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Defunding the Myths and Cults of
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Defunding Cold War Canada
Table of Contents
Canada’s anti-Red, Cold War
propaganda in context
When the Lithuanian Canadian Community (LCC) was formed in Toronto, its founding president was Jonas Matulionis (1952-55).1 As a top, Lithuanian banker before and during WWII, he served as Finance Minister in the pro-Nazi "Provisional Government of Lithuania" (PGL). It was created by the Lithuanian Activist Force, an antisemitic, anticommunist militia funded, armed and trained by Nazi military intelligence, the Abwehr. When the PGL was replaced by another puppet regime, over which the Nazis had even more control, Matulionis remained and was called its "general advisor for finance."2
During the Cold War, the LCC’s Matulionis also played a key role on the global stage. Active in the Supreme Committee for the Liberation of Lithuania (VLIK), he was its chairman from Nov. 27, 1955 until June 1, 1957.3 VLIK was a self-appointed, underground government that emerged in Lithuania’s second largest city, Kaunas, on November 25, 1943.4 Earlier that year, after Germany’s defeat at Stalingrad, the Soviets began forcing the Nazis out of eastern Europe. VLIK was created when it was clear that the Red Army would liberate Lithuania from Nazi rule. Within months, most VLIK leaders fled to safety in Nazi Germany. To avoid the Soviets, VLIK moved its base of operations to Nazi Germany in 1944. VLIK moved again in 1955, this time to New York. By then the US had become the new centre of the global war against communism.
Throughout the Cold War, VLIK worked with, and was supported by, its close friends and allies in the profascist Anti-Bolshevik Bloc of Nations.5
VLIK leadership was also closely linked with the Assembly of Captive European Nations, which received CIA funds through its front, the National Committee for a Free Europe.6 After Lithuania’s 1991 independence, VLIK disbanded. It had outlived its Cold-War value as an instrument of antiSoviet propaganda.
VLIK created a front called the Lithuanian World Community (LWC). Matulionis was its founding chairman (1958-61)7 and thereafter remained on its board. The LWC unites the world’s anticommunist Lithuanian émigré groups. For 40 years, its global congresses alternated between the US and Canada. Since the 1990s, these have been held in Lithuania’s capital, Vilnius.
Canada has one of the largest concentrations of Lithuanian émigrés. When the Red Army was about to free Lithuania from Nazi rule in the summer of 1944, about 70,000 Lithuanians fled to Germany with the retreating Nazi forces.8 In the Cold War’s first few years, 20,000 of these émigrés were welcomed by the Canadian government.9
Welcoming the Nazis
Many Lithuanians welcomed the Nazis as liberators when they invaded (June 22, 1941) during Operation Barbarossa. The Lithuanian Activist Front (LAF) timed its "June Uprising" to support this invasion by murdering Jews and communists before the Nazi occupation. LAF’s Berlin-based commander, Colonel Kazys Škirpa, formed LAF in July 1940. His memoirs show that LAF was guided, supplied and trained by the German military intelligence agency, Abwehr.10
LAFs ideological screed, issued from Berlin on May 10, 1941, asserted that "communism is directly rooted in Judaism."11 Rife with memes about a "Judeo-Bolshevik conspiracy" by "Jewish bankers and communists,"12 LAF’s vile ethnonationalist diatribes, matched those of the Nazis and their "captive-nations" allies across eastern and central Europe. Bronys Raila, chair of LAF’s Propaganda Commission, was the architect of its vitriolic support for ethnic cleansing. (Later, as an antiCommunist activist in the US, Raila was regularly heard on the CIA’s Radio Liberty and Radio Free Europe,13 1975-89.)
