State security department reports on Lithuanian antisemitism 1939–1940: nature, intensity, substance

Linas Venclauskas

Abstract


The article is based on the analysis of the reports of State Security Department (SSD) concerning antisemitism in Lithuania in 1939‒1940. This section of Lithuanian and world history is known as a turbulent time, so was this period anyhow different in respect with the dissemination of anti-Semitic ideas and actions in Lithuania? Anti-Semitism emerged in Lithuania (as well as in other countries) as one of the results of modernization but the question arises whether the geopolitical tensions in the world had any impact on the relationship between Jews and Lithuanians, not to mention the country’s internal situation, worsened by the increasing social and economic problems, the loss of Klaipėda Region, the attempts to incorporate Vilnius Region into Lithuania, etc. The analysis, which is based on SSD reports, is structured in three parts that analyse the following topics: Lithuanian authorities’ position toward Jewish minority, major anti-Semitic attacks in 1939‒1940, and day-to-day anti-Semitic incidents. It was clear that authorities by all means tried to avoid and suppress any anti-Semitic actions, and if attacks on Jews occurred, the perpetrators were punished. During this period, there were no major anti-Semitic attacks, which leads to the assumptions that Antisemitism was not intensifying over the last years of independent Lithuania, and that daily anti-Semitic actions did not reduce the average of Lithuanian – Jewish conflicts, in comparison with other periods. The source of the conflicts remained the same: distribution of anti-Semitic pamphlets and posters, destruction of Jewish property breaking windows, and occasional physical attacks.


Keywords


State Security Department; Authorities; Lithuanians; Jews; Antisemitism

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7220/2335-8769.67.5

ISSN 1392-0588 (Print)

ISSN 2335-8769 (Online)