Vilnius renames street in honor of Nazi collaborator Kazys Skirpa
There have been many heated discussions as well as protests about renaming a small street in central Vilnius. The city council of Vilnius in Lithuania voted yes to renaming the street in honor of Nazi collaborator Kazys Skirpa. Many are angry about this decision because of Skirpa’s declared anti-Semitic views. The road is located at the foot of Gediminas Hill, which happens to be a capital landmark.
The motion passed 21 to 16 with only a single abstention. Vilnius Mayor Remigijus Simasius has emphasized that the anti-Semitic stance that Skirpa held was made crystal clear. Simasius told reporters that everyone wants to be proud of a city that’s open, and respectful to all people. Even if that means having signs of respect to someone who had anti-Semitic views goes against that mindset.
Skirpa said he wanted to get rid of all Jews so that an oppressive atmosphere where Jews couldn’t even think of having rights in Lithuania would be created. Skirpa said this during World War II while serving as the envoy to Berlin of the pro-Nazi Lithuanian regime.
He never denied those words even though he died in America. Protestors expressed their opposition outside the municipality building. They were telling councilors that the issue wasn’t up for discussion. The website Defending History and the Simon Wiesenthal Center, on the other hand, have been pushing for many years to rename the street.
The protestors also took into account Skirpa’s contribution to the creation of an independent state. They even said that Skirpa was part of a group of volunteer soldiers who hoisted the Lithuanian tricolor on the Gediminas Castle Tower on January 1, 1919. The capital’s politicians have cited this reasoning for wanting to rename the street Trispalves. In Lithuanian, trispalves means tricolor.
The one who proposed the renaming of the street, Renaldas Vaisbrodas, has commented that the issue was a harrowing. He has said that Kazys Skirpa was the person who contributed to anti-Semitism rising to the political level while leading the Lithuanian Activist Front. Therefore, he proposed changing the name of Kazys Skirpa Aleja to another name that would serve to unite everyone. Many historians have different assessments of Skirpa’s contributions.
- a href=”https://www.jta.org/quick-reads/lithuanias-capital-votes-to-rename-street-honoring-anti-semitic-nazi-collaborator/” target=”_blank”>Jewish Telegraphic Agency