Lithuanian historian quits after Holocaust article

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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