Events

Dr. Andrius Kulikauskas’s Keynote Address at Vilnius Holocaust Day Memorial



OPINION  |  HUMAN RIGHTS  |  CEMETERIES & MASS GRAVES  |  OLD VILNA JEWISH CEMETERY AT PIRAMÓNT  |  OPPOSITION TO CONVENTION CENTER PROJECT  | INTERNATIONAL PETITION   | JEWISH COMMUNITY ISSUES    | USCPAHA | CPJCE  |  ADMAS KODESH

by Andrius Kulikauskas

The original Lithuanian text appeared in Bernardinai.lt.

Preamble

הייליקע ליטווישע רבנים, טײַערע חברים און חברטעס, בני ליטא, מײַנע געטרײַע בני ליטא, מיט אהבת ישראל און אהבת ליטא:

Four years ago Prof. Dovid Katz asked me to find a Catholic priest or nun who would publicly speak out regarding the fate of Vilnius’s oldest Jewish cemetery. I failed to do so, but in empathy for my friend, I published an article in the web portal “Veidas” and gave academic talks at three conferences about conceptions which would help us appreciate why it would be meaningful to grant the demand by Jewish believers that we forego the Sports Palace and respect the Jewish cemetery which was there. Tonight in fifteen minutes I will present five images of how I imagine this cemetery, what it could mean for us.

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Posted in Andrius Kulikauskas, Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Christian-Jewish Issues, Events, Lithuania, Lithuania's Jewish Community Issues, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Opinion, Politics of Memory | Comments Off on Dr. Andrius Kulikauskas’s Keynote Address at Vilnius Holocaust Day Memorial

Bravo to Hizzoner Vilnius Mayor Remigijus Šimašius



“It Pays to Defend History”

Vilnius Mayor Remigijus Šimašius Orders Removal of Memorial Plaque for Holocaust Collaborator J. Noreika

ONE WEEK AFTER HIS CITY COUNCIL VOTED TO RENAME ŠKIRPA STREET

Vilnius mayor Remigijus Šimašius

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



OPINION  |  MUSEUMS  |  POLITICS OF MEMORY  |  SHTETL COMMEMORATIONS

by Evaldas Balčiūnas

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

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

What does the Town’s Official Museum Think?

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Kaunas to Host Far-Right (/Neo-Nazi) City Center Jamboree Honoring June 23  “Uprising” that Unleashed the Destruction of Lithuanian Jewry in 1941



LEGACY OF JUNE 23  |  COLLABORATORS GLORIFIED  |  KAUNAS MARCHES  |  NOREIKA SAGA

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BACKGROUND ON LEGACY OF 23 JUNE IN LITHUANIA (AND BEYOND). SAMPLES OF EYEWITNESS TESTIMONYBACKGROUND.

EVENT DESCRIPTION GLORIFIES HOLOCAUST COLLABORATOR J. NOREIKA (BACKGROUND)

Question: Is this city really ready to be the Capital of European Culture for 2022?

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Posted in Celebrations of Fascism, Collaborators Glorified, Events, History, Human Rights, Kaunas Neo-Nazi Marches, Legacy of 23 June 1941, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Neo-Nazi & Fascist Marches, News & Views, Politics of Memory, State Glorification of Holocaust Collaborator J. Noreika | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on Kaunas to Host Far-Right (/Neo-Nazi) City Center Jamboree Honoring June 23  “Uprising” that Unleashed the Destruction of Lithuanian Jewry in 1941

Hundreds of Rambam Mesivta High School Protest Peacefully at New York’s Lithuanian Consulate



NEW YORK CITY—Hundreds of Jewish high school students from the New York area, pupils at Rambam Mesivta High School, demonstrated peacefully and with dignity outside the Lithuanian Consulate in New York City yesterday, led by their renowned principal, Rabbi Zev Meir Friedman. The day was Yom Hashoah, a day of remembrance for the victims of the Holocaust, and the occasion was the Lithuanian government’s continued glorification of Jonas Noreika, a major Holocaust collaborator who participated in the destruction of thousands of the country’s citizens in 1941. The Noreika debate is now seven years old, and can be followed chronologically in Defending History (see most recent update).

