Stanislovas Tomas, a human rights lawyer running for election to the European Parliament, was filmed smashing the plaque honoring Jonas Noreika on Sunday and streamed it on Facebook. He reported his actions to police and waited to be arrested next to the plaque with a sledge hammer.
Last month, a Vilnius court dismissed an American Jew’s lawsuit against a state museum’s glorification of Noreika, citing the complainant’s “ill-based” intentions.
The claimant, Grant Gochin of California, said he would appeal to the European Court of Justice.
He sued the state-funded Center for the Study of the Genocide and Resistance of the Residents of Lithuania for erecting a plaque honoring Noreika, a local anti-Communist hero who died while in Soviet custody.
Efraim Zuroff, the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Eastern Europe director, for years has argued that Noreika became a mass murderer after his appointment in 1941 as head of Siauliai County under the German Nazi occupation.
The case is thought to be the first in which civil servants publicly defended in court the actions and good name of an alleged collaborator with the Nazis.
In documents submitted to the court, the center claimed Noreika’s actions cannot be judged posthumously and that in any case there is no evidence to suggest he perpetrated war crimes.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center, the Jewish Community of Lithuania, and one of Noreika’s grandchildren, Silvia Foti, dispute this.