Comment to Joseph Levinson, “The Shoah (Holocaust) in Lithuania”

Joseph Levinson’s ”The Shoah (Holocaust) in Lithuania” is one of the most important books about the Holocaust in Lithuania. Its broad and detailed documentation and the numerous stories of eyewitnesses and survivors give ample evidence to the singularity of this horrendous crime against humanity committed by the Nazi German occupiers and their local collaborators. The book is therefore a strong and convincing refutation of the thesis of a double genocide. It leaves no doubt that the Holocaust was unique in intent and scope. The goal was total extermination of the Jewish nation, and by 1945 more than 200.000 or about 95% of all Lithuanian Jews had been murdered. Joseph Levinson presents a chilling list of 239 sites of massacre in Lithuania. The Soviet regime committed terrible crimes against the Lithuanian nation, but it never aimed at killing all Lithuanians.

“The Shoah (Holocaust) in Lithuania” contains documents that prove beyond any doubt the Nazi ideology and the anti-Semitism of the Lithuanian Activist Front (LAF) and the decisions made by the collaborationist Provisional Government to deprive Jewish citizens of Lithuania of all rights, confiscate their property and establish a concentration camp (ghetto) for Jews. These documents were signed by Juozas Ambrazevičius (Brazaitis), Acting Prime Minister. The preamble to one of these documents reads as follows (English translation in ”The Shoah (Holocaust) in Lithuania”, p. 180: ”In gratitude to the savior of European culture, Chancellor Adolf Hitler of the Greater German Reich, and to his courageous army, which has liberated the territory of Lithuania…” It is a sad fact that Juozas Ambrazevičius was reburied with honours in Kaunas on 20 May 2012 in the presence of former heads of state Vytautas Landsbergis and Valdas Adamkus. The Government of Lithuania contributed financially to the reburial.

In all fairness it must be said that Joseph Levinson’s book also contains moving pages about brave Lithuanians who saved Jews at the risk of their own lives. Some of them paid the highest price for their noble efforts.

In the final chapter of his book Joseph Levinson draws a vibrant and deeply moving picture of Jewish life before the war in his home town Veisiejai. When he returned there after the war, he heard that his father and his friends had been shot in the very beginning of the German occupation.

Joseph Levinson is also the author of “Skausmo knyga – The Book of Sorrow” in which he presents photos and information about the 239 sites of massacre and burial and the memorials erected there.

Oslo, 25 September 2013

Steinar Gil