Note: This follows on from our report where links are to be found to the articles that elicited the present discussion.
Anyone who would claim that Ruta Bloshtein, a citizen of Lithuania, born and raised in Vilnius, is anything less than a staunch supporter of what is ultimately best for Lithuania, is sorely mistaken. She is a courageous leader of the Vilnius Jewish community and seeks only truth and fairness in Lithuania’s treatment of its minority communities. An abomination took place in Vilnius when it was under Soviet domination. A Sports Palace was constructed over a historical Jewish cemetery, where for some 400 years, every Jew – man, woman, and child – who died in Vilnius was buried. These include the graves of the Gaon of Vilna’s entire family (parents, wives, and children); R. Abraham Danzig, author of a famous Jewish code of law still in use and studied widely, and his family; and hundreds of other distinguished rabbis, scholars, poets, and scientists.
VILNIUS—A peaceful gathering will be held this Sunday, 12 January, AT 2 PM to celebrate the sanctity of the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt, in today’s Šnipiškės district across the river from central Vilnius. The event will be organized by Vieninga Lietuva (United Lithaunia), a group of Lithuanians and Jews working together to make bona fide progress by dialogue and a search for basic truths — rather than just score PR or political points — concerning the issues at hand. In this case, the group has asked for the new national convention center project to be moved away from the five hundred year old Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery, which could be lovingly restored. The initiative’s website, Vieninga Lietuva describes the event in detail, and the event’s poster appears below.
In the run-up to Sunday’s event, the event’s organizer, Dr Andrius Kulikauskas, founder and editor of Vieninga Lietuva, has issued a detailed press release published at BNS, comprising images and video, along with his nuanced take on a number of the complex issues in play [update: it has appeared also in Vakarų Ekspresas].
Dr. Andrius Kulikauskas, also a prominent contributor to Defending Historyover the years, today released the following statement:
VILNIUS—Yet again, an operative has allegedly been mobilized as fodder to personally attack a member of Lithuania’s small Jewish community as part of a campaign by some state-sponsored “official Jewish community leadership” to intimidate today’s Lithuanian Jews. If they stand up for a Jewish cemetery, and dare disagree with it becoming a national convention center, they will be smeared on the official website as liars, misleaders and secretly paid agents of some mysterious source of riches. This is a tragedy. It is part of a saga that will go down in Jewish history as possibly the worst case of state restitution for prewar Jewish property leading to disastrous results for the present and future of Jewish life on site, while providing glories and power for a tiny local elite and its “boards” of foreign fellow-travelers who relish coming to Vilnius for banquets and photo-ops with the high and mighty.
The latest effort was published earlier this week on the Lithuanian (PDF) and Russian (PDF) pages of the official community’s website. Perhaps they are too ashamed of the piece to post it in English. It is after all meant to frighten local Jewish people to never dare disagree. A full English translation is available on request. It accuses one of the most esteemed, idealistic, hard-working, modestly-living and dedicated members of the community, Ruta Bloshtein, author of the acclaimed international petition to save the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery from becoming a convention center grounds, of “misleading tens of thousands of people” and consisting of “pure lies.” Before declaring at the end, Soviet commissar style, that the “discussion is closed,” the author addresses Ms. Bloshtein in the second person: “I have already started believing that your propaganda campaign has a vested material interest. Somebody is paying for this campaign in hope of material gain.” In the classic mode of Soviet propaganda, the truth is turned upside down. It is the builders, property developers, state property bank, corrupt politicians in tow, convention center managers, and a handful of shameless Jewish quislings (in Lithuania and abroad) who have a “vested material interest” that has been exposed as monetary in the case of the London “grave trading rabbis” who offer “permissions” to desecrate Jewish cemeteries in cases where all other rabbis on the planet forbid it.
Who were the people who managed to disregard the ubiquitous government warnings and the abundant anti-Semitic propaganda and refused to remain passive onlookers? Those who went on to rescue their Jewish neighbors from the fate of persecution and murder during the Second World War? Jews were rescued by people of various educational background, beliefs, ages, and professions. Each of them had to make this not-at-all easy decision by themselves, led by no one but their conscience. Upon seeing such direct and overt brutality, these courageous people were simply unable to act in any other way.
FALL 2019: LEGAL ACTION BROUGHT BY EUROPEAN FOUNDATION FOR HUMAN RIGHTS CONTINUES AT VILNIUS DISTRICT COURT. International appeal for more people willing to certify the Vilnius burial of their own ancestors. Over 200 to date have provided affidavits to the court!
