(JTA) — Lithuania’s state historical institute on the Soviet domination of the country defended in court a deceased collaborator with Nazi Germany who is accused of murdering Jews.
The Center for the Study of the Genocide and Resistance of the Residents of Lithuania defended Jonas Noreika against the allegations by numerous historians last month in a document submitted to the Vilnius District Administrative Court. The defense was a response to an American activist’s lawsuit against the center for its refusal to facilitate the removal of a plaque honoring Noreika in Vilnius.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center for years has argued that Noreika, whm many consider a hero in Lithuania because he was killed while being held by Soviet authorities, became a mass murderer after his appointment in 1941 as head of Siauliai County under the German Nazi occupation.
Silvia Foti, a granddaughter of Noreika who lives in Chicago, has written a soon-to-be-published book based on years of independent research that she says confirms the allegations.
In August, the Jewish Community of Lithuania said in a statement that the plaque honoring him on a central wall of the library of the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences in central Vilnius must be removed.
Vilnius officials have declined to remove the plaque, stating their will defer to the state museum’s decision.