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Open Letter to PEN America

Dear Colleagues,

In response to the statement of PEN America (https://pen.org/press-release/lithuanian-writer-ruta-vanagaites-publisher-set-pulp-27000-books/), we share your concern regarding “a troubling overreaction” by the publisher Alma littera and the fact that “PEN America deeply disagrees with Alma Littera’s decision” to pulp all the books by Rūta Vanagaitė, albeit this is a decision of a private publisher, and not an act of censorship on the part of the authorities.

However, I regret that PEN America took a rather one-sided view of the matter and had not taken into consideration my explanatory e-mail sent to Karin Deutsch Karlekar of PEN America on November 3 (please see attached).

I want to emphasize that Vanagaitė’s book Mūsiškiai (Our People), published in Lithuania in 2016, and her presentation as truth of the material from the KGB files on Adolfas Ramanauskas, one of Lithuania’s national heroes, are two completely different issues. About the latter Ms Vanagaitė made a public apology on November 3, declaring:

“Today I openly admit that my stated opinion that Adolfas Ramanauskas-Vanagas did not suffer torture but harmed himself, was completely mistaken, based on the lies stated in the files [of the KGB – L.J.] in order to conceal the traces of torture. I deeply regret my hasty and arrogant public comments.”

Regarding her book Mūsiškiai, we are very surprised to hear that “the Lithuanian authorities claimed that the book jeopardized national security.” We would like to see any factual reference to that.

However difficult the reckoning with the significant participation of some Lithuanians in the Holocaust might be, Vanagaitė’s misguided remarks about Adolfas Ramanauskas have in fact nothing to do with it. Ramanauskas did not take any part in the Holocaust. It can be mentioned that, in the wake of the recent controversy, the Israeli ambassador to the Baltic States Amir Maimon made a point of visiting the daughter of Adolfas Ramanauskas to express his respect for her father, Lithuanian freedom fighter against the Soviet occupation (https://en.delfi.lt/corporate/israel-sends-a-message-to-vanagaite-regarding-ramanauskas-vanagas.d?id=76657775 – the full article is available in Lithuanian: https://www.delfi.lt/news/daily/lithuania/izraelis-pasiunte-zinia-vanagaitei-del-ramanausko-vanago.d?id=76655233).

 

Respectfully,

Laimantas Jonušys,

President of the Lithuanian PEN Centre