VILNIUS—Please watch this space. Defending History’s Person of the Year 2020 will be announced a minute after midnight on New Year’s Eve 2020. For previous laureates, please see, among others, those for 2014, 2015, 2018, and 2019. For Defending History’s conceptualization of the annual awarding in the context of current East European issues, please see our 2019 editorial.
Posted in News & Views|Comments Off on Defending History’s Person of the Year 2020 to be Announced New Year’s Eve
This article appeared in Lithuanian on the website of the official Jewish Community of Lithuania. After the site’s editor refused to publish an English version on the site’s extensive English-language section, the author released this text for publication here. See also Ms. Bloshtein’s recent article in New York’s Algemeiner Journal. She is the author of the international petition concerning the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery.
In his article “On the Reconstruction of the Palace of Sports on the Old Vilnius Šnipiškės (Piramont) Jewish Cemetery into the New Congress Center” (“Dėl Sporto rūmų rekonstrukcijos ant esančių senųjų Vilniaus žydų Šnipiškių (Piramonto) kapinių į naują Kongresų centrą”), published on the Lithuanian Jewish Community website on December 12, 2019, the author expresses his concern over the possibility of the cemetery being desecrated for the third time if the decision to demolish the building of the Palace of Sports was made.
The author calls the suggestion to restore the cemetery a “delirious fantasy”—in effect a slur against the suggestion by highly esteemed Professor Sid Leiman, who has spent many years researching the history, plans, and epitaphs of the Piramónt (Šnipiškės) Cemetery in great detail.
Almost 7 years after Evaldas Balčiūnas brought the case of Jonas Noreika to the English speaking world. Balčiūnas, for whom the Noreika saga but was one of many instances of his country glorifying Holocaust collaborators, wrote a series of articles that led to years of prosecution and police harassment (see his DH section, scroll down to May 2014 for the saga of the legal proceedings against him). Evaldas, who contributed research to the current trial, will be on hand at the January 15th event in central Vilnius. Come and meet Evaldas.
Don’t Lithuanian citizens deserve a sparkling new convention center where they will be welcomed by leaders of the arts, entertainment, industry and statecraft, not by the ghosts of the thousands of Vilna Jewish citizens who lie buried on all four sides, in the city’s Old Jewish Cemetery, where their families purchased their burial plots in perpetuity?
by VULOVAK for Defending History
Or, you can try the English version, but with the classic Litvak Yiddish ironic intonation:
This is what you call a convention center ?!?
◊5 December 2018
to our readers who celebrate Hanukkah
Everyone welcome at a lecture by DH editor Prof. Dovid Katz on
“USCPAHA”, funded by US taxpayers to preserve and protect threatened cemeteries abroad, has for years allegedly colluded with those seeking to site a national convention center complex in the heart of the old Vilna Jewish cemetery. Now they are being taken to court. Updates. International petition.
Topics covered in the interview include East European glorification of Holocaust collaborators, criminalization and delegitimization of dissent, investment in the rise and export of “Double Genocide” Holocaust revisionism and the failure of the US and its allies to stand up for Western values in the current geopolitical context.
26 September 2018
Ukraine’s State-Sponsored “Azov Battalion” Posts Fascist Inspired Images on Its Own Website
Will NATO, US and Ukraine’s Genuine Friends Publicly Comment?
IMAGE OF THE DAY: Elected chairperson of the Vilnius Jewish Community, Simon Gurevich, was not allowed past the security barrier, barring him from the Pope’s event to commemorate the Vilna Ghetto. At the earlier event at Ponár, he was not allowed to deliver his prepared remarks.
A plot line familiar across Eastern Europe: State investment in Holocaust commemoration, education, research (plus Jewish, Judaic and Yiddish PR toys), all in the spirit of far-right nationalist history revisionism bent on “equalizing” Nazi and Soviet crimes (and glorifying Nazi collaborators as “anti-Soviet heroes” in the process). For background see: on Holocaust museums in the region; on recent history of Holocaust studies in Lithuania.
On linkage of the specific East European brand of antisemitism to the Double Genocide movement, see new papers by Michael Shafir and Dovid Katz.
