Litvak Affairs

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LITVAK STUDIES

Did Israel Cross a Holocaust Red Line Today by Honoring Leader of a Pro-Nazi 1941 Militia?



ISRAEL PAGE  |  ISRAEL SECTION   |  HONORING COLLABORATORS  |  LEGACY OF JOE MELAMED  |  LEGACY OF DOV LEVIN  |  FOREIGN MINISTRIES AND THE HOLOCAUST

by Dovid Katz (Vilnius)

VILNIUS—Israel may have crossed a red line today when it was flaunted on the major News portal Delfi.lt here, both in Lithuanian and in English, that Israeli ambassador Amir Maimon had found the time this week to stage a demonstrative PR-photographed visit to the chief campaigner for the parliament’s decision less than one month ago to name 2018 in honor of Adolfas Ramanauskas — his daughter in Vilnius, Auksutė Ramanauskaitė-Skokauskienė, who is a prime icon of the ultranationalist camp that often glorifies various collaborators and participants in the Holocaust on the grounds that they were also anti-Soviet activists. The PR move came just after a major political commentator asked what Lithuania is getting in return for its staunch political support for the Netanyahu government?

One of the PR photos released shows the ambassador posing underneath adulatory photos of the 1941 pro-Nazi militiaman (from various other periods in his life). Of course Lithuania has a vast number of inspirational historical heroes, including many anti-Soviet heroes, who were not Holocaust collaborators, and state decisions to honor collaborators cause untold pain to survivors, their families, and the remnant Jewish communities in Eastern Europe. They all send a message that becomes part of the history-revision campaign to downgrade the Holocaust in the context of “Double Genocide” revisionism. [Update of 16 December: Alleged Israeli gov. support for glorification of Adolfas Ramanauskas and implicit condemnation of Ruta Vanagaite (and Dr. Efraim Zuroff) was boasted of (or indicated) by various publications, including a few far-right and antisemitic titles: Alfa.lt, Diena.ltGreitas.eu, Kaunodiena.lt, Lzionios.lt, Pozicija.org, Respublika, Vakaro žinios, among others.]

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Posted in Collaborators Glorified, Dovid Katz, Foreign Ministries: Holocaust Politics Abuse?, Human Rights, Israel, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Did Israel Cross a Holocaust Red Line Today by Honoring Leader of a Pro-Nazi 1941 Militia?

Vanagaitė’s PR Rollout in Vilnius of (1) Romance with Wiesenthal Center Nazi Hunter, (2) New Book, Dual (3) Holocaust & (4) Postwar KGB Based Critique of Nationalist Hero — A Mix-&-Match Making for Mass Media Melee


[UPDATED; ORIGINAL PUBLICATION 29 OCT. 2017]


BOOKS (/Mūsiškiai)  |  COLLABORATORS GLORIFIED?  |  MEDIA WATCH  |  CHRISTIAN-JEWISH RELATIONS

Jump to: English media section

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Posted in Collaborators Glorified, Efraim Zuroff, Events, Humor (Of Sorts), Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Media Watch, News & Views, Politics of Memory, Rūta Vanagaitė | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off on Vanagaitė’s PR Rollout in Vilnius of (1) Romance with Wiesenthal Center Nazi Hunter, (2) New Book, Dual (3) Holocaust & (4) Postwar KGB Based Critique of Nationalist Hero — A Mix-&-Match Making for Mass Media Melee

US Government Commission’s Herbert Block Visits Defending History Team in Vilnius, Pledges Support for Moving Convention Center Project Away from Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery



THE PETITION  |  THE OLD VILNA CEMETERY  |  INTERNATIONAL OPPOSITION TO CONVENTION CENTER ON THE CEMETERY  |  IN LITHUANIAN  |  HUMAN RIGHTS

VILNIUS—Herbert Block, a veteran member of the American government’s Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad, and chair of its committee on the old Vilnius Jewish cemetery, visited yesterday and today for two sessions with staff of the Defending History team here in the Lithuanian capital. Mr. Block is a well-known and beloved figure for the Lithuanian Jewish community, with whom he worked closely for many years (1999 to 2015), during his tenure as Assistant Executive Vice President of the Joint Distribution Committee (JDC or “Joint”), where his work included coordinating successful efforts to achieve restitution that could enable the Jewish community’s survival for generations to come. At present, he is executive director of the American Zionist Movement (AZM). Previously Mr. Block served as Assistant Director for Intergovernmental and Public Affairs for the New York City Independent Budget Office (1996-1999) and was Deputy Director for Intergovernmental Relations at the federal Corporation for National and Community Service in  1994-1995.  He was Assistant to the Mayor of the City of New York from 1990 to 1993 and Special Assistant to the Manhattan Borough President from 1986 to 1989. For years he has been a member of the World Jewish Restitution Organization (WJRO) with specialization in the Baltic region and Poland.

