One is 25 June 1941, given by Bendinskas, who was a senior officer in the Lithuanian Activist Front, and who may be presumed to have received reports about the events from other members of the LAF who were involved or who witnessed the events.
That date is also accepted by Simas Ycikas, of the Hebrew University, obviously not an apologist for Lithuanian nationalists. According to both Bendinskas and Ycikas, the German occupation began on 26 June.
The presence of German witnesses and German photographers at the scene belie the notion that the incident occured before the German occupation, and the account of Colonel (Oberst) von Bischoffshausen at http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic. ... 933#675933 indicates that 16th Army headquarters had already been set up in Kovno (Kaunas) at the time the murders occurred (a fact you noted at http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic. ... 696#676696 ). This strongly suggests a date after the German occupation began on 26 June. Another circumstance against the 25 June date is Stahlecker's report stating that the first "self-cleansing" actions didn't begin until the evening of 25-26 June 1941:
During the first pogrom, in the night of 25/26 June, more then 1,500 Jews were eliminated by the Lithuanian partisans, several synagogues were set on fire or destroyed by other methods and a Jewish quarter of about sixty houses was burnt down.
http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic. ... 142#677142 . Since the garage murders took place in broad daylight, the earliest that would have happened is 26 June.
(2) You also wrote:
Bendinskas may have been unaware of the role of the German security police in instigating the killings.I tend to accept the version by Bendinskas, since it runs contrary to his own self-interest in that it tends to inculpate him and his fellow Lithuanian nationalists.
Bendinskas had the opportunity to avoid responsibility for the killings and to exculpate his fellow Lithuanian nationalists by stating that the killings occurred on 27 June, were carried out under German orders, and were not an expression of Lithuanian wishes.
However, he did not do that. He admitted that the killings were carried out on 25 June, that they were perpetrated by Lithuanians acting on their own initiative, and that the killers were motivated by hatred for the persons they were killing. He admitted that the killings were wrong and inhumane, and a stain upon the reputation of the Lithuanian nationalists who had risen up against their Soviet persecutors.
For the above reason, I accept the account by Bendinskas.
Col. von Bischoffshausen's account states that he and the other officers were told that the massacres were of Lithuanian origin:
http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic. ... 933#675933At the staff office I subsequently learned that other people already knew about these mass executions, and that they had naturally aroused in them the same feelings of horror and outrage as they had in me. It was, however, explained to me that they were apparently a spontaneous action on the part of the Lithuanian population in retaliation against the collaborators and traitors of the recently ended Russian occupation. Consequently these cruel excesses had to be viewed as purely internal conflicts which the Lithuanian state itself had to deal with, that is, without the intervention of the German army. Orders to this effect had been received `from above'.
However, we know from SS-Brigadeführer und Generalmajor der Polizei Dr. Stahlecker's report of 15 Oct 1941 for Einsatzgruppe A, that the Sicherheitspolizei (Sipo) had instigated the killings in Kaunas (Kovno):
http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic. ... 402#540402Similarly, native anti-Semitic forces were included to start pograms against Jews during the first hours after capture, though this inducement proved to be very difficult. Following out orders, the Security Police was determined to solve the Jewish question with all possible means and most decisively. But it was desirable that the Security Police should not put in an immediate appearance, at least in the beginning, since the extraordinarily harsh measures were apt to stir even German circles.
http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic. ... 142#677142In Lithuania this goal [local "self-cleansing" actions] was achieved for the first time in Kaunas through the deployment of partisans. It was initially surprisingly difficult to set a fairly large-scale pogrom in motion there. The leader of the above-mentioned partisan group, Klimatis, who was the first to be recruited, succeeded in starting a pogrom on the basis of instructions he had been given by the small advance party that had been deployed in Kovno without any German orders or incitement being discernible.
Once we understand that Stahlecker had orders to conceal the German role in instigating the killings, these quotes from Colonel von Bischoffshausen are instructive:
andDuring dinner a staff officer came up to the Commander-in-Chief (Generaloberst Busch) and informed him that the mass murders had started again in the town. General Busch replied that this was an internal dispute; he was at that moment powerless to take action against it and had been forbidden to do so. He hoped, however, to receive new instructions from above before long.
http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic. ... 933#675933When I left the staff headquarters the general instructed me to inform Army Group of the situation in Kovno. I remember with what outrage and concern my report was received by Army Group, but here too they believed they could still hope that indeed these were purely internal matters. I also learnt here that the military had been forbidden by the higher authorities to take any steps whatsoever. This was exclusively the job of the SD.