LAF also created a Provisional Government of Lithuania (PGL) and, with Škirpa as prime minister, declared "freedom" on June 23, 1941. While LAF continued the killing sprees, its PGL front "allied itself with the Nazis and passed numerous laws depriving Jews of their rights, inciting violence and horrific murders."14
Although the PGL shared the Nazi hatred of "Judeo-Bolshevism," its regime lasted only six weeks. While Germany expected utter subservience, the PGL wanted its ethnically-pure, anticommunist state to be independent. But, despite its brief life, said historian Algimantas Kasparavicius, the PGL’s "devilish machinery bore its fruit."15
By war’s end, very few of Lithuania’s 208,000 Jews remained.16 As US-born, Lithuanian-based scholar Dovid Katz notes:
Around 96% of Lithuanian Jewry was murdered during the Holocaust, the largest proportion in wartime Europe, and with massive local collaboration by "heroes" still celebrated by street names and an array of events.17
There are now only 3,000 Jews left in this
country of three million.18 Besides killing some 200,000 Lithuanian Jews, the
Nazis and their local partners also murdered untold other Soviet citizens. The
official indictment of the Nuremberg trial of Nazi war criminals stated in that
"mass killings of Soviet citizens" in the Lithuanian SSR amounted to about
Matulionis and the Holocaust
Among the Nazi collaborators who fled to Nazi Germany in 1944 and later found refuge in Canada was Jonas Matulionis, a top Lithuanian banker. In the 1920s and again in 1940, he helped lead Lithuania’s Christian Democratic Party,20 which was rabidly antisemitic.21 Matulionis was a top executive with Lietvas Bankas, the Lithuanian member of Switzerland’s Bank for International Settlements, which received gold looted by the Nazis.22 Until his death in 1980, Matulionis continued his antiSoviet activism from Toronto, where he led far-right national and international Lithuanian groups that still venerate and revere Nazi collaborators and Holocaust perpetrators as WWII heroes.
On June 25, 1941, the PGL resolved to "expand partisan activities in the countryside where" "gangs of Bolsheviks, Communists and Jews still remain." On the next day, the PGL asked Nazi General Robert von Pohl "to step-up ... the cleansing operation" and "allow our partisan units to operate more widely." On June 27, the PGL recorded its "great joy" that the Nazis let them create their first police battalion.23 Over the next five months it killed "26,000 Lithuanian and foreign (German, Austrian and Czech) Jews" held in Kaunas.24 Other Lithuanian units murdered 110,000 Jews and 2,000 communists.25 The Nazis reorganized Lithuania’s battalions into auxiliary police units that killed another 21,000 Lithuanian Jews before the Soviets regained control in 1944. These units also killed 50,000 Jews in neighbouring Belarus, and helped execute the Holocaust in Ukraine, Russia and Poland.
On June 30, the PGL decided to fund its battalion under Kaunas military commander, Colonel Jurgis Bobelis and to "approve the establishment of a Jewish concentration camp" near Kaunas. This task was assigned to Colonel Bobelis and to PGL deputy minister of infrastructure, Juozas Švilpa. The PGL also declared that "Property nationalized from Jews and Russians remains the indisputable property of the Lithuanian state."
Further citing PGL cabinet minutes, Kasparavicius noted that:
"Matulionis suggested opening the declaration not with a vague and notional phrase about the liberating mission of the Wehrmacht in Lithuania, but instead to place at the beginning a specific 'statement underlining the role of the German military as Lithuania is freeing herself from the Bolshevik yoke.'"26
In early July, Matulionis met leaders of Kaunas’ Jewish community, such as Jacob Goldberg, chair of the Union of Jewish Soldiers. He asked Matulionis to "try to prevail on his friends in the Lithuanian government to intervene to stop the killings." Matulionis replied: "The wrath of the people is so great that there is no way to stop these acts. When you leave the city for good and confine yourselves in the Ghetto, things will quiet down."27 This was reported in the diary of Avraham Tory, who became secretary of the Kaunas [Kovno] Ghetto’s Jewish council. Matulionis, he said, told them that:
according to the most extreme view all the Jews in Lithuania must be exterminated; a more moderate view demands setting up a concentration camp where Jews will atone with blood and sweat for their crimes against the Lithuanian people. As for the third view, I am a practicing Roman Catholic; I ... believe that no person may take the life of another person.... Only God may do this.... [D]uring the period of Soviet rule I and my friends realized that we did not have a common path with the Jews and never will. In our view, the Lithuanians and the Jews must be separated from each other and the sooner the better. For this purpose, the Ghetto is essential. There you will ... no longer [be] able to harm us. This is a Christian’s position.28
After this discussion, said Tory, "those present decided that the state of affairs in the city gave us no option but to leave the city and move into the Ghetto."29 Matulionis’ memoirs, Unquiet Days (Toronto, 1975), are silent on this meeting. In fact, said political scientist Anatol Lieven, Matulionis "skates as quickly as possible over what was happening to the Jews." One reason for this "silence of the exile community," he said, was that "some of its original leaders, as well as a good many ordinary members, had ... been directly involved in the massacres."30
On July 2, as the terror escalated, Matulionis attended a PGL meeting to grant themselves salaries (retroactive to the June-23 invasion) and begin LAF funding. On July 11, in his report to the PGL, he said that the Poles in Vilnius were "supporting the Russian Bolsheviks, as the Jews do."31
On Aug. 1, the PGL passed "Regulations on the Status of the Jews" which said
Jews for whole centuries have exploited the Lithuanian people economically, ruined it morally and most recently covering themselves in the mantle of Bolshevism have engaged broadly in war against Lithuanian independence and the Lithuanian nation.
