Books

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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Respectfully Disagreeing with Professor Timothy Snyder


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THE LATEST

Reviews of Bloodlands

Reviews of Black Earth

Instrumentalization?

2012   2013   2014   2015   2016

This journal holds leading historian Professor Timothy Snyder (Yale University) in the highest esteem, and trusts that this select list of reviews taking issue with aspects of Bloodlands of direct concern to DefendingHistory.com will not be taken amiss. It does not include reviews which have engaged in personal attack or pursued grudges, or which focus on other issues.

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Posted in A 21st Century Campaign Against Lithuanian Holocaust Survivors?, Australia, Books, Double Genocide, EU, Foreign Ministries: Holocaust Politics Abuse?, Lithuania, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory, United States | Tagged , , , , , | Comments Off on Respectfully Disagreeing with Professor Timothy Snyder

Simon Malkes Perpetuates Memory of Vilna Rescuer Karl Plagge



MEMOIRS  |  BOOKS  |  HISTORY

by Simon Malkes (Paris)

Simon Malkes

SIMON MALKES

I was born in 1927 in the city whose official name was then Wilno, Poland (historically Vilna, today’s Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania). When I was fourteen, the Nazis took over the city, began murdering its Jewish population and set up the Vilna Ghetto. My own survival is due to my having been taken as a teenage repairman of German military vehicles at the plant known as HKP (Heereskraftfahrpark or Army Motor Vehicle Repair Park) on Subotsh Street (today’s Subačiaus). That one enterprise was under the directorship of Major Karl Plagge (1897–1957), a righteous gentile who did everything he could to protect as many Jewish workers as possible from the huge murder machine. Famously, shortly before the Nazi flight from the Soviet army in the summer of 1944, he gave a coded warning to his workers about a need for imminent escape.

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Vanagaitė and Zuroff’s “Mūsiškiai”


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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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Books in the Debate to Mid 2016


[updated] 


In the Debate to Mid 2016

YEAR OF PUBLICATION VARIES.  2016 TITLES ARE IN RED.

See also BOOKS SECTION

Andriukaitis (reviewed by Vasil)

Bankier [Kuniuchowsky Collection] (reviewed by Zuroff)

Bubnys (reviewed by Katz; by Vasil)

Cassedy (reviewed by Katz;  by Nadler;  by Zabludoff;  by Zuroff)

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We Shall Never Forget Kazimierz Sakowicz’s “Ponary Diary”



BOOKS  |  OPINION  |  LITHUANIA  |  HISTORY

by Roland Binet (Braine-l’Alleud/Belgium)

Ponary Diary, 1941 — 1943. A Bystander’s Account of a Mass Murder. by Kazimierz Sakowicz. Edited by Yitzhak Arad. Foreword by Rachel Margolis. Yale University Press: New Haven and London 2005.

It goes without saying that a book of eyewitness Holocaust testimony penned at Lithuania’s largest mass grave site in the years 1941 to 1943, and first published in English in 2005, does not lose its importance for those who have not read it even a decade later; even if many other, much less important books, sport a more recent date of publication. Moreover, given the Lithuanian government’s campaign against the scholar who rediscovered and first published the manuscript in the 1990s, and against the scholar who edited the English edition cited above (both as part of its campaign against Jewish partisan survivors), the poignancy and human interest are even greater. It is indeed  a most appropriate time to pay tribute to that rediscoverer, Dr. Rachel Margolis (1921—2015), who passed away in Rehovot, Israel last summer, without realizing, in her nineties, her dying wish of visiting her native Vilna one last time, because of her fear of prosecutors’ threats and intimidation.

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Posted in A 21st Century Campaign Against Lithuanian Holocaust Survivors?, Books, History, Legacy of 23 June 1941, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Memoirs, News & Views, Ponár (Ponary, Paneriai), Roland Binet, Vilnius Jewish Life (from 2016) | Comments Off on We Shall Never Forget Kazimierz Sakowicz’s “Ponary Diary”

Breaking the Silence



B O O K S

by Merilyn Moos

1783482966-230x345While there has been some research on and recognition of the exiles from Nazism who settled in the UK, little is known about their children: the British second generation, and what the long term effects of their parents’ exile have been on them. Indeed, this has been a largely invisible group. My book Breaking the Silence. Voices of the British Children of Refugees from Nazism  (Rowman and Littlefield, 2015) set out to cast light on this second generation group.

