Bold Citizens Speak Out

See also:
BOLD CITIZENS PAGE at:
http://defendinghistory.com/bold-citizens

Linas Vildžiūnas’s Review of Rūta Vanagaitė’s ‘Mūsiškiai’ Now Available in English Translation



BOOKS  |  POLITICS OF MEMORY

by Linas Vildžiūnas

The following English translation, by Laurynas Vaičiūnas, of Linas Vildžiūnas’s review of Rūta Vanagaitė’s Mūsiškiai appeared today in New Eastern Europe (as PDF). 

A book review of Mūsiškiai (Ours). By: Rūta Vanagaitė. Publisher: Alma littera, Vilnius, 2016.

What makes Rūta Vanagaitė’s Ours (Mūsiškiai) very different from all other Lithuanian books on the Holocaust is that it was from the start written as a bestseller. Written by an experienced public relations professional as an appeal to the Lithuanian public, the book raises the painful issue of historical responsibility. The author does not refrain from giving a personal twist to the story (it would be impossible otherwise, as the Holocaust is an issue of individual position and individual responsibility). The author is piercingly direct and uses black comedy. She approaches the topic with composure and a sense of supremacy. These two features may irritate the reader. However, she is entitled to it as she aims to confront the reader, which she so eloquently achieves.

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Posted in Arts, Bold Citizens Speak Out, Books, History, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Media Watch, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory, Rūta Vanagaitė | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on Linas Vildžiūnas’s Review of Rūta Vanagaitė’s ‘Mūsiškiai’ Now Available in English Translation

Brand New Yiddish Signs Come to Malát (Molėtai), Town in Northeast Lithuania



MALÁT  |  SHTETL COMMEMORATIONS  |  YIDDISH AFFAIRS

MALÁT (MOLĖTAI)—At the initiative of Viktorija Kazlienė, founder and director of the Museum of the Molėtai Region (Molėtų krašto muziejus) in northeastern Lithuania, a series of Jewish historical signs were unveiled this week. The project came to fruition thanks to the material support of the Department of Cultural Heritage, that is under the aegis of Lithuania’s Ministry of Culture.

In the event, these signs mark the one-year anniversary of the internationally acclaimed march of memory held in August 2016 to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the massacre of the town’s Jews in 1941 by local collaborators, under the aegis of the Nazis, and during the period of rapid annihilation of Lithuania’s provincial Jewry. In addition to playing a pivotal role in enabling the 2016 march and commemorative events, Ms. Kazlienė organized an extensive exhibition on the centuries-old Jewish life in the erstwhile shtetl, known in Yiddish as Malát. With Leonas Kaplanas, she coauthored a book based on the exhibition. It was featured in this year’s Vilnius Book Fair.

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Posted in Bold Citizens Speak Out, Commemorations for Destroyed Communities, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Malát (Molėtai), News & Views, Politics of Memory, Symbology, Vilnius Jewish Life (from 2016) | Tagged , , | Comments Off on Brand New Yiddish Signs Come to Malát (Molėtai), Town in Northeast Lithuania

Defending History Releases Yiddish Version of Julius Norwilla’s Lithuanian and English Poster for Piramónt



OLD VILNA JEWISH CEMETERY  |  OPPOSITION TO CONVENTION CENTER PROJECT  |  PETITION   |  CHRISTIAN-JEWISH RELATIONS  |  CEMETERIES  |  VILNIUS JEWISH LIFE

VILNIUS—Defending History today released here a Yiddish version of Julius Norwilla’s Lithuanian and English posters produced in the course of the current campaign to save the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery from becoming the “geo-basis” for a new national convention center where revelers would cheer, clap, sing, and dance, and use bars and toilets, surrounded by thousands of Jewish graves from the fifteenth to the nineteenth centuries. Human rights specialists concur that such a fate would not be contemplated for a Christian cemetery in the European Union, much less with the proposed EU contribution of millions of euros in “structural funds”.

As in the case of the Lithuanian and English posters, readers are invited to make as many printouts as possible, and to distribute them far and wide, mentioning wherever possible the ongoing international petition which has to date attracted some 40,000 signatures from many parts of the globe. The Yiddish poster is also available as PDF and higher-res image.

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Posted in Antisemitism & Bias, Bold Citizens Speak Out, Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Julius Norwilla, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Opinion, Politics of Memory, Vilnius Jewish Life (from 2016), Yiddish Affairs | Comments Off on Defending History Releases Yiddish Version of Julius Norwilla’s Lithuanian and English Poster for Piramónt

Julius Norwilla Releases English Version of Poster for Saving Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery



OLD VILNA JEWISH CEMETERY  |  OPPOSITION TO CONVENTION CENTER PROJECT  |  PETITION   |  CHRISTIAN-JEWISH RELATIONS  |  CEMETERIES  |  VILNIUS JEWISH LIFE

VILNIUS—Following his recent release of a Lithuanian-language poster calling for restoration of the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt, Julius Norwilla (Norvila) today released the English-language version, which follows. Readers are invited to print out copies of the poster to help in the campaign (as PDF; as image). [UPDATE: A Yiddish version  of the poster was subsequently published.]

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Posted in Bold Citizens Speak Out, Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Human Rights, Julius Norwilla, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Opinion, Politics of Memory | Comments Off on Julius Norwilla Releases English Version of Poster for Saving Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery

Summer’s Cool New Vilnius Poster to Save Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery



OLD VILNA JEWISH CEMETERY  |  OPPOSITION TO CONVENTION CENTER PROJECT  |  PETITION   |  CHRISTIAN-JEWISH RELATIONS  |  CEMETERIES  |  VILNIUS JEWISH LIFE

VILNIUS—For the first time in the history of modern Lithuania, a non-Jewish campaign initiative for a Jewish cause has seen its poster flood the streets of this city’s storied Old Town at the height of the summer tourist season. Conceived and produced by Julius Norwilla (Norvila), a former Protestant minister, using a quote from Dr. Andrius Kulikauskas, a Catholic philosopher, and based on an artistic visualization of a young Vilnius artist who supports the campaign, the poster is entitled “Vilnius Without its Ugliest Soviet Eyesore”. That is a reference to the hated ruin of the Soviet Sports Palace which stands in the middle of the old Vilna cemetery, where the city’s Jewish residents were buried in graves paid for by their families as freehold property, from the 15th to the 19th century. The poster makes reference to Vilnius native Ruta Bloshtein’s international petition, which is, at 40,000 signatures to date, arguably the largest Litvak initiative since the Holocaust. Members of Lithuania’s Jewish community who have spoken out to date include Moyshe Bairak, Ruta Bloshtein, Milan Chersonski, Pinchos Fridberg, Dovid Katz, and Josif Parasonis (more here). Current and recent rabbis in Vilnius who have taken a public stand include Chaim Burshtein, Shmuel Jacob Feffer, Kalev Krelin, and Sholom Ber Krinsky.

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Posted in Bold Citizens Speak Out, Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Documents, Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Politics of Memory, Vilnius Jewish Life (from 2016) | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on Summer’s Cool New Vilnius Poster to Save Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery

In Alytus, a Monument Brings Us Together



EVENTS  |  HISTORY  |  BALTIC HEROES  |  HONORING RESCUERS  |  CHRISTIAN-JEWISH RELATIONS

by Andrius Kulikauskas

(Department of Philosophy & Cultural Studies, Vilnius Gediminas Technical University)

01-Monument

On Tuesday, July 4, 2017, at 11:00 pm, some forty residents of Alytus assembled at Vaclovas Jankauskas’s sculpture garden to welcome a new monument, “For a Person Who Tried to Save a Person” (Žmogui gelbėjusiam žmogų), and to forever honor those who risked all they had to help Jews during the traumatic days and years of the Holocaust.
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Posted in Andrius Kulikauskas, Bold Citizens Speak Out, Christian-Jewish Issues, Events, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Symbology | Comments Off on In Alytus, a Monument Brings Us Together

Vilnius Workshop, Monday 10 April, on Self-Identity & Fate of Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery



EVENTS | OLD VILNA JEWISH CEMETERY | CHRISTIAN-JEWISH RELATIONS | ANDRIUS KULIKAUSKAS

VILNIUS—An invitation has been extended by the office of Dr. Andrius Kulikauskas to all interested colleagues to attend a seminar in Vilnius Old Town this Monday, 10 April 2017, from 1 to 5 PM (1300 to 1700) at the campus of Vilnius Gediminas Technical University on “Self-Identity and the Old Jewish Cemetery.” People who can only stop in for part of the event may come and go as needed.

MONDAY 10 APRIL

Come and visit between 1 and 5 PM at Workshop on Self-Identity and the Old Jewish Cemetery, at Vilnius Gediminas Technical University, Traku Street 1, corner of Pylimo, entrance from Pylimo. Defending History’s section, opposition tracker, and paper trail.

EVERYBODY WELCOME

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Posted in Andrius Kulikauskas, Bold Citizens Speak Out, Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Christian-Jewish Issues, Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok) | Comments Off on Vilnius Workshop, Monday 10 April, on Self-Identity & Fate of Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery

Lithuanian Jewish Community Chairperson Faina Kukliansky Issues Powerful Statement on Annual “Holiday” that Humiliates Jews and Roma



ANTISEMITISM  |  UŽGAVĖNĖS / SHROVETIDE  |  HUMAN RIGHTS  |  ROMA RIGHTS

VILNIUS—Lithuanian Jewish Community chairperson Faina Kukliansky today issued a powerful statement on the community’s website condemning the newest call from some top politicians asking the population to revere a national holiday in Lithuania, Užgavėnės, or Shrovetide, that falls this year tomorrow, 28 February 2017. Defending History has been (intermittently) monitoring the day since 2008, as part of the mission to monitor antisemitism and racism, and to cover those sectors of Human Rights that tend to be wholly ignored by the lavishly funded, official human rights organizations here in the Lithuanian capital.

