Thursday 27th September 2012
War Museum Defends Invite to Revisionists
Stephen Oryszczuk

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 embassy.
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 camps.

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 Centre.

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 forces."

Observers have repeatedly outlined concerns regarding the Genocide Centre. Dovid Katz, a Vilnius-based Yiddish scholar and founder of the website, 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."