Leonidas Donskis

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)

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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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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Posted in Bold Citizens Speak Out, Collaborators Glorified, Events, Genocide Center (Vilnius), History, Legacy of 23 June 1941, Leonidas Donskis, Lithuania, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on A Heroic Narrative in Violation of Good Conscience

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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BNS Report Follows Dramatic Donskis Statement; Says Event does not have VMU “Sanction”


Shortly after posting today’s report on the dramatic and historic statement by Lithuania’s MEP Leonidas Donskis, DefendingHistory.com received the following press release from Baltic News Service (BNS).

It quotes from a letter sent by the university’s rector, Zigmas Lydeka, explaining that “the university does not want to be the one who has to explain.” It also includes a reply of sorts from Angontina Rupšytė, head of the parliament’s Unit for History and Commemoration of Parliamentarianism, which explains that “another venue for the conference is yet to be found.” The reference is to the 19 May conference to honor the memory of Nazi collaborator Juozas Ambrazevicius (Brazitis), “prime minister” of the 1941 Nazi puppet government who actually signed the 7 July 1941 order mandating the forced removal of all of Kaunas’s Jews into a ghetto (in preparation for genocide).

The conference is part of a four-day program of celebratory events.

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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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MEP Donskis challenges attacks on European Parliament’s queries on Lithuanian Parliament’s homophobic legislation


In a new essay, published in Lithuanian on 2 February , and in English on 7 February 2011, MEP Professor Leonidas Donskis takes to task Lithuanian commentators and politicians who have attacked the European Parliament for daring to criticize proposed new homophobic legislation making its way through the Lithuanian Parliament. He also takes note of the unfortunate role of state security services in realms they should have nothing to do with in an EU democracy, while bemoaning their total lack of concern with politicians and their top advisors who flirt openly with neo-Nazi ideology and policies. He writes: ‘Perhaps it is time to worry about the stench from the rising tide of fascist ideas and interpretations of history in our political life and media instead.’  Full text here.

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Who Got Stupid, the European Parliament or Us?



O P I N I O N

by Leonidas Donskis

The European Parliament recently reacted by way of a resolution to a piece of draft legislation by a member of the parliament of the Republic of Lithuania, Petras Gražulis. If enacted, his legislation would have de jure expelled from public life homosexual citizens in the country. Since then, several comments  have already rung out in our public space in Lithuania, whose essence, despite differences in levels of nuance, is similar: that the European Parliament is allegedly interfering too minutely and grandly in the affairs of the Republic of Lithuania; that it is allegedly violating the principle of subsidiarity; that it is applying double standards because it was so careful in commenting upon the sins of France in the sphere of human rights but ruthlessly attacks the new member states, first and foremost Lithuania.

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On 1941, the Jews, and Us



O P I N I O N

by Nida Vasiliauskaitė

I read Kęstutis Girnius’s and Leonidas Donskis’s essays on this more than once and can’t get rid of some strange impressions. Even if I pretended that I knew nothing about the Provisional Government, the LAF and that historical period in general, and my only source of information were these two texts addressed to each other, they would suffice to start to make clear some things not just about the past, but also about its intimate connection with the present. How this is being talked about here and now is not less important than that (and the things connected with that) which actually happened. 

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Posted in Bold Citizens Speak Out, Double Genocide, History, Legacy of 23 June 1941, Leonidas Donskis, Lithuania, Nida Vasiliauskaitė, Opinion, Politics of Memory | Comments Off on On 1941, the Jews, and Us

Where is that Line?



O P I N I O N

by Leonidas Donskis

An unattributed piece that just appeared in the weekly magazine Veidas (it turned out the author does actually exist and even works at the Lithuanian Interior Ministry), intended to discuss the Nuremberg trial, and has become a new delimiter in our political life and public space. For the first time since the restoration of independence in 1990, the Holocaust has been publicly and openly denied in Lithuania (see here).

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When Will the Truth Finally Set Us Free?