This new law, it said, would "stop...harmful activities of the Jews and ... protect the Lithuanian[s] ... from their harmful influence."32
On August 5, the PGL disbanded and the Nazis got new puppets. Although replacing "ministers" and "ministries" with "general advisors" and "boards," some faces remained identical. Matulionis, the PGL finance minister became the Nazi’s "general advisor for Finance."33 He later said he was "in favor of active cooperation with the Germans, because, by taking this path, I thought it the best way to serve my country."34
Although Lithuania’s new regime opposed some Nazi policies and a few of its leaders were arrested, it actively supported the Holocaust. As historian Arunas Bubnys put it, "the most obvious fact of the collaboration of the Lithuanian local government with the Nazi invaders was its participation in the genocide of Lithuania’s Jews."35
The LAF and PGL laid the groundwork for the Holocaust. Matulionis’ "Christian" solution, the ghetto, became a concentration camp. Most of its inmates were sent to death camps like Auschwitz and killed before the Red Army liberated it. By the time the Soviets liberated Lithuania in 1944, almost all the Kovno Ghetto’s 29,000 Jews were dead. On one day, October 29, 1941, there was what Nazi SS-Standartenfuehrer Karl Jäger called the "cleansing" of 9200 "superfluous Jews from the [Kovno] ghetto," including "2920 Jewesses" and "4273 Jewish children."36
The German SS man in charge, Helmut Rauca, who had ordered the execution of 2379 Jews there in August and September, escaped the Soviets by fleeing to safety in Nazi Germany. In 1950, Rauca was given safe haven by the Canadian government.
Canada’s abysmal record of not prosecuting war criminals
After living more than three decades in Ontario, Rauca became the first Nazi war criminal to be extradited from Canada. As David Matas, legal counsel for B’nai Brith said in 1986, the:
Government of Canada has been legally inactive on the issue of Nazi war criminals in Canada ever since the war. ... The RCMP had a policy of not investigating any allegations. The only exception to this policy of inactivity was the arrest in 1982 and the extradition to West Germany in 1983 of Albert Helmut Rauca.37
But Rauca never made it to trial. He died of cancer on October 29, 1983, 42 years to the day after the Kovno massacre.
In 1985, after decades of pressure led by Jewish groups, Brian Mulroney’s Tory government created the Deschênes Commission on Nazi War Criminals in Canada. In response, émigré groups whose founders and leaders included Nazi collaborators, war criminals and their apologists, started a legal action to thwart its ability to proceed. This effort, led by the Ukrainian Canadian Congress, included the Baltic Federation of Canada, Lithuanian Canadian Community, Latvian National Federation in Canada and the Estonian Central Council in Canada.
