President: Holocaust collaborators tarnished Lithuania

22nd April 2009, Comments 0 comments

Adamkus was speaking at Paneriai, a notorious World War II massacre site on the outskirts of Vilnius, addressing Lithuanian-Jewish Holocaust survivors, their descendants and visiting Israeli officials.

Vilnius -- Lithuanians who collaborated with the Nazis in the murder of Jews tarnished the country's reputation, said President Valdas Adamkus Tuesday in a speech to mark Holocaust Memorial Day.

"The pain of the Holocaust is also the pain of Lithuania because we lost Lithuanian Jews with whom we had lived together for centuries (and) suffered together the devastation caused by the occupiers of our land," said Adamkus.

"Unfortunately, the historical tradition of our two nations living together in peace was painfully tarnished by those who sold their conscience by collaborating with the Nazis," he added.

Adamkus was speaking at Paneriai, a notorious World War II massacre site on the outskirts of Vilnius, addressing Lithuanian-Jewish Holocaust survivors, their descendants and visiting Israeli officials.

Adamkus also paid tribute to those Lithuanians who had risked their lives to save Jews.

"These people felt a duty to witness by their own life that, even in the face of death, humans must remain humans and that truth can never be killed," he said.

The ceremony was timed to coincide with Holocaust Remembrance Day, when Israel remembers the six million Jews killed by the Nazis and when commemorative events are held around the world.

Lithuania was once home to a 220,000-strong Jewish community, and the capital Vilnius was a cultural hub known as the "Jerusalem of the North".

But 95 percent of Lithuania's Jews perished at the hands of the Nazis and their Lithuanian collaborators during the country's 1941-1944 German occupation.

Today, there are around 5,000 Jews living in Lithuania.

AFP/Expatica

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