Julius Panka, the head of Lithuania’s national youth association (ULNY) has denied that 30,000 local Jews were imprisoned in his country in 1941. ULNY is the largest youth NGO in the country with more than 200,000 members.
“Documents have been falsified and there are false statements on the internet. Certain groups are using them to make trouble,” said Panka. He also said that his group would not admit Jews or other minorities as members. “To be a member, you must be a full Lithuanian“. He claimed that his group is not White Supremacist, but national socialists, who “seek to defend Lithuania. The threats are emigration and immigration. With one million Lithuanians living abroad and immigration by other groups, we are threatened.”
His comments came after last week’s four-day commemoration of country’s pro-Nazi former prime minister Ambrazevicius, whose remains were repatriated from the US and reburied at the state’s expense. The urn holding his remains was placed on the altar at the Church of the Ascension of Christ in Kaunas.
Foreign Minister Audronius Azubalis defended the memorial in parliament, saying that Ambrazevicius was entitled to full honours because he was posthumously given Lithuania’s highest national award. Culture Minister Arunas Gelunas — whose office in Vilnius also personally supported the use of public funds.
Several pro-Israel Jewish groups including Weisenthal Center Israel director Efraim Zuroff, have expressed outrage at the state’s involvement in the commemoration.
In June 2011 – 20 British MPs belonging to the “British Friends of Israel” handed over a letter to Lithuanian ambassador in London – demanding his country reverse a court decision declaring the swastika (a 3000 year Hindu symbol of goodness) part of the country’s “historic legacy,” thereby allowing its use by Jew-haters at political rallies.
The Muslim population in Luthuania is estimated to be around 10,000.