The Nato Summit in Vilnius merely makes Putin’s point

John Wight
5 min readJul 11

In his 1988 memoir of life as a Jew during the Nazi occupation of Lithuania — Kaddish for Kovno: Life and Death in a Lithuanian Ghetto — William W. Mishell makes the salient point that “Under Germany we [the Jews of Lithuania] were doomed. Under the Russians we were free.”

Given that memory loss is now all the rage in capitals across the Western hemisphere, let us take a moment to look back at the history of the Holocaust in Lithuania and the role that many non-Jewish citizens of this small — and now NATO-member-state — played in collaboration with it. Remembering, after all, is the least we can do in tribute to the dead.

In Berlin on 17 November 1940 the far right anti-Soviet Lithuanian Activist Front (LAF) was founded by a group of Lithuanian émigrés under the former Lithuanian envoy to Berlin, Colonel Kazys Škirpa. Their objective was to unite the anti-Soviet underground in Lithuania with the help of the Nazis. However their goal was not only to free Lithuania from Soviet control, it was also to ‘cleanse’ the country of its Jewish population. Consider, in this regard, part of the proclamation announcing the LAF’s formation to Lithuania’s Jewish community:

Jews, your history in the Lithuanian land that has lasted for five hundred years is now over. Have no hopeful illusions! The Lithuanian people, arising for a new life, consider you traitors and will treat you as a traitor should be treated!

Members of the Lithuanian Activist Front

The Nazi occupation of Lithuania saw the grim prophecy of William W. Mishell come to pass. The country’s Jews were indeed doomed. Just prior to Hitler’s Operation Barbarossa being launched against the Soviet Union on 22 June 1941, the LAF issued another proclamation, this time to the country’s non-Jewish population:

The hour of Lithuania’s liberation is close at hand. Immediately after the campaign from the west starts you will be informed on…

John Wight

Writing on politics, culture, sport and whatever else. Please consider taking out a subscription at