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6 Feb, 2024 13:39

US warns EU state about glorifying Holocaust perpetrators

Lithuania’s continued honoring of a man who killed Jews during World War II is anti-Semitic, Washington’s ambassador to the country has said
US warns EU state about glorifying Holocaust perpetrators

The new US Ambassador to Lithuania has warned the country against glorification of its citizens who participated in the Holocaust.

In an interview with the Baltic News Service (BNS), Ambassador Kara McDonald noted a global rise in anti-Semitism before responding to a question about suspected war criminals being honored as heroic freedom fighters in modern Lithuania. 

“I will continue to speak out strongly against the glorification of individuals who are known and documented to have participated in the Holocaust,” the envoy, who arrived in Vilnius last month, told the news agency.

BNS specifically asked about a monument to a military officer named Juozas Krikstaponis, who stands accused of the mass killings of Jews and other civilians on behalf of Nazi Germany.

Krikstaponis defected from the Red Army and served in the Lithuanian military when the Baltic states were occupied by the Nazis in 1941. His unit was later deployed to Belarus, where, according to the Simon Wiesenthal Center, Lithuanian troops killed at least 20,000 Jews.

He then became part of an insurgency and was ultimately killed by Soviet security troops in a firefight in January 1945. This part of his biography was highlighted in independent Lithuania.

Krikstaponis was accorded an honorary posthumous promotion to the rank of colonel in 2022, while a monument to him was erected in the city of Ukmerge in 1996.

McDonald's predecessor in Lithuania, former US Ambassador Robert Gilchrist, is among the multiple foreign officials who have urged Vilnius to remove statues honoring Holocaust perpetrators, including that dedicated to Krikstaponis.