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Rewriting History in Latvia



B O O K S    /    L A T V I A

by Roland Binet  (Braine-l’Alleud/Belgium)

Since I became interested in the fate of the Jewish victims of the Holocaust in Latvia, rather late (2009), I never failed to buy books when I visited that country, first and foremost written by Jewish survivors of these terrible times, but, also, some books written by non-Jewish Latvians in order to see how they perceived these tragic events, how they related to the Jewish victims of the Holocaust and how they presented the history of the German occupation and the mass slaughter of more than 95% of the Jewish population of their country (using the figures of Jews on site at the time of the Nazi invasion as the basis for historians’ estimates).

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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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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.

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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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The Bubnys Event at the 2015 Jewish Community Auschwitz Commemoration



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

by Julius Norwilla

This year much of the world commemorates the seventieth anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz in 1945. The day of its liberation, January 27th, is International Holocaust Remembrance Day. To mark the day this year, on the 26th of January, the Jewish Community of Lithuania organized three events, as reported in Defending History.

The final event of the day was the book launch for The Šiauliai Ghetto featuring as sole announced speaker its author, Dr. Arūnas Bubnys, director of the Genocide and Resistance Research Department of the Genocide and Resistance Research Center of Lithuania; for a critical view of the Genocide Center, as it is known for short, see Defending History’s page and news section on the institution.

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The Holocaust Memoir That Doesn’t Fade Out at the Moment of Liberation



B O O K S

by Ira Gold

Waltzing with the Enemy: A Mother and Daughter Confront the Aftermath of the Holocaust by Rasia Kilot and Helen Mitsios. Urim Publications: Jerusalem 2011, 288 pp. Amazon.com. Kindle.

downloadIn Waltzing with the Enemy: A Mother and Daughter Confront the Aftermath of the Holocaust by Rasia Kliot and Helen Mitsios, the authors write a dual memoir of survival and healing. The mother, Rasia, was born into upper class comfort in Vilna (today Vilnius, Lithuania). Her daughter, Helen Mitsios, was born in Montreal, Canada. The dual structure – the first half is titled “Rasia’s Story” and the second half is labeled “Helen’s Story” – works very well.

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Max Kaufmann’s Book on the Latvian Holocaust Now Available in English



B O O K S

by Roland Binet (Braine-l’Alleud/Belgium)

 

“For us, all of Latvia is a huge cemetery – a cemetery without graves or gravestones.”

— Max Kaufmann

The English edition of Max Kaufman’s largely forgotten book, Churbn Lettland: The Destruction of the Jews of Latvia, now available online, is a most welcome, and important, addition to the library of serious works on the Latvian Holocaust.[1]

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Vilnius Daily’s Report on the Dyukov Affair



The following is a translation, by Geoff Vasil, of a news article in today’s Lietuvos rytas, available online in the original Lithuanian on lrytas.lt.

 

Aleksandr Dyukov: “Lithuanians are Nazi Collaborators Who Made Up the Occupation”

August 14, 2014

The Kremlin’s propagandist arrested at the Vilnius Airport, Aleksandr Dyukov, found out: he’s isn’t wanted in countries in the Shengen zone. After checking his documents and information in the database, border police working at Vilnius Airport told the arrival he may not enter Lithuania because he is included on a list of personae non gratae. After spending the night in special airport facilities, Dyukov boarded the first plane for Moscow in the morning.

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Revisionism and Resurrection



B O O K S

by Peter Jukes

The following review of Laima Vince’s Journeys through the Backwaters of the Heart originally appeared in Aspen Review (Dec. 2013). The review is now republished here by permission of Peter Jukes, whose latest book is The Fall of the House of Murdoch.

Ms. Vince’s Journeys was also reviewed in Defending History by Geoff Vasil.