These organizations "first priority," said Matas, was to reject "out of hand ... as fundamentally tainted," all the evidence amassed by the USSR about Nazi war crimes.38 This included testimony by Soviet survivors who witnessed the atrocities, as well as thousands of documents recovered by the Soviets when they liberated Eastern Europe. All "evidence obtained from Soviet sources," these émigrés argued, "could not be trusted" because "it would be falsified as part of a disinformation campaign" to "foment discord" among anticommunist émigrés, and to "denigrate" them. Not mentioning that 27 million Soviets had died because of the Nazi invasion, these groups argued that "Moscow was more interested in smearing them, creating dissent, and gaining a propaganda victory than in seeing that justice was served."39
These émigré groups went on the offensive. Launching a media war to smear Soviet evidence and malign the USSR, they portrayed themselves as the real victims. Their 1985 Globe-and-Mail ad, claimed that "Moscow" had a "vested interest in discrediting refugees ... forced to flee from Eastern Europe" and that "the memory and the history of our homelands are being defiled by Soviet allegations of [Nazi] war crimes."40
Papers also spread alarm by quoting the LCC’s Vida Zalnieriunas. She said the US had allowed Soviet evidence "to the detriment of American citizens" and that "Soviet witnesses whose credibility is doubtful ... and falsified evidence could seriously impair fair legal proceedings" in Canada.41 She defended Lithuanian collaborators by arguing that many "joined the Nazi auxiliary-police battalion[s] ... to establish an independent Lithuanian army that could resist further Soviet incursions." Omitting mention that these Lithuanians killed tens of thousands of Jews and communists, this LCC leader warned that in the "headlong rush ... to ease our collective Western conscience, we could unwittingly create a new set of victims."42
Joining the fray to protect fellow Lithuanian Canadians from alleged victimization by the Soviets was Trent professor Ron Vastokas. He wrote in the Toronto Star of "a hysterical Naziphobia" aimed at Baltic and Ukrainian émigrés. Having a special unit seeking Nazi criminals in Canada, he said, "would only aggravate the emotions and conflicts already engendered."43 The LCC’s Zalnieriunas even questioned "the morality of accepting [Soviet] evidence" because "handing an Eastern European over to the Soviets would be tantamount to entrusting the care of a Jew to the Nazis."44 Canada’s largest, Jewish groups disagreed. They, said Matas, urged the commission to "look at all the evidence, wherever it might be found."45
In the end, the Deschênes Commission sided
with the Nazi-linked émigré groups and refused to examine any evidence from the
USSR, where the Nazi’s crimes had been committed. Saying this was a victory,
Jaroslav Petryshyn, a Ukrainian-Canadian history teacher who became a
crime-fiction author, wrote that the "commission’s Final Report (without
Soviet input) was received favourably by all ethnic groups when it
was tabled in March 1987."46 (Emphasis added.)
LCC rallied behind Canada’s
During the Cold War, the Lithuanian community of Canada helped cheer on Canadian support for brutal US-led wars against their communist enemies. For example, in August 1950 "the Lithuanian community of Canada" issued a hyperbolic "declaration" promoting the Korean war. It stated that:
The unprovoked, deceitful and pre-arranged aggression ... started by the Soviet Union under the disguise of North Korea, clearly shows to ... mankind that Soviet Russian Imperialism is resolved to take possession, step by step, of the whole globe and to introduce everywhere the Soviet tyranny and slavery.47
In the weeks before they issued this ringing endorsement for the Korean War, many Canadian papers had run stories about napalm, a hot, new weapon in the antiCommunist arsenal. Front page stories in two BC papers on July 10 were headlined: "Korean Flashes: Jelly-Like Explosive Burns Reds" and "Flaming Spray Hits Reds."48
As US General Curtis LeMay said: "we ... burned down every town in North Korea ... and some in South Korea too .... we killed off—what—twenty percent of the population of Korea."49 About three million died during this US-led, UN war.50 Napalm was the West’s weapon of choice. Over 32,000 tons of it were used to ignite Korean cities during the 37-month war (1950-53). This was twice the napalm used by the US in its WWII firebombing of Japan.51
In the midst of daily news on the UN bombing of Korea, Canada’s Lithuanian community said it was "with great satisfaction that we are hopeful of the resistance of the United Nations against the aggression in Korea." They urged citizens to back Canada’s role in the war, saying: "We are calling on all our countrymen and all Canadian inhabitants to support with all their might and means the Canadian government."52 Making their anticommunist goals crystal clear, they urged Louis St. Laurent’s Liberal government to use the war as a pretext for a domestic crack down and "declare all progressive-Communist organizations in Canada as illegal and to suspend their activities."53
Rightwing Lithuanian Canadians were incensed by the peace movement. The Canadian Peace Congress was targeted as a traitorous enemy. Its crimes included leading a mass petition drive that gathered 300,000 signatures to oppose NATO’s first-strike, nuclear-weapons policy. "We protest most vigorously," said the Lithuanian community of Canada, against
the communistic lie of the Fifth Column, an agency of Soviet Imperialism, to fool faithful people through press, meetings and collecting signatures for the so-called ‘Stockholm Peace Resolution.’54
At that time, Foreign Minister Lester Pearson was also publicly accusing the Peace Congress of treason and sedition.
