Silvia Foti Investigates Jonas Noreika

A Mother’s Dying Wish Becomes A Daughter’s Nightmare

Jonas Noreika's wedding

A deathbed promise leads a daughter on an incredible journey to write about her grandfather who was a famous war hero. But this journey had a terrible destination: the discovery that he was a Nazi collaborator.

Silvia Foti’s mother was dying. Wanting to preserve family history, Silvia’s mother asked her to write a book about Foti’s grandfather, Jonas Noreika, a famous WWII hero. Foti’s grandmother tried to intervene – begging her granddaughter not to write about her husband. “Just let history lie,” she whispered.

Foti had no idea that in keeping her promise to her mother, her discoveries would bring her to a personal crisis, unearth Holocaust denial, and expose an official cover-up by the Lithuanian government that resulted in an internationally-followed lawsuit.

Jonas Noreika was a Lithuanian known as General Storm. He led an uprising that won the country of Lithuania back from the communists, only to have it fall under Nazi control. He was an official during the Holocaust and chief of the second largest region in the country during the Nazi occupation, yet he became a prisoner in a Nazi concentration camp. Foti set out to write a heroic biography about her famous grandfather.  But 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.”

Storm in the Land of Rain is Foti’s memoir, a first-hand account of her journey, which began as an act of family pride and ended with uncovering the secret her family, and an entire nation, had kept hidden for 80 years. A literary narrative of the Holocaust in Lithuania through the lens of one perpetrator, as well as a journalistic investigation, in which Silvia interviews nearly 100 witnesses and combs through thousands of documents. It addresses:

  • 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 book originally appeared as a hardback The Nazi’s Granddaughter: How I Discovered My Grandfather was a War Criminal.  The new title alludes to her grandfather known as General Storm and Lithuania known as Land of Rain.

Foti has paired up with Grant Gochin, a Lithuanian Jew living in California, who has initiated multiple lawsuits against the Genocide and Resistance Research Centre of Lithuania, requesting that it cease honoring Jonas Noreika as a WWII hero. Gochin had more than 100 relatives murdered in the Lithuanian Holocaust, claiming that Foti’s grandfather was responsible.

The book has been translated into Lithuanian (Kitos Knygos) as Vėtra Lietaus Šalyje, Hungarian (Múlt és Jövő), and Polish (Wielka Litera).

Harper Collins Mexico, Spanish edition, available: Mi Abuelo: El General Storm ¿Héroe o criminal nazi?

“The Nazi’s Granddaughter is an introspective and sensitive account of Silvia Foti’s search for the truth about her “heroic” grandfather, who had been incarcerated by the Nazis in 1943 as a Lithuanian nationalist and executed by the Soviet regime as an anti-communist resister in 1947.  Despite systematic prevarication by Lithuanian officials, friends, and family, she gradually assembles the contrasting portrait of a man who was also an anti-Semitic pamphleteer in the 1930s and a Nazi collaborator and Jew-killer in 1941.”
Christopher R. Browning, Frank Porter Graham Professor of History Emeritus, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

From Michael Kretzmer, director of J’Accuse!

The Noreika insult beggars belief. Let me summarise: the Lithuanian government, via its Orwellian Genocide Centre, has manufactured a crude mythology based on lies in order to hero-worship a notorious mass murderer, thief and polemical antisemite. Jonas Noreika murdered as many as 14,500 Jews in conditions of unimaginable cruelty and his guilt has been known for decades. Most recently Noreika’s own extraordinary granddaughter, Silvia Foti, has axiomatically blown apart the pathetic denialists in Vilnius. Her book, Storm in the Land of Rain, and her devastating testimony in the film J’Accuse! has left them looking naked, nasty and ridiculous.