Herb Block explained how hard he has been working behind the scenes to ensure the cemetery’s preservation, and pledged his firm personal commitment to work resolutely for the convention center project to be moved to another venue in town — away from Vilna’s Old Jewish Cemetery. 

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Posted in Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Lithuania, Lithuanian Adventures of the Hon. Herbert Block (AK, AZM, (LG)CJH, CPJCE, GWF, USCPAHA, SATMAR/“AARON BRANCH", WJRO), Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), US Commission for Preservation of the American Heritage Abroad | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on US Government Commission’s Herbert Block Visits Defending History Team in Vilnius, Pledges Support for Moving Convention Center Project Away from Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery

Virtual Yiddish Mini-Museum of Jewish Life in Interwar Lithuania (Honoring Lithuania’s 100th)



מוזייעלע פון יידישן לעבן אין דער קאָוונער ליטע

Mažasis žydų gyvenimo tarpukario Lietuvoje muziejus

ESTABLISHED IN HONOR OF THE 2018 CENTENARY OF THE RISE OF INDEPENDENT, DEMOCRATIC LITHUANIA IN 1918

by Dovid Katz
See also: Yiddish Mini-Museum of Old Jewish Vilna

EXHIBITS TO DATE 

1919

Thumbnail of yidishe shtime 1919

The 28 October 1919 issue of Kaunas’s Zionist Yiddish daily Di Yídishe shtíme


1922

Soloveitchik for new thumbnail

Letter in German from Lithuania’s Jewish Affairs Minister Max Soloveichik to his Weimar counterpart

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Posted in Arts, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Mini-Museum of Jewish Life in Interwar Lithuania, Museums, News & Views, Yiddish Affairs | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Virtual Yiddish Mini-Museum of Jewish Life in Interwar Lithuania (Honoring Lithuania’s 100th)

Lithuania’s Ambassador in Washington Tells Audience of Ruta Vanagaite’s “Russian Connection”



EVENTS  |  COLLABORATORS GLORIFIED  |  BOOKS    | PIRAMÓNT CEMETERY  |  LITHUANIA

by Josh Cohen (Washington DC)

As anyone who has been following events in Lithuania for the last several years surely knows by now, the country sports street names and monuments honoring locals who collaborated with the Nazis during World War Two. It was in this context that I attended an event in Washington, DC yesterday at the Wilson Center’s Kennan Institute discussing Ruta Vanagaite’s controversial book “Our People” (it appeared in Lithuanian in 2016) that blows open the door describing the true extent of Lithuanian collaboration in the Holocaust. Vanagaite and her co-author Efraim Zuroff , director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Israel Office, spoke at the event.

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Posted in Books, Collaborators Glorified, Events, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Opinion, Politics of Memory, United States | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Lithuania’s Ambassador in Washington Tells Audience of Ruta Vanagaite’s “Russian Connection”

Sad Error of Naming 2018 for Someone who “Just” Led a Pro-Nazi “Partisan Squad” in Lithuania in June and July of 1941



OPINION  |  GLORIFICATION OF COLLABORATORS  |  POLITICS OF MEMORY

by Evaldas Balčiūnas

The national scandal unleashed by the Lithuanian Rūta Vanagaitė and the Jewish Efraim Zuroff via their statements about Adolfas Ramanauskas-Vanagas, is gradually losing momentum. The Seimas (parliament) went right ahead and declared the incoming year, 2018, to be The Year of Ramanauskas-Vanagas. That is sad. Three years ago, I wrote about this person’s activities in Druskininkai in 1941. Society back then was silent about it. It was only the desire of some politicians to glorify this personage that led to the aforementioned Lithuanian and Jewish commentators to talk about him. They spoke loudly and an antisemitic bubble burst. Vanagaitė’s statement had some inaccuracies, which, and the very statement was taken as an insult by the mainstream. Public details of Zuroff’s statement were scarce. My 2014 article was among those details.

