The Wollongong Art Gallery may be praising an ex-Nazi » J-Wire
March 22, 2022 by Henry Benjamin
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Bronius Sredersas was not a big earner, but he amassed a fortune by carefully selecting top-notch Australian artwork and artefacts that covered the walls of his very humble home on the Wollongong. But now there is a hunt to verify that the Lithuanian was a member of the SD death squads that killed tens of thousands of Jews during World War II.
Bob died 36 years ago, but a furor erupted over the revelation of what could have been Bob’s troubled past.
On his death he bequeathed his estate to the town of Wollongong, including paintings by Arthur Streeton and Norman Lindsay, marking the start of the Wollongong Art Gallery which features a plaque in memory of this humble benefactor.
He also left personal documents such as his birth certificate.
Four years ago, ex-advisor Michael Samaris read in a catalog published for the gallery’s 40th anniversary that Sredersas had been a policeman in Lithuania and had served in the Nazi SS, responsible for the deaths of 212,000 Lithuanian Jews .
It’s in the Guardian’s room.
Michael Samaras told J-Wire: “I knew from my own general knowledge what auxiliary police battalions had done in Lithuania, so I just thought, ha, that’s interesting. I decided that it was worth investigating to see if I could find out if he had been involved.
The story was published in The Guardian written by Paul Daley
Notorious Nazi hunter Efraim Zuroff told J-Wire from his home in Jerusalem:
Paul Daley’s article was quite specific. Michael Samaras was able to obtain authentic documents from the Lithuanian archives which clearly indicated that he was certain that Bronius Sredersas was involved in the crimes of the Holocaust in Lithuania.
It is enough to read the famous Jaeger report written by Karl Jaeger, who was commander of the German SD in Lithuania, in which he reports that more than 137,000 Jews were murdered in the second half of 1941, to realize the importance of the role that this group
played in the annihilation of the Lithuanian Jewish community.
The CEO of the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies Darren Bark commented: “The NSW Jewish Board of Deputies (JBD) is alarmed by revelations that the late Lithuanian migrant, Mr Bronius ‘Bob’ Sredersas, a well-known Wollongong identity, may have been a member of the Schutzstaffel (SS) of the Nazi Party and their intelligence apparatus, the Sicherheitsdienst (SD).
The JBD wrote to the Lord Mayor of Wollongong City Council, Gordon Bradbery, on Monday expressing the deep concerns of the Jewish community in New South Wales over the allegations.
The allegations against Mr. Sredersas are extremely serious and claim that he was intimately involved in the Holocaust and the barbaric mass murder of millions of Jews and other minorities, people with disabilities and political prisoners.
We call on Wollongong City Council to join the Jewish Museum of Sydney in investigating the veracity of these claims and if proven, we call on Wollongong City Council to do the right thing and steer the community away from Wollongong by Mr. Sredersas, including removing his name and likeness from all public monuments commemorating his life.
The Jewish Museum of Sydney is ideally placed to undertake additional research if deemed necessary, given its access to important historical data and its close relationship with Holocaust and World War II historians.
The JBD has offered to meet with Wollongong Council and we look forward to working with them to determine whether Mr Sredersas deserves a place in Wollongong history.
Shadow Minister for the Arts and Deputy Chairman of Parliamentary Friends of Israel of NSW, Walt Secord called on Wollongong Council to remove tributes to Bronius Sredersas.
“It is appalling that Sredersas has become one of the most revered members of Wollongong’s artistic community. The plaque in honor of Bronius Sredersas should be torn from the wall of the art gallery. There is enough information in the public arena to warrant action by Wollongong Council – now,” Mr Secord said.
“I don’t know which is more sickening: that Sredersas was a member of the infamous Nazi SS intelligence agency in Lithuania – which was implicated in the systematic mass murder of 212,000 Lithuanian Jews or that he was then able to live a sweet life. life in Illawarra – leisurely collecting art.
Mr Secord also praised former Wollongong Labor adviser Mr Michael Samaras who revealed the link between Nazi war crimes and the Wollongong Art Gallery – saying he had been campaigning for years to expose the hidden story of Bronius Sredersas.
The Wollongong Art Gallery is one of Australia’s largest regional art museums with regularly changing exhibits and a permanent collection.
“Michael Samaras took on the Illawarra establishment and demanded that they confront the ugly truth about Bronius Sredersas.”
Arts Minister Ben Franklin has yet to respond to J-Wire’s questions.
Wollongong Mayor Gordon Bradbery told the ABC: “We are currently verifying the allegations and will work with the Jewish Council of Deputies and other agencies there, including the AFP, to verify these allegations”.
Time will tell that this precious gift has been tainted by the past.