Pope Francis honored yesterday the victims of the Jewish community of the Nazi occupation in Lithuania during World War II, in an open-air mass, as part of the second day of his visit to the Balkan country.
In front of a crowd of around 100,000 people gathered in Santakos de Kaunas Park, the second largest city in Lithuania, Francis recalled that the Jewish people suffered insults and “cruel punishments” in Lithuania during the Nazi occupation.
“Previous generations still have the scars of the period of occupation, the anguish of those who were deported, the uncertainty about those who never returned and the shame for those who were informers and traitors,” he said, according to a Zenit news agency report.
Pope Francis also visited the Monument of the Victims of the Jewish Ghetto in Rudniku Square in Vilnius, capital of Lithuania, as part of the 75th anniversary of the destruction of the ghetto, with an expression of sadness and pain.
On a day like today, 75 years ago, the Germans definitively destroyed the ghetto, and the date is preserved as the day of memory of the Jewish Genocide in Lithuania, a country that teaches the history of the Holocaust in schools, has compensated survivors and has imposed “zero tolerance” for crimes of anti-Semitism, he noted.
With the Nazi occupation, 195,000 Jews died in Lithuania, 95 percent of those who lived in Lithuania, in Vilnius, also known as “the Jerusalem of the North”.