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Posted in Collaborators Glorified, History, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on Sad Error of Naming 2018 for Someone who “Just” Led a Pro-Nazi “Partisan Squad” in Lithuania in June and July of 1941

The Extraordinary Recent History of Holocaust Studies in Lithuania



OPINION  |  HISTORY  |  LITHUANIA’S STATE COMMISSION ON NAZI AND SOVIET CRIMES   |  LITVAK AFFAIRS

by Dovid Katz

This paper was published today by Taylor and Francis on its website. It appears in Dapim: Studies on the Holocaust, volume 31, no. 3, pp. 285-295 (Dec. 2017). Dapim is edited by the Strochlitz Institute for Holocaust Research at the University of Haifa.

In Lithuania, the primary provider for Holocaust studies for close to two decades has been the state-sponsored International Commission for the Evaluation of the Crimes of the Nazi and Soviet Occupation Regimes in Lithuania (ICECNSORL), which was established in 1998 by decree of the nation’s president and is housed in the office of its prime minister, embedding it in the highest strata of Lithuanian politics. Several of its activities have enabled significant contributions in research, education, and public commemoration.

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Posted in "Red-Brown Commission", Double Genocide, Dovid Katz, History, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on The Extraordinary Recent History of Holocaust Studies in Lithuania

PEN America Protests Ban and Proposed Pulping of Ruta Vanagaite’s Books in Lithuania, Including Book on the Holocaust



FREE SPEECH  |  HUMAN RIGHTS  |  POLITICS OF MEMORY  |  COLLABORATORS GLORIFIED

PEN America released this statement on its website today:

NEW YORK—The decision by the Alma Littera publishing house to cut all ties with their author Ruta Vanagaite, and to remove remaining copies of all of her five books from circulation and pulp them, is a troubling overreaction and should be reconsidered, said PEN America today.

The publisher’s decision to remove and destroy all of Vanagaite’s books was a response to her recent criticism of Adolfas Ramanauskas, a Lithuanian nationalist widely perceived as a hero. Vanagaite previously touched on sensitive historical issues in her most recent book, Mūsiškiai (Our People), published in Lithuania in 2016, which discusses the role of Lithuanian nationalists and freedom fighters in the persecution of Jewish Lithuanians and the Holocaust during World War II. Lithuania still denies their role in WWII and the Lithuanian authorities claimed that the book jeopardized national security. The destruction and removal of Vanagaite’s books demonstrates the tight borders of what is acceptable criticism of a national hero in Lithuania. Since the publication of the book, Vanagaite has received threats, which have escalated in recent weeks; a suit against her for slander and denigration of a deceased person has also been filed with the prosecutor by a patriotic group (the prosecutor has declined to take up the case, finding no evidence of malicious intent).

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Posted in Free Speech & Democracy, Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Politics of Memory, Rūta Vanagaitė, United States | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off on PEN America Protests Ban and Proposed Pulping of Ruta Vanagaite’s Books in Lithuania, Including Book on the Holocaust

Mounting Opposition to Vilnius ‘Convention Center in the Old Jewish Cemetery’


[LAST UPDATE]

Registry of Opposition to “The National Convention Center” Atop the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (Šnipiškės)

2017:  PETITION;  VIDEO;  UNITED STATES CONGRESS; ARTICLES IN LITHUANIAN

(I) Groups of leading Litvak (and other) rabbis

(II) Institutions

(III) Individuals

(IV) Lithuania’s Jewish community

(V) United States Congress

(VI) Background

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Posted in Appeals to the European Commission on Piramónt, Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Dovid Katz, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Opinion, Rothschild Foundation Europe (Hanadiv): Lithuanian Issues, Vilnius Jewish Life (from 2016) | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Mounting Opposition to Vilnius ‘Convention Center in the Old Jewish Cemetery’

Virtual Yiddish Mini-Museum of Old Jewish Vilna


 


by Dovid Katz ©2017

LATEST ACQUISITIONS

More on JEWISH VILNA

See also: Mini-Museum of Jewish Life in Interwar Lithuania

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Posted in Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Museums, News & Views | Comments Off on Virtual Yiddish Mini-Museum of Old Jewish Vilna