While filming a re-enactment of a battle between Lithuanian nationalists and their Soviet- backed NKVD persecutors, Jonas Kadzionis (a survivor of the “Forest Brothers” partisans) warned the author Laima Vince: “Don’t get lost in the forest, and don’t lose your conscience.”

Unfortunately, in her book Journeys through the Backwaters of the Heart Vince has managed to do both.

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Dan Stone’s “Goodbye to All That?” Has Discussion on Battle of the Declarations


Dan Stone’s new book, Goodbye to All That? A History of Europe Since 1945 (Oxford University Press, March 2014) has some discussion on the “Battle of the Declarations” in Europe: the Prague Declaration (“PD” of 2008) and the Seventy Years Declaration (“SYD” of 2012).

Each of the declarations has its own website: the PD at praguedeclaration.eu; SYD at: seventyyearsdeclaration.org. The SYD was produced as an initiative of Defending History, which has its (openly partisan) section on the Seventy Years Declaration, its text in European languages, and a page of critiques of the Prague Declaration. The SYD’s launch was greeted by the then Lithuanian foreign minister’s “moustache comparison” and his attack on the eight Lithuanian parliamentarians who had signed it. The 2012 documentary film Rewriting History focuses on the origins of the Seventy Years Declaration.

The following is a brief excerpt from Dan Stone’s Goodbye to All That? from page 281:

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Out On Ellis Street in San Francisco



O P I N I O N

Members of the US-based “Litvak SIG” (both those on the free lists, and those who paid their $36 a year dues for full membership), have been informed of the following event and the book it features, coming up this Thursday evening in San Francisco. (When Messiah will come, the subscribers to both “SIG” sections will learn about the existence of Defending History, too and its modest, but free, Litvak interest sections. We must have patience.)

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Vilnius Genocide Center Releases a New Graywash on the Vilna Ghetto



B O O K S    /    O P I N I O N

by Dovid Katz

The unfortunate and wasteful campaign of Holocaust obfuscation waged by certain East European state institutions continues apace. The level of investment continues to strike outsiders as puzzling, given current economic and cultural issues and the younger population’s clear focus on the future and a better life for all in the new and multicultural European Union. Here in Lithuania, the first victims of the government’s (rather Soviet-style) “genocide industry” are the hard-working people of the country who deserve more judicious disbursement of their nation’s resources. The state-sponsored Genocide Center has just released three simultaneous editions (English, Lithuanian and Russian) of a new book on the Vilna Ghetto by historian Arūnas Bubnys, its own “director of the Genocide and Resistance Research Department.”

 Dr. Bubnys is also a member of the state-sponsored “International Commission for the Evaluation of the Crimes of the Nazi and Soviet Occupation Regimes in Lithuania” (known for short as the “red-brown commission”). He was one of a minority of members of the Commission who refused to sign the (in the opinion of some, inadequate) letter of 14 October 2013 to Dr. Yitzhak Arad.

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Getting It Right: Three Memoirs Tell It Like It Is



B O O K S

by Olga Zabludoff

 

Ponary Diary 1941-1943: A Bystander’s Account of a Mass Murder, by Kazimierz Sakowicz; edited by Yitzhak Arad. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2005

Ruta’s Closet, by Keith Morgan with Ruth Kron Sigal. London: Unity Press (an imprint of Unicorn Press Ltd), 2013

Malice, Murder, and Manipulation: One Man’s Quest for Truth, by Grant Arthur Gochin. Los Angeles, 2013


 

The concept “Holocaust memoir” encompasses many subgenres in time and place. This review will cover the interlocking treatments by three very different types of witnesses:

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An Inalienable Right to be Schizophrenic?



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

by Geoff Vasil

 

On Friday, September 13, 2013, the Baltos Lankos publishing firm in Vilnius held a discussion at their main book sales outlet in Vilnius to present a book edited by Professor Jurgita Verbickienė about the Jews of Lithuania.