Students chanted, “Your hero is a Nazi!”

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Dr. Kulikauskas to Speak on Noreika Issue at Vilnius Conference on Interdisciplinary Interaction



THE NOREIKA SAGA  |  COLLABORATORS GLORIFIED  |  GENOCIDE CENTER  |  DOUBLE GENOCIDE POLICIES  |  CHRISTIAN-JEWISH RELATIONS   |  LITHUANIAN JEWISH AFFAIRS

VILNIUS—On Friday, April 26, 18:00-18:20, Dr. Andrius Kulikauskas, curator of the Captain Jonas Noreika Museum, Archive and Forum, will give the final talk at the conference “The Territories of Interaction of Aesthetics, Art Philosophy and Art History: Intercultural Fields of the Functions of Representation”, organized by Prof. Antanas Andrijauskas at the Lithuanian Cultural Studies Institute, at Saltoniškių St. 58, Vilnius.

Dr. Kulikauskas will be speaking in Lithuanian on “How to Forego, Through Dialogue, Monumental Images of Those Who Voiced the Will of the Lithuanian Nation in 1941 But Committed Crimes Against Humanity”.

His talk will be followed by an hour of open dialogue on two questions:

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Eyewitness Report: Reading of Vilnius Court’s Verdict on State Adulation for Local Holocaust Collaborator



‘Sad Day for Lithuania, and for Honest Holocaust Commemoration in Years Ahead’

VILNIUS—At 1 PM on Wed. March 27th, a Vilnius Administrative Court judge read out the court’s ruling dismissing the query of US resident Grant Gochin over Lithuania’s state glorification of Nazi collaborator Jonas Noreika, active during the Holocaust in the region where Gochin lost around 100 relatives. The court said Mr. Gochin had no material interest, ruled that the state-sponsored Genocide Center had answered his query completely, without bias, and without abuse of power, in effect further enshrining in law an EU/NATO state’s glorification of Holocaust collaborators and perpetrato

rs via the financing of ultranationalist and far-right history centers and departments determined to preserve the national hero status of Holocaust collaborators. Whenever government or municipal officials are asked about the numerous street names and plaques honoring collaborators, the invariable answer is that it is all in fact a matter for the experts at the Genocide Center.

Does the ruling reflect a new East European Holocaust sensibility that holds that participation in the destruction of a country’s Jewish citizens during the Holocaust was some minute detail that must not interfere with making heroes out of the local perpetrators and collaborators?

Mr. Gochin’s academic specialist, Dr. Andrius Kulikauskas was on hand along with attorney Rokas Rudzinskas. Of the Genocide Center’s staff, only historian Dr. Arūnas Bubnys turned up, sitting nervously in the small gallery surrounded in part by first and second generation Holocaust survivors who turned out to hear the verdict that the Western embassies, human rights organization and official (state-sponsored) Jewish community thought not worth sending an official representative to hear. By contrast the local Vilnius Jewish Community had two observers on hand.

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Court will Read Out Noreika Verdict Wednesday 27th at 1 PM in Historic Holocaust History Trial



VILNIUS—On March 27, Wednesday, at 1 PM here in Vilnius, the Vilnius Regional Administrative Court will be reading its verdict on  the case filed by California resident Grant Gochin calling on  the state-sponsored Lithuanian Genocide and Resistance Research Center, widely known as the Genocide Center, to revise its evaluation of Holocaust perpetrator Jonas Noreika as a hero who is worthy of state honors. Hundreds of documents have been produced demonstrating beyond all doubt his participation in the Lithuanian Holocaust (see sample document). One of the case’s sensations was the powerful and historic statement condemning Noreik’a crimes produced by his granddaughter, the American educator and author Silvia Foti.

The public and the press are welcome to attend the conclusion of this historic trial at Žygimantų Street 2 in central Vilnius.

BACKGROUND

DH’s take. Report on 15 Jan. hearing. Report on 5 March hearing. Evaldas Balčiūnas’s 2012 article that brought Noreika to the attention of the English speaking world. Balčiūnas’s DH section.

