Lithuania’s Museum of Holocaust Denial

April 13 2018

Located in the center of Vilnius, not far from the Lithuanian parliament, is the Museum of Genocide and Victims. The museum—rather than focusing on the genocide of Jews that occurred in Lithuania during World War II, or simply documenting the behavior of the Nazis and Soviets who alternately occupied the country from 1939 until 1991—minimizes the Holocaust while celebrating some of its perpetrators. In particular, the exhibits make much of partisan groups that resisted Soviet rule even though they also actively collaborated with the Nazis and murdered thousands of Jews and Lithuanian Gentiles. Dovid Katz writes:

The point of the museum is to persuade all comers that Soviet crimes were the genocide that took place in this part of the world and that those groups to which most of the museum’s space is dedicated to glorifying were indeed humanitarian lovers of truth, justice, and multi-ethnic tolerance. The sad truth is, however, that many of those honored were collaborators who participated in, or abetted, genocide [before, during, and after the Holocaust]. . . .

But there is one theme in this museum that is very honest, and necessary, and [could] make a truly excellent museum, namely a cabinet of KGB crimes and Stalinist horrors such as one finds in numerous other cities. These exhibits expose Soviet crimes against humanity, particularly in the Stalin period, including mass deportations, imprisonments, harsh punishments—including torture and barbaric murder—of supposed “enemies,” suppression of human freedoms including speech, religion, emigration, and political beliefs, and, pervasive from morning to night for all those decades, a cruel forced occupation of [the] country by a larger empire. . . .

Ultranationalist elements [in Lithuania and elsewhere in Eastern Europe], consumed with (understandable) resentment against the many crimes of the Russian and Soviet empires over the centuries, will go to any lengths to make heroes out of all anti-Soviet and anti-Russian figures in history, including those who collaborated with the Nazis—to hell with the “detail” of the extermination of a national minority. The problem here is that virtually all of the many thousands of actual East European Holocaust murderers were “anti-Soviet.” If that makes them heroes, ipso facto, heaven help European civilization.

[The museum has] one redeeming feature: [it honors] those who did the right thing and saved a neighbor from the barbaric hands of the Nazis and their . . . local collaborators and partners. They are the true Lithuanian heroes of World War II. They deserve an entire museum in their honor.

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More about: History & Ideas, Holocaust, Holocaust denial, Lithuania, World War II

Hizballah Is in Venezuela to Stay

Feb. 21 2019

In a recent interview, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo mentioned the presence of Hizballah cells in Venezuela as further evidence of the growing unrest in that country. The Iran-backed group has operated in Venezuela for years, engaging in narcotics trafficking and money laundering to fund its activities in the Middle East, and likely using the country as a base for planning terrorist attacks. If Juan Guaido, now Venezuela’s internationally recognized leader, is able to gain control of the government, he will probably seek to alter this situation. But, writes Colin Clarke, his options may be limited.

A government led by Guaido would almost certainly be more active in opposing Hizballah’s presence on Venezuelan soil, not just nominally but in more aggressively seeking to curtail the group’s criminal network and, by extension, the influence of Iran. As part of a quid pro quo for its support, Washington would likely seek to lean on Guaido to crack down on Iran-linked activities throughout the region.

But there is a major difference between will and capability. . . . Hizballah is backed by a regime in Tehran that provides it with upward of $700 million annually, according to some estimates. Venezuela serves as Iran’s entry point into Latin America, a foothold the Iranians are unlikely to cede without putting up a fight. Moreover, Russia retains a vested interest in propping up [the incumbent] Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro and keeping him in power, given the longstanding relationship between the two countries. . . . Further, after cooperating closely in Syria, Hizballah is now a known quantity to the Kremlin and an organization that President Vladimir Putin could view as an asset that, at the very least, will not interfere with Russia’s designs to extend its influence in the Western hemisphere.

If the Maduro regime is ultimately ousted from power, that will likely have a negative impact on Hizballah in Venezuela. . . . Yet, on balance, Hizballah has deep roots in Venezuela, and completely expelling the group—no matter how high a priority for the Trump administration—remains unlikely. The best-case scenario for Washington could be an ascendant Guaido administration that agrees to combat Hizballah’s influence—if the new government is willing to accept a U.S. presence in the country to begin training Venezuelan forces in the skills necessary to counter terrorism and transnational criminal networks with strong ties to Venezuelan society. But that scenario, of course, is dependent on the United States offering such assistance in the first place.

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More about: Hizballah, Iran, Mike Pompeo, Politics & Current Affairs, U.S. Foreign policy, Venezuela