Jerusalem – The Simon Wiesenthal Center today harshly criticized the manner in which the Lithuanian authorities handled a demonstration held last Tuesday in the capital of Vilnius in which hundreds of neo-Nazis marched chanting anti-Semitic slogans in the city center.
In a letter sent by its chief Nazi-hunter, Israel director Dr. Efraim Zuroff to the Lithuanian ambassador to Israel, the Center demanded that the demonstrators be punished as quickly as possible, noting that public opinion poll published today in Vilnius indicated widespread public support of the march, which clearly shows that Lithuanian society in acute need of a lesson about the dangers of Nazism.
According to Zuroff:
“The Wiesenthal Center would therefore request that you transmit to Vilnius not only the sense of shock and outrage felt by Jews the world over, but our demand that those responsible for this outrage be prosecuted and punished in an expeditious manner. I would also add that the failure of the police to respond to the march raises serious questions about the willingness of the Lithuanian authorities to take the necessary measures to prevent such cases in the future.
“In fact, based on the public opinion poll which appeared in today’s’ Lietuvos Rytas in which 32% of the respondents expressed approval for the anti-Semitic and racist slogans chanted by the neo-Nazi demonstrators and another 22% approved of the march, it appears that there is much work to be done in educating the Lithuanian public about the dangers posed by Nazism. But perhaps that is not surprising in a country in which not a single one of the numerous unprosecuted Lithuanian Nazi war criminals has ever been punished for his crimes.”