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Latvian Gov. Again Gifts Central Riga for Glorification of Nation’s Wartime Waffen SS



RIGA MARCHES  |  VILNIUS MARCHES  |  KAUNAS MARCHES  |  PRO-NAZI MARCHES IN EASTERN EUROPE  |  GLORIFICATION OF COLLABORATORS  |  ANTISEMITISM

AROUND 1000 TAKE PART IN 16 MARCH CENTRAL RIGA PARADE GLORIFYING LATVIA’S WARTIME NAZI WAFFEN SS

UPDATE OF 20 MARCH: CANADA CONDEMNS EVENT

Media coverage: Delfi.lvDPA;  HaaretzJerusaem Post;  Jüdisches Forum (video)LSM.lv;  Times of IsraelToronto Sun

Detail from the day

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Swastikas are Back for Far-Right’s Independence Day March in Central Vilnius on March 11th



NEO-NAZI MARCHES  |  VILNIUS MARCHES  |  HUMAN RIGHTS  |  EVENTS

EYEWITNESS REPORT

VILNIUS—Today’s neo-Nazi march in central Vilnius had fewer participants than in earlier years, with most estimates putting a cap of 500 on the number. Many were supporters of far-right presidential candidate Arvydas Juozaitis, and made use of his associated symbol and slogan translating “Lithuania is here.” But the black skull-and-crossbones flag with the “Lithuanian swastika” (with added lines) at the top corner was at the front or center of the proceedings from their start at Cathedral Square to their conclusion with some speeches at Lukiskes Square. Former Genocide Center official Ricardas Cekutis was on hand.  There were some organized shouts of “Lietuva Lietuviams” (‘Lithuania for Lithuanians’). The following are some images of the event, which was monitored by Defending History’s correspondent Julius Norwilla and editor Dovid Katz. See Mr. Norwilla’s photo gallery for more photos.

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The Strange Holocaust Trial in the Lithuanian Capital



OPINION  |  GLORIFICATION OF COLLABORATORS  |  POLITICS OF MEMORY

by Evaldas Balčiūnas

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

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After ‘Hearing Both Sides’ at Trial of March  5th, Vilnius Court Sets Verdict for 27th



EVENTS  |  GLORIFICATION OF COLLABORATORS  |  POLITICS OF MEMORY

 

Dr. Andrius Kulikauskas, moments before his historic address before the Vilnius court on state-funded Genocide Center’s policy of glorifying Holocaust collaborators. The center’s “decisions” are cited by high officials as “justification” for street names, university hall plaques and other public-space state-funded glorifications of Holocaust collaborators. Around 96% of Lithuanian Jewry was massacred in the Holocaust.

Defending History was there. Evaldas Balčiūnas’s report here. Editor’s take:

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February 16th March in Vilnius Avoids Swastikas and Fascist Symbols


NEO-NAZI MARCHES  |  VILNIUS MARCHES  |  HUMAN RIGHTS  |  EVENTS

EYEWITNESS REPORT

VILNIUS—DH’s on-site monitors here, observing the event for a decade, report on “significant progress”: For the first time in many years, the far-right February 16 march, though at times noxious (e.g. when a group reveled in a “Noreika plaque photo-op”), had no visible banners glorifying local Holocaust collaborators and no visible swastikas on flags, and no organized chants of “Lietuva Lietuviams” (Lithuania for Lithuanians). By contrast, a few Latvian visitors wore jackets emblazoned with “Waffen SS”. At its conclusion, two of the march’s organizers approached our team for a civil discussion which turned to the participation of “non-Catholic & non-ethnic Lithuanians” in the war of independence leading to the rise of the democratic interwar Lithuanian Republic on 16 Feb. 1918.

Posted in Antisemitism & Bias, Events, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Neo-Nazi & Fascist Marches, News & Views, Vilnius Neo-Nazi Marches | Comments Off on February 16th March in Vilnius Avoids Swastikas and Fascist Symbols

Europe’s (and ODIHR’s and the OSCE’s) So-Called “Fight Against Antisemitism”



by Vilhjálmur Örn Vilhjálmsson


Saturday February 16, 2019 will celebrated as Independence Day in Lithuania (marking the 1918 rise of the state; a second independence day, March 11th, marks its 1990 reestablishment). The far-right-nationalists of Lithuania have once again been permitted to march through the central Old Town streets of the country’s capital to praise their so-called heroes. These views on “heroes” held by the Vilnius marchers are pretty much shared by much of the present and past government establishments, as evidenced, for example, by street names and  public plaques and many episodes of glorification of collaborators, including the infamous 2012 reburial with full honors of the 1941 Nazi puppet prime minister.

