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29 Jan, 2021 14:45

Russian diplomats blast ‘outrageous’ claim by Lithuanian lawmaker that Jewish people themselves were responsible for Holocaust

Russian diplomats blast ‘outrageous’ claim by Lithuanian lawmaker that Jewish people themselves were responsible for Holocaust

The Russian Embassy in Vilnius issued a fiery statement on Thursday slamming a Lithuanian MP and accusing him of attempting to shift the blame for the Holocaust in the country onto its historic Jewish population.

Earlier this week, Valdas Rakutis, who chairs the Lithuanian Parliament’s commission on historical memory, made the remarks as it marked International Holocaust Remembrance Day. In a speech on Wednesday, he said that “there was no shortage of Holocaust perpetrators among the Jews themselves, especially in the ghetto self-government structures.”“We need to name these people out loud,” he said, “and try not to have people like them again.”

Moscow’s representatives in the country were quick to call out the comments. “The provocative statements of a member of the Lithuanian parliament, who tried to place the blame for the Holocaust on the very Jewish population of Lithuania, are outrageous,” they said in a statement.

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“It is sacrilegious that they were made on the International Day of Remembrance for the victims of this terrible tragedy.” As well as being charged with protecting the legacy of the Holocaust, Rakutis is a member of the ruling Homeland Union-Lithuanian Christian Democrats party.

During World War II, around 90 per cent of Lithuania’s once-thriving Jewish community was exterminated by Nazi Germany, supported by local collaborators. The country had the highest death toll as a proportion of its original population, with 40,000 men, women and children having been forced into a walled ghetto in the center of Vilnius. In many cases, tough decisions about the allocation of food and maintenance of order were delegated to community leaders, known as the Judenrat.

While the Judenrat believed Jewish lives would be preserved if they could satisfy Nazi demands for workers and quell any potential unrest, almost the entire community was wiped out when the ghetto was liquidated in 1943. Many of those who survived did so by hiding in the forests, some fighting as partisans and supporting the work of Soviet Red Army agents in the fight against German forces.

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