Lithuanian historian quits after Holocaust article
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Last Updated: Thursday, November 25, 2010, 23:15
  
Vilnius: A Lithuanian historian quit his civil service job on Thursday after seven ambassadors from fellow European nations accused him of denying the Holocaust.

Lithuania's interior ministry said that Petras Stankeras, an independent historian who also held a middle-ranking post in its planning department, had left at his own request.

Interior Minister Raimundas Palaitis said Stankeras's views were personal.

"Such interpretations have nothing in common with the position of the interior ministry with regard to the Jewish genocide," Palaitis said in a statement.

The announcement came a day after the ambassadors of Britain, Estonia, Finland, France, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden slammed an article by Stankeras in the mainstream weekly Veidas on the Nuremberg trials, where the victorious Allies tried top Nazi German officials after World War II.

Stankeras wrote that the trials "provided a legal basis to the legend about the six million purportedly murdered Jews".

The ambassadors blasted Stankeras in a letter to the interior ministry dated November 24 and obtained by the Baltic News Service today.

"This amounts to denial of the Holocaust and merits the strongest condemnation," they said.

They also chastised Lithuanian authorities for failing to react rapidly, and questioned Veidas's publication of the article.

But Gintaras Sarafinas, the magazine's editor-in-chief, said neither Veidas nor Stankeras denied the Holocaust, and blamed a style error.

"Our weekly does not deny the Holocaust, never did and never will. The author, who is a professional historian, only wanted to discuss the number of victims," Sarafinas told AFP.

"We admit that the sentence is wrong stylistically, as the word 'purportedly' should have been elsewhere," he added.

In a statement, Efraim Zuroff of the Jerusalem-based Simon Wiesenthal Center said Stankeras should be prosecuted under Lithuania's Holocaust-denial law.

He also called the article "only the tip of a very dangerous iceberg of lies and distortion", saying the nation of 3.3 million was failing to live up to its past.

Pre-war Lithuania was home to 220,000 Jews, but 95 percent perished during the 1941-1944 German occupation at the hands of the Nazis and local collaborators.

PTI


First Published: Thursday, November 25, 2010, 23:15


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