The Rights of Minority Cemeteries to be Left in Peace are Human Rights
All the more so in post-Holocaust era Eastern Europe where there are no descendants to stand up
But, in “a story for George Orwell,” greedy commercial buildings are going up in one cemetery after another, with the blessings (and boasts of “success”) from wheeler-dealer rabbis and community leaders who “negotiate a memorial to the cemetery” and some ersatz stamp of “Jewish approval” (sometimes complete with sham “reburial-of-bones” ceremonies and PR declaration of “success”). Often this takes place with collusion from London’s CPJCE and the US taxpayer fundedUSCPAHA whose members sometimes claim to be “pressured by the State Department’s policy of Our East European Allies Never Make Mistakes”. The scandal-ridden agency is sometimes called Washington’s most corrupt federal entity.
This month’s state of affairs at the famous Gwarna Jewish Cemetery in Wroclaw, in western Poland, where the new Best Western hotel nears completion. The last on-site issue is the land adjacent to the hotel: restored cemetery or still more exhumations with sham blessings? (parent chain and local operators). Who’d choose to stay in this hotel? And where in all this is Poland’s National Heritage Law?
This is what they call “saving Jewish Cemeteries in Europe”?
Wroclaw, Poland: Is this how American-born rabbis, London’s CPJCE and the US taxpayer funded USCPAHA “save Jewish cemeteries” in Eastern Europe?
It is important to investigate whether or not the Poland issues over the years are related to the allegedly corrupt London based “CPJCE” who were caught red-handed in a Wikileaks cable demanding secret payments for “supervision” in Vilnius, Lithuania, resulting in building and commercialization (Wikileaks, 2015 reports in JTA, JP, ToI, DH). They are now under investigation by the UK Charity Commission. International petition on the old Vilna Jewish cemetery (44,000 signatures), worldwide opposition, recently discovered video.
Meantime, Prague Declaration efforts are being revived in the European Parliament in 2018. In 2012, Defending History was proud to co-author the Seventy Years Declaration, boldly signed by eight Lithuanian parliamentarians.
Sources in London: Solicitors instructed by international group whose ancestors are buried in the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery to take legal action against the CPJCE with “court action to be announced by the end of July 2018”
Major documents include essays by a leading Lithuanian ethicist, Evaldas Balčiūnas (2014 and 2017) on the alleged 1941 perpetrator for whom a massive monument was slated for a “separate square” right near New Britain’s beloved Museum of American Art. Most council members were not even aware of the secretive plan, while proposed Lithuanian government financing was guaranteed, even as inquirers were told it was a local church that was the sponsor. The project was managed by the Lithuanian Consulate in New York.
The Defending History community protests the annual “Baltic Marching Season” in which states and major cities gift their most prestigious city centers for pro-Nazi marches that brim with racism and ethnic hatred, sometimes on cherished national holidays. Where are the local voices of dissent? The lavishly financed human rights monitoring organizations? Western voices? A media that reports?
Head of the Committee on the Old Vilnius Jewish Cemetery for the US government’s Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad (USCPAHA), Herbert Block (left) with Defending History editor Dovid Katz after two Vilnius meetings in mid December 2017 resulted in full agreement on the need for the national convention center project to be moved away from the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (Šnipiškės). See report. Meanwhile, international consensus comes into focus with growing support within Lithuania, including its Jewish community.
Vilnius screening of The Last Sunday in August, major new documentary film on the Holocaust in Lithuania, focused on Malát (Molėtai) in eastern Lithuania, is so far ignored by mainstream media and the “Double Genocide Industry”. To date: not one media outlet has published a review. The film documents the murder of all 2,000 Jews of the shtetl in one day (29 August 1941), entirely by enthusiastic, volunteer local murderers working for the German Nazi occupiers of their own country, who killed all of their own neighbors who were Jewish. There was not a single rescuer in the town (but there were incredibly brave Righteous in the surrounding countryside). It also documents those inspiringly courageous Lithuanian citizens today who are determined to tell the simple truth. Defending History calls on the film’s producers to make it very rapidly widely available. The film’s historic narrative and moral message are a precise opposite of the state-sponsored “International Commission for the Evaluation of the Crimes of the Nazi and Soviet Occupation Regimes of Lithuania” (“red-brown commission”) that specializes in spewing moral confusion and doubletalk.
Defending History’s comment: “Instead of simply highlighting the legitimate need to recognize, condemn, study and memorialize Communist crimes, as a distinct issue, the injection of “equality” by eight (only East European!) countries, once again underscores the far-right ultranationalist drive to obfuscate and downgrade the Holocaust by way of “Prague Declaration” style ruses to invoke a bogus equivalence between Nazism and Communism. One of the prime motives is to write the massive local collaboration (and in some countries active participation) in the Holocaust out of history, while finding cunning ways to glorify local Holocaust collaborators as “heroes”. It is high time for the West, once again, to Just Say No.”
