Outrage over honour for Lithuanian Nazi leader

By Jessica Elgot, May 17, 2012
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The puppet prime minister installed in Lithuania during the Nazi occupation is to be commemorated in the capital this week, and reinterred with full honours.

The remains of Juozas Ambrazevicius will be returned from the US to Vilnius for a ceremony this weekend, before being reinterred in Kaunas, in central Lithuania.

Mr Ambrazevicius became prime minister in June 1941, after the Nazi invasion, but was removed just two months later after the government was dismantled.

The Simon Wiesenthal Centre’s Holocaust historian Efraim Zuroff said the Lithuanian government had tried to distance themselves from the ceremony. “But we now understand the government has paid for the transportation of the remains,” he added.

The former professor of Yiddish Studies at Vilnius University, Dovid Katz, now editor of website Defending History, said: “Jewish people in Lithuania, who have excellent relations with Lithuanian neighbours and friends, are in a state of shock that the government and parliament could do this to them: financing the reburial with full honours.

“The duplicitous policy of honouring the victims, for the consumption of naive Jewish foreigners, as well as the perpetrators, to satisfy the local antisemitic far right base, is just not on.”

Mr Ambrazevicius — who died in the US in 1974 — has been linked to the establishment of the Kovna ghetto to imprison Kaunas’s Jews, and to the setting up of a concentration camp.

Last updated: 10:07am, May 18 2012