Evaldas Balčiūnas

Why Does Lithuania’s Military Academy Disseminate Antisemitic Sentiments?



OPINION  |  ANTISEMITISM  |  COLLABORATORS GLORIFIED

by Evaldas Balčiūnas

I agree that the name of this piece is quite shocking. To see what I am talking about, it suffices to look through just one publication, published by the General Jonas Žemaitis Military Academy of Lithuania in cooperation with the “Versmė” publishing house. The academy is itself named for an alleged Holocaust collaborator (See my 2013 article), but that is not the topic of today’s piece, save that yet again it turns out that “state agencies just naming something” for a Holocaust collaborator is not seldom itself an ominous portent of institutional and state-sponsored racism. Indeed, the state Military Academy named for one alleged collaborator actually published an antisemitic tome by another, Jonas Noreika, who of course went on to active collaboration with the Holocaust.

Here are several excerpts from this 2016 publication brought out by the Academy that recently made it to foreign book purchasers, that would be universally recognized as antisemitic. The first refers to folks from the different regions of Lithuanians, naturally ignoring that they were for many centuries home to people of diverse origins, religions, nationalities (indeed, the Yiddish language has the term Zámeter for a person from the first named region):

Samogitians, Aukštaitians, Dzūkians, and Klaipėdians!

Your future is full of prosperity and wealth! We must know it well! Because it will depend only on us if we are going to benefit from this prosperity ourselves or give it away to Jews, Germans, and other foreigners that keep invading Lithuania! They see that the highest standard of living in the whole world is going to be here! Indeed! It will not be us migrating to other countries, but others coming to us to earn heaps of money!

Most of the auctioned off farms are bought by Jews! They feel and perhaps know that, in three years’ time or even sooner, that land will be worth tenfold! Indeed!”

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Posted in Antisemitism & Bias, Collaborators Glorified, Evaldas Balčiūnas, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory, State Glorification of Holocaust Collaborator J. Noreika | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on Why Does Lithuania’s Military Academy Disseminate Antisemitic Sentiments?

Biržai (Birzh), in Northern Lithuania, Honors Holocaust Victims at Forest Mass Grave Site; But City-Center Museum Honors the Collaborators



OPINION  |  MUSEUMS  |  POLITICS OF MEMORY  |  SHTETL COMMEMORATIONS

by Evaldas Balčiūnas

This weekend, the new monument to 2,400 Biržai Jews, massacred on August 8, 1941, will be unveiled in Biržai, a town in northern Lithuania known in Yiddish as Birzh. On that fateful day in Pakamponys forest, German Gestapo officers and their Lithuanian accomplices murdered 900 children, because they were Jewish children, 780 women, because they were Jewish women, and 720 men, because they were Jewish, too. The locals call the site “the Biržai Jews’ grave”.

That day, more than one third of the inhabitants of that old historical city were massacred. A vibrant community was destroyed and trust in Biržai as a safe place to live was wholly undermined. This old wound had not been taken care of properly up until now. There is a memorial stone at the site of the massacre, the site itself is covered with tiles. There is a memorial inscription, too. However, all those people with their lives and their dreams remained but a number in stone. People behind the new memorial decided to fix this, and now we have more than five hundred names carved on a steel wall. This difficult task required a lot of effort. Alongside with the people, the murderers also destroyed the documents attesting to their lives.

What does the Town’s Official Museum Think?

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Posted in Bold Citizens Speak Out, Christian-Jewish Issues, Collaborators Glorified, Commemorations for Destroyed Communities, Evaldas Balčiūnas, Events, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on Biržai (Birzh), in Northern Lithuania, Honors Holocaust Victims at Forest Mass Grave Site; But City-Center Museum Honors the Collaborators

More Evidence: Did Adolfas Ramanauskas’s Lead a Hitlerist Militia in the Early Days of the Lithuanian Holocaust?