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Yiddish Author Aaron Garon’s New Book to Feature at 20 Feb. Yiddish Reading Circle



BOOKS  |  EVENTS  |  YIDDISH AFFAIRS  |  VILNIUS JEWISH COMMUNITY

by Dovid Katz

The Vilna Yiddish Reading Circle, now in its twentieth year and open to all, announced today that its weekly session on Wednesday evening 20 February (as usual, from 6 PM sharp at the Vilnius Jewish Community at Mesiniu 3 in Vilnius Old Town) would be dedicated to the just-published handsome book of essays, articles and memoirs by the beloved Yiddish (and Lithuanian language) journalist Aaron Garon (1919−2009). The book, Di yídishe velt fun Vílne (The Jewish World of Vilna) is a collection of some of his Yiddish prose (essays and memoirs) with full Lithuanian translation, published in avant-garde vertical format, designed by the prominent young book-design maestro Greg Zundelovitch. It was brought out by the author’s children, longtime Israeli residents Tamara and Evgeni Garon, thanks to support from the Lithuanian government’s Good Will Foundation.

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Is Yiddish ‘Lingua non grata’ at National Library’s Exhibition on Prewar Lithuanian Jewish Life?



OPINION  |  MUSEUMS & EXHIBITIONS  |  THE ARTS  |  LITVAK AFFAIRS  |  YIDDISH AFFAIRS

by Dovid Katz

Lead banner for National Library’s exhibition on prewar Lithuanian Jewish culture

For many centuries, the Jews of Vilna (Yiddish Vílne, formal Ashkenazic Hebrew Vílno, modern Hebrew Vílna), and indeed, those from a huge radius of towns and villages in all four directions that looked to the then “Jerusalem of Lithuania” as their spiritual capital, the streets of the oldest Jewish settlement in the town were lovingly known as Di yidishe gas. The narrow dictionary definition is indeed “the Jewish street” but in the Yiddish of Vilna, as in other cities with highly developed Yiddish culture, the phrase came to signify the entire neighborhood in the sense that could perhaps best be captured by something like “our Jewish part of town.” When in 1920, the then Polish authorities offered the Jewish community the opportunity to name a few streets in town, Yídishe gas (Polish Żydowska) became one of them, for the neighborhood’s primary street. When the democratic Lithuanian independence movement of the late 1980s reached the stage of ridding the city of hated Soviet-imposed names, the old name was rapidly and boldly, restored, in its translative Lithuanian form, Žydų gatvė.

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Three Issues for Yad Vashem Conference that Legitimizes “Genocide Center”



OPINION  |  YAD VASHEM MANIPULATED  |  GENOCIDE CENTER

by Gershon Taitz  (Vilnius)

I would like to invite the participants of today’s Yad Vashem Conference in Jerusalem, “Jewish Leadership in Lithuanian Ghettos” to consider a number of issues concerning this conference. First, please be aware that Dr. A. Bubnys is the chief historian at the “Genocide and Resistance Research Center of Lithuania.” His center of activity  promotes  inaccurate and hostile memory of the Holocaust in Lithuania.

We all recall the controversies ignited by A. Bubnys in his  book  on the Šiauliai Ghetto (Shávler géto). The book was written in such a way as to give the impression that Jews perished principally because of the Jewish leadership in the ghetto, and not because of the German and Lithuanian forces who were the voluntary and enthusiastic perpetrators (a classic case of trying to blame the victims). This makes the Genocide Center’s participation in a Yad Vashem conference on the topic of forced Jewish “leadership” of the ghettos problematic, not least because of the conference’s topic being precisely that nominal Jewish leadership. Indeed, it happens here that blame for the Holocaust is deflected as far as possible on the forced Jewish “leadership” of the ghettos and the “Jewish police” in the ghettos.

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Is Yad Vashem Legitimizing Vilnius “Genocide Center”?



