Survivor groups in Lithuania led a chorus of disapproval
after representatives from the country's Genocide Centre
were welcomed to the Imperial War Museum this week
as part of an official visit organised by the Lithuanian
In May, the Genocide Centre supported the Lithuanian
government's reburial of former prime minister and Nazi
collaborator Juozas Ambroazivicius who, in 1941, signed
an order for the country's Jews to be sent to concentration
An estimated 196,000 Lithuanian Jews were killed in the Holocaust from a total
population of 204,000.
The centre is also suspected
by some of cultivating links with neo-Nazi groups and
assisting with the organisation of an annual neo-Nazi
parade through the capital, Vilnius.
Officials from Lithuania's
Vilna Gaon State Jewish Museum also attended this week's
Imperial War Museum visit, to meet UK Holocaust historians
and educators and explore ways to increase co-operation.
Its deputy director, Dr Kamile Rupeikeite, issued a
statement distancing his organisation from the Genocide
He said: "We
have no intention of discussing common projects with
the Genocide Centre because of its attitude to the
Holocaust. Our trip should not be perceived as joining
Observers have repeatedly
outlined concerns regarding the Genocide Centre. Dovid
Katz, a Vilnius-based Yiddish scholar and founder of
the website defendinghistory.com, said: "The Genocide Centre continues to try to sanitise the issue and glorify local
participants in the Nazi slaughter of Lithuania's Jews.
The Imperial War Museum should have refused to host
them. By doing so it gives legitimacy to the Genocide
Centre and its museum."
The Imperial War Museum,
which houses Europe's largest Holocaust museum, said: "We are hosting a visit by four museum professionals who are interested to learn
more about our own Holocaust exhibition and its educational
use. It is our role to discuss the exhibition with
all parties if it furthers understanding of how best
to deliver and educate on this subject."
Head of research, Suzanne Bardgett, added: "We
don't turn any educators away, especially those who
would benefit most from a visit."