The Hidden Horror of Lithuania

A shadow covers Lithuania. It was there a half-century ago and remains today, darkening the prospect that the Baltic nation will soon win acceptance in the European family. Since the horrid events of World War II and postwar Soviet rule, Lithuania's society and government have largely dissembled the existence of rabid anti-Semitism and killing grounds on their soil. And many of those responsible still stand in the shadow.

In recent years, says a Times report, six elderly Lithuanian men, their Holocaust crimes finally uncovered by U.S. Justice Department investigators, have left long exile in America and returned to their homeland. These are men accused of working with Nazi death squads in the war, killing their own countrymen, taking part in a pogrom that killed an estimated 220,000 Jews. None have been tried, two have died. The former head of the Justice Department unit that tracked them down says Lithuanian authorities are awaiting the "biological solution," that the deaths of the rest will close this chapter of Lithuanian history.

That's unacceptable. If Lithuania, like its Baltic neighbors Latvia and Estonia, expects some day to be accepted into the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the crimes of World War II must be addressed. Men like Aleksandras Lileikis, now 90, wartime head of the Vilnius security police, should answer for their crimes. Their victims died in violence. These old men should not be allowed to slip away in silence.

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