The need to evaluate the crimes of the Nazi and Soviet occupation regimes in Lithuania and provide answers to historical questions which had been suppressed or not sufficiently elucidated became evident from the very beginning of the restoration of the country’s independence from the Soviet Union in 1990.
The International Commission for the Evaluation of the Crimes of the Nazi and Soviet Occupation Regimes in Lithuania (hereinafter referred to as the International Historical Commission) was formed by the decree of 7 September 1998 issued by the President of the Republic of Lithuania, Valdas Adamkus. Due to the repressive legacy of Soviet rule painful problems of the past, such as the Holocaust and other issues, had never been subjected to uncensored public discussion. It is recognized that for the sake of future generations such historical issues must be addressed, researched and evaluated in compliance with accepted international standards. Thus, the presidential decree of 7 September proclaimed the search for historical truth, which is a precondition for a reconciliation among nations, as a national priority.
The Commission members are well-known respectful scholars and public figures from Lithuania and other countries. They work on voluntary bases. The strategic goal of their common work is to reconcile different views of Commission members who represent different societies with different political experience. The Chairman of the Commission is Emanuelis Zingeris, the signatory of the Act of Lithuanian Independence.
Since Nazi and Soviet crimes were carried out for different reasons and employed distinct methods, on 17 November 1998, during its first meeting, the Commission formed two sub-commissions to examine the responsibility of the two occupying powers separately. In turn, these two sub-commissions are to coordinate and supervise two separate working groups of experts investigating crimes committed as a result of the Nazi and the Soviet occupations. It is intended by this to clearly distinguish between the crimes committed by the two totalitarian regimes and to avoid superficial analogies during their analysis and evaluation.
The strategic goals aims and work methods of the Commission there adopted on March 2, 1999. Same year on August 29 the Outline of Work Plan was adopted. The Commission conducts its activities in line with Role of Procedure adopted on June 2, 2000. Since October 8, 1999, the Commission has a permanent staff, organized in the form of a Secretariat, which is headed by the Executive Director of the Commission.
The personal composition of the Commission has been changed several times. The latest composition was set up by the decree of 16 October 2012 issued by the President of the Republic of Lithuania Dalia Grybauskaite. Having intent to distinguish between the crimes committed by the Soviet occupation regime and the Nazi occupation regime the Commission by this decree shall be composed of two separate and independent sub-commissions: (1) Sub-commission for the Evaluation of the Crimes of the Nazi Occupation Regime and the Holocaust; and (2) Sub-commission for the Evaluation of the Crimes of the Soviet Occupation Regime.