Over 70 people who saved Jews during World War Two have applied to be granted the status of freedom fighters in Lithuania. They became eligible to such a status after new amendments came into force a month and a half ago.
© Reuters/Scanpix

Gintaras Šidlauskas of the Genocide and Resistance Research Centre of Lithuania, who heads a group in charge of processing the applications, told BNS on Monday that the Vilna Gaon State Jewish Museum submitted a list of 135 Jew savers who live in Lithuania back in May.

It was later discovered that 25 of them had died already.

"It was clear to me that this information (about the law – BNS) would not reach people. As we have their addresses, we sent out letters with information on the adopted amendments, that we have information that they saved Jews, we sent out information on what documents need to be submitted, an application that needs to be filled in and information on where to send it all. Over the course of July, we sent out 108 letters and received documents from 72 people," he said.

Nine applications requested to grand the freedom fighter status posthumously.

The amendments to the Law on the Legal Status of the Participants of the Resistance to the 1940–1990 Occupations provide for granting Jew savers the status of participants of freedom fight, subsequently making them eligible for a state pension.

The amendments came into force in July.

During World War Two, the Nazis, often assisted by Lithuanian collaborators, massacred about 90 percent of the pre-war Jewish population of more than 200,000.

The Israel-based Yad Vashem center of Holocaust studies has recognized 865 Lithuanians Righteous Among Nations for rescuing Jews, with new names added to the list.

BNS
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