Our take? Putin’s shameful “Zapad 17” military exercise demo, in regions bordering the eastern democratic lands of NATO and the EU, intended to intimidate their peaceful populations, needs to be exposed for what it is and countered with stalwart determination. That makes it all the more critical for NATO (and the EU) not to succumb to regional far-right, ultranationalist, chauvinist, Holocaust-revisionist, and antisemitic forces in the course of the proceedings. Indeed, when NATO has a lapse in upholding Western ideals, principles and causes, especially those for which the Allies fought during World War II and the Holocaust, it is incumbent upon genuine friends of NATO to point it out sharp and clear. This latest episode also impacts the principle that citizens of Eastern NATO countries deserve the same standards of freedom of speech and democracy as all others. It is, moreover, incumbent on US embassies in the Baltics, particularly in Vilnius, to stop defaming (as “Russian lackeys”) those (including US citizens these embassies exist to represent!) who stand up to far-right Holocaust revisionism and work for human rights in the region.
Non-Jewish Lithuanian citizens are starting to take the lead in the campaign to save the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery from plans to plonk a convention center in its center, where people would revel, cheer, drink at bars and flush toilets surrounded by thousands of Vilna Jews buried there from the 15th to the 19th centuries (a fate that would never befall a Christian cemetery in today’s EU). This poster, produced in July 2017 by Julius Norwilla, includes a quote from philosopher Dr. Andrius Kulikauskas, and the visualization created by a young Vilnius artist.
“The common denominator here is state-sponsored inversion of history for the purposes of today’s ultra-nationalist, far-right politics: Glorify the Holocaust’s collaborators, defame the victims, survivors and heroes, and you’re heading for the bogus Double Genocide (with its attendant yearned-for obfuscation of the Holocaust)” — Dovid Katz
Does the National Library’s inclusion and celebration of a center named for an “ethnic cleansing advocate” (during the Lithuanian Holocaust) derive “legitimacy” from its neighbor, the Judaic Studies Center opened less then one month ago to universal acclaim, on the same floor, by New York’s Yivo and the National Library’s leadership?
Yivo has won back a lot of credibility by now building Jewish studies in Lithuania in cooperation with the National Library and other academic institutions instead of the Red-Brown Commission and Holocaust revisionist agencies as in past years (see Yivo section, scroll to bottom to review chronologically; the 2015 letter from Vilna born Holocaust survivor Prof. Pinchos Fridberg, 2012 participation in a conference set up to camouflage the concurrent reburial with full honors of the 1941 Nazi puppet prime minister). Has the Holocaust revisionist establishment nevertheless found a way yet again to abuse the Yivo board’s good will and enlist the Yivo brand in attempts to kosherize “by juxtaposition” the glorification of Holocaust collaborators and cheerleaders? Hopefully Yivo’s leaders will this time speak out rapidly with moral clarity and ensure the new center does not remain under the same roof as its neighbor that exists to sanitize the Holocaust’s local supporters. What would Chaikel Lunski, Zelig-Hirsh Kalmanovitsh, Zalmen Reyzen, Tsemakh Shabad, and Max Weinreich have said?
Trending in Defending
A Vilnius Visualization Artist Offers Starting Point for Restoration of City’s Old Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės)
Among the 17 is Sąjūdis (Vilnius & Kaunas), whose honorary national chairman is Prof. V. Landsbergis, and whose national council includes MP Emanuelis Zingeris. Will Vilnius Mayor Remigijus Šimašius in his reply stand up for what’s right?
Annual Bandera Birthday March in Center of Kiev, Ukraine’s Capital, Now Includes “JUDEN RAUS”
Will the West maintain its silence on Ukraine’s ongoing glorification of major Holocaust collaborators? What about Western values? Will media coverage again be limited to “Jewish” and “Russian” publications? Background from 2014. Last July, a Kiev street was officially renamed for Stepan Bandera.
As 2017 gets underway, Defending History is proud to honor three Vilnius personalities, all from its Orthodox Jewish community this year, who have stood up for cherished principles against powerful forces. In all cases, the principles defended pertain not only to Jewish affairs but to human rights more generally. Their courage and determination can serve as an example to all who defend human rights and history, even when it is inconvenient and draws the ire of power-invested (often state-related) institutions. The three are Rabbi Sholom Ber Krinsky, Ms. Ruta Bloshtein, and Rabbi Kalev Krelin. More here. See from previous years the Prophet Amos Human Rights Awards and the 2014 Person of the Year.
