As part of the tour of the Head of State of the Vatican City by the Baltic countries, Pope Francis visited the ancient ghetto in Vilnius 

The Pope warned against historical revisionism and any re-birth of anti-Semitism that fueled the Holocaust, as he memorialized Lithuania’s centuries-old Jewish community, which nearly perished during World War II.

Pope Francis also honored the freedom fighters in at the former KGB headquarters where anti-Soviet supporters were arrested and executed, solemnly toured the cameras that have now become a disturbing museum of occupational atrocities.

Pope Francis (flickr)
Pope Francis Malacanang (flickr CC)

The Baltic countries declared independence in 1918, but were annexed to the Soviet Union in 1940 in a secret agreement with Nazi Germany. The Vatican and many Western countries refused to recognize the annexation.

With the exception of the Nazi occupation of 1941-1944, the Baltic countries remained part of the Soviet Union until its collapse in the early 1990s. Pope Francis’  travel schedule changed a few weeks ago to allow him to internalize the killing of about 90 percent of Lithuania’s 250,000 Jews by Nazi occupiers and Lithuanian accomplices.

Many Lithuanians make no distinction between the Soviets who killed thousands of Lithuanians and the Nazis who did the same with the Jews. Until recently, the KGB museum in Vilnius was actually called the “Genocide Museum,” but it changed its name to the “Museum of Occupations and Freedom Struggles” because it focuses on Soviet atrocities, not German Nazis.