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12 Holocaust & Genocide Stud. 27 (1998)
The Context of Mass Destruction: Agents and Prerequisites of the Holocaust in Lithuania

handle is hein.journals/hologen12 and id is 35 raw text is: The Context of Mass Destruction: Agents
and Prerequisites of the Holocaust in
Lithuania'
Michael MacQueen
Office of Special Investigations, U.S. Department of Justice
More than 200,000 of the 210,000 to 220,000 Jews who were resident on
what was Lithuanian territory as of October 1939 did not live to see the
end of the Second World War.2 In fact, the majority did not survive the
bloody interval of July-November 1941.3 The aim of this paper is to estab-
lish a basis for understanding aspects of the Holocaust which were specific
to Lithuania, chief among which is that the bulk of the physical organiza-
tion of and preparation for murder, as well as the actual killing, was car-
ried out by indigenous auxiliaries of the Nazi occupation regime. This is a
crucial and inescapable fact: regardless that Einsatzkommando 3 of the
Nazi Security Police (Sipo) and SD (Sicherheitsdienst or Security Service,
the intelligence arm of the Nazi Party) must be seen as the prime organiz-
ing force in these killings, the majority of the murders was actually per-
formed by Lithuanians.4
This paper encompasses three themes which are central to our understanding of how
the Lithuanian Holocaust happened: (1) the nature of Lithuanian nationalism and its
setting; (2) the political context of the late interwar and early war years (i.e. spring
1938-June 1941); and (3) the notion of the complete disruption, perhaps more accu-
rately atomization, of Lithuanian society in the period in question. Although this at-
omization requires additional research, it appears to have provided a prime element
of the setting for mass murder. Antisemitism in Lithuania, especially the violent forms
it took during the Holocaust, derived impetus from all three of these elements.5
Lithuanian nationalism was a nineteenth-century phenomenon, similar to Slo-
vak, Ukrainian, Irish, and Macedonian examples in that it strove for the re-creation,
if not invention, of a national identity based upon linguistic community, ultimately
realized in the form of a state. The leaders of the nationalist movement in its academic
stage were representatives of the strongest faction of a native Lithuanian intelligent-
sia, the Roman Catholic priesthood. One of the issues which resurrectionalist nation-
alist movements such as that in Lithuania had to confront was why their people had,
over the centuries, been swallowed up by others, and in the process nearly been erad-
Holocaust and Genocide Studies, V12 N1, Spring 1998, pp. 27-48    27

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