The discussion on this doubly auspicious day—eve of Yom Kippur and Friday the 13th—began with Verbickienė presenting a short sketch of the book and two other participants in the discussion, Zigmas Vitkus and Simonas Gurevičius. The latter is the executive director of the Lithuanian Jewish Community. The topic was how Lithuanians view Jews.

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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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Double Genocide: A Literary Jackpot?



B O O K S

by Leena Hietanen

 

The book’s moral is on the front cover: “Those who deny history are doomed to repeat it.” But the book itself virtually deletes the Holocaust from the region’s history…

The most famous Finnish contemporary author, Sofi Oksanen, now 36 years old, has made a fortune from her books about Estonian history that are in some ways conceptually steeped in the Double Genocide movement. According to the Finnish financial daily, Kauppalehti, the turnover of her publishing enterprise, Silberfeldt Co. reached 3.4 million euros with a net profit of 1.8 million euros since 2011, when she established the company.

The bestseller has been the novel, Purge, which phenomenally sold over 150,000 copies in Finland alone. The book has been translated into dozens of languages and has been quite a success in France and Scandinavia. The stage version (which is the original) of Purge came to New York (though still off-off Broadway). By Finnish standards her popularity and business skills have made Ms. Oksanen the “Harry Potter – Joanne Rowling” of Finland.

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Tone and Moral Judgment in a Famous Book on the Latvian Holocaust



B O O K S

by Roland Binet (Braine-l’Alleud, Belgium)

 

I became interested in the Holocaust in Latvia during my first visit there in 2009 and, above all, after having visited the Museum of the Jews in Latvia with its detailed exhibition of the tragedy that befell the Jewish population of that country. I had earlier read some books about the massacres that took place in Latvia between 1 July 1941 and the re-conquest of that country by the Red Army in 1944. Books written by survivors depicted a horrific environment including mass slayings, pogroms, denunciations, refusal of help for someone still alive. For those few who survived as slaves (roughly one out of ninety), there were living conditions far worse than what Dante could ever have imagined in his own time.

Thus, after a number of years, it was with great expectations that I began to read Andrew Ezergailis’s renowned book, The Holocaust in Latvia (first edition, 1996).[1]

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US State Department Supporting Cassedy Book Tour Without Inclusion of Opposing Points of View


As readers of Defending History are aware, many American citizens and others who care deeply about the memory of the Holocaust being accurately transmitted have been devastated by the shift in US State Department policy toward appeasement of far-right Baltic revisionism, apparently in the context of various geopolitical issues. The topic is the focus of a section of DH.

BACKGROUND READING

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Landsbergis’s New Book Tries (Yet Again) to Sanitize the 1941 Hitlerist “Provisional Government” of Lithuania



B O O K S

by Geoff Vasil

Vytautas Landsbergis, Rezistencijos pradžia [“The Beginning of the Resistance: June 1941: Documents on the Six-Week Provisional Government of Lithuania”], Vilnius 2012.


MEP Vytautas Landsbergis, former speaker of the Lithuanian parliament and leader of the Lithuanian independence movement in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, unveiled his latest polemic at a ceremony cum press conference held on the first floor of the Signatarų Namai building in Vilnius’s Old Town on September 11, 2012, the historic site where Lithuanian independence was proclaimed from the balcony to the street below sometime around February 16, 1918.

This small book—there’s only 22 pages written by Landsbergis, the rest is a motley collection of supposedly historic documents—is an attempt to answer criticism of the Lithuanian Government and Catholic Church’s ceremonial reburial of Lithuanian Nazi puppet prime minister Ambrazevičius-Brazaitis and other concurrent celebrations in the spring of 2012.

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The Real Truth



O P I N I O N

by Efraim Zuroff

Note: The following letter to the editor in today’s edition of the Baltimore Jewish Times is republished here with the author’s permission. 


 

According to the title chosen for Simone Ellin’s review (Oct. 19) of Ellen Cassedy’s book, We Are Here: Memories of the Lithuanian Holocaust, the author “explores the Lithuanian Holocaust from all vantage points.” In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. Cassedy neglects the most important vantage point of the history of the Shoa in Lithuania, the uniquely extensive role played by Lithuanians in the mass murder of Jews (not only in Lithuania, but also in Belarus and Poland), a fact incredibly omitted from Ellin’s review. In that respect, it is clear that Ellin was so captivated by Cassedy’s narrative that she failed to realize that the author presented her readers with a very one-sided picture of contemporary Lithuanian-Jewish relations in the wake of the Holocaust.

