Adamkus forgives Germany for Nazi occupation

  • 2008-06-18
  • By Adam Mullett
VILNIUS - The president has dismissed the idea of asking Germany for money for the World War II occupation, saying it might hurt relations between the two countries.
Parliamentarians had previously suggested that Germany should foot the bill for their occupation of the country during World War II, but President Valdas Adamkus has vetoed the proposal.

Ceslovas Laurinavicius, head of the 20th Century Department at the Lithuanian Institute of History and an expert in Lithuanian relations, said he agrees with Adamkus that hounding Germany for money can only have the negative effect of deteriorating the relationship between the two nations.
The Nazi's killed more than 90 percent of Lithuanian Jews during the occupation. Out of approximately 210,000 Jews in the country, an estimated 195,000 perished before the end of the World War II.

Russia Not Forgiven

Lithuania is, however, still seeking compensation from Russia for the damages it endured during the Soviet occupation. Lithuanian experts calculate that the nation is owed around $28 billion (19 million euros), but Russia contends that Lithuania benefited from the period and refuses to pay.
Russia believes that Lithuania benefited from the occupation but is ignoring the advances that the country made during the time. They believe that the nation made $35 billion (22.5 billion euros) during the period, the Russian daily Russia Today reported.

The Parliamentary Committee for Foreign Affairs proposed demanding money from Germany. The members of the committee believe that doing so would show objectivity in Lithuania's actions.
Germany currently makes compensation payments to Lithuanians who were deported to forced labor camps in Germany during World War II. 
"The present government of Russia is not willing to acknowledge the fact of Lithuania's occupation. It seems that new generations [of Russians] will have to grow up who are able to evaluate this painful chapter of history objectively," said Rita Grumadaite, press secretary for the Lithuanian President.

"Lithuania raises the issue of compensation for the damage that was incurred on the state and its people during the years of occupation in a much broader sense than only material damage. It is important that Europe understand and evaluate the crimes committed by the totalitarian Nazi and Stalinist regimes in the occupied Baltic states, including Lithuania," Grumadaite said.

Laurinavicius goes a step further to suggest that while the money is important, the recognition of Lithuania is at the heart of the matter.
"The question is not money. The sense of the question is a guarantee that the former suzerain recognizes our sovereignty," the press secretary said.
"In this case, the amount of monetary compensation for things that are priceless, such as shattered lives and families lost, is not that important 's it is crucial that occupation crimes be condemned and never again repeated," he said.

The spokesman said that receiving the money would start a new chapter for Lithuanian and Russian relations.
 "The existing reality and our national interests make us search for new dialogue opportunities with Russia. There is no doubt that such a dialogue with Russia will be sincere only if it is based on common principles and values," Grumadaite said.
Despite supporting demands for Russian compensation, Laurinavicius thinks that the sparring that goes on between the nations is damaging.
"Now that Lithuania is a member of the EU and NATO, the quarrel with Russia, in my mind, is nonsensical… the quarrel has become an ideological and confrontational one. In my personal view, this quarrel is dangerous for Lithuania," he said. 

Laurinavicius also said it is unlikely that Russia will pay.