THE BLOG

A Wake-up Call to Lithuania and Brussels to the Growth of Fascist Ideology and Anti-Semitism

11/03/2014 11:31 GMT | Updated 11/05/2014 10:59 BST

This morning I woke up to a brilliantly sunny day here in Vilnius, Lithuania, and for the first time I can remember, I cursed the good weather.

That is because I am in the Lithuanian capital to protest against today's neo-Nazi/ultranationalist march, one which is a stark reminder of the dark days of the Holocaust in this country, in which 96.4% of the 220,000 Jews living under the German occupation were murdered by the Nazis with the active assistance of many thousands of Lithuanian volunteers.

Those marching today, Lithuanian Independence Day, down the main avenue of the Baltic capital, are the spiritual heirs of those local killers. And their march is the exact antithesis of Lithuania's current membership in the European Union and Nato.

Their chants of "Lithuania for Lithuanians" are a clear and unequivocal message calling for the exclusion of minorities, which sounds particularly ominous in a city whose 60,000 Jews were almost completely annihilated with the active participation of volunteers from the entire scope of Lithuanian society, from the clergy and intelligentsia to its marginal elements.

One of the reasons for this march, the number of whose participants has been rising annually, is the miserable failure of Lithuania's leaders and schools to teach the truth about the history of the Holocaust in their country, and the highly significant role played by local killers in the mass murder of Lithuanian Jewry.

Instead, Lithuania is pushing the Prague Declaration of 2008, which promotes the canard of historical equivalency between Nazism and Communism, and which seeks to turn the Holocaust into just another tragedy, in fact one of many.

That's why I was hoping today for bad weather, to limit the number of marchers in this shameful event.

Now all I can hope is that the sun will afford full exposure and a wake-up call to Lithuanian society and to Brussels regarding the growth of fascist ideology and anti-Semitism in this, the largest of the Baltic republics.

Efraim Zurrof is the chief Nazi-hunter of the Simon Wiesenthal Center and director of its Israel Office. His most recent book, Operation Last Chance; One Man's Quest to Bring Nazi Criminals to Justice, deals extensively with the ongoing failure of the Baltic countries, and especially Lithuania, to bring to justice un-prosecuted local Nazi war criminals and honestly deal with the complicity of their nationals in Holocaust crimes