News

2015.09.08 13:45

Official Seimas statement: rescuers of Jews granted freedom fighter status

DELFI.lt 2015.09.08 13:45

At its plenary session, the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania adopted amendments to the Law on the Legal Status of the Participants of the Resistance to the 1940–1990 Occupations, whereby the rescuers of Jews during the Holocaust are granted freedom fighter status. A total of 72 Members of the Seimas voted in favour of the amendments, with no votes against and one abstention.

At its plenary session, the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania adopted amendments to the Law on the Legal Status of the Participants of the Resistance to the 1940–1990 Occupations, whereby the rescuers of Jews during the Holocaust are granted freedom fighter status. A total of 72 Members of the Seimas voted in favour of the amendments, with no votes against and one abstention.

The Government conclusion notes that an additional annual allocation of LTL 860.000 will be needed after rescuers of Jews are granted the legal freedom fighter status, as on the basis of the Law on State Pensions of the Republic of Lithuania this status will entitle the rescuers to either first or second degree state pensions of the Republic of Lithuania. Granting the freedom fighter status to the rescuers who died will entitle their family members to a one-off benefit subject to the provisions of the Law on the State Support to the Families of the Participants of the Resistance to the 1940–1990 Occupations who Lost Their Lives. Based on the preliminary data of the Genocide and Resistance Research Centre of Lithuania, 65 persons were killed or died while rescuing Jews during the Holocaust. This means that LTL 1 million will be needed from the state budget in order to pay the one-off benefits to their family members. The amendments adopted by the Seimas will come into force 1 July 2014.

Currently, the law in force defines freedom fighters as persons who participated in the resistance movement. They include agents and supporters of partisans; members of the underground organisations that were active in 1940–1990 and sought to restore Lithuania’s independence; publishers, distributors and co-workers of the underground press; participants of resistance campaigns; and persons otherwise involved in the struggle for Lithuania’s independence. The freedom fighter status has also been granted to retired military officers of the Republic of Lithuania; former officials of the internal affairs authorities; paramilitaries; civil servants and officials of public civilian institutions; education and culture activists; members of social and political organizations; and other nationals of the Republic of Lithuania who contributed to strengthening the independence, territorial integrity and constitutional order of Lithuania until 15 June 1940 and as a result were arrested, imprisoned or sentenced to death and executed, killed, or died in custody during the first Soviet occupation (1940–1941); organisers and participants of mass GULAG political prisoner strikes who either died during the suppression of the strikes, were sentenced to an additional punishment, or transferred to closed prisons or other special purpose camps.

The Law on the Legal Status of the Participants of the Resistance to the 1940–1990 Occupations defines the categories of participants of resistance to the Nazi Germany and Soviet occupation regimes (volunteer soldiers, freedom fighters and groups of persons granted the same status) and outlines the standard criteria for granting the legal status of freedom fighters.