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Prime Minister: Holocaust is a scar on all of us that will remain even as generations change

LITHUANIA, November 25 - On 25 November, Prime Minister Ingrida Šimonytė has attended a concert to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the beginning of the Holocaust in Lithuania and the Jews from Berlin, Frankfurt, Munich, Vienna, and Wroclaw killed in the Kaunas Ninth Fort. The concert held at the Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania featured Chordos string quartet performing rare works by Jewish composers.

‘History can be spoken of as a melody. Sometimes it is calmer, sometimes dramatic, there are moments when it can only be performed in crescendo or, on the contrary, there are prolonged tragic moments of silence. Even among all the tragedies in history, the Holocaust takes a special place.

We have seen that a bomb of hatred can explode even in Europe. Even when speeches are made about brotherhood, humanism, and love for others. Hatred tends to grow unnoticed if no one pays attention to its subtle manifestations. Hate is a virus. No less dangerous than any other. Each of us has a responsibility to prevent the spread of it. To ensure that such tragedies would never happen again.

As the Polish thinker Zygmunt Bauman points out, the Holocaust also has a quieter but a hopeful motive: there were not only executioners, indifferent bystanders, but also those who remained humane. As Bauman said, “It does not matter how many people chose moral duty over the rationality of self-preservation, what does matter is that some did. Evil is not all-powerful. It can be resisted. The testimony of the few who did resist shatters the authority of the logic of self-preservation. It shows it for what it is in the end: a choice.

It is also important to remember that the 5,000 Jews from Berlin, Frankfurt, Munich, Vienna, and Wroclaw who were exiled to the Ninth Fort and executed 80 years ago are not just statistical numbers. Underneath each of the victims is an unspeakable personal tragedy, pain, and lost opportunities to love, to create, to live. It is hard to imagine what the world would be like today if we had not lost so many talented creators to the Holocaust. The world has become poorer, stripped of its unique colours. It is a scar on all of us that will always remain. Even as generations change. And it must not disappear, because we must remember and prevent tragedies from happening ever again.

We cannot change history, but its memory can change us in the present moment. It is very symbolic that here today we are trying to continue the melody that was threatened to be destroyed. Music today once again connects not only nations, but also the present and the past.

It is said that composers do not die as long as their music lives. The music we will hear today helps us honour the memory and celebrate the talent and the legacy of Jewish composers whose lives were connected to Lithuania. It conquers nothingness and confirms that creativity breaks through all barriers into Eternity,’ said the Head of Government.

On 24-25 November, delegations from Germany, Austria, and Poland are paying a visit to Vilnius and Kaunas to attend events dedicated to the commemoration of the five thousand Jews from Berlin, Munich, Vienna, and Wroclaw killed in the Ninth Fort of Kaunas 80 years ago.

On 25 November, a commemoration ceremony in memory of the victims of the Holocaust and a discussion on the Holocaust remembrance was held at the Kaunas Ninth Fort Museum. The commemoration began with a wreath-laying ceremony and was followed by a guided tour of the Ninth Fort Museum and a round table discussion with historians and delegations from Berlin, Munich, Vienna, and Wroclaw.

Office of the Government, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Kaunas Ninth Fort Museum, Moses Mendelssohn Foundation (Germany), and the German Embassy in Lithuania are organising the visit.

On 25 and 28 November 1941, in the Ninth Fort of Kaunas the Nazis and their local collaborators killed about five thousand Jews exiled from Berlin, Frankfurt, Munich, Vienna, and Wroclaw. In total, about 50,000 Lithuanian and foreign Jews were killed in the Ninth Fort of Kaunas. This year marks the 80th anniversary of the beginning of the Holocaust in Lithuania.