finally found its way into the press last that the Prosecutor
General’s office had quietly stopped a pre-trial investigation
in mid-February into an article written by an historian who
denies the Holocaust and formerly worked at the Interior
Ministry, Petras Stankeras.
That same week the world media from Israel to India announced that three African
states—Gambia, Liberia and Sierra Leone—had in concert released
a collection of postage stamps in honor of twelve Litvaks
who had fought racism and apartheid.
Among those honored was the famous
South African dissident and comrade-in-arms of Nobel Peace
Prize recipient Nelson Mandela, Esther Barsel, born in Raguva.
The Lithuanian Migration Department
has called a testimonial she wrote unbelievable and has rejected
it as unworthy of consideration. Is it just a coincidence
that this was decision was made in the case of Grant Gochin,
a descendant of Lithuanian Jews who has tried to obtain Lithuanian
citizenship? Do the different Lithuanian institutions of
power simply work under a unified policy that being a Jew
and being a Lithuanian citizen are irreconcilable things?
I was interested to hear what Barsel’s
son-in-law, Los Angeles-based Grant Gochin, made of Stankeras’s
vindication. The Migration Department repeatedly refused
to grant him Lithuanian citizenship despite the service by
his grandfather, a Lithuanian citizen, in the Lithuanian
“Lithuania has completely established
itself as a state that hates Jews. When they need to justify
the use of swastikas, the courts work perfectly and find
‘historical’ justifications for that. In every instance where
the rights of Jews are involved, cases are incredibly ‘protracted,’”
Gochin said by telephone from Los Angeles.
The rapid and secret vindication of
Stankeras is worthy of attention. Vilnius district prosecutor
press representative Gintautas Stalnionis said there is no
law obligating the prosecutor to announce to the media the
result of every investigation. Undoubtedly, there is no such
law. It would be illogical and uneconomic if the prosecutor’s
office had to spend its time reporting to journalists on
every investigation, especially those that are dropped.
But isn’t the Stankeras case exceptional?
After all, it’s not every article that compels seven EU representatives
to express concern over Holocaust denial in Lithuania.
Among the countries expressing that concern was Estonia.
Yes, we make fun of Estonians in jokes, but Estonians really
are our own, neighbors, and would they raise an international
stink over nothing at all? Meanwhile, there are more articles
and comments on Stankeras in English on the internet than
about most Lithuanian politicians combined.
It seems the Stankeras case isn’t
such an average one after all. So why the secrecy? In this
instance transparency on the part of law enforcement wouldn’t
have harmed the case at all. As it happened, not only was
notice of the dropped investigation given too late, but it
was disclosed in a very controversial context: the official
who submitted his letter of resignation is now demanding
he be returned to his post.
The reasons? Allegedly the man experienced
pressure from his superiors and wrote the resignation letter
consumed by stress. The official who accused the Nuremberg
tribunal, those who convicted the Nazi vampires, of hypocrisy
and cynicism, has gone beyond the bounds of all human decency.
He is asking to be considered a victim, because his boss
got mad at him? The man living the cozy life of a bureaucrat
experienced stress, wrote a letter of resignation and the
same day changed his mind. Did someone point a pistol at
his head? Did someone threaten to send him to the gas chamber?
Deport his family for execution?
In the private sector people are often
fired, and often without warning. Employees of large corporations
fight daily for their jobs by demonstrating they are better
than others and by abiding the deserved and undeserved complaints
of their superiors. But here the bureaucrat sitting in his
office in front of the computer thinks he’s better than all
others. If an example of cynicism and double standards is
needed, Mr. Stankeras ought to be presented as the phenotype
of such behaviour.
I’ll repeat the accusations dropped
prematurely against Stankeras. The Prosecutor General’s Office
initiated pre-trial investigation of the article published
in the magazine Veidas under an article of the criminal code
punishing public approval of international crimes, crimes
by the USSR and/or Nazi Germany against the Republic of Lithuania
or residents of Lithuania, denying such crimes or grossly
Much too late, however, it was announced
the experts had stated the article did not even contain the
word “Holocaust,” and the publication was dedicated to discussing
the Nuremberg Trials.
