ICAN Salutes U.S. State Department Report on Lithuania’s ‘Noreika Law’ for Nazi Monument Removal

ICAN Salutes U.S. State Department Report on Lithuania’s ‘Noreika Law’ for Nazi Monument Removal

June 07, 2023

LOS ANGELES, CA – The Israeli-American Civic Action Network (ICAN) welcomes the recent assessment by the United States Government in the 2022 International Religious Freedom Report, acknowledging the law passed by the Lithuanian parliament that applies to the statutes of Nazi collaborators like Jonas Noreika. This recognition is a testament to the tireless efforts of ICAN, its partners, and thought leaders in the field who have worked relentlessly to raise the profile of Holocaust distortion and ensure the preservation of accurate Holocaust history. 

ICAN has established itself as a leading policy and lobbying organization in the fight against Holocaust distortion utilizing a comprehensive approach that includes legislative, policy, and electoral tools. The organization has been at the forefront of numerous initiatives aimed at preserving the truth of the Holocaust and preventing its distortion.

The report’s section on Lithuania includes a notable excerpt: “On December 22, the President signed a law that creates a process for removing monuments promoting the ideologies of the Soviet and Nazi occupation eras. These include monuments to widely accused Nazi collaborators Juozas Krikštaponis, who is honored by a monument in Ukmergė District, and Jonas Noreika, who is recognized with plaques in Vilnius and Šiauliai.”

This law, effective from May 1, 2023, mandates the removal of monuments and symbols of Nazi and Soviet regimes from public spaces. The law was passed with the intention of eliminating the glorification of these regimes and their ideologies. The Genocide and Resistance Research Centre of Lithuania (LGRTC) is tasked with overseeing the removal process, with local municipalities given 20 working days to submit lists of public spaces featuring such symbols. The law explicitly bans the commemoration or representation of people, symbols, and information that promote these regimes and their ideologies.

ICAN extends its appreciation to the United States for its assessment of Lithuania’s new law in the 2022 International Religious Freedom Report. We particularly want to acknowledge the diligent work of Special Envoy for Holocaust Issues, Ellen Germain, and the U.S. Ambassador to Lithuania, Robert Gilchrist, along with his dedicated embassy staff. Their commitment to truth and justice is a testament to the importance of our collective efforts in combating Holocaust distortion and denial.

This acknowledgment from the U.S. government is not just a recognition of the past, but a commitment to the future. We trust in the continued vigilance of the United States State Department, its Embassy in Vilnuis, and our diplomatic personnel to hold Lithuania accountable for the enforcement of this law, particularly its application to Nazi collaborators like Jonas Noreika.

Recognizing Pioneers in the Fight Against Holocaust Distortion

We are proud to acknowledge the tireless efforts of two remarkable individuals, Dr. Efraim Zuroff and Rūta Vanagaitė, who have dedicated their lives to uncovering and addressing the atrocities of the Holocaust.

Efraim Zuroff, an American-born Israeli historian and Nazi hunter, has played a key role in bringing indicted Nazi and fascist war criminals to trial. Born in New York City in 1948, Zuroff moved to Israel in 1970 and has since dedicated his life to the pursuit of justice. As the director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center office in Jerusalem, he coordinates Nazi war crimes research worldwide for the Wiesenthal Center. His relentless efforts have influenced the passage of special laws in Canada, Australia, and Great Britain, enabling the prosecution of Nazi war criminals in these countries.

Rūta Vanagaitė, a Lithuanian theatre critic, writer, and journalist, has made significant strides in raising public awareness about the participation of Lithuanians in the Holocaust. Born in Šiauliai in 1955, Vanagaitė has used her platform to shed light on a topic often overlooked in modern Lithuania. Her book, “Mūsiškiai. Kelionė su priešu” (Our People. A Journey with the Enemy), co-authored with Efraim Zuroff, discusses the participation of common Lithuanians in the execution of Jews and the looting of their property. This work, translated into multiple languages, has sparked crucial conversations about Lithuania’s role in the Holocaust.

Together, Vanagaitė and Zuroff have made significant contributions to the field of Holocaust studies, challenging “official” narratives and pushing for justice. Their work serves as a reminder of the importance of confronting historical atrocities and the role each of us can play in ensuring such horrors are never repeated.

Voices of the Movement

Silvia Foti, granddaughter of Jonas Noreika and author of “The Nazi’s Granddaughter” and “Storm in the Land of Rain,” shared her perspective on the role of literature in this fight. She said, “Publishing the truth in my books has been a crucial part of our strategy to combat Holocaust distortion. It’s about shedding light on the dark corners of history, and ensuring that the stories of those who suffered are not forgotten.”

Grant Gochin, known for his extensive research and legal strategies, expressed his thoughts on the recent developments, stating, “The acknowledgment in the International Religious Freedom Report marks a significant milestone in our collective effort to ensure the truth of the Holocaust is preserved and respected. Our pursuit of justice continues.”

Michael Kretzmer, creator of the documentary “J’Accuse,” highlighted the power of visual storytelling in raising awareness. He said, “Through our film, we’ve been able to raise the profile of the truth and challenge the narratives of denial. It’s a testament to the power of storytelling in shaping perceptions and sparking conversations.”

