Vilnius mayor orders removal of plaque honouring alleged war criminal

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Vilnius mayor orders removal of plaque honouring alleged war criminal

Memorial honouring Jonas Noreika, a high-ranking police officer believed to have overseen the murder of Jews, was taken down in the Lithuanian capital

The Old Town of Vilnius, Lithuania
The Old Town of Vilnius, Lithuania

City workers in Vilnius, Lithuania removed a plaque honouring a Nazi collaborator that has been at the centre of lawsuits and numerous protest campaigns.

Ordered by Mayor Remigijus Šimašius, the removal Saturday of the plaque honouring Jonas Noreika from an external wall of the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences follow’s last week’s vote by the city council to change the name of a street honouring another collaborator, Kazys Skirpa, the website Defending History noted.

Both decisions reflect the mayor’s growing willingness to anger nationalists amid tenacious action by Jewish groups and individuals pressuring Lithuanian politicians over the glorification of alleged perpetrators of the murder of more than 90 percent of the country’s Jewish population during the Holocaust.

Skirpa, an envoy of pro-Nazi Lithuanians to Berlin during World War II who called for ethnic cleansing of Jews, and Noreika, a high-ranking police officer who is believed to have personally overseen the murder of Jews, are venerated in Lithuania as heroes for fighting the Soviet Union alongside the Germans.

In April, a Lithuanian left-leaning lawyer smashed the Noreika plaque, but it was repaired.

Grant Gochin, a Jewish US citizen of Lithuanian descent, has sued the government’s historical institute for facilitating the honouring of Noreika with the plaque. He’s lost in court several times in recent years but has vowed to take the issue to the European Court of Justice.

The Simon Wiesenthal centre and the Defending History group and website have also monitored for years the glorification of war criminals in Lithuania.

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