Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda marked the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp on Monday. In solidarity with Poland, he skipped the earlier Yad Vashem event in Jerusalem over Warsaw’s dispute with Moscow.
In a post on Facebook, Nausėda said he “bows downs to the memory of over 200,000 victims of our nation,” adding that Lithuania couldn’t “say the truth and acknowledge the injustices during the Soviet occupation”. “We cannot ease the pain of those who lost their loved ones. The only thing we can do is to keep their memory alive and search for historical truth,” he also said in a statement. Read more: What is the message behind Lithuanian president’s cancelled trip to Jerusalem?
The president noted that the Nazi and Soviet occupations “resulted in devastating consequences: states were destroyed, public structures were demolished, communities were set against each other, and their drive for revenge, hatred and aggression was fueled”. “We must never allow this to happen again, we must identify the hate-inciting forces,” he said.
“The wall of silence that was raised during the Soviet occupation continues to threaten Lithuanian and Jewish relations to this day,” he wrote on Facebook. “Everything changed in 1995 when the then Lithuanian president apologised for those Lithuanians, who together with Nazi Germany, took part in this crime against humanity.” “Trust, even though it is difficult to admit it, was said out load. Let’s cherish it, understand it, and let’s learn the lessons of history. What happened 75 years ago can never happen again.”
Nausėda was accompanied on the trip by his wife, Diana. The Lithuanian delegation also included Viktoras Pranckietis, the speaker of the Seimas.
The Lithuanian president went to Auschwitz after declining the invitation to attend last week’s World Holocaust Forum in Jerusalem.
The Lithuanian president followed the lead of his Polish counterpart, Andrzej Duda, who boycotted the commemoration event in Jerusalem because he had not been offered a chance to speak there, unlike Russian President Vladimir Putin.