Pope Francis on Sunday paid homage to Holocaust victims who perished in the Vilnius ghetto, 75 years to the day after the Nazis liquidated it, and warned 100,000 Lithuanians gathered for mass against “pernicious attitudes” leading to genocide.
“Seventy-five years ago, this nation witnessed the final destruction of the Vilnius Ghetto; this was the climax of the killing of thousands of Jews that had started two years earlier,” the pontiff told faithful in a homily in Kaunas, Lithuania’s second city.
Pre-war Lithuania was home to a thriving Jewish community of more than 200,000 people, with its capital Vilnius a hub of learning known as the “Jerusalem of the North”.
According to historians, around 195,000 — nearly the entire Jewish population — perished at the hands of the Nazis and local collaborators under the 1941-44 German occupation. —AFP