Official ceremonies on Sept. 21 commemorated the 80th anniversary of the liquidation of the Vilnius Ghetto in Lithuania during World War II, part of the National Memorial Day for the Genocide of Lithuanian Jews.
Lithuanian Prime Minister Ingrida Šimonytė, along with other senior government officials and those associated with the International Commission for the Evaluation of the Crimes of the Nazi and Soviet Occupation Regimes in Lithuania, joined members of the Lithuanian and worldwide Jewish communities in a symbolic march from the ghetto site to the mass grave in the Paneriai (formerly Ponary) suburb of the city.
The International March of the Living, a Holocaust education and commemoration organization, helped organize the proceedings.
“Over 200,000 Lithuanian Jews were murdered in this country by the German Nazis and their Lithuanian collaborators,” stated Yad Vashem chairman Dani Dayan, who had been invited to participate by the Eastern European country’s president and parliament.
Between June 1941 and July 1944, mass executions, including the slaughter of 70,000 Jews, took place at the site that was turned into a memorial.
“Yet in this place where the blood of my people once flowed, I am encouraged by gradual but substantial progress made over the years in Lithuania,” said Dayan, pointing to initiatives on Holocaust remembrance and preserving Jewish heritage sites.
He added that “we must show zero-tolerance towards antisemitism. That zero-tolerance policy must also apply towards the glorification of war criminals associated with the massacre of Jews.”