(JTA) – A swastika made of freshly dug earth and flowers was laid out in front of the headquarters of the Jewish Community of Lithuania in Vilnius, the country’s capital city.
The incident Sunday is rare for Lithuania and it follows acrimonious debate in Lithuania about the honoring of collaborators with the Nazis, some of whom are widely seen as anti-Soviet heroes in Lithuania despite their role in the near annihilation of Lithuanian Jewry.
Online, some comments about the display suggested it was meant not only to offend, but to intimidate with elements evocative of burial.
In July, the city council of Vilnius voted to rename a street honoring a Nazi collaborator, Kazys Škirpa, despite protests by nationalists. In August, a plaque for another collaborator, Jonas Noreika, was removed from a university building in Vilnius on orders from the mayor.
Last week, nationalist protesters installed without permit another plaque for Noreika at the same place instead of the one that had been removed, Efraim Zuroff, the Eastern Europe director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. “If this is the response of so-called patriots, then it is an indication that they have no intention to address Lithuania’s Holocaust past,” he said.