The Nazi’s Granddaughter: How I Discovered My Grandfather was a War Criminal

 

“Silvia’s grandfather was the perpetrator that slaughtered a majority of my relatives. . . . Silvia Foti is an amazing woman. She is standing up against a machine of lies.”—Grant Gochin, Lithuanian Jewish American

What would you do if you found out that your war-hero grandfather was not a hero—instead, he was responsible for the deaths of eight thousand Jews? The Nazi’s Granddaughter: How I Discovered My Grandfather Was a War Criminal is Silvia Foti’s account of her wrenching, twenty-year investigation that not only reshaped her family history but also exposed an official cover-up by the Lithuanian government that resulted in an internationally followed lawsuit. Her discovery has undone a national narrative in Lithuania which converted Holocaust villains like Silvia’s grandfather into war heroes.

Silvia made a deathbed promise to her mother to write a book about her famous, WWII hero grandfather, Jonas Noreika. Silvia’s grandmother begged her not to write about her husband. “Just let history lie,” she whispered. Silvia had no idea that in keeping her promise to her mother, her discoveries would bring her to a personal crisis, challenge her Catholic faith, unearth Holocaust denial, and expose an official cover-up by the Lithuanian government.

Silvia was raised on reverent stories about her hero grandfather, a martyr for Lithuanian independence and an unblemished patriot. Jonas Noreika, remembered as “General Storm,” had resisted his country’s German and Soviet occupiers in World War II, surviving two years in a Nazi concentration camp only to be executed in 1947 by the KGB. His granddaughter, growing up in Chicago, was treated like royalty in her tightly knit Lithuanian community. But in 2000, when Silvia traveled to Lithuania for a ceremony honoring her grandfather, she heard a very different story—a “rumor” that her grandfather had been a “Jew-killer.” As she dug ever deeper, she “encountered so much evidence proving my flesh and blood ‘hero’ was a Jew-killer, even I could no longer believe the lie.”

This disturbing story begs questions of Silvia and her readers:

  • How should our family’s past, shameful or noble, shape our identity?
  • How could one man be revered as a hero, having a grammar school named after him, and yet be a villain responsible for the deaths of thousands?
  • Why are some European countries still in denial about their role in the Holocaust?
  • How was this kept secret until now?

The Nazi’s Granddaughter by Silvia Foti is available March 9, 2021, in hardcover (400 pp, $26.99, 978-1-68451-108-2) from Regnery History, www.regneryhistory.com.

New York Jewish Guide

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