News Update: Holocaust Site Desecration in Lithuania
 
 
 
 
WASHINGTON, D.C.  July 28,  2016
 

TO: NCSEJ Leadership and Interested Parties
 
FROM: Mark B. Levin, Executive Vice-Chairman & CEO
Lesley Weiss, Deputy Director


NCSEJ learned this week about the possible desecration and misuse of a Holocaust site in Kaunas, Lithuania.
 
The controversy concerns the use of the Seventh Fort, the site of a World War II-era massacre, as a venue for weddings, summer camps, and other festive activities (see http://www.jta.org/2016/07/24/news-opinion/world/lithuanian-concentration-camp-is-now-a-wedding-venue).
 
In early July 1941, thousands of Jews were transferred to locations outside of Kaunas, including to the Seventh Fort. Nazi mobile killing units and their Lithuanian auxiliaries murdered thousands of Jews at such forts in Lithuania. Close to 5,000 were murdered at the Seventh Fort, and buried in a mass grave.
 
In 2009, the Lithuanian State Property Fund sold the Seventh Fort complex. The complex is now run by the “Military Heritage Center,” a private business which advertises itself as a museum.
 
The Center does present educational programs on the Fort’s military history, including information about its use as a concentration camp in World War II and the massacre of Jews by the Nazis and local collaborators.
 
The Jewish community of Lithuania has issued a statement (see http://www.lzb.lt/en/2016/07/27/statement-about-the-seventh-fort-in-kaunas/) detailing its efforts to prevent the desecration of Holocaust-era massacre sites, and its role in reburying human remains found during the owner’s cleanup of the mass grave at the Seventh Fort.
 
NCSEJ has consulted with the State Department about the reports of desecration. We have also contacted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, of which Lithuania is a member. The IHRA will follow up with the Lithuanian government.
 
NCSEJ has expressed its concern directly to the Lithuanian government, urging that this site and other massacre sites be treated with dignity and respect. We are awaiting the government’s response.
 
We will keep you updated as the situation unfolds.

 
 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
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About NCSEJ
Founded in 1971, NCSEJ represents the organized American Jewish community in monitoring and advocating on behalf of the estimated 1.5 million Jews in Eastern Europe and Eurasia, including the 15 successor states of the former Soviet Union.
 
 
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