UPDATES AND INTERNATIONAL COVERAGE:

International Business Times; Lzinios.ltMako.co.il

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Posted in Antisemitism & Bias, Bold Citizens Speak Out, Christian-Jewish Issues, Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Racism, Roma | Tagged , , , , , | Comments Off on Lithuanian Jewish Community Chairperson Faina Kukliansky Issues Powerful Statement on Annual “Holiday” that Humiliates Jews and Roma

Defending History’s 2017 People of the Year



three-winners-1

As 2017 gets underway, Defending History is proud to honor three Vilnius personalities, this year all from its Orthodox Jewish community, who have stood up for cherished principles against powerful forces. In all cases, the principles defended pertain also 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 institutions that are often associated with state-supported entities.

The three honorees are, in alphabetical order, Ruta Bloshtein, Rabbi Kalev Krelin, and Rabbi Sholom Ber Krinsky. On Facebook. See from previous years the Prophet Amos Human Rights Awards and the 2014 Person of the Year.

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Posted in "Good Will Foundation" (Jewish Restitution in Lithuania), Bold Citizens Speak Out, Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Opinion, Vilnius Jewish Life (from 2016) | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Defending History’s 2017 People of the Year

“Surreal” Nov. 29th Vilnius Public Debate on Street Named for Nazi Collaborator


[LAST UPDATE]

In Vilnius, City Council Holds “Surreal” Public Debate on 29 Nov. 2016 on Street Name Honoring a Nazi Collaborator; But Will the Mayor (Who Did Not Attend) Ever Speak Out with Moral Clarity?

Keynote speaker was Mark Adam Harold, the British born city councillor who “courageously and dramatically” proposed renaming the street that currently honors Nazi collaborator K. Škirpa.

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Posted in Bold Citizens Speak Out, Christian-Jewish Issues, Collaborators Glorified, Events, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory, Vilnius Jewish Life (from 2016), Vilnius Mayor Remigijus Šimašius | Comments Off on “Surreal” Nov. 29th Vilnius Public Debate on Street Named for Nazi Collaborator

Leonidas Donskis (1962—2016)



The Defending History Community Mourns our Colleague

LEONIDAS DONSKIS

13 August 1962 — 21 September 2016


HIS WORK IN DEFENDING HISTORY INCLUDES ESSAYS ON:

Inflation of the word “genocide” and criminalization of debate

The campaign against Holocaust survivors who joined the anti-Nazi Soviet partisans and its implications

Response to proposals to “reevaluate” the Hitlerist LAF and Provisional Government collaborators of 1941

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Posted in A 21st Century Campaign Against Lithuanian Holocaust Survivors?, Bold Citizens Speak Out, Free Speech & Democracy, Leonidas Donskis, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Obituaries, Opinion, Politics of Memory, Vilnius Jewish Life (from 2016) | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Leonidas Donskis (1962—2016)

Vanagaitė and Zuroff’s “Mūsiškiai”


[last update]


For the first time, a Lithuanian author teamed 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”), published in Vilnius in January 2016. See also the media tracking page on the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Operation Last Chance website.

English   Lithuanian   German   Polish   Russian

The following listing of coverage by language (English, Lithuanian, Russian, Polish) is far from exhaustive. The humongous reaction needs to be studied in its own right.

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Posted in Bold Citizens Speak Out, Books, Documents, Efraim Zuroff, History, Israel, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Media Watch, News & Views, Politics of Memory, Rūta Vanagaitė | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off on Vanagaitė and Zuroff’s “Mūsiškiai”

Some High Latvian Politicians Think the Waffen SS Fought for Freedom



OPINION  |  POLITICS OF MEMORY  |  GLORIFYING COLLABORATORS  |  LATVIA  |  ANNUAL WAFFEN SS MARCHES IN RIGA

by Aleksandrs Feigmanis (Riga)

Aleksandrs Feigmanis

Dr. Aleksandrs Feigmanis (Riga)

There are here in Latvia some high-ranking Latvian politicians who actually believe that the country’s Waffen SS fighters fought for freedom of their country. Every year on the 16th of March Latvian nationalists gather at the Freedom Monument in the heart of Riga, the nation’s capital, and in the cemetery at Lestene, a village some seventy-two kilometers from Riga, to remember and honor (honor!) the living and dead veterans of the Latvian Legion of the Waffen SS.

Established by order of Adolf Hitler on the 10th of February 1943, they fought for Nazi Germany against the Red Army on the Volkhov front near Leningrad, and later in Great River region, Kurzeme (Kurland), in Poland, Germany and elsewhere.

Although the alarming series of annual events commemorating and glorifying the Latvian SS Volunteer Legion events are now officially non-governmental, some MPs and even ministers do not hesitate to not only participate publicly, setting an example for the nation’s youth, but also to publicly refer to Waffen SS legionnaires as heroes and national freedom fighters. Had Hitler won the war, there would have been no Latvia left to become free in 1991. By swearing and oath to Adolf Hitler’s genocidal regime, and then in fact delaying the liberation of the concentration camps by the Allies, they were pawns of the Nazis who do not deserve to be glorified by a modern, democratic member of the European Union and NATO.

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Posted in Aleksandrs Feigmanis, Bold Citizens Speak Out, Celebrations of Fascism, Collaborators Glorified, History, Human Rights, Latvia, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory | Tagged , , | Comments Off on Some High Latvian Politicians Think the Waffen SS Fought for Freedom

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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Posted in Bold Citizens Speak Out, Collaborators Glorified, Double Genocide, Evaldas Balčiūnas, Free Speech & Democracy, Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Politics of Memory, Vilnius Jewish Life (from 2016) | Tagged , , , , , | Comments Off on DH Writer Lugged into Court Again for Critique of State Honors for Holocaust Collaborators

Neo-Nazis Given Central Vilnius Again on March 11th Independence Day



PRO-NAZI MARCHES  |  VILNIUS MARCHES  |  HUMAN RIGHTS  |  RACISM   |  OPINION

by Vilma Fiokla Kiurė  (with additional input and photos by Evaldas Balčiūnas, Milan Chersonski, and Julius Norwilla)

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PHOTO: EVALDAS BALCIUNAS FOR DH

Once again, on our national holiday of March 11th, at 4 PM in the afternoon, neo-Nazis chanting “Lietuva Lietuviams” (Lithuania for Lithuanians) marched from the Cathedral up our capital city’s central boulevard, Gedimino, to the Seimas (parliament) at its far end. During each of the nine marches (they started in 2008), none of the country’s leaders spoke out to condemn the march. On the contrary there are many signs of both tolerance and support from very high places, including the permits to march granted by the municipality (no comment from the mayor?) and other relevant authorities.

Yet again, the Union of Nationalist Youth was able to boast that it occupies the center of the capital on the nation’s independence day: “Without any obstacles, we received from the municipality an official permit to march [this day] on the main boulevard of Vilnius.” The official march was concluded several hours earlier and the heads of state apparently rested quietly as the neo-Nazis proceeded to take over the city center, from Cathedral to Parliament, a route rich in symbolic power.

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Posted in Antisemitism & Bias, Bold Citizens Speak Out, Celebrations of Fascism, Christian-Jewish Issues, EU, Events, Genocide Center (Vilnius), Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Neo-Nazi & Fascist Marches, News & Views, Opinion, Vilma Fiokla Kiurė, Vilnius Jewish Life (from 2016), Vilnius Mayor Remigijus Šimašius, Vilnius Neo-Nazi Marches | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Neo-Nazis Given Central Vilnius Again on March 11th Independence Day

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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Posted in Bold Citizens Speak Out, Evaldas Balčiūnas, Free Speech & Democracy, Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Politics of Memory, Vilnius Jewish Life (from 2016) | Comments Off on Evaldas Balčiūnas Back in Vilnius Court on 21 January 2016

When Both Law Enforcement and Politicians Cover Up Racism



HUMAN RIGHTS  |  RACISM  |  ROMA  |  OPINION

by Vilma Fiokla Kiurė

Vilma Fiokla Kiurė

A Nigerian citizen was attacked with a knife and injured in Kaunas, Lithuania, earlier this month. Trying hard to avoid describing the assault as a racially motivated hate crime, law enforcement officials and the mainstream media alike explained that the incident was purely part of a private dispute. Strange to tell, reading through official statistics you would rapidly come to the conclusion that racist and xenopohobic crimes in Lithuania stand at about zero. And, that neo-Nazi minded youth are “just patriotic.” 

It is no great secret in this part of the world that law enforcement officials and some politicians like to beautify the statistics, or to terminate or redefine proceedings brought in respect of racial or xenophobic hatred. One example comes to mind from 2011, when MPs J. Narkevičius and E. Zingeris appealed to the General Prosecutor’s Office to do something about  the neo-Nazi ideology espoused in the song “Diktatūra” by the group “Šalčininkų rajonas” (Šalčininkai District). 

