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2020.04.02 16:39

State research centre wins case over Noreika Holocaust report

Vaidotas Beniušis, BNS2020.04.02 16:39

A Lithuanian court has dismissed a lawsuit against the Genocide and Resistance Research Centre over its report on Jonas Noreika–General Vėtra, a controversial World War Two-era figure.

The centre concluded in 2015 that Noreika was not involved in the mass murder of Jews in Lithuania during the Holocaust. The report was challenged by Grant Gochin, a US-based Lithuanian activist, who demanded that the conclusion be reexamined.

Read more: National hero and Nazi collaborator: WW2 leader divides opinion

The Lithuanian Supreme Administrative Court ruled on Wednesday that the lawsuit was not “related to the centre's activities falling within the realm of public administration” and dismissed it.

“The petitioner's request to the court to order the Centre [...] to conduct research [and] revise its historic conclusion regarding Jonas Noreika [...] is not granted,” the panel of three judges said in the ruling.

The court ordered Gochin to pay 950 euros in legal costs to the center.

Noreika, a Lithuanian military officer known as Generolas Vėtra (General Storm), was a member of the anti-Soviet resistance during World War Two and was appointed the chief of Šiauliai District during the Nazi occupation. He signed orders to establish a ghetto for the local Jewish population and expropriate their property.

The Genocide and Resistance Research Centre said in the report in 2015 that Noreika “did not take part in mass extermination operations against Jews in the districts of Telšiai and Šiauliai during the German occupation”, but the Nazis “succeeded in involving him in handling the affairs connected to the isolation of Jews”.

A memorial plaque to Noreika on a public building in central Vilnius has stirred controversy in recent years.

Read more: Political fallout continues after protesters reinstall Noreika plaque

Critics say Noreika does not deserve the plaque, given his collaboration with the Nazi occupation.

Noreika's Supporters point out that he later joined anti-Nazi resistance and was imprisoned in a Nazi concentration camp, and was involved in organising resistance to the Soviet occupation after the war.

Noreika was sentenced to death by a Soviet military tribunal in 1946 and executed a year later.

The Nazis and their local collaborators killed over 90 percent of Lithuania's pre-war Jewish population of over 200,000 during the Holocaust.

Read more: Why does Lithuanian post-war partisan leader remain a global controversy?