OPINION  |  GLORIFICATION OF COLLABORATORS  |  POLITICS OF MEMORY

by Evaldas Balčiūnas

Five years ago, I wrote about the alleged connections of Adolfas Ramanauskas to the persecution of Jews in Druskininkai. Following publication of the Lithuanian version, the English version appeared here in Defending History in 2014. The connections are based in the first instance on Ramanauskas’s own memoirs, published in post-Soviet independent Lithuania, where he boasts that he served as leader of “the rebels’ squad” during the precise days and weeks of June and July 1941 when these “rebels” of the Lithuanian Activist Front (LAF) were in fact unleashing humiliation, plunder, violence and indeed murder against Jewish neighbors (the Soviet army was escaping Hitler’s invasion, not these white-armbanded LAFers). Following upon Ramanauskas’s own memoir and boast came research into the actual police records of the summer of 1941, as well as the postwar Soviet war crimes trials’ transcripts.

When writing that first article in 2014, my goal was not to find or prove something directly compromising. I was simply disturbed by the obvious collision of this heroic myth and its historical circumstances. It was part of my series of articles in Defending History, starting in 2012, that was launched by my essay “Why does the State Commemorate Murderers?”.

LATEST MEDIA:

AlgemeinerBBCIndependentSimon Wiesenthal CenterTelegraph.

RAMANAUSKAS: A FIVE YEAR SAGA

But then, in late 2017, the Seimas (parliament) of the Republic of Lithuania declared 2018 to be the Year of Adolfas Ramanauskas-Vanagas. Indignant at the uncritical worship, Dr. Efraim Zuroff, director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s department of East European affairs, brought a copy of my article to the members of the Seimas and was condemned without them even attempting to read it. During that period, I published a second, follow-up article focused on the moral issues.

Successful resistance to the plans of the Genocide and Resistance Research Center of Lithuania to erect a monument to Ramanauskas in his native city of New Britain, Conn., were enabled exactly by the facts mentioned in the 2014 piece (that saga can be followed in Defending History). One year ago, the City Council of New Britain “just said No.”

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The Strange Holocaust Trial in the Lithuanian Capital



OPINION  |  GLORIFICATION OF COLLABORATORS  |  POLITICS OF MEMORY

by Evaldas Balčiūnas

Last Tuesday, 5 March 2019, a Vilnius court sat in judgment over an appeal to the state-sponsored “Genocide Center” by Grant Arthur Gochin, a financial advisor in California who is of Litvak heritage and was himself born in South Africa (he did not come in for the trial but was represented by attorney Rokas Rudzinskas and academic specialist Dr. Andrius Kulikauskas). The request in effect asked the Genocide Center (formally “The Genocide and Resistance Research Center of Lithuania” or LGGRTC) to revisit their refusal to re-examine the historical certificate they issued whitewashing Holocaust collaborator Jonas Noreika. In support, the plaintiff submitted a big stack of documents from Lithuania’s own archives, and claimed that the Center’s conclusions ignore or misinterpret a whole series of documents and that they are biased in their justification of Noreika and taking into account only “positive aspects” of his activities. The Center explained away some documents signed by Noreika by using other documents that were signed by the German administration much later, but failed to properly name the criteria according to which some witnesses and documents are deemed important and others are rejected. Gochin’s lawyer noted that responsibility for crimes to humanity is not canceled out by the fact that the perpetrator held office and was following orders.

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My Seven Long Years with Jonas Noreika (“General Storm”)



OPINION  |  GLORIFICATION OF COLLABORATORS  |  POLITICS OF MEMORY

by Evaldas Balčiūnas

Editor’s note: Seven years ago,  journalist, researcher and ethicist Evaldas Balčiūnas, who was born, raised and continues to live in Lithuania, began his remarkable series of articles on state “heroes” who were alleged Holocaust collaborators (or perpetrators) with his 2012 essay on Jonas Noreika (“General Storm”), published in Lithuanian and the same year, in English in Defending History. As a result, Mr.  Balčiūnas (bal-CHOO-nass) was subjected to years of legal harassment and persecution by prosecutors, police, and assorted far-right “plaintiffs” (please scroll down to 22 May 2014 in the Balčiūnas section to follow the saga). The Defending History community is proud to have stood by Evaldas at each of the kangaroo trial hearings in Vilnius, and is delighted that all these years later, talented American campaigners with wherewithal have taken up the cause to major good effect, and have now brought the Noreika matter to the Vilnius courts (see report on 15th January  hearing). We hope that our American friends and colleagues will see their way clear to fully crediting Evaldas Balčiūnas’s work (and noting its consequences for him) on the various new websites and blogs established, including, for starters, the excellent online Captain Jonas Noreika Museum.