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Posted in Bold Citizens Speak Out, Human Rights, Lithuania, Media Watch, News & Views, Opinion, Racism, Roma, Vilma Fiokla Kiurė | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off on When Both Law Enforcement and Politicians Cover Up Racism

Documents Which Argue for Ethnic Cleansing (by Kazys Škirpa, Stasys Raštikis, Stasys Lozoraitis and Petras Klimas in 1940-1941 and by Birutė Teresė Burauskaitė in 2015)



O P I N I O N    /    H I S T O R Y

by Andrius Kulikauskas

01-SkirpaRastikisKlimasLozoraitisBurauskaite

As of October 28, 2015, the home page of the Genocide and Resistance Research Center of Lithuania has a link to an authorative statement by General Director Birutė Teresė Burauskaitė about Kazys Škirpa. She responds to a request for information by the City of Kaunas, which has a street in Škirpa’s name. Škirpa was Lithuania’s representative in Berlin, the leader of the Lithuanian Activist Front, organizer of Lithuania’s anti-Soviet rebellion and Prime Minister of Lithuania’s Provisional Government in 1941. In bold letters she emphasizes:

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Posted in Andrius Kulikauskas, Antisemitism & Bias, Bold Citizens Speak Out, Christian-Jewish Issues, Collaborators Glorified, Documents, Genocide Center (Vilnius), History, Human Rights, Legacy of 23 June 1941, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Museums, News & Views, Opinion | Comments Off on Documents Which Argue for Ethnic Cleansing (by Kazys Škirpa, Stasys Raštikis, Stasys Lozoraitis and Petras Klimas in 1940-1941 and by Birutė Teresė Burauskaitė in 2015)

As Rothschild Conference Winds Up in Vilnius, Kaunas Religious Jewish Community Issues Statement of Defiance



VILNIUS—The controversial Rothschild Foundation (Hanadiv) London conference on Jewish cemeteries wound up here in the Lithuanian capital yesterday afternoon with a triumphant press release that seemed to suggest that there are no serious objections to a $25,000,000 convention center in the middle of the old Jewish cemetery (the release says little about most of the diverse topics and academic contributions that made up the bulk of the actual academically and culturally rich event). A dozen delegates contacted by DefendingHistory.com had no idea from one-sided conference presentations that there was a highly specific, budgeted-for decision taken for the multimillion dollar facility not necessarily appropriate for a historic cemetery where thousands of people’s remains are interred. They were under the impression that there is some consultative, respectful dialogue between the different sides. There was much more they were not told about.

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Posted in Bold Citizens Speak Out, Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Events, Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Rothschild Foundation Europe (Hanadiv): Lithuanian Issues | Comments Off on As Rothschild Conference Winds Up in Vilnius, Kaunas Religious Jewish Community Issues Statement of Defiance

Wiesenthal Center Praises Vytautas Bruveris’s Call for Investigating Scope of Local Holocaust Participation



TAURAGĖ  (TÁVRIK), LITHUANIA—The Simon Wiesenthal Center today praised an op-ed in the popular Lithuanian news portal Lrytas.lt by prominent journalist Vytautas Bruveris calling upon the government to finally undertake a comprehensive investigation of the scope of Lithuanian complicity in Holocaust crimes. In a statement issued here today by its chief Nazi hunter, Dr. Efraim Zuroff, who is currently in Lithuania on a research expedition, the Center expressed its appreciation and support for the content of the article and expressed the hope that the government would indeed implement the ideas raised by Bruveris.

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Posted in Bold Citizens Speak Out, Efraim Zuroff, History, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Media Watch, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on Wiesenthal Center Praises Vytautas Bruveris’s Call for Investigating Scope of Local Holocaust Participation

“Absolute Barbarism”: An Orthodox Jewish Resident of Vilnius Speaks Out on Piramónt (Šnipiškės) Cemetery



O P I N I O N     /     T H E   C E M E T E R Y   A T   P I R A M Ó N T

by Ruta (Reyzke) Bloshtein

Ruta Bloshtein

Ruta (Reyzke) Bloshtein

This week we Jews observed the saddest day in our people’s tradition — Tisha B’Av (Yiddish: Tíshebov), the annual fast day which commemorates the anniversary of a number of disasters in Jewish history, primarily the destruction of both the first and second temples in Jerusalem. On this day of mourning and lamentation we fast. While sitting on the floor and reading the Book of Lamentations and the Kinoys (sacred poems of mourning), I thought about the Tíshebov tradition of visiting graves of our great sages and of departed family members.

In Vílne (Vilnius), this tradition was observed for ages by visiting the Piramónt cemetery, where throughout a period of more than five hundred years hundreds of thousands have been buried there — the Jews of Vílne, our ancestors among them — and so many illustrious rabbis and sages, who passed on the infinite treasures of their wisdom to us, to help us find the most honest and ethical way of life. It is, in our belief, on account of their merits that the rebuilding of the third temple will come sooner.

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Posted in Bold Citizens Speak Out, Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Christian-Jewish Issues, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Opinion, Ruta (Reyzke) Bloshtein | Tagged , , | Comments Off on “Absolute Barbarism”: An Orthodox Jewish Resident of Vilnius Speaks Out on Piramónt (Šnipiškės) Cemetery

The June 2015 Memorial for the Lietūkis Garage Massacre in Kaunas, Lithuania



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

by Julius Norwilla

To mark the 74th anniversary of one of the iconic events of the Lithuanian Holocaust, the infamous Lietūkis Garage Massacre of 27 June 1941, the Kaunas Jewish Community organized its annual memorial event at the site, last Friday, 26 June 2015. The massacre, carried out by local Lithuanian “patriots” wearing the white armbands of the Lithuanian Activist Front (LAF), butchered dozens of Jewish passers-by at a garage on Kaunas’s Vytautas Avenue, using a variety of execution methods, including clubbing to death with crowbars, and particularly, forcing water from high-pressure hoses into bodily orifices of the victims until they burst. A growing crowd, including women holding up their young children to get the best views, cheered them on.

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Posted in Bold Citizens Speak Out, Commemorations for Destroyed Communities, Events, History, Julius Norwilla, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off on The June 2015 Memorial for the Lietūkis Garage Massacre in Kaunas, Lithuania

A New Book on the Kaunas (Kovno) Ghetto by Arūnas Bubnys



O P I N I O N   /   B O O K S

by Geoff Vasil

This small book, brought out in three separate editions (English, Lithuanian, Russian) by the state-supported Genocide Center, looks more like a brochure than anything else. The cover features the author’s name, in small type, above all else, then a larger Kaunas Ghetto, then a line with the years 1941-1944, against a backdrop of a computerized dark blue sky above a “tasteful” black-and-white picture of Jews lined up in columns inside Kaunas ghetto. The computerized dark blue wraps around the spine to the back cover where some vague lines comprise a hand-drawn map of the streets making up Kaunas ghetto, an ISBN number in white above UPC Bookland barcode featuring the same number again, and then a web address, www.genocid.lt.  I found myself staring at the internet address and wondering what language that was supposed to be. Lithuanian is always “genocidas” and “genocid” isn’t possible as any permutation or declension of the noun, and of course English is “genocide.” Perhaps it’s Russian in Latin-letter transcription? But that would contradict the nationalist and ethnic bias of the publisher, the Center for the Study of the Genocide and Resistance of Lithuanian Residents where Arūnas Bubnys is a leading figure. Perhaps “genocid” is someone’s notion of a non-English and yet international form of the word, formed by reducing it from the Lithuanian nominative case ending -as? I checked my favorite search engine, and of course the Lithuanian organization’s webpage came up first, but was soon followed by a wikipedia and wiktionary entry for the Croatian word.

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Posted in "Red-Brown Commission", Bold Citizens Speak Out, Books, Double Games, Geoff Vasil, History, Lithuania, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory | Comments Off on A New Book on the Kaunas (Kovno) Ghetto by Arūnas Bubnys

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

Jewish Community of Lithuania Issues Statement on Neo-Nazis’ March in Central Vilnius



VILNIUS—The Jewish Community of Lithuania today issued a statement concerning yesterday’s far-right march for which state powers again allocated the capital’s most prestigious central boulevard and a march route starting at Gediminas’ Hill and the Cathedral, and passing by the offices of the prime minister and government and concluding at the nation’s parliament.

The text of the statement, which follows earlier statements and discussions, is as follows:

The Lithuanian Jewish Community does not approve of the march by the Union of Lithuanian Nationalist Youth held on March 11, Lithuanian Independence Day, in Vilnius, because we believe the values publicly espoused by the marchers do not correspond to the principles of the modern democratic state which has been the basis for the creation of Lithuania for the last 25 years.

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In English Translation: V. Brandišauskas’s Classic Review of A. Liekis



D O C U M E N T S   /   B O O K S   /   H I S T O R Y

The following is an English translation by Geoff Vasil of a book review by Valentinas Brandišauskas of Algimantas Liekis’s Lietuvos laikinoji vyriausybė (1941 06 22–08 05) that appeared in the Lithuanian publication Genocidas ir Rezistencija No. 8, 2000, and is posted online


Review: A Doubtful Selection of “Frontists,” or, about One More in a Series of A. Liekis’s “Monographs”: Lietuvos laikinoji vyriausybë (1941 06 22–08 05) [Provisional Government of Lithuania, June 22—August 5, 1941], Vilnius, 2000, 428 pp.

 ◊

The negative predictions have been fulfilled, unfortunately, even beyond expectations. That’s what can be said about a news item that appeared in the Lithuanian exile community’s monthly Akiračiai regarding preparations by Lithuanian historian Algimatas Liekis, who did some work at the Lithuanian Studies Research and Studies Center in Chicago, to write a book about the June Uprising of 1941 and the Provisional Government (PG). Recalling the historian’s past (“during the Soviet era […] he was the komsorg [Communist Youth Party minder] in the Soviet navy, Party secretary of the History Institute of the Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic…”) and doubting his reputation as an academic, it was said that “Frontist successors” to the Lithuanian Activist Front (LAF) had invited Liekis

“to write a book that would help the Lithuanian parliament push through the legislation needed to ‘legalize’ the Provisional Government and to proclaim the day of the uprising a national holiday.”

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Poetry Section Launched


VILNIUS—Defending History today announced its launch of a modest poetry section which will aim to harness the inspire the work of East European poets whose work includes verse in defense of history and human rights and exposing racism and antisemitism.

The section starts with the work of two poets in Lithuania: Ken Slade’s My Dream of When the Witch is Found; and Nine Poems by the late Aleksandras Bosas (1951-2014), a posthumous awardee of Defending History’s inaugural series of Prophet Amos Awards for Human Rights for 2014-2015.