Dillon Hosier, ICAN’s CEO, emphasized the role of advocacy in driving change. He said, “Our lobbying efforts have played a crucial role in this achievement. We’ve been able to bring this issue to the forefront of policy discussions, and we will continue to advocate for truth and justice. Our work is far from over.”

ICAN’s Dedicated Efforts in Combating Holocaust Distortion

ICAN has been steadfast in its commitment to combating Holocaust distortion and denial, and has undertaken numerous activities to raise awareness and promote accurate Holocaust history. Here are some of the key initiatives and events that ICAN has led and launched:

  1. Passage of a resolution by the City of Beverly Hills condemning Lithuanian Holocaust distortion
  2. Passage of a resolution by the City of West Hollywood unanimously condemning Lithuanian Holocaust distortion
  3. Passage of a resolution by the City of Los Angeles unanimously condemning Lithuanian Holocaust distortion
  4. Delegation to Washington DC to meet members of the United States Congress led by Grant Gochin and Silvia Foti (December 2021)
  5. Event thanking Beverly Hills for their dedication to preserving accurate Holocaust history (April 25th, 2022)
  6. Launch of the book “The Nazi’s Granddaughter” (June 19, 2021)
  7. Campaign to share “The Nazi’s Granddaughter” with members of Congress (December 2021)
  8. Global grassroots campaign for the Lithuanian Ambassador to the United States, demanding that they revoke the honors of Jonas Noreika (Campaign from 2021 to 2022)
  9. A follow-up global grassroots campaign for the EU Ambassador to the United States, demanding that their member-state, Lithuania, revoke the honors of Jonas Noreika (Campaign from 2022 to present)
  10. A series of broadcasts including:

Appointment of Dr. Marylin Kingston

In light of the significant developments surrounding the implementation of the new law in Lithuania, which mandates the removal of monuments glorifying Holocaust perpetrators, ICAN recognizes the urgent need for renewed leadership to helm its Holocaust History and Education Advisory Council. This is particularly crucial as we focus on developing policies that promote accurate Holocaust education and combat Holocaust distortion and denial. Therefore, we are delighted to announce the appointment of Dr. Marylin Kingston, a psychologist with over 22 years of experience, to chair ICAN’s Holocaust Education Advisory Council. Dr. Kingston’s appointment underscores our commitment to ensuring that the truth of the Holocaust is preserved and respected, particularly in these pivotal times.

Dr. Kingston, who has a deep personal connection to the Holocaust as her parents and paternal grandmother are Holocaust survivors from the city of Lodz, Poland, has been an active voice in the community. She has served as the Vice President of the International Network of Adult Children of Jewish Holocaust Survivors and as the President of Second Generation in Los Angeles. Her insights into the psychological trauma of having an ancestor who was a Holocaust perpetrator, as detailed in her blog on The Times of Israel, will be invaluable in her new role.

In her capacity as the chair, Dr. Kingston will spearhead efforts to protect and preserve Holocaust history and education. She will work closely with educators, policymakers, and community leaders to promote accurate and comprehensive Holocaust education. This will include developing educational resources, advocating for policy changes, and fostering partnerships with other organizations committed to Holocaust education.

Dr. Kingston will also play a crucial role in our advocacy efforts, helping to ensure that the truth of the Holocaust is recognized and respected in educational institutions, policy discussions, and public discourse. Her leadership will be instrumental in our mission to ensure that the lessons of the Holocaust are never forgotten.

This appointment underscores ICAN’s commitment to truth, justice, and education. We look forward to the valuable contributions Dr. Kingston will make in her new role, and we are confident that under her leadership, the Holocaust Education Advisory Council will continue to make significant strides in combating Holocaust distortion and denial.

Next Steps

As we move forward, ICAN will continue to build on the momentum generated by the recent developments in Lithuania and the appointment of Dr. Marylin Kingston. Our next steps will involve a multi-faceted approach to ensure the preservation of accurate Holocaust history and the prevention of Holocaust distortion and denial.

  1. Policy Advocacy: We will continue to advocate for policies that promote accurate Holocaust education and combat Holocaust distortion and denial, both in the United States and internationally. This includes working with policymakers, educators, and other stakeholders to develop and implement effective strategies.
  2. Educational Initiatives: Under the leadership of Dr. Kingston, our Holocaust Education Advisory Council will develop innovative educational initiatives. These will aim to increase understanding of the threat of Holocaust distortion, directly address distortions and denials, and promote respect for the truth of this history.
  3. Collaboration and Partnerships: We will continue to foster partnerships with other organizations committed to Holocaust education and the fight against Holocaust distortion and denial. By working together, we can amplify our impact and reach a wider audience.
  4. Public Awareness Campaigns: We will continue our public awareness campaigns to raise the profile of the issue of Holocaust distortion and denial, and to promote the importance of accurate Holocaust education.
  5. Monitoring and Evaluation: We will monitor the implementation of the new law in Lithuania and its impact on the preservation of Holocaust history. We will also evaluate the effectiveness of our own initiatives and use this information to continually improve our strategies.

ICAN is committed to this cause and we are prepared to take the necessary steps to ensure that the truth of the Holocaust is preserved and respected. We look forward to sharing updates on our progress in the coming months.The Israeli-American Civic Action Network is dedicated to empowering Israeli immigrants and American allies to create change for a better America, a more secure Israel, and a stronger U.S. – Israel alliance through advocacy education and civic action. Learn more at IsraelUSA.org.