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Self-Induced Confusion



B O O K S

by Olga Zabludoff

Review of We Are Here: Memories of the Lithuanian Holocaust by Ellen Cassedy. University of Nebraska Press, 2012.


Had this title been billed as a simple memoir of Cassedy’s trip to Lithuania in the summer of 2004, my criticism of her book would be tempered. She had gone to the land of her ancestors to study Yiddish at the Vilnius Yiddish Institute and to connect with her Jewish roots. The professors and mentors she encounters at the Yiddish Institute come alive, as do the various Lithuanians and Jews with whom she connects. Cassedy is a good writer who captures physical details well. But even at that, this reviewer found the memoir to be superficial.

The major problem is that Cassedy’s book is being promoted as the Bible of the Lithuanian Holocaust by advocates for the current Lithuanian government and elite establishment which aspire to paint for the outside world a distorted version of the Holocaust. A version defined in shades of gray and the confusion they generate.  A version that incorporates the mythology of equivalency between crimes committed by the Nazi and Soviet occupation regimes.

SEE ALSO THE REVIEWS BY

Dovid Katz in the Algemeiner Journal

Allan Nadler in the Forward

Efraim Zuroff in Haaretz

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Landsbergis Tries Yet Again to Fix Reputation of 1941 Nazi Puppet Prime Minister



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

by Geoff Vasil

 

In the tradition of totalitarian societies, a certain segment of the Lithuanian political spectrum found it inconceivable there should be protests over the repatriation and reburial of Juozas Ambrazevičius-Brazaitis, the Nazi puppet prime minister of Lithuania in 1941.

The reburial ceremonies took place earlier this year with state support and accompanying civil and church ceremonies.

DefendingHistory and a number of Lithuanian politicians, writers and public figures protested against the reburial, while many “formers”—foremost former Lithuanian president Valdas Adamkus, who himself served under Nazi command in Lithuania in 1944—conspicuously attended the reburial in Kaunas.

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Journey into the Backwaters of Holocaust Obfuscation



B O O K S

by Geoff Vasil

Journey into the Backwaters of the Heart: Stories of Women Who Survived Hitler and Stalin by Laima Vince. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform: 2012.


The first problem the reader comes across is in the introduction, where the author asserts two waves of Jewish immigration into Lithuania in the 8th and 11th centuries. Much later in the book she says, twice, Jews settled in Lithuania in the 16th century, a claim that leaves the informed reader wondering for whom the grand duke Vytautas (Witold) issued his famous charters on the rights of Jews in the 14th century.

The introduction also presents the events of 1940 and 1941 in Lithuania in a manner calculated to make the reader think the Lithuanian Provisional Government of 1941 and the Lithuanian Activist Front were two altogether separate entities.

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Efraim Zuroff Responds to Tablet Magazine Essay on Timothy Snyder



O P I N I O N

by Efraim Zuroff

  • The following comment first appeared in the discussion following David Mikics’s Tablet magazine article on Timothy Snyder (“The Diplomat of Shoah History. Does Yale historian Timothy Snyder absolve Eastern Europe of special complicity in the Holocaust?”). It is reproduced here with Dr. Zuroff’s permission. For further background, see the links below.

Unfortunately, this excellent article by David Mikics focuses almost exclusively on Poland, which for historical reasons is not the place where Snyder’s Bloodlands totally fails to present a historical account of the reality of the Holocaust. A far better place would be the Baltics in general, and Lithuania in particular. In these countries, three important phenomena took place:

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An Open Letter to Yale History Professor Timothy Snyder



 O P I N I O N

by Dovid Katz

NOTE: This is an authorized republication of today’s letter, which first appeared in the online Algemeiner Journal. [Update: It then appeared in the AJ’s print edition on 25 May, pp. 2, 4, 5.]


