Lithuania

1 Recognition of the Genocide

1.1 Recognition, official texts

Lithuania does not officially recognise the Genocide of the Roma. However, in Lithuania, the Roma and Sinti genocide is unofficially commemorated on 2 August.

In 2010, the Parliament of the Republic of Lithuania (hereinafter referred to as Seimas) made an amendment to the Criminal Code by adding a new Article 170(2) which provides for liability for public expression of support for the crimes of Nazi Germany against the Republic of Lithuania or its population, and for the negation or trivialization of these crimes.

In 2011, the Seimas declared the year 2011 as the year of Remembrance for the Victims of the Holocaust. The Government carried out a number of important events. That year also saw the Seimas adopt a Law on Good Will Compensation for the Immovable Property of Jewish Religious Communities.

1.2 Data (camps locations, Remembrance places, measures etc.)

According to Ian Hancock, director of the Romani Archives and Documentation Center at the University of Austin, Texas, almost the entire Romani population was killed in Lithuania, i.e. 1000 individuals. Lithuanian collaborators were involved in the murders of hundreds of thousands of Jews and Gypsies.

The Ponary massacre:
In the Ponary massacre 40 Romani prisoners were killed, along with 72 000 Jews, 5 000 Soviet prisoners, between 15 000 and 20 000 Poles, and 1,000 people described as Communists or Soviet activists by German SS and Lithuanian Nazi collaborators, such as the Ypatingasis. The executions took place between July 1941 and August 1944 near the railway station of Ponary, now known as Paneriai, a suburb of what is today Vilnius. The site of the massacre is commemorated by a memorial to the victims of the Holocaust, a memorial to the Polish victims and a small museum. The executions at Paneriai are currently being investigated by the Gdansk branch of the Polish Institute of National Remembrance.

1.3 Specialised institution, commission, research centre etc., dealing with this issue

The Genocide and Resistance Research Centre of Lithuania:
The Genocide and Resistance Research Centre of Lithuania (LGGRTC) is a state entity that engages in the study of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes in Lithuania and the commemoration of freedom fighters and genocide victims. Their work is focused on the Jewish Holocaust, and arely delas with the Genocide of the Roma.
 
International Commission for the Evaluation of the Crimes of Nazi and Soviet Occupation Regimes in Lithuania Initiatives:
The International Commission for the Evaluation of the Crimes of the Nazi and Soviet Occupation Regimes in Lithuania is a commission appointed by the President of Lithuania, Valdas Adamkus, by presidential decree on 7 September 1998. The Commission is tasked with investigating the crimes committed during the occupation of Lithuania by the Soviet Union and Germany that lasted from 14 June 1940 to 11 March 1990. In 2012, financing of the commission was renewed by presidential decree by President Dalia Grybauskaitė and new commission members appointed.

The Museum of Genocide Victims proposes an exhibition dedicated to the Nazi occupation and the Holocaust in Lithuania and one on the Deportations between 1944 and 1953. But it is unknown if the Genocide of the Roma is presented.

1.4 Official initiatives (campaigns, actions, projects, commemoration days, museums)

Lithuania has established a Holocaust Memorial Day on 23 September.

A Righteous Among the Nations award ceremony takes place at the Presidential Palace. During the event, families of those who risked their lives to save Jews during the Holocaust are presented with the Life Saving Cross Award. As of September 2014, 872 citizens of Lithuania have been recognised as Righteous Among the Nations.

The memorial event dedicated to the victims of the Holocaust takes place at the Paneriai Memorial, which marks the site near Vilnius where Jews were murdered during the Holocaust. In general, commemorative events are promoted through national radio and television channels, via the Internet and through press releases and email bulletins.

For the sixth consecutive year now, the March of the Living has been held in Lithuania. Descendants and relatives of those who perished during the Holocaust in Lithuania come here together from different countries: Israel, the U.S., Sweden, etc. The March begins at Paneriai railway station, where the victims once had been delivered. The March follows the path from the train station to the monument in Paneriai, where a solemn commemoration ceremony is held. It is usually attended by Government and Seimas officials, members of the diplomatic corps residing in Lithuania, members of the Lithuanian Jewish Community, students, and civil society representatives.

On 2 August, Lithuanian Roma Community leaders organise a ceremony to mark the International day of remembrance for the Roma Holocaust. The ceremony takes also place at the Paneriai Holocaust Memorial Center.

2 Teaching about the Genocide of the Roma

2.1 Inclusion of the topic in the school curriculum

By the declaration of 8 May 1990 "Regarding the Genocide of the Jewish Nation in Lithuania During the Nazi Occupation", adopted by the Highest Council - the Provisional Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania - the Republic of Lithuania has pledged to ensure the commemoration of the victims of the genocide of the Jewish nation and to fight any manifestations of anti-Semitism.

The Holocaust is taught in Lithuanian secondary schools. The subject of the Holocaust is included in history programmes in 5, 6, 10 and 12 year groups at secondary schools in Lithuania. It is taught in history classes that analyse World War II.

Besides the mandatory school history lessons, the Holocaust is also the subject of informal education. Every year on 23 September, events are organised all over Lithuania to commemorate Holocaust victims at schools and locations associated with the history of the Holocaust. These are attended by secondary school students. A conference for students and teachers in Radviliškis organised by the International Commission every year on 27 January has already become a tradition, with the purpose of acknowledging the International Day of Commemoration of the Holocaust Victims. Yet there is no specific information on the teaching and commemoration in school of the Genocide of the Roma.

2.2 Inclusion of the topic in the school textbooks

2.3 Training of teachers and education professionals

Since the Holocaust education programme was launched in 2002, workshops for teachers and education workers have been organised in Lithuania. Between 2002 and the end of 2013, more than 100 workshops have been organised in Lithuania and have been attended by 3068 participants. However, the programme is mainly focused on the Jewish Holocaust, no specific training on the Genocide of the Roma has been reported.

2.4 Particular activities undertaken at the level of education institutions

Several projects were developed in schools to commemorate the Holocaust but none has been specifically, or even partially, evoking the Genocide of the Roma.

2.5 Remembrance day

The Holocaust Remembrance day is celebrated in schools on 23 September but no commemoration of the Genocide of the Roma on 2 August takes place in Lithuania.

3 Official contacts and resource persons

3.1 Responsible person in the Ministry of Education

National Holocaust Education Programme
Lithuania

3.2 Resource persons - list of experts and historians

Vytautas Toleikis is a professor, director of the Lithuanian committee of United World Colleges who is doing archival research on the extermination of the Gypsies in Lithuania.

Ausra Simoniukstyte is an anthropologist and a doctor in social sciences. She is focused on the European and Lithuanian Roma history. Simoniukstyte's research is based on interviews with Romani survivors.
Telephone: +370 61155142
E-mail: sima2@takas.lt
4 Initiatives of the civil society

4.1 Relevant projects having a real impact on the people and/or the wide public

5 Point of view of the Roma community - including survivors' testimonies