Sep 23, 2021

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In a recent TOI blog, Silvia Foti, who is a journalist and granddaughter of one of Lithuania’s most notorious Nazis, is utilizing the high holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur to atone for the sins of her grandfather.

Silvia Foti is a journalist, creative writer, teacher, and mother. She is author of the book The Nazi’s Granddaughter: How I Learned My Grandfather was a War Criminal (courtesy: Facebook/Silvia Foti)

What most people don’t know about Lithuania

Unlike Germany, Lithuania’s role in the Holocaust is largely denied or excused in Vilnius until this day. But their role in the war is damning as documented by scholars at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum who write:

In June and July 1941, detachments of German Einsatzgruppen (mobile killing units), together with Lithuanian auxiliaries, began murdering the Jews of Lithuania. By the end of August 1941, most Jews in rural Lithuania had been shot. By November 1941, the Germans also massacred most of the Jews who had been concentrated in ghettos in the larger cities. The surviving 40,000 Jews were concentrated in the Vilna, Kovno, Siauliai, and Svencionys ghettos, and in various labor camps in Lithuania. Living conditions were miserable, with severe food shortages, outbreaks of disease, and overcrowding.

Perhaps one of the most shining examples of Lithuania shrugging off responsibility for its role in the Holocaust is military officer Jonas Noreika. Noreika is responsible for the death of 1,400 Lithuanian Jews in 1941 and has been documented sending thousands of Jews and half-Jews to a ghetto in Žagarė. The Lithuanian government not only refused to consider it to be proof that he participated in the Holocaust, but they even hail him as a national hero with schools being named after his ‘legacy.’

A rebellious offspring

Interestingly, it is Noreika’s granddaughter who disagrees with her government.

Journalist Silvia Foti, who is also the granddaughter of Noreika wrote a scathing article not only decrying her grandfather’s role in the Holocaust but the heroism her country’s government attributes to him.

Foti took it a step further on Wednesday as Rosh Hashannah (the Jewish new year) approaches to atone for the sins of her grandfather. In an article in TOI, Foti writes:

“As a practicing Catholic writing about the Holocaust in Lithuania, I enter the coming days of Rosh Hoshana and Yom Kippur full of guilt, remorse, and repentance over the sins of my grandfather. I call on the country of Lithuania to do the same.”

Despite not having been alive at the time, Foti still feels that she bears some responsibility for his actions writing:

While I was not alive in 1941 and could not have committed the war crimes against innocent Jews in my parents’ homeland, I have become aware of my own grandfather’s role in these atrocities, and have taken on the role of denouncing his sins by facing what he did.

Gentiles atoning for the sins of their predecessors have been documented by Israel365 News. 

In 2016, Yom Kippur was recognized as an official holiday by the United Nations. UN employees no longer have to use vacation time and no official UN meetings take place on Yom Kippur.