 

Dear Tim,

Greetings, and sorry we missed each other in Vilnius this time. I write in the context of our ongoing and respectful conversation, which started in the Guardian (thanks to Matt Seaton, and prominently including Efraim Zuroff) back in 2010 (IIIIIIIV); continuing through our meeting at Yale, the Aftermath Conference in Melbourne, Australia, in 2011 (thanks to Mark Baker, and with participation of Jan Gross and Patrick Desbois), and more recently, via my review of your book Bloodlands (along with Alexander Prusin’s The Lands Between), in East European Jewish Affairs.

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Why I am Translating Rozka Korczak’s Vilna Ghetto Memoir



O P I N I O N

by Evaldas Balčiūnas

Evaldas Balčiūnas of Šiauliai on a recent visit to Vilnius, Lithuania’s capital

The Vilna Ghetto memoir of Rozka Korczak-Marlé (1921–1988) is unfortunately completely unknown to Lithuanians today. I have therefore decided to translate the book into Lithuanian (from the Russian edition that Korczak herself edited), and have published two samples, here and here, on Anarchija.lt.

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Strasti za Banderoju (‘Bandera Passion’)


 


B O O K S  /  O P I N I O N

by Franziska Bruder

The 2010 anthology Strasti za Banderoju (Bandera  Passion, alternate translations include Bandera Ecstasy or Bandera-mania), edited by Tarik Syril Amar, Ihor Balyns’kyi and Iaroslav Hrytsak, assembles key contributions to three debates conducted in the years 2009-2010 around the person of Stepan Bandera, leader of the main wing of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN).

The first debate, staged on an Internet platform in L’viv in 2009, was occasioned by Bandera’s 100th birthday and the 50th anniversary of his assassination. It was followed in 2010 by another round triggered by then-Ukrainian president Viktor Iushchenko’s decision to convey upon Bandera the title Hero of Ukraine.  The editors divided that second round into two parts: the debate conducted in Ukraine and the debate conducted in North America.

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Tripletalk on the New ‘Looted Books Room’ at the National Library in Vilnius


Yivo’s director, one of the current Lithuanian government’s staunchest PR providers in the west (see here, here, here, here), recently told the English Forward that ‘he would continue to work with the Lithuanian government to reach a permanent settlement over the archive’, implying that the Yivo Board would be making its decision in due course.

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Head of History Institute, Speaking at ‘Bloodlands’ Event at the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry, Excoriates Holocaust Survivors who Joined the Anti-Nazi Partisans


Delfi.lt journalist Eglė Samoškaitė reported today on this week’s book event for the Lithuanian language edition of Timothy Snyder’s Bloodlands, held at the Foreign Ministry and with the participation of some leading historians and heads of institutions in the country. A full English translation of Ms. Samoškaitė’s article is available here.

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Lithuanian Foreign Ministry Gloats, as Yivo’s Position Continues to Confuse


At 10:27 AM Vilnius time today, BNS (Baltic News Service) released the triumphant news from the country’s foreign ministry that ‘A Yivo room is planned at the National Library of Martynas Mažvydas in Vilnius shortly’. As one foreign diplomat put it, off the record, several hours later at today’s commemoration event for the liquidation of the Vilna Ghetto, ‘The operative word there is shortly’  — signifying a done deal.

There was symbolic significance to the announcement’s timing, coming on the 23 September anniversary of the liquidation of the Vilna Ghetto.

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A Tale of Two Brents?



by Lolita Židonytė

Which of two Brents will have for his institution the 200,000 euros from the Lithuanian government for a cherished Jewish project in Vilnius?

