- June 27, 2019
Vaisbrodas: The name of Kazys Škirpa Avenue should be changed
“The position of the Jewish community is unambiguous – the name of Kazys Škirpa Avenue should be changed,” said Renaldas Vaisbrodas, councilor of Vilnius on behalf of the Freedom Party and executive director of the Lithuanian Jewish Community on “Day for two votes”.
Kazys Škirpa Avenue, which is placed at the foot of Mount Gediminas, has been controversial for years because of its patron accused of anti-Semitism and indirectly of complicity in the Holocaust.
“Since 1998, when the avenue at the foot of Mount Gediminas became the patron of Kazys Škirpa, the Jewish community postulates the change of this name due to the controversy of both Kazys Škirpa’s person and the controversies related to his role in history. The desire to change this name was one of the motives for my candidacy in this year’s local elections. The voters trusted me, I was elected to the city council and now I can begin to implement those goals that I set for myself during the election campaign, “Renaldas Vaisbrodas said on the radio of ” Znad Wilii “who submitted a request to change the name of this street this week.
“At the moment, when our society is slowly healing of the wounds of the Holocaust, I believe that it is necessary to commemorate not the controversial activists who divide us, but the heroic deeds that unite us. One such linking thing is the three-color Lithuanian flag” claims Vaisbrodas, who believes the street could be named after the Lithuanian national flag by the Tri-color Avenue. Especially that it would also be a reference to the heroic deeds of Škirpa, who on January 1st, 1919, together with several Lithuanian volunteers, hung the Lithuanian flag on the Gediminas Tower for the first time.
Renaldas Vaisbrodas’s application will be considered by the Vilnius city council next Wednesday. “I hope that our proposal to change the street name will be accepted. However, I should expect that discussions with councilors will not be easy, “said Vaisbrodas. The councilor believes that the commemorative plaque of another Lithuanian independence activist accused of complicity in the Holocaust, Jonas Noreiki-Vėtry, should also be removed.
Kazys Škirpa – Lithuanian military and diplomat, in 1918 was one of the founders of the army of independent Lithuania, then became a member of the Legislative Sejm. After establishing diplomatic relations with Poland in March 1938, he was chosen as the Lithuanian ambassador in Warsaw, then the official representative of Lithuania in Berlin. After the occupation of Lithuania by the Red Army, he remained in Germany, where he gathered a group of Lithuanian independence activists. In June 1941, the Lithuanian Front of Activists founded by him caused an anti-Bolshevik uprising in Lithuania during which massive murders of the Jewish population took place. Also, in the letters and appeals of Škirpa, as the leader of the Activists’ Front, there is no shortage of anti-Semitic themes.
Translated by Patrycja Polanowska within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.