Lithuania’s March 11th independence day is celebrated by the free world, not least by those who remember the incredible news that spread around the globe in March 1990, when Lithuania’s parliament (Seimas) voted 124 to zero to break away from the Soviet Union. The courage of the parliamentarians from a broad spectrum of parties and movements was tangible; the country was still occupied by ominous Soviet forces (and blood would be spilled by Soviet forces’ violence less than a year later, in January 1991). The March 11th celebration has been anchored over the years by a record of achievement that includes the transition to democracy, the joining of the European Union and NATO, and the rapid integration with Western society, economy and mores. (…) The bad news today starts with the fact that the marchers (with crowd estimates in the range of 1,500) were for the first time granted both the old town and the city center, starting from Old Town Hall and proceeding to Gedimino right up to the Seimas. The final rally took place in the actual square of the nation’s prestigious parliament building, rather than the nearby location of the premises near the Genocide Museum, slightly lower on Gedimino Boulevard. Alas, a large banner featuring Juozas Ambrazevicius-Brazaitis, the 1941 Nazi puppet prime minister, whose remains were ceremoniously transferred and reburied with full honors by the government in 2012, was part of the “permitted signware” and was carried from Town Hall and then up Gedimino to the parliament building. Ambrazevicius-Brazaitis personally signed documents confirming the expulsion of Jewish citizens of his city, Kaunas, to the Seventh Fort, where they were murdered. The remainder, in a second document, were given four weeks to abandon their homes and report for incarceration in the Kovno Ghetto. Is this the Lithuania the state wants to project in 2014? In numerous discussions with participants and onlookers, our team asked why the marchers do not instead honor one of the real heroes of 1941, the incredibly brave Lithuanians who risked all to just do the right thing and save a neighbor from the LAF, the provisional government, and other Nazi allied entities.
For Seventh Year Running, Neo-Nazis and Ultranationalists Given Center of Vilnius on Independence Day
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