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Pinchos Fridberg on Why Russia Should be Invited to the 70th Anniversary Events Marking Liberation of Auschwitz



O P I N I O N

by Pinchos Fridberg

Translated for Defending History by Ludmila Makedonskaya (Grodno) from the original Russian text published in Obzor, where the title translates as “Seventieth Anniversary of Auschwitz Liberation is Not an Occasion for Political Posturing.” In the event of any matter arising, the original Russian text is authoritative.

 ◊

The seventieth anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz is one more opportunity to remember and to honor the victims of Nazism. I am deeply convinced that the place of death of almost one and a half million people, most of whom were my fellow Jews, must not be turned into a springboard for political squabbles. I am writing these words as a man who miraculously survived the Holocaust, which took away my grandparents, as well as twenty-eight other members of our family. I know that most of them were murdered in Ponár (Paneriai). But it is also possible that some of them could have been sent to Auschwitz.

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“Prophet Amos Awards” for Seven Human Rights Heroes in Lithuania (2014-2015)



O P I N I O N

by Defending History Staff

On the occasion of the Jewish new year, 5775 (Sept. 2014 — Sept. 2015), starting this Wednesday evening 24 September at sundown, Defending History has announced seven symbolic (non-material) awards to individuals of extraordinary individual achievement in the field of human rights and tolerance in Lithuania. By “individual achievement” we refer to people who stood up, spoke out, and rose to the moral imperative of saying what needed to be said in the spirit of the prophets who felt an inner voice compelling their rising up, rather than in the context of a job or position at an NGO or other institution. These two genres are harmoniously complementary, and in no way demeaning to each other.

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What Riga Ghetto Survivors Recall about Herberts Cukurs, Now “Hero” of New Show in Latvia



O P I N I O N / H I S T O R Y

by Aleksandrs Feigmanis (Riga)

Herberts Cukurs (1900-1965) had been an officer and a famous aviator during the years of the interwar Latvian Republic (1918-1940). After Nazi Germany’s 1941 occupation of Latvia, he became a significant figure in the infamous Arājs Kommando (or Sonderkommando Arajs), a notorious killing unit during the Latvian Holocaust. The Arājs group consisted of about 1,200 people, mostly local Latvians. It was established at the beginning of July 1941 within the German security services.

The Arājs Kommando carried out the killing of at least 30,000 Jews in numerous cities and towns in Latvia. The toll included the family of my grandfather in Vilani (in Yiddish Vilon), which occurred at dawn on August 4, 1941. The victims were his parents, and his sisters and their husbands and young children.

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Regina Kopilevich, Genealogist and Historical Tour Guide for Jewish Lithuania, Speaks Out on Yiddish in Vilnius


VILNIUS—Regina Kopilevich, whose extensive contributions to Jewish genealogy and tourism have been covered by the New York Times, today released a statement about the new Yiddish language teaching positions planned in Vilnius. Ms. Kopilevich is one of the leading tour guides in the Baltic region for both Jewish history and family roots voyagers.

The statement follows in short order those released by Milan Chersonski, longtime editor (1999-2011) of Jerusalem of Lithuania, the Jewish community’s former newspaper; Daniel Galay, director of Leivick House and the Union of Yiddish Writers and Journalists in Israel; and Professor Olegas Poliakovas, a philology professor at Vilnius University and longtime member of the university’s senate. The positions are being arranged by high officials of the World Jewish Congress.

The text of Ms. Kopilevich’s statement follows.


Open Letter from Regina Kopilevich

Vilnius, 28 July 2014

Professor Dovid Katz first came to Lithuania when it was part of the Soviet Union, and set out on 25 years of interviewing and recording (and always helping) aged Holocaust survivors in Lithuania, Latvia, Belarus, Ukraine, and northeastern Poland.

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Aleksandras Bosas (1951-2014)



O B I T U A R Y

by Evaldas Balčiūnas

nuotr2

Aleksandras Bosas (1951 — 2014). Photo: Sandrauga.

Aleksandras Bosas, a respected Lithuanian poet, died unexpectedly on July 24, 2014. The wider Defending History  community extends deepest condolences to the family and friends of our suddenly departed colleague, who is survived by his wife, Natalija, three sons and a daughter.

We have lost a courageously active literary voice against fascism and against the contemporary attempts at high levels to glorify fascism via posthumous honors for collaborators and local perpetrators of the Lithuanian Holocaust.

At the beginning of 2014 his book of poems dedicated to commemorating the Holocaust in Lithuania appeared. It is called Iš ten sugrįžtantiems (“For Those Who Returned from There”).

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Milan Chersonski, Longtime Editor of “Jerusalem of Lithuania” Calls on World Jewish Congress to Advertise New Yiddish Positions in Vilnius


VILNIUS—Milan Chersonski made public today the text of his letter to Ronald S. Lauder, president of the World Jewish Congress. Mr. Chersonski was editor-in-chief of the quadrilingual (English-Lithuanian-Russian-Yiddish) Jerusalem of Lithuania, the official publication of the Jewish Community of Lithuania, from 1999 to 2011. From 1979 to 1999 he was artistic director of the Jewish Folk Theatre in Vilnius, which for many years had been the only Yiddish theatre in the Soviet Union. A film documentary tribute to his work was released in 2012 (part 1; part 2).

Mr. Chersonski is a regular contributor to Defending History. This statement reflects his personal views.


An Open Letter  to Ronald S. Lauder, President of the World Jewish Congress

 Vilnius, 25 July 2014

Dear Mr. Lauder,

I am one of your loyal admirers who for many years, as editor (in the years 1999-2011) of the quadrilingual newspaper of the Jewish Community of Lithuania, Jerusalem of Lithuania, has been following your achievements, and also your deep commitment to Judaism via a range of philanthropic initiatives that have made a substantial difference for the betterment of Jewish life. When you were appointed to the presidency of the World Jewish Congress in 2007, I was proud as editor to give the event and your many achievements front page coverage (see Jerusalem of Lithuania, 2007, no. 5-6: page 1).

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Posted in "Jewish" Events as Cover?, Bold Citizens Speak Out, Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Milan Chersonski, News & Views, Opinion, Vilnius Yiddish Institute, World Jewish Congress (WJC) and ORT, Yiddish Affairs | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on Milan Chersonski, Longtime Editor of “Jerusalem of Lithuania” Calls on World Jewish Congress to Advertise New Yiddish Positions in Vilnius

The Politics of History



O P I N I O N

by Evaldas Balčiūnas

Translated from the Lithuanian by Geoff Vasil. Final version approved by the author.

 

Much has been said about recent history policy in Lithuania. What this means, different speakers understand differently. It probably isn’t wise to dwell long on the concept. Let’s just say “history policy” is the interpretation of historical events provided by state institutions and officials.

SEE SECTION ON

FREE SPEECH

The truth is specific. I will give one example of how this appears in our and neighboring states and how that illuminates the history of our state.

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Posted in Bold Citizens Speak Out, Celebrations of Fascism, Collaborators Glorified, Evaldas Balčiūnas, History, Latvia, Lithuania, Museums, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory | Comments Off on The Politics of History

Statement of Staff Writer Evaldas Balčiūnas on Summons from Police



My name is Evaldas Balčiūnas and I write for Defending History, in addition to various Lithuanian web journals. On May 14, 2014, I was contacted by local Lithuanian police investigator Reda Šimkutė by telephone at a number which is not registered in my name. She said she needed to “carry out inquiries” about me.

I asked her what the nature of the matter was. She refused to answer, so I suggested she follow normal procedure and send me what they call “an invitation” (in other words a summons) to come to an interrogation at the police department.

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DH Staff Writer Evaldas Balčiūnas is Investigated by Lithuanian Police



Summons Issued

Statement by Evaldas BalčiūnasDH section on Free Speech

stamp in Balciunas harassment case May 2014

He is author of a series of bold articles about state sanitization and glorification of Holocaust perpetrators and collaborators

Newest investigation follows recent police and prosecutorial harassment of Giedrius Grabauskas and Saulius Beržinis

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The Stones Tell Me. After All, They Lived Here.



O P I N I O N

by Genrich Agranovski

Genrich Agranovski is co-author (with Irina Guzenberg) of Vilnius: Sites of Jewish Memory as well as other works on Jewish Vilna. This comment was translated from the Russian by Ludmila Makedonskaya. See also DH’s section on old Jewish cemeteries and mass graves.


At the beginning of the 1990s a commission tentatively called “Memorial” was founded at the Jewish Community of Lithuania. Its aims included collecting information about the mass murder and burial sites of the World war II period, Jewish cemeteries, as well as other issues connected with the memory of the perished. The commission was headed by Joseph Levinson. Being a member of the commission, I was in charge of collecting information on Jewish cemeteries in Vilnius. There had been two large Jewish cemeteries in Vilnius before the war: the “old one,” founded, according to Vilna Jewish lore, at the end of the fifteenth century and used till 1830, and Zarechenskoye [“beyond the river”; in Yiddish Zarétshe] (Antokolskoye), which was used from 1828 up to June 1941. The latter was the biggest in the city. According to the Jewish ethnographer Solomon Shik, seventy thousand people had been buried there by 1937. In Soviet times both  cemeteries were destroyed and the gravestones were used for construction purposes.

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Translation of Donatas Glodenis’s Article on a Troubling Conviction for “Genocide” . . .



The following, for our readers’ interest, is a translation by Geoff Vasil of a recent article that appeared on Donatas Glodenis’s website. The translation appears here with the author’s permission.


 

Cases, Part IV. Vasiliauskas Convicted of Genocide without Foundation

by Donatas Glodenis

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Is the Vilnius Police Criminal Division Harassing Veteran a Holocaust Researcher?


A bemused Vilnius film director finds a letter from the police department’s criminal investigations unit concerning his work in Holocaust Studies. Saulius Beržinis is founder and director of the Independent Holocaust Archive of Lithuania, housed in a bucolic setting on the outskirts of Vilnius.