Years later, in 1965, the LCC defended then-Prime Minister Pearson when "peaceniks" criticised Canada’s support for yet another US war against communism. With Canadian assistance, this war in southeast Asia eventually killed 2.5 to 3.5 million.
To aid Canada’s pro-war support, LCC-Alberta joined six other East-European émigré groups to gather 500 names on a petition to "urge" Pearson’s "continued opposition" to what they called "communist aggression in Viet Nam."55 (The signatories were "representatives and members" of right-wing émigré groups representing Croats, Estonians, Hungarians, Latvians and Lithuanians). Three news stories covered these anticommunist groups’ "[s]upport for the Canadian government in favoring the United States Viet Nam policy."56
Behind this show of loyalty for Canada’s
aid to this US war, was the profascist
Anti-Bolshevik Bloc of Nations.
Its secretary, Algimantas Dudaravicius, was the only person quoted in any of
these articles. Not only was he "very active in the Lithuanian community of
Edmonton,"57 he was vice president of the Baltic Federation of Canada
References and notes
2. Arunas Bubnys, "Lithuanian Self-Government," in Lithuania in 1940-1991, 2007, p.149. http://bit.ly/Bubn07
3. Miklas, Kestutis (ed.), Tautos Fondas 1943-2002, 2002, p.68. http://bit.ly/TF-LNF
4. This coincided almost exactly with the ABN’s creation on Nov. 21-22, 1943.
5. See ABN Correspondence: Jan.-Feb. 1961, p.31; Jul.-Aug. 1967, p.21; Jan.-Feb. 1978, p.23; May-Jun. 1979, pp.18,21-22,19-29; Summer 2000, pp.15-17. http://bit.ly/ABNmag
6. For example, Vaclovas Sidzikauskas (an interwar diplomat who resigned after a corruption scandal and became director of Shell Oil’s Lithuania subsidiary in 1936), was chairman of VLIK’s exec. council (1947), chaired its first congress (1961) and was VLIK’s chairman (1964-66). When the CIA-funded NCFE created VLIK’s US branch (Cttee. for a Free Lithuania, CFL), he was its first chairman (1951-73). The CFL was an integral part of the ACEN and Sidzikauskas was its deputy chairman (1959-60; 1971-72) and chairman (1960-61; 1965-66). http://bit.ly/V-Sidz
7. LWC Seimas http://bit.ly/LWCexec
8. The beginning of displacement http://bit.ly/BaltDP1
9. The divergence of refugees http://bit.ly/BaltDP2
10. Aleksandra Shtromas, "The Baltic States as Soviet Republics," in Baltic States: The National Self-Determination of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, 1996, p.88. http://bit.ly/Shtrom
Nigel Thomas, Carlos Caballero Jurado, Germany’s Eastern Front Allies (2): Baltic Forces, 2002, p.5. http://bit.ly/BalFor
11. Cited by Per Rudling, "The OUN, the UPA and the Holocaust:A Study in the Manufacturing of Historical Myths," Carl Beck Papers in Russian &East European Studies, Nov. 2011, p.45. http://bit.ly/OUN-UPA-Holocaust
12. Leonidas Donskis, Loyalty, Dissent and Betrayal: Modern Lithuania and East-Central European Moral Imagination, 2005, p.94. http://bit.ly/JuBoCon
13. Bronys Raila http://bit.ly/BRaila
14. The Holocaust Survivor Memoirs Program http://bit.ly/LAFnazi
15. Algimantas Kasparavicius, "Lithuanian Political Illusions: The ‘Policy’ of the Lithuanian Provisional Government and the Beginning of the Holocaust in Lithuania in 1941," Feb. 6, 2017. http://bit.ly/A-Kasp
16. Alfonsas Eidintas, et al, The History of Lithuania, 2015, p.240. http://bit.ly/LithHol
17. Dovid Katz, "Over 500 Neo-Nazis Granted Center of Vilnius for March 11th Parade," March 11, 2017. http://bit.ly/D-Katz