O P I N I O N

by Leonidas Donskis

I will admit that when I read political analyst Kęstutis Girnius’s comments on the Lithuanian Provisional Government and the Lithuanian Activists Front, and about the supposedly low level of academic research and documentation of these phenomena, I found myself in a state of disbelief that a person whom I consider one of the most soberminded and most insightful of our political commentators could write this. Without citing his earlier statements on radio and in publications on this topic, here is the link to Kęstutis Girnius’s latest commentary:

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Posted in Bold Citizens Speak Out, Double Genocide, Legacy of 23 June 1941, Leonidas Donskis, Lithuania, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory | Comments Off on When Will the Truth Finally Set Us Free?

Hostages to an Ill-Begotten Theory


by Leonidas Donskis

This essay first appeared in Transitions on Line on 10 October 2008, with the following editor’s note: “Lithuanian authorities in late September closed their two-year investigation into the wartime partisan activities of Yitzhak Arad, a Lithuanian-born Israeli historian and a former head of the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial, reportedly on the urging of the European Union and the United States. Prosecutors said there was insufficient evidence to link Arad to possible war crimes committed by Soviet partisans during a 1944 fight with German forces that left many Lithuanian civilians dead. The authorities are still considering whether to put two Lithuanian Jewish women, Fania Brantsovskaya (Brantsovsky) and Rachel Margolis, on the witness stand in connection with the killings.”

It is republished here with Professor Donskis’s permission. For a history of the issue, see our page on the subject of Holocaust survivors defamed by prosecutors.


A disturbing tendency has recently appeared in Lithuania. In the words of the eminent scholar of Yiddish Dovid Katz, this tendency may best be described as the “Holocaust Obfuscation movement.” Its essence lies in subversion of the logic and evidence of the Holocaust, whitewashing or at least selectively reading the history of the Second World War and drastically shifting the roles of victims and evil-doers.

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Posted in A 21st Century Campaign Against Lithuanian Holocaust Survivors?, Antisemitism & Bias, Bold Citizens Speak Out, Double Genocide, History, Human Rights, Leonidas Donskis, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Hostages to an Ill-Begotten Theory

Professor Leonidas Donskis elected to the European Parliament


Professor Leonidas Donskis was elected in Lithuania as a member of the European Parliament, running on the Liberal Party ticket. Born in Klaipeda in 1962, he has been for years professor at Vytautas Magnus University in Kaunas, and dean of its Faculty of Political Science and Diplomacy. He is the author of numerous seminal books on philosophy, political science and the history of ideas. His works have been translated into a dozen languages, and he has been a visiting professor in Britain, Sweden, the United States, and other countries. His unique television discussion show Without Anger (in Lithuanian) won a large following and promoted tolerance and openness. In recent years, Prof. Donskis has spoken out with inspirational courage and with unmatched sophistication, against the wave of antisemitism, Holocaust Obfuscation and ’Double Genocide’ misinformation in his country (see for example here, here, and here).

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Concept Inflation and the Criminalization of Debate



O P I N I O N

by Leonidas Donskis

This English version of the essay (the original Lithuanian text appeared in Lietuvos aidas, 28 November 2008) first appeared in the English edition of Jerusalem of Lithuania (Oct-Dec 2008, PDF here) and is republished here with the author’s and editor’s permission.


 

I have already written that we live in a period of not only monetary inflation, but of concept and value inflation as well. In our time oaths have become worthless, while formerly a person who broke one lost not only all of his own power, but the capacity to represent his values and to participate in the public sphere as well. Nothing, other than his own person and his private life, remained. He no longer had the right to speak on behalf of either his group, his nation, or his society.

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Posted in Antisemitism & Bias, Bold Citizens Speak Out, Double Genocide, Free Speech & Democracy, Genocide Center (Vilnius), History, Human Rights, Leonidas Donskis, Lithuania, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off on Concept Inflation and the Criminalization of Debate