VILNIUS—Defending History confirmed today that renowned documentary film maker and Holocaust researcher Saulius Beržinis, founding director of the Independent Holocaust Archive of Lithuania (IHAL), has been the latest recipient of a letter from police on account of his work documenting the alleged Nazi collaboration of various Lithuanian “1941 freedom fighters” who allegedly collaborated with the Nazi regime and in the murder of their civilian Jewish-citizen neighbors in the days, weeks and months following 22 June 1941. The letter demands he turn over a “list” of criminals which it was never his, nor the Archives’ intention, to produce or comment upon. Over the years, the Holocaust specialist has won the confidence of groups worldwide for his willingness to seek out and tell the unvarnished truth, among them the Wiesenthal Center’s Israel office.

The March 19th letter to IHAL’s director, letterheaded “Vilnius District Senior Police Commission, Vilnius City First Police Commission, Police Criminal Division” is reproduced below (followed by translation into English).

Saulius Beržinis has been collecting testimonies on the Holocaust for a quarter of a  century. He is known internationally for his singular achievement of  interviewing on camera actual admitted killers (some are in the film Lovely Faces of the Killers, 2002), and his extensive documentation work with survivors and witnesses. He has partnered over the years with BBC, The United States Holocaust Museum, the Vilna Gaon Jewish State Museum of Lithuania, Yad Vashem, and other international bodies, in addition to dozens of Holocaust survivors. His Holocaust documentaries include Farewell Jerusalem of Lithuania (1994), Yudel’s Unwritten Diary (2004), The Road to Treblinka (1997). Most recently, his film on the Holocaust in Jurbarkas (Yúrberik) became controversial for daring to name the killers of the town’s Jewish citizens in 1941 (see reviews by Milan Chersonski and Geoff Vasil).

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Footprints of Adolfas Ramanauskas-Vanagas in the Mass Murder of the Jews of Druskininkai



O P I N I O N

by Evaldas Balčiūnas

 

Adolfas Ramanauskas Vanagas was a well-known post-war partisan commander. Here’s what the Center for the Study of the Genocide of the Residents of Lithuania has to say about him on their website:

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Holocaust Survivor Stands Up Against Proposal to Close Down Russian Language Media in Lithuania


VILNIUS—Pinchos Fridberg, retired professor of physics and Defending History’s 2014 Person of the Year, has again stood up for human rights, going where some “human rights NGOs” seem to fear to tread.

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Unauthenticated Document Purports to be Police Complaint Against Lithuanian Citizen for Writing about Nazi Collaborators



O P I N I O N

VILNIUSDefending History is making attempts to determine the authenticity of an unverified document (translation here) which purports to be from Lithuanian police issuing notification of a “pre-trial investigation” against a Lithuanian citizen for having written an article referring to alleged Nazi collaborators. More on the topic is available in Defending History in the Collaborators Glorified section, the works of Evaldas Balčiūnas (including an article on the Mr. Noreika = “General Vetra” mentioned in the purported police complaint), the 2012 Brazaitis saga, and the page on street names and university shrines dedicated to Nazi collaborators.

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Sergijus Staniškis Litas: Who’s Hiding the 1941 Gaps in His Biography — and Why?



O P I N I O N   /   P O L I T I C S  O F  M E M O R Y   /   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

Authorized translation from the Lithuanian original by Geoff Vasil.


Today Sergijus Staniškis Litas is presented as a noble partisan commander who concentrated his unusual skills on battling the occupiers. At least that’s how the writers of the Lithuanian Center for the Study of Genocide and Resistance present him on their webpage at http://www.genocid.lt/datos/stanisk.htm.

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Pinchos Fridberg Interviews Pinchos Fridberg


The following is a reprint of Pinchos Fridberg’s article in today’s Russian-language Мы здесь.


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Posted in "Red-Brown Commission", Bold Citizens Speak Out, In Russian, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Opinion, Pinchos Fridberg, Politics of Memory | Comments Off on Pinchos Fridberg Interviews Pinchos Fridberg

New Joseph Levinson Website Has Page on Old Jewish Cemeteries in Lithuania


The recently launched website JosephLevinson.com provides renewed opportunities for acquiring his two major books that are available in English. One, The Shoah in Lithuania, includes documents of the Lithuanian Activist Front detailing their intentions for Jewish citizens, issued before the outbreak of war on 22 June 1941. It is also rich in resources on understanding how, where and why the far right’s “Double Genocide” revisionism arose in the first place. These are just two of the many areas covered by the book.

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Giedrius Grabauskas on Freedom of Speech



O P I N I O N

Note: For our readers’ interest, we provide an English translation (by Geoff Vasil) of Giedrius Grabauskas’s article, “Kodel paminama žodžio laisvė?” that appeared on 6 January 2014 in Akcentai.info at: http://www.akcentai.info/271-kodel-paminama-zodzio-laisve.html.

As in all signed articles, the opinions are those of the author.

The final part of the opinion piece, starting here, deals with issues that Defending History focuses in on, including the glorification of Holocaust collaborators, campaigns from high places against those who dissent, and the related implications for human rights and democracy in NATO and the EU.

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Žilvinas Butkus (Vilnius) and the Association of Lithuanian Jews (Tel Aviv) Release August 2009 Document



D O C U M E N T S

Editor’s note: By agreement of Žilvinas Butkus, author of the following 12 August 2009 email, and its recipient, the Association of Lithuanian Jews in Israel, the document is now published. Note that the draft law appended at the end of the document was adapted by the parliament and signed by the parliament in revised form in June 2010. The bill’s framers had made it clear that promoting Double Genocide in Europe lay close to the heart of this legislative initiative.


August 12, 2009

Hello!

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Where did the Money for a Monument to 1941 “Patriots” Come from? Why the Uncritical Reconstruction and Glorification Now?


 


O P I N I O N

by Evaldas Balčiūnas

 

Defending History reported earlier on the attempt to restore a monument in Obeliai (Abél in Yiddish), a town in northeastern Lithuania, not far from the Latvian border.

It is an unpleasant story and one that is still developing. Although seven decades have passed since the mass murder of the Jews of Abél, some people think that everyone has forgotten who carried out that mass murder.

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Chersonski Replies to Aleksandravičius on the 2012 Kaunas Reburial of the 1941 Nazi Puppet Prime Minister



O P I N I O N

by Milan Chersonski

Milan ChersonskijTranslated from Russian by Ludmila Makedonskaya (Grodno); updated English version approved by the author, Milan Chersonski (Chersonskij), longtime editor (1999-2011) of Jerusalem of Lithuania, quadrilingual (English-Lithuanian-Russian-Yiddish) newspaper of the Jewish Community of Lithuania. He was previously (1979-1999) director of the Yiddish Folk Theater of Lithuania. The views he expresses in Defending History are his own. Photo: Milan Chersonski (image © Jurgita Kunigiškytė). Milan Chersonski section.


 

 Real Heroes and Supposed Heroes

 

Who Protested and Why?

In May 2012 solemn funeral events were held in Kaunas: the ashes of the interim prime minister of the Provisional Government of Lithuania (hereinafter PG) Juozas Ambrazevičius-Brazaitis were transferred from the state of Connecticut in the United States, where he was buried in 1974, to Kaunas, the former temporary capital of Lithuania. There the ashes were reburied.

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An Old Jew From Vilna Writes a Letter to Moshe Rabeinu


 


O P I N I O N

by Pinchos Fridberg

 

Some facts

In 1998 the “International Commission for the Evaluation of the Crimes of the Nazi and Soviet Occupational Regimes in Lithuania” was established by Lithuanian presidential decree.

The commission is directed in tandem by Emanuelis Zingeris and Ronaldas Račinskas. The former is the commission’s chairman and a Conservative MP in the Lithuanian Seimas, while the latter is the commission’s executive director. The Lithuanian Jewish Community has no representation on the commission.

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Posted in "Red-Brown Commission", A 21st Century Campaign Against Lithuanian Holocaust Survivors?, Bold Citizens Speak Out, Humor (Of Sorts), Lithuania, News & Views, Opinion, Pinchos Fridberg, Politics of Memory, Yiddish Affairs | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on An Old Jew From Vilna Writes a Letter to Moshe Rabeinu

Dr. Shimon Alperovich, Former Chairman of Lithuanian Jewish Community, Motivates his Doubts on Plans to Rebuild the Great Synagogue


Dr. Shimon Alperovich, who was chairman of the Jewish Community of Lithuania from 1992 to earlier this year when he retired, gave an interview today on the contentious subject of the project to rebuild the Great Synagogue in Vilnius’s old town. It was lovingly known in Vilna Yiddish as di gréyse shúl or di shtót-shul.

Dr. Alperovich stressed that he was speaking in a personal capacity.

The interview is available, in Yiddish, on YouTubeContinue reading

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Donskis Speaks Out on East European Antisemitism and “Double Genocide” Discourse


The renowned philosopher and current Liberal MEP representing Lithuania, Professor Leonidas Donskis, has spoken out again on the interrelationships between current antisemitism and Double Genocide discourse, and on the enormous credit due Lithuanian authors who dare confront the historic truth. The following article appeared in the print edition of The Baltic Times on 29 August 2013. Daiva Čepauskaitė’s 2011 play, Day and Night, referred to in the article, was reviewed in Defending History in December 2011. See also our Bold Citizens page.

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An Important Book by Lithuania’s Health Minister, Totally Ignored by the Lithuanian Media. Why?



B O O K S

by Geoff Vasil

 See also: Andriukaitis’s 2012 reply to the foreign minister; on the floor of parliament; Andriukaitis section

Vytenis Andriukaitis by Defending History

Vytenis Povilas Andrukaitis, health minister of Lithuania. Photo: DefendingHistory.com

Vytenis Andriukaitis is a veteran politician. If you haven’t been following Lithuanian politics since 1990, there’s a good chance you’ve never heard of him, and even if you have, there’s a fair chance you didn’t notice him amid the various cults of personality which have dominated the political scene since about 1990.

