Books

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

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.

Rozka Korczak came to Lithuania to seek refuge from Hitler-occupied Poland in late 1939 and went on to become a major partisan hero in the anti-Nazi resistance in the Vilna Ghetto and then in the forests of Lithuania. There are numerous internet sources on her biography (e.g. here, here).

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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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