Wiesenthal Center: EU Ambassador Ušackes’ Reply Only Further Insults Holocaust Victims in Lithuania

January 9, 2012

Jerusalem – The Simon Wiesenthal Center today responded with dismay and consternation to a communication from EU Ambassador to Afghanistan Vygaudas Ušackes to its chief Nazi-hunter, Israel director Dr. Efraim Zuroff, following his criticism of an op-ed by Ušackes in the Wall Street Journal in which the ambassador referred to the Nazi occupation of Lithuania as “a few years’ respite from the Communists.” In a statement issued here today, the Center noted that rather than rectifying his grossly insensitive remark about the Holocaust, Ambassador Ušackes has again insulted its victims, especially those murdered in his homeland.

According to Zuroff:

“All Ambassador Ušackes was expected to do was to admit that his original comment was inappropriate and apologize for his lack of sensitivity to the fate of Lithuanian Jewry during the Holocaust. Instead, he chose to defend his callous indifference to the murder of some 212,000 Lithuanian Jews during the Nazi occupation, by complaining about the imbalance in public opinion between “Nazi crimes which have been universally condemned by all civilized humanity,” and “the crimes of Stalin’s regime…and the tragedy of its victims,” which only received recognition more recently, as if this justifies ignoring the Holocaust. And while he did condemn Holocaust crimes in general, he did not say a word about those committed by Lithuanian Nazi collaborators.

“Ušackes’ reluctance to honestly deal with his country’s bloody Holocaust past raises serious doubts about his ability to properly represent the European Union.”

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The Simon Wiesenthal Center is one of the largest international Jewish human rights organizations with over 400.000 members. It is an NGO at international agencies including the United Nations, UNESCO, the OSCE, the Council of Europe, the OAS and the Latin American Parliament.