Jerusalem – The Simon Wiesenthal Center has congratulated Jerusalem Professor Dov Levin, who today returned a military honor he was awarded in 1993 for his activities as an anti-Nazi partisan by then Lithuanian President Algirdas Brazauskas to current president Valdas Adamkus, to protest the recent decision of the Lithuanian special prosecutor to investigate fellow partisan Dr. Yitzchak Arad for participation in war crimes.
In a statement issued today in Jerusalem by its chief Nazi-hunter Israel director Dr. Efraim Zuroff, the Center praised Prof. Levin for taking “an unequivocal stand against the attempts by the Lithuanian judicial authorities to delegitimize the courageous struggle of the Soviet partisan movement against the Nazis and their numerous Lithuanian collaborators. This is merely another attempt by Lithuania to minimize or relativize the extensive participation by Lithuanians in the mass murder of Jews during the Holocaust,” said Zuroff, who urged other honorees to follow Levin’s example.
In his letter to President Adamkus, Prof. Levin explained why he took this unprecedented step:
“As a former comrade-in-arms of Dr. Arad, and as someone who has very closely followed the efforts of Lithuanian society to erase the guilt of Lithuanian complicity in Holocaust crimes, I want to strenuously protest the absolutely disgusting demand to extradite this Jewish hero to stand trial in Lithuania. Out of a sense of solidarity with Dr.Arad and deep disgust and anger at this despicable step, which attempts to delegitimize the courageous struggle of myself and my comrades against the Nazi invaders and their Lithuanian collaborators, I hereby return the certificate of honor whose contents have been rendered meaningless by the recent actions and events in Lithuania as explained above.
“In that context, I cannot refrain from mentioning my deep sense of shock and indignation at the recent demonstration by some two hundred neo-Nazis, who brazenly marched in the main streets of our beloved Vilna [Vilnius] shouting anti-Semitic slogans such as “Juden raus” under the protection of the local police, who stood by passively despite this blatant exhibition of incitement against Jews and Russians. And thus it is perhaps no coincidence that this disgusting anti-Semitic event took place not long after the insulting demand by the Lithuanian authorities to extradite our comrade Dr. Yitzchak Arad.”