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Lithuanian Leader Apologizes to Jews During Knesset Speech

The president of Lithuania has offered a public apology to the Jewish people for the mass murder of Lithuania’s Jews by his country’s citizens during World War II.

Addressing the Knesset on Wednesday, the second day of a state visit, President Algirdas Brazauskas sought forgiveness for the role his people played in the murder of more than 200,000 Lithuanian Jews.

He said the Lithuanians have had a difficult time coming to terms with their past, but promised that war criminals would be brought to justice.

Several Lithuanian survivors were present during the speech. One of them, former Knesset member Gustav Badyan, was overcome by emotion and was taken to the hospital with chest pains, Israel Television said.

Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin told the Knesset that Israel would hold Brazauskas to his pledge to repeal a blanket pardon given to Nazi criminals in 1991, when Lithuania became independent.

An estimated 5,000 Lithuanians involved in the murder of Jews are among those who were rehabilitated by the government.

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