In 2000, Dov Levin’s Trumpa žydų istorija Lietuvoje (A Short History of the Jews of Lithuania) appeared in Vilnius in the translation of Jonas Morkus, published with the assistance of the Israeli Embassy in the Baltics (then in Riga). But today’s Israeli Embassy in Lithuania (in Vilnius) has yet to release a statement on the death of the last great historian of Lithuanian Jewry of the Holocaust survivor generation. Levin was a citizen of Israel from the day of its establishment. He was a veteran of both the Jewish partisans in the forests of Lithuania and the Israeli War of Independence in 1948. After the war, he lived all his life in Jerusalem where he was professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Related: section on Israel related issues.
Reports on Vilnius Jewish Public Library panel & views of Marius Ivaškevičius, Tomas Kajokas, Rūta Vanagaitė, Jurgita Verbickienė, Irena Veisaitė, Efraim Zuroff and others: Library’s Facebook page; Lzinios.lt. Comments to Lzinios.lt article refer to Jewish partisans who have still not received an apology for defamation from state agencies, resulting in ongoing abuse for Holocaust Obfuscation in de facto public discourse (as well as permanent historical defamation). Announced panel included no member of Lithuania’s living Jewish community. Also: Vanagaitė exposes a Vilnius-region Holocaust mass grave now for sale. In 15min.lt
VILNA YIDDISH LITERARY CIRCLE TO READ FROM CHAIM GRADE (1910-1982)
EVERYONE WELCOME! Next Session Wednesday 30 November 2016, 6 PM at the Jewish Cultural and Information Center, Mėsinių Street 3 in the Old Town. Always with a sharp lens for Lithuanian Yiddish language and culture.
Holocaust Obfuscation (and deflection of blame from the actual perpetrators) not far from the surface? Law follows years of criminalization of dissent to aspects of Double Genocide, maxing out at two years of imprisonment in Lithuania, three in Hungary, five in Latvia, and ten in Ukraine. The explanation for such laws…
EARLIER REPORT (WHEN COMPETITION WAS ANNOUNCED). Winners and celebration banquet now seem to be flaunted on website of Prague Platform but suppressed on the website of the “Shoah Legacy Institute” . . .
(3) New wave of publicity on Jewish gravestones found all over Vilnius (following mayor’s “Yiddish sign” campaign), a diversion when accompanied by utter failure to condemn (or even mention) plans for new National Congress Center on top of thousands of Jewish graves where thousands will clap, cheer and urinate over remains of Vilnius citizens buried there for over half a millennium.
(4) Lithuanian Foreign Ministry source tells DH that “our Israeli ambassador” [i.e. in Vilnius] helped organize Benjamin Netanyahu’s alleged Nov. 2015 blessing for desecration of the cemetery where his own ancestors lie buried. More background to the tale of power, antisemitism (Christian cemeteries don’t get this treatment), greed, photo-op glory, and collusion against the moral force of the thousands of graves honorably purchased over 500 years by Jewish citizens of Vilnius. Israeli embassy invited to clarify its involvement (if any), and above all, to clarify PM Netanyahu’s position. See Israel issues.
GOOD WILL SOLUTION:
Preserve the old Jewish cemetery as a cemetery cum memorial park to which pilfered Jewish gravestones from all over town can be brought to stand in dignity. See essays by Julius Norwilla and Sid Leiman. Move the congress center project to a venue where it will be a pride to all the peoples of Lithuania and Europe.
In late August 2015, world’s leading Litvak rabbis came to beg the mayor of Vilnius to oppose placing the new National Congress Center atop thousands of Vilnius citizens’ graves in the old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Pitramónt.
Official Jewish community’s lay leader, Faina Kukliansky, standing in front of key government officials, valiantly challenged the sincerity of Holocaust commemoration when there are streets and squares named for major Holocaust collaborators and perpetrators. One participant said: “Her courageous remarks and invoking of specific names made for the moral highlight of the day.”
But Western media has largely ignored the deterioration of free speech on Holocaust issues in much of Eastern Europe. See Free Speechsection; the long saga of police and prosecutorial harassment of Evaldas Balčiūnas in Lithuania; and the introduction of “Double Genocide” laws criminalizing, in effect, the Western narrative of World War II, with punishments of up to 2 years imprisonment in Lithuania (2010), 3 years in Hungary (2010), 5 years in Latvia (2014), 10 years in Ukraine (2015); but no specific prison sentences mentioned in Estonia’s “Valentine’s Day Law” (2012) …
Will there finally be discussion on why so many Western and Israeli scholars don’t speak up on vastly more state-sponsored Holocaust obfuscation, history fixing, and actual glorification of collaborators in the Baltics and Ukraine? Do free speech and frank discussion end at Poland’s eastern borders?
FOR MORE BACKGROUND ON KAZYS ŠKIRPA (CENTER) SEE DH ARTICLES BY ANDRIUS KULIKAUSKAS, EVALDAS BALČIŪNAS, AND MILAN CHERSONSKI. PROF. T. SNYDER’S BLOODLANDS: “Škirpa used this suffering in his radio broadcasts to spur mobs to murder. Some 2,500 Jews […]” … (p. 192)
One of the Škirpa signs is right on the Museum of Applied Arts building. But is this what the museum wants to be known for? Could its directors join efforts to replace the name with one that brings pride and inclusiveness to modern Vilnius?
VERDICT IN: EVALDAS BALČIŪNASNOT GUILTY (AFTER 4 YEARS OF HARASSMENT AND A DOZEN 450 KM ROUND TRIPS FROM HOME — BUT COURT ALLOWS FAR RIGHT “PLAINTIFF” 20 DAYS TO APPEAL)
After years of legal harassment, Evaldas Balčiūnas is found “not guilty” of — telling the truth. He has protested his country’s government continuing to use state funds to honor Nazi collaborators and Holocaust perpetrators. Photo: Julius Norwilla for DH.
Five years ago in 2011, on the 70th anniversary of the outbreak of the Lithuanian Holocaust on 23 June 1941 and the following days — nationalist murderers killed thousands of Jewish neighbors before the first German forces arrived or assumed control — the state sponsored an array of activities honoring the “rebels” (an historic nonsense, the Soviet occupying forces were fleeing Hitler’s invasion, the largest in human history, not the local Jew-killers). That sham was followed a year later by the reburial with full honors of the Nazi puppet prime minister. This year, celebrations have been limited to fringe ultranationalist groups with the government maintaining its distance (there was a regrettable parliamentary document last Nov. proposed by some right-wing MPs, but it was largely ignored). Congratulations to Lithuania’s leaders on this progress toward historic truth during this week’s 75th anniversary of the outbreak of the Lithuanian Holocaust that left 96.4% of its Jewish residents dead. See our proposed seven solutions to the issues remaining.
Event in Paris on the Lithuanian Holocaust on Tuesday 3 May at 5 PM at 9 rue Mahler (Room 107). Organized by Yahad-in-Unum with unspecified Lithuanian partners and including a video link with a team in Lithuania…
READERS IN CALIFORNIA: We are lecturing at UCLA 17-20 April 2016. To book lectures, seminars, meetings in the days just before or after, please contact us at: info<at>defendinghistory.com. LIST OF TOPICS.
This year’s theme was a front-of-march We Know Our Nation’s Heroes banner featuring six figures who share the following unsettling common denominator: all were alleged Nazi collaborators and/or Holocaust perpetrators (from left): Adolfas Ramanauskas-Vanagas, Jonas Noreika, Povilas Plechavičius, Kazys Škirpa, Antanas Baltūsis-Žvejas, and Juozas Ambrazevičius-Brazaitis. It is as if the marchers are celebrating the murder of the 30,000 Jewish citizens of Kaunas, the more than 95% of the over 200,000 strong Lithuanian Jewish population on the eve of the Holocaust, and the resulting “cleansing” of Lithuania’s Jewish minority.
“We, (Jews) will turn Europe into mixture of Asian people — Negroes, ruled by Jews…” — R. Coudenhove-Kalergi, “Father” of European Union. NO TO THE ISLAMIZATION OF LITHUANIA!
MAJOR NEW BOOK ON THE LITHUANIAN HOLOCAUST AND ITS CURRENT LEGACIES LAUNCHED IN VILNIUS
For the first time, a Lithuanian author teams up with an Israeli Holocaust scholar in search for the truth about widespread local enthusiasm, seventy-five years ago, for mass murder of civilian neighbors, and today’s failures in coming to grips with that history, in a land of hundreds of Jedwabnes. A genuine historic advance in Lithuanian-Jewish relations is seen in the startling partnership of Rūta Vanagaitė and Dr. Efraim Zuroff in Vanagaitė’s Mūsiškiai: Kelionė su priešu (“Our People: Journey with an Enemy”). A selection of the vast media coverage is available here. The book was launched in Vilnius on 26 January 2016.
Cover-Up Attempts Crumbled Back in 2015: Adulation of Holocaust Perpetrators was Confirmed as Poroshenko and Parliament Enacted Laws “Codifying” Fascist-Leaning History and Criminalizing Other Points of View
Did a “Dubious Minyan of Ten State Property Bank Officials” with Alleged “Jewish Enablers” Just Sell Out the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery for a Multimillion Euro Conference Center?
Are leaders of some American Jewish organizations betraying Jewish interests for a pot of lentils from East European governments? AJC’s Andy Baker trashes Ruta Bloshtein’s petition and its tens of thousands of signatories; another one-sidedYIVO “symposium” (but with powerful audience questions from Ms. Rebecca Cook and Prof. Bernard Fryshman)… Top state medals for Yivo and AJC leaders (see Yivo’s “politics in Lithuania” record from 2011). “History will be very clear about all this, notwithstanding the current mush achieved by some big PR bucks.” Recent PR shtik includes claiming some books found decades ago are “just now discovered” and recruiting an American academic (who helped cover for two new buildings on the old Vilna cemetery over a decade ago) to tell the media they are “the new Dead Sea Scrolls”…
If a new national convention center is indeed to open at the old Vilna Jewish cemetery, thousands each night would cheer, sing, clap, dance, use bars and flush toilets surrounded by thousands of Vilna Jewish graves going back over 500 years. Including the parents and son of the Gaon of Vilna. Just as the state-sponsored “2020 Year of the Gaon” gets underway, including a handsome new recombinated menorah coin.
In recent years, a number of eastern EU and NATO member states (plus Ukraine) have been constructing components of their official(and protected-by-law) national narratives on heroes who were collaborators, or even perpetrators in the Holocaust on the grounds that they were “anti-Soviet heroes.”1 These countries indeed had to face two Soviet occupations (1939/1940–41 and 1944/45–1991), and the occupation by Nazi Germany (1941-1944/5). The “liberating” state was also the author of major crimes such as repressions, deportations, forced labor and executions, and the statutes of post-Soviet Europe lacked a text on the crimes of communism. The ensuing moral problem is as follows: while these States would have legitimate heroes who struggled for freedom against dictatorial Soviet domination, they also honor those who participated in the Holocaust and even criminalize criticism against them.
The author is a native of Vilnius hailing from centuries of Litvaks, who has worked for years in the Judaica department of Lithuania’s Martynas Mažvydas National Library. She is a prominent member of Vilnius’s small Orthodox Jewish community. She is the author of the international petition to save the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery. English translations of some of her writings are available online. For more on the 10 euro “Gaon coin” referred to, see its DH section. The views reflected in this article are strictly Ms. Bloshtein’s. The Lithuanian original of this article appeared in 7md (PDF of print version).
How does one hurt and humiliate a person (or a people)?
2020 has been declared “The Year of the Vilna Gaon and the Jewish Heritage.” Sounds solemn? It only sounds so. Empty pots make the most noise. What are these words based on? On plans to build a convention center on Jewish graves? On the remains of the Vilna Gaon’s family members and tens of thousands of other Jews. How does that sound? Like a mockery of the close to 50,000 Jews and Non-Jews from around the world who signed the protest petition. How does that sound? Like laughing at the sorrow of the venerable rabbis, of the great leaders of Lithuanian-tradition yeshivas. How does that sound? Like a rape of the very spirit, of the religious and moral norms of the entire nation.
Komentaro autorė — vilnietė, aktyvi mažos Vilniaus žydų ortodoksų bendruomenės narė, ilgus metus dirbanti Lietuvos nacionalinės Martyno Mažvydo bibliotekos Judaikos skyriuje. Ji yra ir tarpautinės peticijos Senosioms Vilniaus žydų (Piromonto) kapinėms išsaugoti rengėja. Kai kurių jos straipsnių angliškas versijas galite rasti atitinkamoje „Defending History“ sekcijoje. Daugiau apie komentare minimą „Gaono monetą“ skaitykite jai skirtoje „Defending History“ sekcijoje. Komentare išsakyta nuomonė yra ponios Bloštein.
Kokiais būdais galima užgauliai pažeminti žmogų?
Veiksmu, raštu ir žodžiu.
2020 metai paskelbti „Gaono ir žydų paveldo metais“. Skamba skambiai? Tik skamba. Tuščia puodynė garsiai skamba. Kuo pagrįsti šie žodžiai? Planais įrengti nacionalinį konferencijų centrą ant žydų kapų? Ant Vilniaus Gaono šeimos narių, jų palikuonių ir likusių dešimčių tūkstančių žydų palaikų. Skamba? Kaip pašaipa iš 50 000 pasaulio žydų ir ne žydų, pasirašiusiųjų protesto peticiją. Skamba? Kaip pajuoka iš didžiųjų litvakų ješyvų vadovų, garbių rabinų širdgėlos. Skamba? Kaip prievartavimas visos tautos dvasios, religinių nuostatų ir moralės normų.
Sample of a logo produced by Defending History for Litvak projects in Vilnius in recent years , with no demands or expectation that anyone recognize it as some international “official Litvak symbol”. If a symbol is needed, opinion of the Litvaks, not of state-sponsored agencies, must be researched with respect and humility.
Last week’s DH op-ed on the declared state-sanctioned Litvak Symbol has attracted robust responses. The debate has been covered fairly by much international Jewish media (see Arutz Sheva, Enlace Judío, Haaretz, Israel National News, Jewish Chronicle, JTA, YNet, YNetEspanol, and the Times of Israel /ToI French edition). Turning to the major debaters’ pieces per se, it is regrettable (but not unrelated to the main question) that characterizations of folks with differing opinions such as “irresponsible and malicious spreading of lies outside Lithuania or within the country” (but with no links to enable the reader to read both sides), on top of gross misrepresentation of our actual views, could be found only on the pages of the state-sponsored “official” Jewish community (not to be confused with the democratically elected Vilnius Jewish Community, and more importantly, the roughly three thousand Jewish citizens who live in the country). In a strange way, this goes to a question at the heart of the matter: What happens when a small, weak, remnant post-Holocaust, post-Soviet lavishly funded community organization is spiritually hijacked by the state?
Many in the local Lithuanian Jewish and the international Litvak communities have responded with some shock to the news that the Lithuanian government’s official “Year of the Gaon of Vilna and Jewish Heritage” has been launched by a handsome, shiny 10 Euro Coin that plonks a symbol beloved in recent years of neo-Nazis (and prominently used in their new projects) onto a Jewish Menorah. The symbolism strikes some as evoking the idea that the largely vanished Lithuanian Jews and their language make for one of the “cute Jewish toys” for the ultranationalist camp to exploit in its PR outreach to unwitting foreigners.
On September 27, Latvia’s minister of defense Dr. Artis Pabriks delivered a speech in More parish commemorating the More battle of September 1944. He chose to say that “Latvian legionnaires are a pride of the Latvian nation and of the state” (Latvijas leģionāri ir latviešu tautas un valsts lepnums) and called them “heroes” (varoņi). The Waffen SS Latvian Legion was a collaborationist Nazi-organized unit, partly volunteer, partly conscripted. Its members swore an oath to Adolf Hitler.
הייליקע ליטווישע רבנים, טײַערע חברים און חברטעס, בני ליטא, מײַנע געטרײַע בני ליטא, מיט אהבת ישראל און אהבת ליטא:
Four years ago Prof. Dovid Katz asked me to find a Catholic priest or nun who would publicly speak out regarding the fate of Vilnius’s oldest Jewish cemetery. I failed to do so, but in empathy for my friend, I published an article in the web portal “Veidas” and gave academic talks at three conferences about conceptions which would help us appreciate why it would be meaningful to grant the demand by Jewish believers that we forego the Sports Palace and respect the Jewish cemetery which was there. Tonight in fifteen minutes I will present five images of how I imagine this cemetery, what it could mean for us.
JOHANNESBURG—The Chief Rabbi of South Africa, Rabbi Dr. Warren Goldstein, today added his voice to the international Litvak and wider opposition to state-sponsored desecration of the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt in the form of a national convention center surrounded by Jewish graves going back half a millennium in Vilna, the city once known as Jerusalem of Lithuania. The office of the chief rabbinate made public his letter to Lithuania’s president, Gitanas Nausėda and prime minister Saulius Skvernelis.
A PDF of his letter is available here, and follows below. Please use handles in the upper left-hand corner to turn pages.
VILNIUS—The following is the schedule for today’s events organized by Mr. Dov-Ber and Mrs. Chaya Fried of New York City in cooperation with the Vilnius Committee for Preservation of the Piramónt Jewish Cemetery (chaired by Julius Norwilla) and the European Foundation for Human Rights (represented by attorney Evelina Dobrowolska). The first event, at twilight, is on a ridge above the cemetery, moderated by Rabbi Yehuda Genut. The second, more formal, seminar is at the nearby Marriott Hotel, moderated by Mrs. Chaya Fried.