Lithuania attacked over Holocaust retort

February 2, 2012
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Suffering in the Jewish ghetto of Slobodka in a suburb of Kovno, Lithuania, taken between 1941 and 1945

Suffering in the Jewish ghetto of Slobodka in a suburb of Kovno, Lithuania, taken between 1941 and 1945

The Lithuanian government has met intense opposition after its Foreign Minister criticised eight of his country's parliamentarians for signing a declaration which rejects the "Double Genocide" theory - that Jews were as culpable for atrocities during the Second World War as the Nazis.

On January 20, the 70th anniversary of the Wannsee Conference that codified the "Final Solution", 70 European parliamentarians from 19 EU states signed the Seventy Years Declaration, which explicitly rejects attempts to "obfuscate" the Holocaust.

Lithuania's Foreign Minister, a member of the right-wing nationalist government, called the eight Lithuanians who signed the document "pathetic". He went on to say that "Hitler's moustache was shorter", implying that there was no other difference between the two dictators.

This week, British MP Denis MacShane sent letters of support to the eight parliamentarians.

Paper rejects attempts to obfusticate the Shoah

He says in the letter: "I know it must be lonely to take a stand on such a controversial subject but wanted to write to you to say you are not alone and every decent British and European citizen stands with you."

And Dr Shimon Alperovich, the 83-year-old head of the Jewish Community of Lithuania said at a Holocaust Remembrance Day event last week: "Even today there are people who adhere to the Double Genocide theory, that Jews murdered Lithuanians, and so Lithuanians therefore murdered Jews. An absurdity. One should not even have to enter into discussion with such people."

The Seventy Years Declaration rejects the "Double Genocide" theory inherent in the 2008 Prague Declaration championed by East European nationalists. It also attacks the policy in a number of East European states of using state resources to honour Hitler's local collaborators and, in some cases, actual Holocaust murderers, for being "anti-Soviet" heroes.

The declaration also rejects the Prague Declaration demand to have European textbooks rewritten to treat Nazi and Soviet crimes "the same way". It also praises the "nobility of Jewish partisans who survived ghettos or camps and went on to fight the Nazis and their allies".

Last updated: 2:52pm, February 2 2012