The reason for that is fairly simple: Andriukaitis has never cultivated or even tolerated a cult of personality to grow up around him. From the very first days of Lithuanian independence, a freedom movement with which Andriukaitis was intimately involved, he has stubbornly clung to the idea of multiparty parliamentary democracy, largely by his own tenacity reviving the pre-World War II Lithuanian Social Democratic Party.

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Marching with the Words: “No to Falsification of History!”



O P I N I O N

by Milan Chersonski

Authorized translation from the Russian by Ludmila Makedonskaya (New York)


In accordance with the law of the Republic of Lithuania for days of commemoration, June 23rd has been declared a national memorial day. It is the day of the 1941 June Uprising. As known, the extermination of the Lithuanian Jewish minority began on the same day as this “uprising.”

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Milan Chersonski Reports on the Antifa Lietuva Event in Kaunas on 23 June 2013



МНЕНИЕ

Милан Херсонский


Шествие под лозунгом

«ФАЛЬСИФИКАЦИИ ИСТОРИИ – НЕТ!»

В соответствии с законом о памятных днях Литовской Республики, 23-е июня провозглашено национальной памятной датой – днём Июньского восстания 1941-го года. Как известно, уничтожение Еврейской общины Литвы началось в тот же день, что и восстание. Continue reading

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Rehabilitation of the Past as a Tool in Today’s Politics



O P I N I O N

by Milan Chersonski

Milan Chersonski in Riga May 27 2013

Milan Chersonski reads his paper at the Riga conference, 27 May 2013

The following is the authorized English version of the paper read by Milan Chersonski in Riga on 27 May 2013 at the Second International Conference on Holocaust Museums and Memorial Places in Post-Communist Countries

Milan Chersonski (Chersonskij), longtime editor (1999-2011) of Jerusalem of Lithuania, quadrilingual (English-Lithuanian-Russian-Yiddish) newspaper of the Jewish Community of Lithuania, was previously (1979-1999) director of the Yiddish Folk Theater of Lithuania, which in Soviet times was the USSR’s only Yiddish amateur theater company.

See also the Milan Chersonski section of Defending History.


I

In Eastern European countries occupied by Nazi Germany during World War II there was a phenomenon called “collaborationism”: the cooperation of individuals and organizations with the Nazi occupation regime. In the modern historiography of these countries, events of that fateful time are often presented not by historians, but primarily by right-wing or extreme right-wing politicians, who continue today to convince the public that the collaboration was in fact nothing but a form of struggle for independence, and a kind of resistance to the Nazi regime.

Sometimes this approach to the evaluation of historical events is called whitewashing. The purpose of this manipulative activity is clear: to absolve the erstwhile Nazi collaborators and pro-Nazi national organizations from the responsibility for the crimes against humanity committed during the Nazi occupation, and their countries from responsibility for Nazi crimes.

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Posted in Bold Citizens Speak Out, Collaborators Glorified, Double Genocide, Foreign Ministries: Holocaust Politics Abuse?, Genocide Center (Vilnius), History, Legacy of 23 June 1941, Lithuania, Milan Chersonski, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory | Comments Off on Rehabilitation of the Past as a Tool in Today’s Politics

The Unwritten Biography of Jonas Žemaitis: A Tale of Twists and Turns



O P I N I O N

by Evaldas Balčiūnas

Authorized translation from the Lithuanian original by Geoff Vasil.  Other Defending History articles by Evaldas Balčiūnas.

 

The modern Republic of Lithuania has been creating a cult of the partisans. Statues are built to memorialize them. There are commemorative plaques and streets are named after them, as well as schools. One of the most prominent to be hallowed by the cult is Jonas Žemaitis, also called Vytautas, Luke, Matthew, the Silent and general as well as president. His biography is a tapestry of events and adventures. One could write an adventure novel about them, except that… Žemaitis isn’t necessarily a hero.

Zemaitis Military Academy

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A Counter-Question to Lithuanian Journalist Artūras Račas



O P I N I O N

by Pinchos Fridberg


Editor’s note [with updates to 3 March 2013]:

On his personal blog, Artūras Račas, director of Baltic News Service (BNS), attacked the director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Israel office, Holocaust historian Dr. Efraim Zuroff, as well as the prominent Vilnius-born, and currently Vilnius-resident Holocaust survivor and retired professor of radio physics, Dr. Pinchos Fridberg. A full English translation of Mr. Račas’s article is included in Defending History’s coverage of the sensational outburst by the head of Lithuania’s major news agency.

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Evaldas Balčiūnas Remembers February 16th 2013 March in Central Kaunas



 

E Y E W I T N E S S    R E P O R T  /  O P I N I O N

by Evaldas Balčiūnas

Editor’s note: This adapted translation from the Lithuanian original, by Geoff Vasil, has been approved by the author.

 

On February 16 I visited Kaunas. I heard the neo-Nazis would try to desecrate the nation’s freedom, for which people of the country of all ethnicities had struggled. Sadly, the neo-Nazis are now shouting loudly: “Lithuania for Lithuanians…”

One of the organizers of the march boasted the vanguard of the march would be carrying a portrait of Ambrazevičius.

It’s worth recalling what sort of person he was. In 1941 Ambrazevičius led the Provisional Government formed by the LAF (Lithuanian Activist Front), the Provisional Government which called Lithuanian policemen to serve the Nazis, set up a concentration camp (at the Seventh Fort, where it all ended in the murder of several thousand Jews), and even while realizing the Nazis no longer needed their service, this gang went on to promulgate the “Regulations on the Situation of the Jews,” which legally deprived their neighbors of human rights, while on the ground armed people were already murdering Jews throughout Lithuania.

The author and his friends and colleagues who constituted the small “anti-fascist zone” at the March 16th neo-Nazi parade in Kaunas, Lithuania on the occasion of the nation’s independence day.

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Posted in Antisemitism & Bias, Bold Citizens Speak Out, Celebrations of Fascism, Collaborators Glorified, Evaldas Balčiūnas, Events, Human Rights, Kaunas Neo-Nazi Marches, Neo-Nazi & Fascist Marches, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory | Comments Off on Evaldas Balčiūnas Remembers February 16th 2013 March in Central Kaunas

Instead of Truth about the Holocaust – Myths about Saving Jews



O P I N I O N

by Pinchos Fridberg


Editor’s note [updated 27 January 2013]:
Pinchos Fridberg, a native and resident of Vilnius, is a Holocaust survivor. He graduated from Vilnius University in 1961 and completed his PhD in theoretical and mathematical physics in 1965 and an additional doctoral science degree in radio physics in 1974. From 1961 to 1978 he was chair of the Laboratory of Theoretical Investigations at the Vilnius Scientific Institute of Radio Measuring Devices. In 1978 he joined Grodno State University, where he was named professor. In 1989 he became head of the Department of Theoretical Radio Physics at the Zondas Company in Vilnius.

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Posted in "Jewish" Events as Cover?, "Red-Brown Commission", Bold Citizens Speak Out, Double Games, Double Genocide, Events, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Opinion, Pinchos Fridberg, Politics of Memory, Yad Vashem Manipulated? | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Instead of Truth about the Holocaust – Myths about Saving Jews

Shock of 2012: 1941 Nazi Puppet Prime Minister Reburied with Full Honors



Compiled by Dovid Katz

EU/NATO Ally Honors Holocaust Collaborator; Lithuanian Jewish Community Issues Protest; 3 US Congressmen Write to Prime Minister

Remains of 1941 fascist leader  Juozas Ambrazevičius (Brazaitis) met by honor guard at Vilnius Airport on 17 May 2012 and reburied in Kaunas’s Church of the Resurrection on the 20th, as city’s mayor dismisses criticism.

Office of the prime minister, who signed off on government funding (€8,700 / US $11,000)defends reburial & honors of the 1941 Nazi puppet “prime minister” who personally signed the protocols confirming Nazi orders for (1) “all means” against Jews (but avoiding executions in public); (2)  setting up a concentration camp for Lithuanian Jews [euphemism for the carnage underway at the Seventh Fort]; (3) all Kaunas Jews to be herded into a ghetto within 4 weeks (English here).

SEE ALSO:

Collaborators Glorified section

Previous sanitization program

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Posted in "Red-Brown Commission", Antisemitism & Bias, Bold Citizens Speak Out, Celebrations of Fascism, Christian-Jewish Issues, Collaborators Glorified, Dovid Katz, EU, Exotic Jewish Tourism, Foreign Ministries: Holocaust Politics Abuse?, History, Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Media Watch, News & Views, Politics of Memory, United States, US State Dept Manipulated?, Yivo Manipulated? | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Shock of 2012: 1941 Nazi Puppet Prime Minister Reburied with Full Honors

Juozas Šibaila, Another “Hero” with a Suppressed Biography


 


O P I N I O N

by Evaldas Balčiūnas

Following the Lithuanian parliament’s recognition of the February 16, 1949 declaration of the Council of the Union of the Struggle for Lithuanian Freedom as an act with the force of law, there was a natural interest in questions about who the partisans who signed that declaration were. It would seem the Center for the Study of the Genocide and Resistance of Residents of Lithuania would be the organization to present the most comprehensive biographies for these people.

Unfortunately that’s not the case.

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Is this Really What You Want To Do, Mr. Executive Director of Yivo?



O P I N I O N

by Milan Chersonski

Milan Chersonski (Chersonskij), longtime editor (1999-2011) of Jerusalem of Lithuania, quadrilingual (English-Lithuanian-Russian-Yiddish) newspaper of the Jewish Community of Lithuania, was previously (1979-1999) director of the Yiddish Folk Theater of Lithuania, which in Soviet times was the USSR’s only Yiddish amateur theater company. The views he expresses in DefendingHistory are his own. This is an authorized English version (updated by the author) by Ludmilla Makedonskaya (Los Angeles). Russian original.
Photo: Milan Chersonski at this desk at the Jewish Community of Lithuania (image © 2012 Jurgita Kunigiškytė). Milan Chersonski section.

