Jewish Leader Doubts Sincerity of Lithuania’s Self-examination

Lithuania has officially established an international commission to examine war crimes committed during the Nazi and Soviet occupations of the Baltic nation.

Julius Smulkstis, an adviser to Lithuanian President Valdas Adamkus who was named government liaison to the Jewish community in June, was quoted as saying that the commission’s main function is “to investigate the World War II period and its immediate aftermath in order to come up with answers to various questions concerning the Jewish and Lithuanian genocide.”

But a top Jewish leader is skeptical.

Simonas Alperavicius, the chairman of the Lithuanian Jewish community, said he doubts that the commission will be successful in digging up the truth because the commission has too many people with different views on how to confront the country’s past.

Some members of the commission have vowed to investigate both Lithuania’s crimes against the Jews during the Nazi era and Jewish crimes against Lithuanians during the Soviet occupation of the country.

Earlier this year, the presidents of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia agreed to set up commissions to investigate the Soviet and Nazi occupations of their countries.

The decision was made during a summit of the three presidents in May.

The commission will be co-chaired by Emanuelis Zingeris, the only Jewish member of the 141-seat Lithuanian Parliament.

Meanwhile, the war crimes trial of a man who headed the Lithuanian secret police during World War II was once again delayed.

The trial of Aleksandras Lileikis, 91, has already been postponed three times this year. In 1996, Lileikis, a former Massachusetts resident, was stripped of his U.S. citizenship for lying about his wartime activities.

This most recent decision raises doubts that the trial will ever take place, said Alperavicius.

Lileikis denies the charges of genocide, saying his case was fabricated using documents forged by the Soviet KGB.

If it does take place, the trial would be the first for Holocaust crimes in any of the three Baltic states since they gained their independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.

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