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Thursday, June 4, 2020

In Lithuania, bureaucratic backflips to protect Holocaust amnesia

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Eitan Arom
Eitan Arom is a Jewish Journal senior writer, covering a range of local Jewish issues such as civic engagement, culture, Holocaust memory, faith-based activism, politics and people. Before that, he worked as a freelance journalist in Jerusalem, Washington D.C and Los Angeles. He graduated from UCLA with bachelor's degrees in mathematics/economics and communication studies.

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Grant Gochin leads a double life.

By day, he runs a wealth management company in Woodland Hills. Also by day, and by night and weekends, Gochin is an advocate for Holocaust memory and reconciliation in Lithuania, where his grandfather was born.

Most recently, that’s meant running a pressure campaign to have a plaque removed from a municipal building in Vilnius, Lithuania’s capital, that commemorates a Nazi collaborator, Jonas Noreika.

I “>his blog, illustrates the bureaucratic backflips Lithuania's officialdom will perform to avoid doing anything about cases like this.

Effectively, the Lithuania Heritage wrote to Gochin, who’s involved in a lawsuit about the plaque, to say they weren’t planning on doing anything about it and that the plaque belongs to the city of Vilnius – effectively, a big, fat “not our problem.”

See, there’s a sort of sticky issue here, which is that several Lithuanian folk heroes did double duty as Jew-killing thugs and anti-Soviet freedom fighters. Both are equally valid descriptions. But obviously, it makes canonizing them as liberationists a bit wrongheaded.

Gochin’s doggedness will ensure the lawsuit grinds on, and there are signs that Lithuania’s longtime amnesia about its Holocaust history is giving way. But it’ll likely be a long and laborious fight.

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