Dear Mr. Jonathan Brent,

A little over a year ago, on 12 September 2011, I wrote my first open letter to you. I wrote that it is inappropriate to hold an event commemorating the Jews of Vilna who were victims of genocide together with the minister of foreign affairs of the Republic of Lithuania Audronis Ažubalis on the premises of Yivo. If you did not then find time to read my letter, you can find it now online.

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Posted in "Jewish" Events as Cover?, A 21st Century Campaign Against Lithuanian Holocaust Survivors?, Bold Citizens Speak Out, Double Games, Litvak Affairs, Milan Chersonski, News & Views, Opinion, Yiddish Affairs, Yivo Manipulated? | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Is this Really What You Want To Do, Mr. Executive Director of Yivo?

Vylius-Vėlavičius: Patriot or Another “Tuskulėnai Peace Park” Holocaust Perpetrator?



O P I N I O N

by Evaldas Balčiūnas

 

In my recent article about the war criminals buried at Tuskulėnai Memoral Park in Vilnius I provided a list of Nazi collaborators convicted by the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union on April 19, 1943, and May 24, 1944 of murdering civilians during the Holocaust. This does not mean, however, that those convicted under other laws are guiltless.

SEE ALSO:

Milan Chersonski on Tuskulėnai Park in Vilnius

According to criminal case materials and archival material examined by Lithuanian historians, there are rabid Nazi collaborators buried at Tuskulėnai Memoral Park. Despite the facts, today falsified, but very “patriotic,” biographies for these people are being crafted and disseminated, according to which they are portrayed as fearless warriors who battled for a free Lithuania.

I have written about one of them, Jonas Noreika, nicknamed General Vėtra, convicted under sections 1a and 2 of article 58 of the criminal code of the RSFSR, but who was recently decorated posthumously by Lithuanian president Valdas Adamkus, so I won’t repeat that here.

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Posted in Bold Citizens Speak Out, Collaborators Glorified, Debates on the Postwar "Forest Brothers", Evaldas Balčiūnas, Exotic Jewish Tourism, Genocide Center (Vilnius), History, Lithuania, Museums, Opinion, Politics of Memory | Tagged , , | Comments Off on Vylius-Vėlavičius: Patriot or Another “Tuskulėnai Peace Park” Holocaust Perpetrator?

Lithuania’s State Jewish Museum Responds to Survivors’ Concerns about London Meetings Together with Genocide Center



by Kamilė Rupeikaitė

In response to an emailed letter from this journal expressing the concern of Holocaust survivors and others concerning forthcoming meetings or events in London on the Lithuanian Holocaust, to be held together with the antisemitic and Holocaust-obfuscating Genocide Center, Dr. Kamilė Rupeikaitė, deputy director at the Vilna Gaon State Jewish Museum, today issued the following statement, reproduced here in full:

 

Representatives of the Vilna Gaon State Jewish Museum were invited to London by the Lithuanian Embassy at the beginning of the summer. The aim of our trip is to meet historians and Holocaust educators at the Imperial War Museum and to look for possible cooperation between the Vilna Gaon State Jewish Museum and similar British institutions in London. We knew in advance that the Genocide Center is also invited.

Obviously, we have no intention to discuss any common projects with the Genocide Center because of their attitude and policy toward the Holocaust which is, to say the least, not correct.

The Vilna Gaon State Jewish Museum has signed the petition together with the Jewish Community against the celebration of the reburial of the Chief of the Provisional Government Ambrazevičius, as we did not support the policy of the Genocide Center to honor the Nazi collaborator. For the same reason we have also declined partnership with the Genocide Center in the project “Names of the Holocaust Victims” which was initiated and is being implemented by the Vilna Gaon State Jewish Museum.

We have officially informed the Lithuanian government, which partly sponsors the “Names” project, that we refuse to be partners with the Genocide Center.

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It’s Not Just About the New Tuskulėnai “Peace Park” in Vilnius



O P I N I O N

by Milan Chersonski

Milan Chersonski (Chersonskij), longtime editor (1999-2011) of Jerusalem of Lithuania, quadrilingual (English-Lithuanian-Russian-Yiddish) newspaper of the Jewish Community of Lithuania, was previously (1979-1999) director of the Yiddish Folk Theater of Lithuania, which in Soviet times was the USSR’s only Yiddish amateur theater company. The views he expresses in DefendingHistory are his own. This is an authorized translation from the Russian original.

Photo: Milan Chersonski at this desk at the Jewish Community of Lithuania (image © 2012 Jurgita Kunigiškytė). Milan Chersonski section.


Can you imagine a European Union / NATO government investing millions in setting up a “Peace Park” in its beautiful capital city, in memory of people buried at the site of the park, when hundreds of them were Nazi collaborators who eagerly supported the annihilation of the Jewish population of their country?

Earlier this month, VilNews.com prominently published an article by Vincas Karnila, presented as the Introduction to a series called “The Mass Graves in Tuskulėnai.” It is a panegyric to the employees of the Museum of Genocide in Vilnius and the Center for the Study of Genocide and Resistance for their tireless efforts to establish the Tuskulėnai Peace Park. Readers are informed that six articles will follow. [Update: Subsequent articles in Karnila’s series can be found in www.VilNews.com.]

Tuskulenai Peace Park

We know from official sources that Soviet KGB victims were buried at Tuskulėnai from 1944 to 1947.

Karnila tells us:

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Posted in Arts, Bold Citizens Speak Out, Collaborators Glorified, Double Genocide, Exotic Jewish Tourism, Genocide Center (Vilnius), History, Lithuania, Milan Chersonski, Museums, Opinion, Politics of Memory, VilNews.com | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on It’s Not Just About the New Tuskulėnai “Peace Park” in Vilnius

Why was a Lithuanian Holocaust Perpetrator who also Murdered Belarusians Given State Honors? Open Letter to the Lithuanian Ambassador to Belarus


 


O P I N I O N

by  Evaldas Balčiūnas

 

I was surprised to learn that Lithuanian president Dalia Grybauskaitė appointed you ambassador to Belarus. She said Belarus is an important partner for Lithuania with many ties between our countries, and that cooperation should be on an equal footing, constructive and mutually beneficial. I invite you to think about whether you really are able to do this job, or whether you won’t make international relations worse because of certain matters of the past.

Let me remind you of one such thing. On 31 October 2002, you and then-president Valdas Adamkus signed presidential decree no. 1965 posthumously promoting Juozas Krikštaponis (Krištaponis) to the rank of colonel. The decree mistakenly gave his first name as Jonas, a mistake corrected in presidential decree 1K-849 issued by President Adamkus on 5 January 2007.

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The Holocaust? It Happens to Everyone…



O P I N I O N

by Algis Davidavičius

The following is a translation by Geoff Vasil, approved by the author, of the original Lithuanian text that appeared on Anarchija.lt. The original title translates: “Notes of a Half-Russian (3) [or, via word play: Inscriptions from the Cellar]: The Holocaust? It Happens to Everyone.”


 

Algis Davidavičius

Lately I can barely think about Lithuania, my own society, without seeing the image of the “chronic patient” with all of his “diseases.” A society which is healthy, where the absolute majority of people making it up feel warm encouragement to fulfill themselves constructively and actively, to find a meaningful place in that society for their own lives…

Where is this society? How would it look? Or is this only last year’s Marxist dream? What is “health?”

Most likely all societies are sick in their own way, but I live in my society, or with it (to speak more precisely). If I may be frank, I am not really concerned with the health or opportunities of Israeli society as I am part of Lithuania’s. What the hell is going on with us?

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Posted in Algis Davidavičius, Antisemitism & Bias, Bold Citizens Speak Out, Double Genocide, Lithuania, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory | Tagged , , | Comments Off on The Holocaust? It Happens to Everyone…

Reburial as a Means for the Rewriting of History



O P I N I O N

by Milan Chersonski


At Taxpayer Expense

Juozas Ambrazevičius (Brazaitis), 1903 — 1974

Memorial funeral events, dedicated to the moving of Juozas Ambrazevičius-Brazaitis’s ashes, were held in Kaunas for a week and a half from May 17th to 27th. He was the acting prime minister of the summer 1941 Provisional Government of Lithuania (PG); his ashes were moved to the former provisional Lithuanian capital, Kaunas.

His ashes were delivered by airplane from the distant state of Connecticut to the current Lithuanian capital, Vilnius, and then escorted with honors to Kaunas, where the ashes, originally buried in 1974, were re-buried, this time with full state honors.

Apparently, those who initiated the reburial were pursuing three goals of importance to them:

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Another “Resistance Hero” or — War Criminal who Selected Jews for Mass Murder?



O P I N I O N

by Evaldas Balčiūnas

 

Konstantinas Liuberskis–Žvainys is a figure with a curious biography.

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On the Recent Amateur Treatments of the Role of the Provisional Government of 1941 in the Mass Media



O P I N I O N

by Shimon Alperovich

Authorized translation from Lithuanian by Geoff Vasil of the 26 June 2012 statement issued by Dr. Shimon Alperovich (Simonas Alperavičius), chairperson of the Jewish Community of Lithuania. Posted on the community’s website at: http://www.lzb.lt/en/home/691-recent.html. According to sources in the community, Dr. Alperovich wrote this in response to an article on Delfi.lt by Vidmantas Valiušaitis called “Why are Historians Afraid of the Facts?” (Lithuanian text here), and when Delfi allegedly declined to publish Dr. Alperovich’s response,  the community placed it on its own webpage and elsewhere.


Recently there has been an increasing number of internet articles by amateur, non-professional authors without training in history expressing approval for the actions of the 1941 Provisional Government of Lithuania toward the Jews of Lithuania, without regard for the antisemitic actions of that government in the context of the mass murder of the Jews of Lithuania already underway at that time.

