A Lithuanian historian quit his civil service job on
Thursday after seven ambassadors from fellow European
nations accused him of denying the Holocaust.
Lithuania's interior ministry said that Petras Stankeras, an independent historian
who also held a middle-ranking post in its planning department,
had left at his own request.
Interior Minister Raimundas Palaitis said Stankeras's
views were personal.
have nothing in common with the position of the interior
ministry with regard to the Jewish genocide," Palaitis said in a statement.
The announcement came a day
after the ambassadors of Britain, Estonia, Finland, France,
the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden slammed an article
by Stankeras in the mainstream weekly Veidas on the Nuremberg
trials, where the victorious Allies tried top Nazi German
officials after World War II.
Stankeras wrote that the trials "provided
a legal basis to the legend about the six million purportedly
The ambassadors blasted Stankeras in a letter to the
interior ministry dated November 24 and obtained by
the Baltic News Service today.
"This amounts to
denial of the Holocaust and merits the strongest condemnation," they said.
They also chastised Lithuanian
authorities for failing to react rapidly, and questioned
Veidas's publication of the article.
But Gintaras Sarafinas, the
magazine's editor-in-chief, said neither Veidas nor Stankeras
denied the Holocaust, and blamed a style error.
"Our weekly does
not deny the Holocaust, never did and never will. The
author, who is a professional historian, only wanted
to discuss the number of victims," Sarafinas told AFP.
"We admit that
the sentence is wrong stylistically, as the word 'purportedly'
should have been elsewhere," he added.
In a statement, Efraim Zuroff
of the Jerusalem-based Simon Wiesenthal Center said Stankeras
should be prosecuted under Lithuania's Holocaust-denial
He also called the article "only
the tip of a very dangerous iceberg of lies and distortion", saying the nation of 3.3 million was failing to live up to its past.
Pre-war Lithuania was home
to 220,000 Jews, but 95 percent perished during the 1941-1944
German occupation at the hands of the Nazis and local