OPINION  |  YAD VASHEM MANIPULATED  |  GENOCIDE CENTER

 Under Pressure of Israeli Foreign Ministry?

Vilnius Genocide Center: “Legitimized” by 19 Nov. Yad Vashem Conference in Jerusalem?

Its chief historian Dr. A. Bubnys is a major speaker; See DH review of his book on the Vilna Ghetto and report on Jewish community’s response to his publication on the Shavl (Šiauliai) Ghetto. Are pliant “Jewish academics” being flown in and wheeled out to provide cover for the newest chapters in Holocaust revisionism? These include East European state glorification of collaborators and denial of the outbreak of mass violence by the LAF and other “nationalist heroes” against Jewish neighbors before the onset of German administration in the last week of June 1941.

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Sept. 23rd Ponár Memorial and Pope Francis’s Visit to Vilna Ghetto Memorial



OPINION  |  EVENTS  |  CHRISTIAN-JEWISH RELATIONS  |  HOLOCAUST MEMORIALS  |  VILNIUS JEWISH LIFE

IMAGE OF THE DAY: Elected chairperson of the Vilnius Jewish Community, Simon Gurevich, was not allowed past the security barrier, barring him from the Pope’s event to commemorate the Vilna Ghetto. At the earlier event at Ponár, he was not allowed to deliver his prepared remarks.

VILNIUS—The two major “September 23rd” events today in Vilnius were the annual commemoration ceremony at the mass murder site Ponár in the forest outside the city, and, later in the afternoon, Pope Francis’s visit to the small monument, its 1990s Yiddish letters faded beyond legibility, commemorating the Vilna Ghetto in an Old Town square opposite the city’s beloved Jewish Cultural and Information Center (JCIC). [See also Andrius Kulikauskas’s appeal to the Pope on the eve of his visit in connection with his visit to Lukiškės Square in central Vilnius.]

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Posted in Christian-Jewish Issues, Commemorations for Destroyed Communities, Events, Foreign Ministries: Holocaust Politics Abuse?, Israel, Lithuania, Lithuania's Jewish Community Issues, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Politics of Memory, Simon Gurevich (Simonas Gurevičius), Vilnius Mayor Remigijus Šimašius | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Sept. 23rd Ponár Memorial and Pope Francis’s Visit to Vilna Ghetto Memorial

Can Pope Francis, in Vilnius, Heal the Blind at Lukiškės Square?



OPINION  | CHRISTIAN-JEWISH AFFAIRS   |  HISTORY  |  COLLABORATORS HONORED  |  BLAMING THE VICTIMS

 

by Andrius Kulikauskas

Pope Francis’s two-day visit to Lithuania this weekend includes a symbolic stop at the Vilna Ghetto on his second day, September 23, at roughly 4 PM at Rūdininkai Square. On that day, 75 years ago, Nazi Germans liquidated the Vilna Ghetto, murdering some of its Jews in Paneriai Forest (Ponár), and moving the rest to concentration camps in Latvia, Estonia and Germany. Since 1994, it has been the National Day of Commemoration of the Genocide of Lithuania’s Jews. Now it will surely be linked in the Lithuanian psyche with this visit by Pope Francis, and perhaps some day, Saint Francis.

Pope Francis in the Lithuanian capital

However, his visit is also a chance for him to make plain to the children of God our lack of empathy for Lithuania’s Jews. A very short detour to the “Vilnius Sports Palace” — and a heavenly nod by the Pope — would let us tear down that “Soviet temple”, resurrect the holy Jewish cemetery beneath it, and enjoy a symbol of Litvak and Lithuanian friendship forever. This brings to mind the detour Jesus made in Jericho, when two blind men called out, “Lord, have mercy on us, you son of David!” And Jesus halted the crowd.

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Posted in A 21st Century Campaign Against Lithuanian Holocaust Survivors?, Andrius Kulikauskas, Bold Citizens Speak Out, Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Collaborators Glorified, Debates on the Postwar "Forest Brothers", Events, Genocide Center (Vilnius), History, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Opinion, Politics of Memory, State Glorification of Holocaust Collaborator J. Noreika | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Can Pope Francis, in Vilnius, Heal the Blind at Lukiškės Square?