The first time I heard of Jonas Noreika was back in 1993. I was chatting with Petras Dargis in the editorial room of the newspaper where I worked, here in Šiauliai, northwestern Lithuania, when a man of short stature came in. He started to scold one of the reporters for his article on Jonas Noreika. These were the times — right after the Soviet system’s collapse — when various colleagues and friends were going through the deepest corners of their memory, looking for all sorts of bits and pieces of their past struggles and sufferings.

This was particularly the case when that which was perceived by some as “their battles” or perhaps even their “glorious episodes” amounted to extraordinary suffering for others. First, Noreika’s comrades came to the editorial office and told of glorious episodes of the (so-called) Uprising of June 1941, incarceration in Stutthof, and the post-war legend of General Vėtra (Noreika’s famous nom-de-guerre which translates: General Storm). The journalist published the story, referring to respectable historical sources.

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Is Lithuania’s Department of Cultural Heritage Really Permitting a Farm, Garden & Drinking Well Inside Old Jewish Cemetery of Radvíleshik (Radviliškis)?



OPINION  |  CEMETERIES  |  CHRISTIAN-JEWISH AFFAIRS  |  LITHUANIA

by Evaldas Balčiūnas

I was taken aback by the news being informally reported. “They came and they fenced off a part of the Radviliškis (Radvíleshik, Radvílishok) Jewish cemetery for themselves,” people told me.  This was a well-known Jewish shtetl before the Holocaust. Without further ado I went to check it. A house and big chunk of property with it, were fenced off and for sale, clearly within the cemetery perimeter (of course with gravestones long pilfered from that section, and buried people underneath undisturbed). My photos of all parts of the cemetery are here.

FARM FOR SALE

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Museum of The Lost Truth: A Lithuanian Drama



OPINION  |  MUSEUMS  |  POLITICS OF MEMORY  |  SHTETL COMMEMORATIONS  |  HUMOR (OF SORTS)

by Evaldas Balčiūnas

Evaldas Balčiūnas informed the English speaking world of a series of state honors for alleged Holocaust collaborators, starting with Jonas Noreika back in 2012. He paid a hefty personal price for it (scroll down his DH section to 2014). 

PREAMBLE

The Lost Shtetl is a massive, holistic project to reclaim the Lithuanian Jewish heritage of Šeduva (Shádeve, older Shádev). Plans include a multimillion euro state-of-the-art museum complex scheduled to open in 2020 that is slated to become an international tourist attraction. Now is an excellent time for public comment and observers’ contemplation.

“The Lost Shtetl” will not be a generic community of faceless Litvaks. It will make tangible the lives of real individuals. But will we learn about the real individuals from the town and its region who destroyed them? Their names and faces? Or will we simply tuck them away into the phrase: “The Nazis and their local collaborators murdered 664 Šeduva Jews in Liaudiškiai forest”?

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Sad Error of Naming 2018 for Someone who “Just” Led a Pro-Nazi “Partisan Squad” in Lithuania in June and July of 1941



OPINION  |  GLORIFICATION OF COLLABORATORS  |  POLITICS OF MEMORY

by Evaldas Balčiūnas

The national scandal unleashed by the Lithuanian Rūta Vanagaitė and the Jewish Efraim Zuroff via their statements about Adolfas Ramanauskas-Vanagas, is gradually losing momentum. The Seimas (parliament) went right ahead and declared the incoming year, 2018, to be The Year of Ramanauskas-Vanagas. That is sad. Three years ago, I wrote about this person’s activities in Druskininkai in 1941. Society back then was silent about it. It was only the desire of some politicians to glorify this personage that led to the aforementioned Lithuanian and Jewish commentators to talk about him. They spoke loudly and an antisemitic bubble burst. Vanagaitė’s statement had some inaccuracies. The very statement was taken as an insult by the mainstream. Public details about Zuroff’s statement were scarce. My 2014 article was among those details.