First of all, it’s obvious even to
a high school student that there wouldn’t have been a Nuremberg
Trial if there hadn’t been the Holocaust, and so the historian
wouldn’t have had anything to write about. Second, the fact
that Stankeras did not, even once, mention the Holocaust
in an article about the Nuremberg Trials is a detail that
should raise alarm rather than automatically vindicate him.
Finally, wasn’t it the public servant’s
attorney and his supporters who said that a man was being
“crucified” over one sentence? So it’s not nice for prosecutors
to get worked up about one sentence, but for the defense
to seek acquittal over one word that was not used is standard
I won’t quote that well-known sentence
where the author wrote about “allegedly” murdered Jews. Enough
has been written about it already, including that a PhD ought
probably to know that word “buktai” [“as if”] isn’t supposed
to be used [in proper grammar]. It seems Stankeras tried
to exculpate himself by saying the grammar editors at the
magazine corrected “buktai” to “neva” [“allegedly], placed
the word in a different position and supposedly changed the
true meaning of the sentence.
Neither does it say anything good
about the work of this doctor of history that, according
to Gediminas Jankus, P. Stankeras the writer based his piece
on the fantasies about the manufactured crimes of the Nazis
by Ernst Zundel, who was convicted and incarcerated in a
Canadian prison for five years [sic. Zundel was imprisoned
in Canada for two years, extradited to Germany and sentenced
to five years there in 2007, but was released early in 2010
and denied re-entry to Canada. Stankeras seems to have translated
phrases and entire sentences in his piece from Chicago-based
Arthur Butz’s Holocaust denial webpages rather than from
Zundel’s work, which strays into Nazi survivals in Neue Schwabenland
in Antarctica, UFOs, ETs as Nazi allies and so on, beyond
mere Holocaust denial]. Other internet commentators soon
demonstrated that this “academic” article failed to include
any of the author’s sources, many of which are of very dubious
reliability. Besides which, by getting dragged down into
disputes over a single sentence, it seems everyone has overlooked the very title of the article: “The Nuremberg
War Crimes Trial: The Biggest Legal Farce in History.”
Even if we allow that an error cropped
up in Stankeras’s article about “allegedly” murdered Jews,
isn’t the title enough for us to understand where the historian
is headed? This is a clear attempt, after all, to diminish
Nazi crimes and to portray the murderers as the victims.
An historian is not an expert in international
law. Why should we believe the far-reaching conclusions he
reaches about the “biggest legal farce” if the author is
not able to provide sources, and the entire text sounds as
if it were a paper written by a freshman?
You don’t have to be an expert to
understand the horror of the Holocaust. It’s enough to view
one documentary film on the topic, for instance, the BBC
series “Auschwitz.” I can’t conceive of how a person who
has seen this type of film who has even a modicum of humanity
could harbour the desire to write articles about how the
rights of the Nazis were violated.
Is it perhaps that Stankeras read
too much Holocaust denial lierature and he never thought
to take a look at reliable sources?
Stankeras’s acquittal only confirms
what was clear long ago: Lithuanian institutions of power
and Lithuanian society are permeated with anti-Semitic sentiments
and this looks very bad in the international sphere. From
foreign minister A. Azubalis’s comments about “Jewish lobbyists”
in consideration of the citizenship law to the internet polluted
by anti-Semitic rhetoric, Lithuania is doing all she can
to established herself in the world as a country that hates
We are already infamous as the European
Mecca of homophobes. Behind Stankeras’s “scholarship” protrude
the ears of the rhetoric of Mindaugas Murza [a Lithuanian
neo-Nazi]. Is this really the true face of Lithuania, a member
of the club of civilized countries in the European Union?