‘We should not be afraid of the truth,’ Lithuanian Jews say on Holocaust Remembrance Day

On Wednesday, Lithuania marks the national Holocaust Remembrance Day. Miša Jakobas, an educator and member of the Jewish community in Lithuania, says that every country has its tragedies that it must talk about.

September 23, 1943, was the day when the Nazis liquidated the Vilnius ghetto. The Holocaust resulted in the extermination of more than 90 percent of Lithuania’s 200,000-big Jewish community by the Nazis and their local collaborators.

The national Holocaust day is commemorated in Paneriai (or Ponary), a suburb of Vilnius where tens of thousands of Jews were executed. Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda and Jewish community members will attend the commemoration.

Miša Jakobas is also going to Paneriai. The founder of the Jewish High School in Vilnius says that understanding history requires active effort.

“We need to not only read and analyse history, but also to write it correctly. History is not a religion that we can just believe in,” Jakobas told LRT Radio.

The educator, who has spent decades working with children, says that Lithuania still lacks comprehensive education about the Holocaust.

“Not everything is said in the school textbooks. The younger generation is given too little information,” he explained. “But every country has its tragedies that it needs to portray accurately and comprehensively. It is the truth that young people need.”

Still, according to Jakobas, Lithuania has made significant progress in talking about Jewish history in the country.

“Over the last 30 years, we have realised that the people who were killed were Lithuanian citizens and not some kind of Soviet foreigners,” he said. “Everything else is in the archives. […] It is possible to reach a consensus if we talk about the truth without hiding it. We should not be afraid of the truth.”


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