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David Silberman — A Witness for Our Time



by Roland Binet (Belgium)

David Silberman was born in Latvia in 1934. As a Jew of young age when the war came upon his country of birth, he was fated to die.1 Because, when the Germans conquered Latvia in June and July 1941, spontaneous as well as induced pogroms developed in different parts of the country with thousands of Jewish victims. Then, as early as July and August 1941 ― in bloody actions by Einsatzgruppe A as well as by autonomous Latvian self-proclaimed guardians ― the Jews began systematically to be killed, even long before the decision of the “Endlösung” (Final Solution) of the “Jewish problem” had finally been taken in Berlin.2

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Grzegorz Rossoliński-Liebe reviews Timothy Snyder’s ‘Bloodlands’



O P I N I O N

by Grzegorz Rossoliński-Liebe (Berlin)

Review of Timothy Snyder, Bloodlands. Europe Between Hitler and Stalin, Basic Books: New York 2010. This review first appeared in German in H-Soz-u-Kult (online version here; PDF here). This English version and publication in DefendingHistory.com are by authorization of the author and H-Soz-u-Kult, which has kindly supplied the following copyright notice: Copyright © 2011 by H-Net, Clio-online, and the author, all rights reserved. This work may be copied and redistributed for non-commercial, educational purposes, if permission is granted by the author and usage right holders. For permission please contact H-SOZ-U-KULT@H-NET.MSU.EDU.

SEE ALSO PAGE ON TIMOTHY SNYDER’S BLOODLANDS


“The bloodlands were where most of Europe’s Jews lived, where Hitler and Stalin’s imperial plans overlapped, where the Wehrmacht and the Soviet Army fought, and where the Soviet NKVD and the German SS concentrated their forces” (p. xi) ― as defined by Timothy Snyder, a territory where between 1933 and 1945 approximately 14 million people were killed by the Nazi and Soviet regimes (p. 409). “In the political geography of the 1930s and early 1940s, this meant Poland, the Baltic states, Soviet Belarus, Soviet Ukraine, and the western fringe of Soviet Russia” (p. xi). “The bloodlands were no political territory, real or imagined; they are simply where Europe’s most murderous regimes did their most murderous work” (p. xviii). Snyder’s task is to “turn the number back into people. If we cannot do that, then Hitler and Stalin have shaped not only our world, but our humanity” (p. 408).Continue reading

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Wyman Brent Voices Fear his Vilnius Library Could Become Vehicle to “Whitewash and Obfuscate History and Cover for Rampant Antisemitism”



O P I N I O N

by Wyman Brent

I have a concern which I am sure that the readers of DefendingHistory.com share. I am talking about the possibility of the Vilnius Jewish Library becoming a vehicle for certain elements of the Lithuanian government to continue to whitewash and obfuscate history and to cover up for the antisemitism currently rampant here.

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On Snyder’s Conceptualization of the Final Solution ‘in the Bloodlands’


 


O P I N I O N

by Rachel Croucher

I have read and re-read the chapter entitled “Final Solution” in Timothy Snyder’s major new book, Bloodlands (Basic Books 2010), in an attempt to garner further insight into events surrounding the genocide of the Jews in Eastern Europe for a dissertation on contemporary Holocaust remembrance precisely in the countries of these so-called Bloodlands, and with emphasis upon Lithuania. I had hoped that the chapter would expand my knowledge on the specifics of and motivations for the disturbingly high levels of local participation in the actual mass-murdering (far beyond just collaboration) in these countries.

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Can Timothy Snyder’s ‘Bloodlands’ be Appropriated by East European Nationalists?



O P I N I O N

by Per Rudling

The great strength of Professor Timothy Snyder’s Bloodlands (Basic Books, 2010) is that it contextualizes the violent 1930s and 1940s in Eastern Europe.

Snyder is actually at his best when he writes books based upon his own profound and always impressive research. Sketches from a Secret War and The Reconstruction of Nations made enormous contributions to our field. Like few other people, Snyder informed and raised awareness of Ukrainian nationalist massacres of Poles in Volhynia in 1943. In itself, Bloodlands does not add much new information, but contextualizes and popularizes information which is not common knowledge outside elite circles of professionals. In doing so, it fills an important pedagogic function.

What is missing from the book is a discussion of collaboration with the Nazi authorities and the mass participation of various East European nationalists in the Holocaust. An expanded section on the OUN (Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists) and the LAF (Lithuanian Activist Front), for instance, would made ethnonationalistic apologists less interested in trying to appropriate the book for their causes.

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