Pinchos Fridberg’s Open Letter Concerning a Website Post of the Official Lithuanian Jewish Community
VILNIUS—The following is an English translation (by Ludmilla Makedonskaya) of Professor Pinchos Fridberg’s article in Russian that appeared in the Vilnius-based publication Obzor on 26 May 2017. Note that the original Russian version is the only authoritative text for any issues arising. Professor Fridberg is a native of Vilna, a Holocaust survivor, a retired physics professor and the author of numerous articles and studies. For translations of a selection of his work on Defending History’s issues, in English translation, see our Pinchos Fridberg section.
For more information on the issue see the Lithuanian Jewish Community (LJC) website report on the 24 May elections held by the Vilnius Jewish Community (VJC), Defending History’s initial real-time report and rejoinder, the second version posted, the JTA report on the affair, the subsequent LJC “apology” and Leon Kaplan’s essay on these pages.
Appeal to the conscience of the members of the renewed state-financed “International Commission for the Evaluation of the Crimes of the Nazi and Soviet Occupation Regimes in Lithuania”
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Editor’s note: Reprint from The Times of Israel, where this article, with several photographs, appeared on 25 June 2016.
I am a Holocaust survivor. I was born here in Vilnius (Yiddish: Vílne), today’s capital of Lithuania, known forever as the “Jerusalem of Lithuania” for its vibrant Jewish culture, religious and secular, for hundreds of years. Today our post-Holocaust Jewish community is a tiny remnant, just a few thousand people, but we are vibrant, and, as always, a community of many opinions. Once again, a question has arisen that calls for robust discourse.
O P I N I O N
Editor’s note: The following open letter has been translated from the original Yiddish which will appear separately. See also the English version of the statement referred to in the open letter.
For many years now I have been starting the day by reading the latest on the website of the Jewish Community of Lithunia. Today for the first time in a long time I saw a published statement by chairperson Faina Kukliansky which I would happily sign on to. I would like to say: Bravo, Faina Kukliansky!
Editor’s note: The following is a translation of the open letter by Professor Pinchos Fridberg, a Holocaust survivor in Vilnius, and the reply by Yivo’s director, Dr. Jonathan Brent. Both were published in the Yiddish Forward (Forverts) on 1 March 2015. Prof. Fridberg has also posted an audio file of his reading his letter aloud in his native Vilna Yiddish. In the case of any issue arising, the Yiddish text is authoritative. For readers’ reference, hyperlinks have been added (by Defending History) to various of the documents and topics cited. See also the Pinchos Fridberg page and section in Defending History, page and section on the state-sponsored commission discussed, and section on Yivo issues.
September 2014 at Ponár, the mass muder site of Vilna Jewry: Three representatives of the controversial state sponsored commission on Nazi and Soviet crimes pay respects in unison: (from left): Dr. Jonathan Brent, Emanuelis Zingeris, Ronaldas Račinskas. Photo: Defending History.
ear Dr. Jonathan Brent,
I appeal to you in Yiddish. Do you know why? Because I believe, that a person who is the leader of the Yivo institute will understand me. My name is Pinchos Fridberg. I was born in Vilna before the war and am a survivor of the Holocaust. My grandmother and grandfather, and all our relatives on my mother’s side — 28 people — lie [at the mass murder site] Ponár.
O P I N I O N
NOTE: The following is an English version of Prof. Fridberg’s Russian op-ed, posted earlier today. In the event of any query or issues, the Russian text alone is authoritative.
Is the Holocaust drowning in a sea of “European tolerance”? I love humor. Especially black humor.
Yesterday afternoon the largest Russian-language newspaper in Lithuania, Obzor, reprinted the article, “Museum in Tartu, Estonia Invites Visitors to Come Laugh at the Holocaust” [The affair has been covered in English by the Jerusalem Post, Times of Israel, and the Simon Wiesenthal Center, among others].
Pinchos Fridberg on Why Russia Should be Invited to the 70th Anniversary Events Marking Liberation of Auschwitz
Translated for Defending History by Ludmila Makedonskaya (Grodno) from the original Russian text published in Obzor, where the title translates as “Seventieth Anniversary of Auschwitz Liberation is Not an Occasion for Political Posturing.” In the event of any matter arising, the original Russian text is authoritative.
The seventieth anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz is one more opportunity to remember and to honor the victims of Nazism. I am deeply convinced that the place of death of almost one and a half million people, most of whom were my fellow Jews, must not be turned into a springboard for political squabbles. I am writing these words as a man who miraculously survived the Holocaust, which took away my grandparents, as well as twenty-eight other members of our family. I know that most of them were murdered in Ponár (Paneriai). But it is also possible that some of them could have been sent to Auschwitz.
Coming across the Jewish Life in Poland section of Yivo’s website, I decided to write this short memoir. This photograph shows the teachers and graduates of the Vilner Yiddish Real-Gymnasium (Vílner yídishe reál-gimnázye) in 1930. The school’s principal was Leyb Turbowich, and the literature teacher was the great Jewish poet Moyshe Kulbak, the author of a well-known Yiddish poem Vílne, among many others.
VILNIUS—Pinchos Fridberg, retired professor of physics and Defending History’s 2014 Person of the Year, has again stood up for human rights, going where some “human rights NGOs” seem to fear to tread.
VILNIUS—Professor Pinchos Fridberg today posted a Youtube video replying to attacks on himself by the executive director of the Lithuanian government’s International Commission for the Evaluation of the Crimes of the Nazi and Soviet Occupation Regimes in Lithuania.
The following comment by Professor Pinchos Fridberg was posted in Tablet on 11 February 2014, as a comment on a previous comment by Dr. Efraim Zuroff in the same discussion. See also Defending History sections on Prof. Fridberg and Dr. Zuroff.
R E P L Y / O P I N I O N
NOTE: Translated from the Russian by Ludmilla Makadonskaya (Grodno). In the event of any matter arising or doubt, the Russian original is alone authoritative.
BNS (Baltic News Service), Tuesday, November 19, 2013, 15:04:
Р е п л и к а
BNS (Baltic News Service), вторник, 19 ноября 2013 г. 15:04
O P I N I O N
NOTE: This English version of a recent piece by Professor Pinchos Fridberg (of Vilnius), translated by Lumilla Makedonskaya (of Grodno), is for our readers’ information. In the case of any doubt or matter arising, the original Russian text alone is authoritative.
VILNIUS—The communications department of the Chancellery of the Parliament (Seimas) of the Republic of Lithuania has replied to Professor Pinchos Fridberg, confirming that his query will be forwarded to the appropriate committee. Full translation of the 19 November 2013 letter follows beneath the facsimile below. Translation by Geoff Vasil. This report was updated on 1 December 2013.
Высшая арифметика истории Холокоста в Литве
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In 1998 the “International Commission for the Evaluation of the Crimes of the Nazi and Soviet Occupational Regimes in Lithuania” was established by Lithuanian presidential decree.
The commission is directed in tandem by Emanuelis Zingeris and Ronaldas Račinskas. The former is the commission’s chairman and a Conservative MP in the Lithuanian Seimas, while the latter is the commission’s executive director. The Lithuanian Jewish Community has no representation on the commission.