The Lithuanian Jewish Community earlier provided an assessment of the Lithuanian Activist Front and the Provisional Government.

It is saddening that the authors of these texts choose to ignore the conclusions of professional historians as well as the findings of the special commission established by decree of former president Valdas Adamkus and operating under the Lithuanian government, which clearly and categorically judges the actions of the LAF and PG thus:

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Posted in Antisemitism & Bias, Bold Citizens Speak Out, Collaborators Glorified, Genocide Center (Vilnius), History, Legacy of 23 June 1941, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Media Watch, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory, Shimon Alperovich (1928 – 2014) | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on On the Recent Amateur Treatments of the Role of the Provisional Government of 1941 in the Mass Media

A Heroic Narrative in Violation of Good Conscience


 


O P I N I O N

by Leonidas Donskis

 

The ceremonial reburial of the head of the Lithuanian Provisional Government (PG), Juozas Ambrazevičius-Brazaitis, which recently took place, and the tension and details associated with it, said more about Lithuania today than all the news and commentary over the past twenty years put together.

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Explosive Reactions to Saulius Berzhinis’s New Film on the Holocaust in Jurbarkas (Yúrberik)



O P I N I O N  /  F I L M   R E V I E W

by Milan Chersonski

 

Vilnius film director Saulius Berzhinis

There has recently been extensive Lithuanian media coverage of a conflict between the authorities of the city Jurbarkas, Lithuania, and the film company Filmų Kopa, founded by film director Saulius Berzhinis (Beržinis) and managed by Ona Biveinienė.

To mark the seventieth anniversary of the beginning of World War II in Lithuania and the beginning of the total annihilation of its Jews, the Jurbarkas regional museum commissioned a documentary about Jews who lived in the town before World War II, paid for by the Ministry of Culture and the budget of the municipality. Filmų Kopa was awarded the commission and made a documentary called “When Yiddish was Heard in Jurbarkas.” The town’s name in Yiddish is Yúrberik or Yúrburg.

As the film has become a matter of sharp conflict, it is worthwhile in the first instance to take a good look at the actual product that Filmų Kopa delivered to the residents of Jurbarkas.

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Congratulating Algimantas Kasparavičius who Gets it Right: Trying to Manage History is a Big-Time Loser for Mature Foreign Policy



O P I N I O N

by Dovid Katz

 

It isn’t every Monday and Thursday (as the old Yiddish saying goes) that this journal publishes an opinion piece congratulating a contemporary historian in Lithuania who is a current mainstream player (rather than a pensioner, conceptual or actual exile, or someone painted up as a narrow ethnic-minority champion, anarchist, Soviet apologist, plain old personal maverick, or what-not). It is even more unusual for DefendingHistory.com to go out on a limb without even knowing said historian’s views on the issues that lie at the core of DH’s modest corner in the contemporary marketplace of ideas.

Let it be said at the outset  that we sincerely hope that a vote of confidence and congratulations from DefendingHistory.com will not unduly (let alone fatally) harm the man’s future career prospects in the vaunted circles of Lithuania’s most powerful politicians, state institutions and history professors. But come to think of it, the improper leap-into-bed together of this untenable ménage-à-trois goes to the core of the conundrum.

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Dramatic Confrontation on the Floor of the Lithuanian Parliament


DefendingHistory.com has been able to confirm the following exchange on the floor of the Seimas (Lithuanian parliament) on 17 May 2012. MP Vytenis Povilas Andriukaitis, the Social Democrats’ senior spokesperson for foreign affairs asked a question of the prime minister, Andrius Kubilius, and the foreign minister, Audronius Ažubalis, both from the ruling Conservative / Christian Democrats’ faction. It was answered by the foreign minister.

The following is a translation of the exchange.

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Statement in the Lithuanian Parliament by MPs Vytenis Andriukaitis and Algirdas Sysas



O P I N I O N

by Vytenis Povilas Andriukaitis and Algirdas Sysas

The following is a translation of the statement submitted to the Lithuanian parliament (the Seimas) on 17 May 2012 by MPs Vytenis Povilas Andriukaitis and Algirdas Sysas. The original is available here.


MPs Andriukaitis and Sysas in the Seimas (foreground). Photo courtesy Image Archive of the Seimas.

Several days ago we received an invitation to a ceremony for the reburial of the remains of Juozas Brazaitis Ambrazevičius (1903–1974) in the churchyard of the Kaunas Church of the Resurrection of Christ. A booklet was included with the invitation recounting the life and deeds of Juozas Brazaitis Ambrazevičius. It included his academic and pedagogical activity and his participation in the anti-Nazi and anti-Soviet resistance. It also presented an excerpt from a letter by Joshua Eilberg, chairman of the Immigration, Citizenship and International Law Sub-Committee of the Judiciary Committee of the US House of Representatives, saying that an investigation into the Juozas Brazaitis Ambrazevičius’s collaboration with the Nazis during World War II had been stopped.

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International Christian Embassy Directors in Lithuania Speak Out on the Glorification of Ambrazevičius-Brazaitis


Michael and Fausta Maass, directors of the Lithuania section of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem (ICEJ) issued the following statement today.


Michael and Fausta Maass, directors of the Lithuania section of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem (ICEJ)

The International Christian Embassy Jerusalem, Lithuanian section, calls upon the Lithuanian government and parliament, the Kaunas mayor’s office, the Church of the Resurrection in Kaunas, and other possibly participating entities involved in the ceremonies honoring Juozas Ambrazavičius-Brazaitis, to cancel any and all such ceremonies.

Ambrazevičius, the “provisional government” of 1941 which he led, and the closely associated Lithuanian Activist Front (LAF) were complicit in the murders of many thousands of Lithuanian Jews before and during the German occupation of Lithuania.

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Text of the Letter from MEP Leonidas Donskis on the Ambrazevičius-Brazaitis Festivities


MEP Leonidas Donskis’s letter, in reply to Krystyna Anna Steiger, author of the international petition against the VMU event, was released today by the MEP for immediate publication in DefendingHistory.com (more background here).

The full text is as follows:

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MEP Donskis Condemns Events to Honor Holocaust Collaborator Ambrazevičius


MEP Leonidas Donskis

At 7:33 AM this morning Brussels time, European Parliament member Leonidas Donskis released a statement to DefendingHistory.com, reproduced in full below, forcefully condemning the series of events planned to honor the notorious Nazi collaborator Juozas Ambrazevičius (Brazaitis).

Professor Donskis, an internationally acclaimed philosopher and author, is a former professor at Vytautas Magnus University and former dean of its school of international affairs. His own writings have been in the forefront of causes championed by DefendingHistory.com, including the understanding that modern Lithuanian antisemitism is inextricably linked to Holocaust issues; his bold rejection of the criminalization of debate, and of the attempts by many of his academic and political colleagues to glorify his country’s 1941 Nazi collaborators, particularly those of the Lithuanian Activist Front (LAF) and Provisional Government (PG).

Professor Donskis has been a stalwart voice in the resistance to the inflation of the word “genocide” that lies conceptually near the heart of the far right’s red-equals-brown movement. He has been a powerful voice against Holocaust Obfuscation and a consistent campaigner against homophobic legislation.

Juozas Ambrazevičius (Brazaitis) was the 1941 Nazi puppet “prime minister” in Kaunas who signed the July 7th order confirming that all Jews of Kaunas (then numbering in the tens of thousands) must within four weeks be incarcerated in a  ghetto.

A memorial conference was announced at Vytautas Magnus University for Saturday 19 May 2012 at 11 AM, at the university’s Catholic Theology Faculty Hall at Gimnazijos Street 7 in Kaunas. Professor Donskis’s statement calls for its unequivocal cancellation, and implies that cancellation will soon be announced formally.

It is one of the events in the still-scheduled four-day series of festivities and memorials starting on Thursday 17 May with the arrival of Ambrazevičius’s remains from the United States for a ceremony at Vilnius International Airport, extending to reinterment with full honors in the altar of the Church of the Ascension of Christ in Kaunas, on Sunday, May 20th, followed by the premiere of a “documentary” film to whitewash the Nazi collaborator’s biography (video promo here). Meanwhile, a Lithuanian archbishop published an article in Bernardinai effusively praising the wartime Nazi collaborator.

“As a citizen and patriot of Lithuania, I raise my voice and take a stand against the obfuscation of the Holocaust and against what I take as a slap in the face to all Holocaust survivors. As a citizen and as a Lithuanian academic, I apologize to all Holocaust survivors for this shameful, unpardonable, and deeply insensitive move of my country and its political elite. This is a disgrace. J’accuse.”

— MEP Leonidas Donskis, Brussels, 15 May 2012

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“Correcting the Past”



OPINION

by Milan Chersonski

 

On 2 May 2012, the Lithuanian mass media reported that the mayor of Kaunas, Andrius Kupčinskas, in his capacity as chief of a special working group, announced that the remains of Juozas Ambrazevičius-Brazaitis, chairman of the Lithuanian Provisional Government in 1941, who was buried in Connecticut in 1974, will be transported to Lithuania for a reburial with full honors.

MORE COVERAGE HERE

Kupčinskas said that the remains of Ambrazevičius-Brazaitis will be brought to Vilnius Airport on 17 May 2012, honored in the capital, and then solemnly escorted to the Church of the Resurrection of Christ in Kaunas and placed into a columbarium in the church yard. Lithuanian Government officials have confirmed the announcement.

It was not however reported precisely who took the decision or precisely why the decision to rebury Ambrazevičius’s remains was taken. These are not the remains of an ordinary citizen. He was the leader of Lithuania’s 1941 Provisional Government (PG). Transporting his remains to the motherland is a state act, which carries with it the implication of immortalizing the memory of a historical figure in the solemn chronicles of the nation.

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