Centuries Will Not Suffice by Prit Buttar
A History of the Lithuanian Holocaust
95% of Lithuania’s more than 200,000 Jews were exterminated during the Holocaust. Why did this small Baltic state prove to be the most efficient killing field of all?
‘Centuries Will Not Suffice’ explores how different people responded to the Lithuanian Holocaust and the roles that they played. It considers the past history of the perpetrators and those who took great risks to save Jews, as well as describing the experiences of many who were caught up in the maelstrom. Unlike the figures at the top of the Nazi hierarchy, the men who were responsible for the these killings have been largely forgotten.
Karl Jäger was a senior SS figure who was in charge of the units that carried out most of them. He complained that his experiences caused him to suffer nightmares but continued to order his units to carry on and refused offers of sick leave on the grounds that he regarded it as his duty to remain in his post. He took refuge in compiling painstakingly detailed reports of the killings, listing the numbers executed at every location and breaking them down into men, women and children.
The roles played by other figures, from Himmler and Heydrich at the summit, through the ranks of men like Franz Walter Stahlecker to men like Martin Weiss and Bruno Kittel who were personally responsible for carrying out Nazi policies, are all described. Before the German invasion of Lithuania, two diplomats – Chiune Sugihara from Japan and Jan Zwartendijk from the Netherlands – recognised the great danger that lay ahead for the Jews of the Baltic region and did what they could to help them escape. Karl Plagge, a major in the army, did all he could to save Jews. What perhaps make the terrible story of the Baltic genocide unique is that the Nazi regime was able to rely upon collaboration by convincing the populace that the Soviet invasion of the area was the responsibility of the Jews.
Year first published: 2023