Jerusalem – The Simon Wiesenthal Center is calling for the removal of a plaque honoring the chaplain of a World War II Lithuanian auxiliary police battalion which murdered more than 15,000 Jews in Belarus during the years 1941-1942.
In a letter sent today by its chief Nazi-hunter, Dr. Efraim Zuroff, who is also responsible for Eastern European Affairs, to the Lithuanian ambassador to Israel, the Center harshly condemned the recent installation of the plaque honoring Zenonas Ignatavičius in his hometown of Vitkija. It also criticized the participation in the ceremony of Lithuanian soldiers.
According to Zuroff:
“The 12th Lithuanian Auxiliary Police Battalion, under the command of Major Antanas Impulevičius, was sent to Belarus in October 1941 and was responsible for the murder of more than 15,000 Jews. During their service there, Ignatavičius served as their chaplain and administered to their religious needs, including taking confessions. There is no indication anywhere that he ever expressed any opposition or revulsion regarding the horrific murders of innocent Jewish men, women and children by the men of this battalion.
“Is this a person whom Lithuania wants to honor? Is this the person who should serve as a model for the young soldiers of Lithuania’s army?
“We urge you to convey our deepest sense of outrage and revulsion at the honoring of a priest who lent solace and compassion to the mass murderers of the 12th LAPB.
“Shame on the organizers of such an event and shame on the authorities who allowed this to take place.”
For additional information please contact the Israel Office of the Wiesenthal Center: