Author Archives: Defending History

Those Thousands of Yiddish Books in Vilnius?



OPINION  |  YIDDISH AFFAIRS  |  VILNIUS YIDDISH INSTITUTE

VILNIUS—Reports are mounting of inquiries about thousands of Yiddish books donated between 2000 and 2018 to “Vilnius University’s Yiddish institute” being met with Orwellian responses along the lines of “they have been deposited until further donors come forward.” After the Vilnius Yiddish Institute was closed down in 2018, and the one actual Yiddish activity of its final eight years, the intensive Vilnius Yiddish summer program, abruptly discontinued, its executive director, Dr. Sarunas Liekis, a longtime member of the state’s “red-brown commission” on Nazi and Soviet crimes, made the books unavailable to students, local and visiting scholars and the wider community. According to sources, a claim is being made that they are the personal property of the heirs of the late Richard Maullin, the donor who “bought” the (some say fictitious) shares of the institute for $25,000 from Tel Aviv resident Mendy Cahan in 2005, and then, in 2010, purged the institute of Yiddish professors not willing to go along with state Holocaust revisionist PR (Maullin was honored by a Lithuanian government medal in 2015). As a result, the “Yiddish” institute was left with no Yiddish teachers for eleven months a year from 2010 onward, but continued with the widely acclaimed summer course that was established in Oxford in 1982 and moved to Vilnius in 1998.

A documented history of these events is provided by Defending History.

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DH Community Invites Readers to Join Monitoring Team for “Nationalist” March 11th Vilnius March



VILNIUS—The entire Defending History community celebrates Lithuania’s independence day this coming Wednesday March 11th. Lithuania’s independence and democracy, like those of of neighboring EU/NATO states, are splendid success stories in the annuals of the region. All the more reason to be vigilant — as genuine friends of the Baltics are — against those who would try to insert Nazist values of ethnic hatred and Holocaust revisionism into the mix. We sincerely hope that the “nationalist” march for which the beautiful center of Vilnius is gifted each year will this year not glorify local Holocaust and Nazi collaborators, will not heap scorn on  the nation’s minorities and will not flaunt fascist symbols.

The Defending History team has been monitoring these events since 2008

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Posted in Antisemitism & Bias, Collaborators Glorified, Events, Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Neo-Nazi & Fascist Marches, News & Views, Politics of Memory, Vilnius Neo-Nazi Marches | Comments Off on DH Community Invites Readers to Join Monitoring Team for “Nationalist” March 11th Vilnius March

Vilnius Braces for May 7th “Jewish Cemetery Trial of Century”; Around 160 Plaintiffs Recognized by Court



OLD VILNA JEWISH CEMETERY  |  OPPOSITION TO CONVENTION CENTER PROJECT  |  INTERNATIONAL PETITION  |  CPJCE (LONDON)  |  USCPAHA (WASHINGTON DC)

VILNIUS—At a hearing at the District Court of Vilnius City, at Laisves Prospect 79A on Monday, the presiding judge set Thursday May 7th 2020 as the date of the trial over plans of the state-financed property bank, “Turto Bankas” to establish a national convention center in the heart of the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery. The plaintiffs in the case are Jewish people whose ancestors and relatives are still buried in the old cemetery, at Piramónt (in the Šnipiškės district of modern Vilnius). Of hundreds of claims submitted, sources close to the court reported that “around 160” have been accepted as legal plaintiffs for the trial, which is expected to attract expert witnesses from the United States and Israel as well as foreign media interest. There has been extensive international opposition to the convention center project, including impassioned pleas from major Lithuanian-origin rabbis internationally, most recently the doyen of Litvak rabbis, Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky, a nephew of Vilna’s prewar Chazon Ish. A petition by Vilnius native Ruta Bloshtein has garnered some 47,000 signatures.

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Posted in Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Politics of Memory | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Vilnius Braces for May 7th “Jewish Cemetery Trial of Century”; Around 160 Plaintiffs Recognized by Court

Two Invitations for March 11th


 


Come Join DH’s Monitoring Team

(March 11th, 3:15 PM)

The entire Defending History community joyously celebrates Lithuania’s independence day this Wed. March 11th. We sincerely hope that the “nationalist” march for which the beautiful center of Vilnius is gifted each year will this year not glorify local Holocaust and Nazi collaborators, will not heap scorn on  the nation’s minorities and will not flaunt fascist symbols. We have been monitoring these events since 2008, and invite colleagues to join our small team of observers this Wednesday, March 11th, 3:15 PM at Cathedral Square, Vilnius, who will then monitor the march on Gedimino Blvd. to the Seimas.

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As Usual, Leaders of Far-Right March Glorifying Holocaust Perpetrators Target DH Monitors…



  VILNIUS MARCHES  |  KAUNAS MARCHES  |  MARCHES SECTION  | GLORIFICATION OF COLLABORATORS

VILNIUS—Yet again, the far right organizations that choose to glorify their country’s Nazi and Holocaust collaborators, also choose to target the human rights monitors who come to document their events. Alas, the Vilnius-based human-rights organizations, like European and international Jewish organizations, again failed to monitor last week’s central-Vilnius event. The small Defending History team was the only one on hand last Sunday, February 16th, to monitor, and DH, as usual, reported on the march, after having reported on its planners’ vow to highlight three specific collaborators. Vilnius’s prestigious Old Town, from the Gates of Dawn to the foot of Castle Mount, was allocated by authorities to the marchers for their dusk-to-evening slot of the Independence Day public festivities.

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Posted in Antisemitism & Bias, Collaborators Glorified, Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Neo-Nazi & Fascist Marches, News & Views, Politics of Memory | Comments Off on As Usual, Leaders of Far-Right March Glorifying Holocaust Perpetrators Target DH Monitors…

Doyen of Litvak Rabbis, Chaim Kanievsky, Signs Impassioned Plea to Save Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery from Convention Center Project



OLD VILNA JEWISH CEMETERY  |  OPPOSITION TO CONVENTION CENTER PROJECT  |  INTERNATIONAL PETITION

The doyen of Litvak rabbis internationally, Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky, nephew of the legendary Chazon Ish of Vilna, signing the rabbinical court’s decree forbidding a convention center at the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery. Full text below. Photo courtesy of Chaya Fried.

 

VILNIUS—The doyen of Litvak rabbis internationally, Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky, is among the signatories on a decree issued by the leading Litvak rabbinic court in Bnei Brak, Israel, the court of Rabbi Nissim Karelitz (1926-2019), concerning plans to erect a national convention center via conversion of a derelict Soviet building that lies in the center of the old Vilna Jewish cemetery at Piramónt (in the Šnipiškės district of modern Vilnius).

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Posted in Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Christian-Jewish Issues, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Opinion | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on Doyen of Litvak Rabbis, Chaim Kanievsky, Signs Impassioned Plea to Save Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery from Convention Center Project

Dieckmann & Vanagaite Book Scores €10,000 from Lithuanian Gov. Fund On Top of $20,525 from Crowdfunding



VILNIUS—In November 2018, Defending History raised some questions about a crowdfunding campaign for a new book by Professor Christoph Dieckmann, a longtime member of the Lithuanian government’s “red-brown commission,” in partnership with bestselling author and Holocaust truth-teller Ruta Vanagaite. The article is reproduced below unchanged for speed of reference.

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Hundreds of Far-Right Marchers Chant “Škirpa and Noreika Are Our Heroes” in Vilnius Old Town on Independence Day



  VILNIUS MARCHES  |  KAUNAS MARCHES  |  MARCHES SECTION  | GLORIFICATION OF COLLABORATORS

VILNIUS—While local and international human rights organizations ignored the gifting of Vilnius Old Town to far-right marchers glorifying Holocaust collaborators, Defending History’s small team, comprising Evaldas Balčiūnas, Dovid Katz and Julius Norwilla were on hand to monitor the event. The dusk-to-nighttime torchlit procession today started at the Gates of Dawn, with participation of Catholic officials, and made its way downhill through Castle Street, stopping to pay homage at the plaque to Holocaust collaborator Jonas Noreika, and continuing on to the final destination of the former Škirpa Street (renamed Tricolor Street, after a long campaign started a decade ago by Defending History). Kazys Škirpa, though in Berlin at the time of the Holocaust, was a theoretician of the ethnic cleansing of Lithuania’s Jewish population, and an effective inspirer and cheerleader of local participation in the genocide.

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Posted in Antisemitism & Bias, Collaborators Glorified, Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Neo-Nazi & Fascist Marches, News & Views, Vilnius Neo-Nazi Marches | Comments Off on Hundreds of Far-Right Marchers Chant “Škirpa and Noreika Are Our Heroes” in Vilnius Old Town on Independence Day

Linas Vildžiūnas Wins Donskis Award for Tolerance



Linas Vildžiūnas, Lithuania’s Leading Humanist, For Decades Key Educator (and Truth Teller) about the Holocaust, Wins Donskis Award for Tolerance

The Defending History community extends hearty congratulations. His acceptance speech. Jewish community’s coverage of his founding of the House of Memory in 2000. Yiddish report in 2001. Our Donskis section.


Posted in Bold Citizens Speak Out, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views | Comments Off on Linas Vildžiūnas Wins Donskis Award for Tolerance

Andrius Kulikauskas Invites Public to Independence Day Event at Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery



VILNIUS—Dr. Andrius Kulikauskas, the editor of the Vieninga Lietuva (United Lithuania) website, and a contributor to DH for some years, has announced an event scheduled for midday this Sunday, February 16, Lithuania’s Independence Day. The day marks the declaration of independence of 1918, which led to the democratic Republic of Lithuania that flourished in interwar Eastern Europe. Posters for the event are available in PDF format in English, and in Lithuanian, and are reproduced below. All are welcome to the event, which calls on Lithuanian authorities to move the national convention center project away from the old Jewish cemetery to another venue. The project has attracted much opposition, as well as an international petition.

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Posted in Andrius Kulikauskas, Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Christian-Jewish Issues, Events, Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Politics of Memory | Comments Off on Andrius Kulikauskas Invites Public to Independence Day Event at Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery

Has “In Geveb” Done it Again?



OPINION | YIDDISH AFFAIRS | MEDIA WATCH | YIDDISH AS EAST EUROPEAN POLITICAL TOY

VILNIUS—Yet again, “The Editors” (which editors?) of the lofty online academic Yiddish studies journal “In geveb” have omitted mention of Defending History and of publications by any of its editors or contributors (except for occasional unsigned disparaging remarks on papers published, unbecoming of academic discourse). The context this time is a bibliography-style list of articles and opinion pieces that have appeared online concerning Yivo’s tragic recent decision to fire its entire library staff. The one omission in the list of articles? Defending History’s response to Yivo’s actions, titled: “Chelm or New York? Yivo Fires All its Librarians, While Investing ‘Fortune’ in PR for Lithuanian Government’s Jewish Politics.”  Hopefully, it was an oversight.

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Far Right Again Granted Central Vilnius on Feb. 16 Independence Day; They Vow to Glorify Three Nazi Collaborators



They Promise to Glorify Nazi Collaborators Škirpa, Noreika and Brazaitis

Facebook announcement; Event rep’s interview

DH coverage of past Vilnius marches; Kaunas marches; Riga marches. See also marches section. For the 13th year running, Defending History will monitor the event. Hopefully, some human rights and international organizations will also send observers. 

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Posted in Antisemitism & Bias, Collaborators Glorified, EU, Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Neo-Nazi & Fascist Marches, News & Views, Politics of Memory, Vilnius Neo-Nazi Marches | Comments Off on Far Right Again Granted Central Vilnius on Feb. 16 Independence Day; They Vow to Glorify Three Nazi Collaborators

European Foundation for Human Rights on Jewish Cemetery Case in Vilnius Court


[last updated: 6 Feb. 2020]

 


Over 100 Descendants of the Buried Sign Affidavits Submitted to Vilnius Court

EFHR’s Press Statement in English, Lithuanian, and Polish

Meanwhile, “CPJCE” London “cemetery specialists” fail to release “the secret agreement” they (with “Haifa geotechnocrat” in tow) signed on December “Day of Shame”. The agreement was signed many months after the matter was placed before the Lithuanian courts, and while it remains in litigation. Where is the rule of law?

Defending History calls for document to be made public at once. Catch up on coverage from recent months. See the scope of international opposition to “the convention center in the cemetery”…

A TALE OF TWO VIDEOS

(Satmar Aaronites and — Litvaks)…

VIDEO of London CPJCE (Satmar “Aaronites”) with prime minister of Lithuania (2015) [note: opposing Satmar “Zalmanites” have condemned the convention center in the Jewish cemetery]

VIDEO of top Lithuanian-origin (Litvak) rabbis explaining Jewish and Litvak views to ambassador to Israel (2020)

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Posted in Antisemitism & Bias, Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Christian-Jewish Issues, CPJCE (London), Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok) | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on European Foundation for Human Rights on Jewish Cemetery Case in Vilnius Court

Our Take on Furore over Parliamentarian Gumuliauskas’s “Holocaust-Fixing” Proposal



JTA on Scandal Emanating from Lithuanian Parliamentarian Gumuliauskas’s Proposed Bill to “Fix” Holocaust History

PEACEFUL DEMO PLANNED AT LITHUANIAN EMBASSY IN TEL AVIV ON FRIDAY 24 JAN, 11 AMFBHEBREW POSTER; LITH. PRESIDENT CANCELS ISRAELI TRIP

Defending History’s take:

The proposal is not in line with Poland’s earlier debacle, but infinitely worse. However, Lithuania should not be held accountable for the rants of a single member of parliament (though it is disturbing to note the utter silence from his committee members including the one “official Jewish parliamentarian”).

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Chelm or New York? Yivo Fires All its Librarians, While Investing “Fortune” in PR for Lithuanian Government’s “Jewish Politics”



OPINION  |  YIVO MANIPULATED?  |  JEWISH STUDIES AS COVER  | YIDDISH AFFAIRS

by Dovid Katz

The Yivo Institute for Jewish Research, founded here in 1925, in historic Vilna (then Wilno, Poland; in Yiddish forever Vílne) as the world’s premier Yiddish-in-Yiddish academic institute, has, to the consternation of many of its life-long supporters and participating scholars, in recent years been (temporarily, to be sure) “hijacked” to serve as the prime unit  (with the AJC a close second) for Jewish PR. Not “general” Jewish PR but specifically on behalf of certain circles in the Lithuanian government determined to revise Holocaust history (and “sell” the revisions to American Jews particularly), while covering for the use of major Jewish cemeteries for building projects, all the while projecting adulation of “Litvak and Yiddish culture.”

Two of the best-known protests from Holocaust survivors  in Vilnius came from Milan Chersonski, longtime editor of the Lithuanian Jewish Community’s quadrilingual newspaper, and Vilna-born physicist Professor Pinchos Fridberg. More pain was expressed in responses from the Leyzer Ran Family in New York, and the Association of Lithuanian Jews in Israel.

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Professor Leiman Responds to Vilnius Attack on Ruta Bloshtein’s Petition



OPINION  |   MEDIA WATCH  |  CEMETERIES & MASS GRAVES  |  OLD VILNA JEWISH CEMETERY AT PIRAMÓNT  |  OPPOSITION TO CONVENTION CENTER PROJECT  |  PETITION 

by Shnayer Leiman

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.

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Posted in Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Lithuania, Lithuania's Jewish Community Issues, Litvak Affairs, Media Watch, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Opinion, Politics of Memory, Sid (Shnayer) Leiman | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on Professor Leiman Responds to Vilnius Attack on Ruta Bloshtein’s Petition

“United Lithuania” to Hold Peaceful Gathering on Sunday to Celebrate Sanctity of the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery



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.

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Posted in Andrius Kulikauskas, Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Christian-Jewish Issues, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Opinion, Politics of Memory | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on “United Lithuania” to Hold Peaceful Gathering on Sunday to Celebrate Sanctity of the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery

What Website in Vilnius would Defame Leading Jewish Woman Activist to Deter Jewish People from Voicing Views?


[LAST UPDATE: 12 JAN. 2020]

OPINION  |   MEDIA WATCH  |  CEMETERIES & MASS GRAVES  |  OLD VILNA JEWISH CEMETERY AT PIRAMÓNT  |  OPPOSITION TO CONVENTION CENTER PROJECT  |  PETITION   |  JEWISH COMMUNITY ISSUES

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.

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Posted in Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Lithuania, Lithuania's Jewish Community Issues, Litvak Affairs, Media Watch, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Opinion, Ruta (Reyzke) Bloshtein | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on What Website in Vilnius would Defame Leading Jewish Woman Activist to Deter Jewish People from Voicing Views?

Antanas Zubrys and his Wife Dr. Matilda Zubrienė: Defending History’s Persons of the Year (2020)



OPINIONHISTORY

by Danutė Selčinskaja

 

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.

Antanas Zubrys and Dr. Matilda Zubrienė

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Posted in Danutė Selčinskaja, Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Politics of Memory | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Antanas Zubrys and his Wife Dr. Matilda Zubrienė: Defending History’s Persons of the Year (2020)

Defending History’s Person of the Year 2020 to be Announced New Year’s Eve



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, 20152018, and 2019. For Defending History’s conceptualization of the annual awarding in the context of current East European issues, please see our 2019 editorial.

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