18. Lithuanian 2011 Population Census in Brief, p.20. http://bit.ly/LitCen
19. Trial of the Major War Criminals before the International Military Tribunal, Vol.1, p.48. http://bit.ly/IMTrial
20. Miklas, Kestutis, op. cit., p.70.
Freedom, Prerequisite to Lasting Peace, 1957, p.31. http://bit.ly/MatBnk2
Vladas Terleckas, Lietuvos Bankininkai: Gyvenimu ir darbu pedsakai, 1918-1940, 2001, p.306. http://bit.ly/LitBank
21. L.Venclauskas, Sincere AntiSemitism or Accessory to Propaganda?, 2009. http://bit.ly/LCDprop
22. LB, BIS source(s)
23. Minutes of PGL cabinet meetings, cited by Kasparavicius, op.cit.
24. Arunas Bubnys, "Lithuanian Police Battalions and the Holocaust (1941-1943)," 2000, p.11. http://bit.ly/LithPol
25. Karl Jäger, A Chronicle of Nazi Mass Murder, Dec. 1, 1941. http://bit.ly/JaegRep
26. Minutes of PGL cabinet meetings..., op. cit.
27. Avraham Tory, Surviving the Holocaust: The Kovno Ghetto Diary, 1990. http://bit.ly/ToryDiary
30. Anatol Lieven, The Baltic Revolution: Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and the Path to Independence, p.154. http://bit.ly/ALiev
31. Minutes of PGL cabinet meetings..., op. cit.
33. Bubnys 2007, op. cit., p.148-52. http://bit.ly/Bubn07
34. Terleckas, op. cit., p.308.
35. Bubnys 2007, op. cit., p.153.
36. Jäger, op. cit., p.5.
37. David Matas, "Debate: Reason or Rhetoric?" Student, Mar.-Apr. 1986, p.9. http://bit.ly/Matas86
39. Jaroslav Petryshyn, "The ‘Ethnic Question’ Personified, 1917-1991," in Re-imagining Ukrainian Canadians: History, Politics, and Identity, 2011, pp.245, 246. http://bit.ly/Petrys
40. "East European Canadians’ advertisement saysDeschênes Commission discriminates," Ukrainian Weekly, Oct. 20, 1985, p.6. http://bit.ly/ad-UW
41. Refugees wary of Soviet role in hunt for Nazis," Ottawa Citizen, Jun. 11, 1985, p.4. http://bit.ly/OC6-11-85
42. "Soviets manipulate facts on Nazis, commission told," Windsor Star, Jun. 11, 1985, p.14. http://bit.ly/WS6-11-85
43. John Burns, "Ottawa will act on Nazis in Canada," NY Times, Jan. 7, 1987. http://bit.ly/nyt-87
44. "Soviets manipulate facts ..." op. cit.
45. Matas, op. cit.
46. Petryshyn, op. cit., p.246.
47. "Lithuanians Call for Loyalty," Montreal Gazette, Aug. 29, 1950, p.6. http://bit.ly/MG8-29-50
48. Vancouver Sun, Jul.10, 1950, p.1. http://bit.ly/nplm1
Province, Jul.10, 1950, p.1. http://bit.ly/nplm-2
49. Strategic Air Warfare, 1988, p.88. (Richard Kohn’s interview with LeMay.) http://bit.ly/SAW-88
50. Matthew White, Death Tolls for the Korean War http://bit.ly/KoreaDeaths
51. Robert Neer, Napalm: An American Biography, 2013, p.99. http://bit.ly/NapalmBio
52. "Lithuanians Call for Loyalty," op.cit.
55. "Ethnic Groups Approve Action in Viet
Nam," Montreal Gazette, Jun. 28, 1965, p.22.
56. Author’s collection of articles, Jun. 26, 1965. http://bit.ly/CdaViet
57. Obituary, Algimantas Dudaravicius, Edmonton Journal, Apr. 27, 2003. http://bit.ly/A-Dud
58. Anne Burrows, "Baltic Concert Joyful," Edmonton Journal, Oct.7, 1967, p.24. http://bit.ly/EJ10-7-67
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