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Posted in Collaborators Glorified, Debates on Adolfas Ramanauskas (Vanagas), Evaldas Balčiūnas, History, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, New Britain, Connecticut: Plans to Glorify Alleged Nazi Collaborator?, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on Sad Error of Naming 2018 for Someone who “Just” Led a Pro-Nazi “Partisan Squad” in Lithuania in June and July of 1941

Instead of Removing Honors for Holocaust Collaborators, New Petition is Launched to Ask for Yet Another



OPINION  |  GLORIFICATION OF COLLABORATORS

by Evaldas Balčiūnas

In a 2012 article in Defending History, I asked why Holocaust perpetrator Jonas Noreika is made into a “national hero” here in Lithuania, one honored by street names and public plaques. Since then protests have come, among others, from a somewhat obscured  petition by Lithuanian intellectuals,  an appeal from journalist and Declaration of Independence signatory Rimvydas Valatka, Lithuania’s official Jewish community, Grant Gochin, a South African born author resident in the United States, and others. These appeals, all from 2015, were crowned by a rare protest by Jewish students at a Noreika shrine in central Vilnius (see Defending History’s guide for English readers to the links in the 2015 debate).

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Defending History Writer Evaldas Balčiūnas Is Found ‘Not Guilty’



22 July 2016 Defending History Eyewitness Report

VERDICT IN: EVALDAS BALČIŪNAS NOT 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)

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DH Writer Lugged into Court Again for Critique of State Honors for Holocaust Collaborators



FREE SPEECH  |  HUMAN RIGHTS  |  DOUBLE GENOCIDE  |  BOLD CITIZENS

VILNIUS—The latest in a long line of court appearance demanded by summons of Defending History author Evaldas Balčiūnas, will be held this Monday, 13 June, at 1:30 PM (13:30) at Vilnius County Court at Laisves Prospektas 79A, courtroom 019.   

COME SUPPORT EVALDAS BALČIŪNAS MONDAY 13 JUNE 2016, 1:30 PM (13:30), VILNIUS COUNTY COURT, LAISVĖS PROSPEKTAS 79A, ROOM 019

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Evaldas Balčiūnas Back in Vilnius Court on 21 January 2016



COME AND SUPPORT DH STAFF WRITER EVALDAS BALČIŪNAS (WHO ALERTED ENGLISH SPEAKING WORLD TO NOREIKA MONUMENTS IN 2012). HE IS REPEATEDLY LUGGED INTO COURT FOR HIS ARTICLES  PROTESTING GLORIFICATION OF HOLOCAUST PERPETRATORS AND NEO-NAZI MARCHES.

EVALDAS

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DH Correspondent Evaldas Balčiūnas in Vilnius Court This Tuesday 17 Nov. 2015



FRIENDS OF HUMAN RIGHTS, FREE SPEECH AND DEFENDING HISTORY INVITED TO COME AND OFFER MORAL SUPPORT TO OUR VETERAN CORRESPONDENT

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Šeduva  (Shádov):  The Memorial Events of Friday 9 October 2015



E V E N T S   /   O P I N I O N

by Evaldas Balčiūnas

On Friday 9 October 2015, the Šeduva Jewish Memorial Fund Society presented the results of their work on the project Lost Shtetl. There were, taken together, over two hundred visitors on the day. They included pupils of Vilnius’s Sholem Aleichem school and of the Šeduva high school, representatives of the Jewish community of Šiauliai (Shavl), Lithuanian Jewish Community chairperson Faina Kukliansky, the mayors of nearby towns, a deputy minister of foreign affairs, and ambassadors or embassy representatives of many countries, including the Netherlands, Japan, Poland, the Czech Republic, Croatia, Romania, and Ukraine.

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Public Shrines to a Holocaust Collaborator and a “Secret” Petition: A Summer’s Strange Media Circus



O P I N I O N    /    C O L L A B O R A T O R S    G L O R I F I E D

by Evaldas Balčiūnas

In the midst of this past summer’s heatwave here in Lithuania, Delfi.lt, one of the most popular news portals in the land, exploded with discussions on commemorations and memorials for Nazi collaborators in our country. Rimvydas Valatka, a  columnist for the portal and  signatory of the Declaration of Independence, started it all with his article of 26 July. The “current events background” was the recent removal of the controversial Soviet-era statues of soldiers on Vilnius’s Green Bridge. Valatka, a veteran of Lithuanian journalism with the rarefied street-cred of a Declaration of Independence signatory, appealed for removal of the memorial plaque for Nazi collaborator Jonas Noreika (“Generolas Vėtra”) from a central Vilnius library building, and wrote about a petition for its removal signed by a group of intellectuals and public figures, and addressed to the mayor of Vilnius as well as to the director of the relevant library (Library of the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences), where the plaque hangs prominently in the heart of Lithuania’s capital.


