The history of Holocaust suffering continues as Europe’s open wound


2020 01 24


On the 27th of January, the world will be marking the International Holocaust Remembrance Day and the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis states that the remembrance of the suffering of the Holocaust victims obliges all the citizens and political leaders to assume shared responsibility for preventing the crimes against humanity from happening again.

Exactly two years ago, the Government of the Republic of Lithuania approved the definition of antisemitism as endorsed by the session of the International Alliance of Holocaust Remembrance on 26 May 2016 in Bucharest. All the public authorities and the population have been recommended to take this definition into account in their activities. Prime Minister Skvernelis emphasises that anti-Semitism has and can have no place in Lithuania and beyond.

‘The history of Holocaust suffering continues as Europe’s open wound. Lithuania went through this tragedy too. These dark pages in the history of our country will never close. I call on everyone to refrain from any attempt to reinterpret the brutal consequences of the World War II and the occupation regimes on the Lithuanian state and its citizens. It is particularly important to bear in mind as we speak about the suffering and the unbearable loss of the Jewish people. On his visit to Israel, 1 March 1995, President Algirdas Brazauskas apologized to the members of the Knesset for ‘those Lithuanians who mercilessly killed, shot, deported and plundered Jews’. To my mind, no legislative or other initiatives can change that. We are proud of the Lithuanian people who rescued Jews and we condemn those who were involved in their killings. We cannot forget the past and we cannot forgive. What is important now, however, is ensuring that it never happens again’, says Prime Minister Skvernelis.

Since the restoration of independence, Lithuania has pursued a responsible policy as regards the evaluation of the Holocaust initiated by the Nazis and carried out during their occupation in Lithuania. Our efforts have been witnessed by the decision of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania to designate the year 2020 as the year of the Vilna Gaon and of the history of the Jews of Lithuania, providing for a number of events related to education on the subject of the Holocaust.