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Subject: Re: Punishing Stalinist War Criminals
Date: Tue, 06 Oct 1998 11:28:05 GMT
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I found the original US News and World Report article about Dusanski below
online. It had been posted on soc.culture.russian last year. I am reproducing
it below.

U.S. News and World Report

20 October 1997
Ghosts from the gulag Lithuania tries to remember Stalin and forget HitlerBY


VILNIUS--One mass grave is couched in a fairy-tale forest on the
outskirts of town. Another is in the city center, next to a red-clay
tennis court. The Paneriai forest outside the Lithuanian capital of
Vilnius marks the spot where 100,000 people, most of them Jews, were
shot by invading German forces starting in autumn 1941. The Vilnius
neighborhood called Tuskulenai contains 700 victims of Joseph Stalin's
secret police, each skull neatly perforated by a single bullet.
   Though both sites are more than half a century old, their ghosts remain
unruly. Lithuania, one of the few countries to have known the rule both
of Hitler and of Stalin, would these days prefer to remember its
victimhood under the Soviets than the collaboration of some Lithuanians
with the Nazis--in which 94 percent of Lithuania's 220,000 Jews were
murdered. But an effort by prosecutors to track down and extradite
former officials of the Soviet secret police for crimes against humanity
has brought all of these ghosts back to life.
   For Lithuanians it is an issue of justice. But members of the country's
tiny remnant Jewish population of 5,000 fear that the increasing
emphasis on the crimes of Stalin has a more sinister undertone--of
trying to obscure and absolve the country's guilty past. In particular,
Jewish leaders accuse prosecutors of showing little interest in pursuing
Nazi collaborators who remain alive and free in Lithuania even now. "I
tell them, `Get your own house in order!' " says Simon Alperavicius,
head of the Jewish Community of Lithuania.
   Backfire. Even the most innocent events in Lithuania these days have
become supercharged with this controversy over the past. The latest
recriminations were sparked by an official commemoration of an
18th-century Jewish scholar, the Gaon of Vilna, revered as one of the
greatest Talmudists in a Lithuania once known for its rich Jewish
culture. The festivities, marking the 200th anniversary of the Gaon's
death this month, were the latest effort by the government to improve on
a Lithuanian history long marred by antisemitism and, more recently, by
official Soviet neglect of Jewish culture. Since Lithuania regained its
independence in 1991, Jewish schools have been opened and cultural
activities revived.
   But this gesture of goodwill was dragged into the controversy last month
when a leading Israeli Nazi hunter called upon Jewish organizations to
boycott the event. Efraim Zuroff, head of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in
Israel, was responding to news reports that the Gaon's grave in Vilnius
had been defaced by antisemites. The reports subsequently proved
incorrect, but Zuroff's action brought to a boil the simmering dispute
over prosecution of Nazi crimes. The commemoration came off as planned.
But a speech before the Lithuanian parliament by Israel's ambassador to
mark the occasion was heckled by right-wing deputies when he criticized
Lithuania's failure to confront its own culpability in Nazi atrocities.
   The foremost accused criminal to escape Lithuanian prosecution is
Alexander Lileikis, once a high-ranking official of the Lithuanian
security service under the Nazis. Lileikis, who spent most of his
postwar life in the United States, was stripped of his U.S. citizenship
and returned to Lithuania last year. Even though Lithuanian prosecutors
acknowledge possessing wartime documents showing that Lileikis was
responsible for handing over at least 53 Jews to certain death at the
hands of the Gestapo between 1941 and 1944, they claim they are legally
barred from prosecuting him now because of his bad health.
   In any event, Zuroff's remarks set off a storm among Lithuanians angry
at being typecast as unrepentant antisemites. One parliamentary deputy
even called for slander charges to be brought against the Israeli,
prompting Zuroff to respond: "They'll put me in jail before they ever
get around to prosecuting Lileikis."
   There is no historical dispute about the brutality of Stalin's rule. In
1940 the country was gobbled up by the Soviet Union, and by the time of
the German invasion the following year tens of thousands of Lithuanians
were shot or deported to Siberia. After Soviet power returned in 1944,
Lithuanian partisans took to the woods, starting a guerrilla war against
Moscow's forces that continued well into the mid-1950s. Arvydas
Anusauskas, a historian who heads the Genocide and Resistance Research
Department in Vilnius, estimates that 100,000 Lithuanians, or 5 percent
of the population, died. "Every second adult male Lithuanian met with
repression in one form or another"--arrest, deportation, or execution,
he says. During the guerrilla war against the Soviets from 1944 to 1953,
special troops of the NKVD, the predecessor of the KGB, combed the
countryside for partisans and their supporters. Bodies were often
mutilated and left lying in the streets and fields as warnings.
   Stalinist hunters. At the beginning of this year, four former NKVD
officers were tried and sentenced to prison for crimes against humanity
committed during the guerrilla war of the 1940s. (One of the elderly
accused died before the trial ended.) Lithuania has requested that
Russia hand over three high-ranking former NKVD officers accused of
Stalinist genocide, so far to no effect. Lithuanian researchers were
allowed into Russian secret-police archives for the first time at the
beginning of September, however.
   But along with the prosecutions has arisen a movement in Lithuania that
explicitly portrays the country as the victim of a genocidal campaign
equal to or even greater than the Nazi annihilation of European Jewry.
At the KGB Museum in Vilnius, a building with thick stone walls that was
headquarters to both the Gestapo and the NKVD, visitors can view tiny
basement cells where Soviet prisoners were held before execution. Today
the building also houses Soviet secret-police archives that the
Lithuanians managed to hold on to when the KGB left for good in 1991.
Arunas Bubnys, director of the archives, claims that the crimes
committed against Lithuania were part of a global Communist genocide
that surpassed those of the Nazis: "If you take all the victims of
Stalin, Mao, and Pol Pot, there's no question that that was the biggest
genocide of all," he says.
   The recently appointed Lithuanian general prosecutor, Kazys Pednycia,
has made small steps toward easing tensions by working to remove the
legal obstacles in the Lileikis case. But one explosive issue remains on
the table: the hunt for two former NKVD officers of Jewish origin. One,
Nachman Dusanski, apparently living in Israel, is accused by Lithuanian
prosecutors of participating in the murder of 74 people just before the
German invasion in 1941. He is said to have returned to Lithuania after
the war to take part in the dirty war against anti-Soviet partisans. The
other, Julius Slavinus, is accused of torturing Lithuanian prisoners in
1945. He lives in Bonn, but the German government has refused Lithuanian
extradition requests.
   Earlier this year, Israel criticized Pednycia's predecessor for letting
the same investigator handle the cases of both Lileikis and Slavinus.
This was a sensitive issue because the "two genocides" theory heard in
Lithuania often has a virulently antisemitic addendum: Lithuanian
"revenge" against Jews under the Nazis was justified because Jews were
Communist sympathizers who killed Lithuanians during the first Soviet
   Of course, history does not happen in black and white. Nearly a quarter
of the Lithuanians deported to Siberia in 1940 were Jews--and thousands
of non-Jewish Lithuanians died in Nazi concentration camps. One of the
most famous inmates of the basement cells in what is now the KGB Museum
was Menachem Begin, the future Israeli prime minister. It was his
deportation to Siberia by the Soviets that saved him from the Nazis.

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