithuanian author of a new book about the events.
Rūta Vanagaitė
Rūta Vanagaitė
© DELFI / Mindaugas Ažušilis

“Our Own”, by Rūta Vanagaitė, is a book dedicated to the 75th anniversary of the great Jewish massacre in 1941 when almost the entire Jewish community in Lithuania was killed. In total, about 200,000 Jews were killed in Lithuania between 1941-1944. There were 227 mass killings of Jews all over Lithuania.

“I took this theme because I was struck by how feared it is in Lithuania. I wanted to understand what really happened in our country and to our people, and why it happened. This is not a historical book - this is a book for self-development. I know that Lithuania did not wait for this book. That is why I wrote it. It was the most important moment, when somebody had to write this book. Those witnesses are 85-90 years old, they will no longer be with us in a few years,” said Vanagaitė.

“This is a book for those who try to cover up the truth in the hope that it will disappear. The book tells the story of the killers and the killed. About Lithuanians and Jews. About what happened 75 years ago in Lithuania,” she said.

The book is based on verifiable facts and official sources – the author used only Lithuanian material - records and files stored in the Lithuanian Special Archive and the Central State Archive, interrogation transcripts from participants in the massacres, archival photos, research by Lithuanian historians, and evidence from witnesses like the poet Marcelijus Martinaitis, the actor Laimonas Noreika, and the artist Antanas Kmieliauskas.

Vanagaitė's book about the Holocaust in Lithuania, "Our Own"
Vanagaitė's book about the Holocaust in Lithuania, "Our Own"
© DELFI / Mindaugas Ažušilis

“My role was to put the whole thing [all the available research] in a 300-page book, and together with the publisher, dare to publish it,” said Vanagaitė.

In writing the book, Vanagaitė worked with the director of Simon Wiesenthal Centre bureau in Jerusalem, Nazi hunter Dr Efraim Zuroff.

"I have come to Lithuania from the beginning of its independence and the issues that I raised the Lithuanian authorities were associated with illegal justifications for Lithuanian citizens' participation in mass killings and the need to bring to justice those who participated in that.

“Some efforts have been successful and some acquittals were cancelled, but, unfortunately, the Lithuanian government did not want to actively participate in [bringing them to justice] and it's very unfortunate,” he said.

Zuroff said he did not expect to experience such emotion when both he and Vanagaitė were travelling around to visit the places where massacres took place in Lithuania.

"Here people were killed one by one, they were often killed by their neighbours,” he said.

Efraim Zuroff
Efraim Zuroff
© DELFI / Mindaugas Ažušilis
|Populiariausi straipsniai ir video

Famous Lithuanian poet Navakas dies

Famous Lithuanian poet Kestutis Navakas died on Sunday at the age of 55.

Another original copy of Feb 16, 1949 declaration found (1)

Staff members of the Lithuanian Special Archives have found another original copy of the Declaration...

Linguists: Lithuania needs to accept life with English language and change law (1)

Lithuania's Law on State Language needs to be amended and adapted to the existing reality, linguists...

February in Kaunas: theatre and dance

The January blues is over, and Kaunas is ready to rumble. Our cultural institutions are busy...

Zebriunas’ film “The Girl and the Echo” to be screened in France

Arūnas Žebriūnas ’ film The Girl and the Echo (1964) was acquired for distribution in France ....

Top news

Ex-Pentagon chief Mattis awarded by president

Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda awarded 34 Lithuanian and foreign nationals for their merits to...

Ukrainians coming to Lithuania to work should be better informed about working conditions

Ukrainians coming to Lithuania to work should be better informed about working conditions after...

Lithuania chose its song for ‘Eurovision’!

Lithuania’s 'Pabandom iš naujo!' has come to an end. After 3 heats, 2 semi-finals and Saturday’s...

Google presented Lithuanian initiative to world

The Internet giant Google has presented its video about Debunk EU during the Google News...

Famous Lithuanian poet Navakas dies

Famous Lithuanian poet Kestutis Navakas died on Sunday at the age of 55.

|Maža didelių žinių kaina