The stone honoring Holocaust collaborator Jonas Noreika tops the lot on the facade of the Genocide Museum on Gedimino Boulevard in the Lithuanian capital, a stone’s throw from the nation’s parliament. When are we going to stop glorifying those who helped annihilate Lithuanian Jewry during the Holocaust? When is this going to come down?


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Posted in Debates on the Postwar "Forest Brothers", Evaldas Balčiūnas, Genocide Center (Vilnius), History, Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Media Watch, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory, State Glorification of Holocaust Collaborator J. Noreika | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on Public Shrines to a Holocaust Collaborator and a “Secret” Petition: A Summer’s Strange Media Circus

What’s The Story With the Mass Grave Uncovered near Šiauliai (Shavl)?



O P I N I O N

by Evaldas Balčiūnas

Last week, there was a flurry of reports in the Lithuanian media about human skeletons and personal effects turning up during routine roadworks at Pročiūnai in the region of Šiauliai (in Jewish history: Shavl). Reports and gory pictures appeared among other places in 15min.lt; Etaplius.lt; Skrastas.lt and Snaujienos.lt. I myself, a concerned resident of Šiauliai, commented on the subject on my own blog (here and here). Various articles published contained theorizations about the buried here being victims of Soviet crimes or even equally of Nazi and Soviet crimes.

Monday 13 July. It is probably correct to say that the international scandal was set alight when the “routine” BNS (Baltic News Service) report appeared in English in the Lithuania Tribune (amalgamated with English Delfi). The archaeologist placed in charge by the local government of the investigation of the human remains, Audronė Šapaitė, is quoted in the article as presenting the following certain conclusions. Excerpts follow:

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Evaldas Balčiūnas at Vilnius County Court Next Monday 15 June 2015


VILNIUS THIS MONDAY:

FRIENDS OF HUMAN RIGHTS, FREE SPEECH AND DEFENDING HISTORY INVITED TO COME OBSERVE  /  SUPPORT OUR WRITER

Evaldas Balčiūnas

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Defending History Team at Vilnius County Court to Support Evaldas Balčiūnas



VILNIUS—At yet another frivolous-case hearing this morning, four supporters of Defending History author Evaldas Balčiūnas turned out to provide moral support. Balčiūnas is a major critic of public shrines, street names and monuments that honor Holocaust perpetrators, as well as an active opponent of neo-Nazi marches and activities, especially those with tacit support from elements of government.

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New Memorial, on State Land in Western Lithuania, Honors Alleged Murderer of Thousands of Civilians



O P I N I O N    /    C O L L A B O R A T O R S    G L O R I F I E D

by Evaldas Balčiūnas

When I wrote several years ago (Lithuanian; English) about the monument erected to Juozas Barzda at Iešnalis Lake, I thought it must have been some sort of misunderstanding.

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Posted in Antisemitism & Bias, Bold Citizens Speak Out, Celebrations of Fascism, Collaborators Glorified, Debates on the Postwar "Forest Brothers", EU, Evaldas Balčiūnas, History, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory, Symbology | Comments Off on New Memorial, on State Land in Western Lithuania, Honors Alleged Murderer of Thousands of Civilians

February 16th 2015 in Kaunas…



E Y E W I T N E S S   A C C O U N T   /   O P I N I O N

by Evaldas Balčiūnas

February 16th in Kaunas. The Kaunas municipal administration was asked by the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s  Efraim Zuroff and Defending History’s editor Dovid Katz not to allow this march for a number of reasons. The Kaunas municipality saw no problem and allowed the march to go ahead. As in earlier years, a Defending History team observed the march. The Kaunas Antifa organization decided not to hold a protest this year, so I was at liberty to be present as part of the DefendingHistory team.

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