Two Baltic States Admit to their Role in the Holocaust

Latvia and Estonia Have “Addressed the Truth”; Lithuania continues to deny their part in the Holocaust.
February 22, 2024
200mm/Getty Images; Jean-Philippe Tournut/Getty Images

At the Baltic Holocaust Commemoration, held on Jan. 28 at the Latvian Community Center near Elysian Park, it was announced that two of the Baltic States — Latvia and Estonia had acknowledged their governments’ roles in in the killings of Jews during World War II. It was, according to Grant Gochin, the “first time that Baltic countries have stood up in a foreign jurisdiction and addressed the truth in public. It was really brave of them.”

Gochin, a diplomat who serves as Honorary Consul for the Republic of Togo, and is Vice Dean of the Los Angeles Consular Corps, a philanthropist and financial advisor made the announcement. He said the two nations were able to accomplish this “because their diplomats were strong truth-tellers.” Missing, he noted, was the third Baltic state, Lithuania, where Gochin has spent the last three decades documenting and restoring signs of Jewish life.  He is the author of “Malice, Murder and Manipulation,” and is now working to expose the Holocaust revisionism within Lithuania, where  far more Jews (220,000, or 90% of its Jewish population) were killed than in Estonia (1,000) and Latvia (80,000) combined. “They clearly are not going to tell the truth,” he said.

“They won’t respond to anything in public or private. They won’t go to an environment where they have to answer questions. They have made it crystal clear they are not going to be responding and will not be changing their positions.”

For Latvia, this is the country’s second attempt at truth-telling. “They tried last year,” Gochin said. “The Latvians produced an event wherein they were going to show a documentary very critical of the Latvian government.” But “the Lithuanian government objected,” he said. “It went to the highest levels of the Lithuanian government to pressure the Latvians not to do this event in Los Angeles.”

The Latvian diplomats were forced to withdraw. This year, however, Repeated pressure from the Lithuanian government failed.

Estonia participated with Latvia. Gochin noted that Estonia, with a comparatively small Jewish community, was the first Baltic country to be declared “Judenrein.” Three-quarters of Estonian Jews escaped into Russia. Estonian Jews were annihilated first, Gochin explained, because Estonia was not in the Pale of Settlement. (The Pale of Settlement was a western region of the Russian Empire with varying borders that existed from 1791 to 1917 where permanent residency by Jews was allowed. Beyond the borders, Jewish residency, permanent or temporary, was mostly forbidden.)

“The bulk of murders of Jews in Estonia were by locals,” Gochin said. “When there are no constraints on killing, the population joins en masse.” He explained that in Lithuania, the people started murdering Jews before the Nazis arrived. The Nazis in Latvia complained they couldn’t get the locals to commit murders. “But once the Latvians got started, they caught up,” Gochin said.

The three countries are vastly different from each other, even though all three were occupied by the Nazis and Soviets from 1940 until the collapse of the USSR in 1991.. Estonia is a very modern technological society. Latvia also is “forward-thinking” country with its gay prime minister. Lithuania, Gochin said, is stuck in the 19th century. In the 21stCentury, he continued, “The Russians are attacking the Lithuanians – not physically yet, but they will in time. The Lithuanians are accusing the Russians of all forms of nefarious activities. That probably is true. But Lithuania is trying to elevate as a saintly people.” If Lithuania admits they were “a genocidal nation, if they acknowledge they are as dishonest as the Russians ever have been, they lose their footing to claim victimization.” If they are perpetrators of a genocide, he explained, “how can they claim victimization by Russia?” He rejects that notion. “These events took place 80 years ago, and if they can’t tell obvious truths from 80 years ago, they never are going to,” he said.

“If Lithuania, where the crimes are so obvious, so documented and so pervasive, can lie, then anyone can.”- Grant Gochin

Asked why Latvia and Estonia are now willing to own up to their past, he said “Latvia has had Holocaust truth issues.There still are gaps. It never will be a state of perfection. But Latvia always has been slightly more forthright.” In the last decade the nation has taken a proactive position, as in “we have gaps. We need to tell the truth.’” But Latvia is “a modern, European, progressive country whereas Lithuania still has far more in common with Russia – not because of its proximity but its mentality. Lithuania “can’t get out of that victim mentality,” Gochin said.

He compared their mindset to Hamas. “Hamas goes in to U.N. schools and teaches that Jews are persecutors, while they are fine people doing Allah’s mission. In Lithuania, the people are taught that the Jews are the perpetrators, and that every Lithuanian tried to save a Jew.They have embedded so much into the minds of the population that they cannot get out from under.” For Lithuania to tell the truth now would be an admission that they have been involved in false education. “It would upset their entire society. Someone has to say, is truth about genocide relevant? To me it is.”

Gochin concluded by saying that “if Lithuania, where the crimes are so obvious, so documented, and so pervasive, can lie, then anyone can.” He was succinct in explaining the importance of uncoving the truth: “Human dignity. The value is that you are not threatened by telling the truth. Truth is a basis for reconciliation.”

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