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We, the undersigned citizens and descendants of citizens of Lithuania, strongly object to the official honoring of Juozas Ambrazevicius-Brazaitis, head of the Provisional Government of Lithuania that was active from June–August 1941 during Lithuania’s occupation by Nazi Germany by the government and parliament of the Republic of Lithuania, officials of the City of Kaunas, and other dignitaries.
In June 1941 many Lithuanians longed for any opportunity to liberate themselves from the Stalinist occupation. The motives, words and deeds of those who joined the anti-Soviet uprising must be judged individually. Alas, the uprising was marked by anti-Semitic rhetoric, pro-Nazi proclamations, and violence against innocent civilians.
The Provisional Government was unquestionably inspired and headed by the Lithuanian Activist Front, whose anti-Semitic and authoritarian program is well-documented. The Government’s rhetoric, actions and cooperation with German authorities, inescapably compromise its legitimacy and moral status. As acting prime minister, Juozas Ambrazevicius-Brazaitis cannot avoid responsibility for its activities. Documents of the time show that the Provisional Government led by Ambrazavicius-Brazaitis did not distance itself from the pro-Nazi policies actively supported by Kazys Skirpa’s Lithuanian Activist Front. Moreover, the Provisional Government declared its willingness to contribute to the organization of Europe on “New Foundations”as formulated by Nazi Germany. It is worth recalling that the Provisional Government identified as “enemies” even some members of Lithuania’s intelligentsia, for example, some of the faculty of Vytautas Magnus University.
A government which consigned an entire class of its citizenry to discrimination and persecution, and then subsequently failed to defend it from mass killings conducted by an occupying power and those collaborating with it, cannot properly claim to be defending freedom. The putative benefits of the Provisional Government’s unsuccessful attempts to reassert Lithuanian sovereignty are vastly overshadowed and defiled by the inhumane words and deeds to which it lent its authority. And what would be the value of sovereignty bought at the price of the blood of the innocent?
The recent state-sponsored commemoration of Juozas Ambrazevicius-Brazaitis’s life and legacy that took place on the occasion of his reburial [May 20] was an egregious error of moral judgment. It exalted a would-be leader who showed no regret or remorse for having failed the most basic test of principled leadership: standing up for justice and for the innocent.
Family and friends of the deceased have the right to a private ceremony. However, by publicly honoring Ambrazevicius-Brazaitis and providing funding for the commemoration, the Lithuanian government and those public officials and dignitaries who took part exacerbate the confusion among many regarding the values upon which the Republic of Lithuania is founded.
Public officials who turned down invitations to the commemoration should be congratulated.
But we must do more. We must firmly and unequivocally state that:
- we deplore the persecution and destruction of innocent Lithuanian citizens and others that took place during the tenure of the Ambrazevicius-Brazaitis Provisional Government;
- a critical evaluation of the Provisional Government’s words and deeds is not a matter of interest to only one or another group or organization, but a matter of principle for all Lithuanians;
- in Lithuania the rights and dignity of all must be defended; and
- there is no honor in gains achieved at their expense, however meaningful.
prof. dr. Egidijus Aleksandravicius
doc. dr. Milda Alisauskiene
prof. dr. Aukse Balcytiene
dr. Egle Bendikaite
prof. dr. Andrius Bielskis
prof. dr. Alfredas Bumblauskas
prof. dr. Leonidas Donskis
mok. Dainora Eigminienė
dr. Linas Eriksonas
dr. Margarita Jankauskaite
doc. dr. Jurga Jonutyte
dr. Marija Krupoves
prof. dr. Antanas Kulakauskas
prof. dr. Sarunas Liekis
prof. dr. Raimundas Lopata
prof. dr. Gintautas Mazeikis
kun. Rimas Mikalauskas
prof. dr. Alvydas Nikzentaitis
doc. dr. Andzejus Puksto
doc. dr. Eligijus Raila
dr. Vilana Pilinkaite Sotirovic
dr. Darius Staliunas
doc. dr. Gintaras Stauskis
prof. dr. Saulius Suziedelis
kun. Tomas Sernas
dr. Mindaugas Tamosaitis
dr. Darius Udrys
dr. Nida Vasiliauskaite
prof. dr. Irena Veisaite
dr. Linas Venclauskas
prof. dr. Tomas Venclova