Lithuanian Foreign Ministry’s Annual “Litvak Days” in Some Deep London Fog



OPINION  |  UCL MANIPULATED  |  LITVAK AFFAIRS  |  COLLABORATORS GLORIFIED  |  UK  |  JEWISH EVENTS AS COVER  |  USEFUL JEWISH IDIOTS (UJIs)  |  VILNIUS JEWISH LIFE

LONDON—It’s that time of year again. The “Litvak” and “Yiddish” grandees of University College London’s Department of Hebrew and Jewish Studies, and various cohorts from near and far, queue up to bask in the pot-of-lentil glories offered for their repeated championing of state PR, even when it entailed betrayal of the interests and causes of Holocaust survivors, the actual Litvak legacy, and bona fide Yiddish language and culture. The roster from previous years includes the 2011 conference intended to “fix” the narrative of the Holocaust in the direction of Double Genocide, which resulted in a major protest that included, to her (and the department’s) great credit, the then head-of-department (For the Economist’s coverage see here and here; more media). The record also includes the 2012 refusal of conference organizers to allow a Holocaust survivor five minutes to read a polite statement of concern.

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Posted in "Jewish" Events as Cover?, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, UCL Manipulated?, United Kingdom | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Lithuanian Foreign Ministry’s Annual “Litvak Days” in Some Deep London Fog

Old Jewish Gravestones Transported to Piramónt — to Divert Attention from Convention Center Travesty?



OPINION  |  OLD VILNA JEWISH CEMETERY  |  OPPOSITION TO CONVENTION CENTER PROJECT  |  PETITION   |  CHRISTIAN-JEWISH RELATIONS  |  CEMETERIES

by Julius Norwilla

Delfi.lt, the major Lithuanian news portal, yesterday published an article by its correspondent Rūta Pukenė about the latest “activities” on the site of the five-century old Vilna Jewish cemetery at Piramónt, which houses the ruin of the old Soviet Sports Palace, surrounded by thousands of still extant graves, amid controversial plans to construct a national convention center using the Soviet building as its core. Many friends of Vilnius have argued forcefully that the city’s interests lie in preserving and restoring Lithuania’s oldest Jewish cemetery, where many rabbinic luminaries still lie buried, and for the convention center project to be moved to another venue in town.

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Posted in Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Christian-Jewish Issues, Julius Norwilla, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Opinion, Politics of Memory | Tagged , , , , , | Comments Off on Old Jewish Gravestones Transported to Piramónt — to Divert Attention from Convention Center Travesty?

Joe Melamed, Litvak Champion (Images from the Last Years)



צו די שלשים פון יוסף (יאָסקע) מלמד ז″ל

Memories of Joe Melamed Defending History

MORE ON JOE MELAMED (1924-2017)

DEFENDING HISTORY’S JOE MELAMED SECTION. Scroll to end to review upwards in chronological order.

a

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Posted in Israel, Joseph Melamed, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Obituaries | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Joe Melamed, Litvak Champion (Images from the Last Years)

Translation of Birutė Vyšniauskaitė’s Interview with Faina Kukliansky



VILNIUS JEWISH LIFE  |  LITVAK AFFAIRS  |  CHRISTIAN-JEWISH RELATIONS  |  MEDIA

Jews and Lithuanians Need to Settle their Disagreements

by Birutė Vyšniauskaitė (Delfi.lt)

This “working translation” is provided for our readers’ reference (embedded links have been added by DH for our readers’ reference, reflecting this journal’s perspectives, not those of the original publication, and longer direct quotes are presented in indented bloc). In the event of any query arising, the original Lithuanian version alone, published by Delfi on 16 November 2017, is authoritative. Note that an official English translation has appeared in The Lithuania Tribune (English Delfi) and is available to subscribers here. [Update of 27 Nov. 2017: The official Jewish Community website today published its translation.] For more articles in English on these issues, see here.

Although the scandal caused by statements made by author Rūta Vanagaitė about the partisan leader Adolfas Ramanauskas-Vanagas has by now subsided, the head of the Lithuanian Jewish Community, Faina Kukliansky believes that this is no more than a temporary calm. The English translation of R. Vanagaitė’s book Mūsiškiai should appear soon. Furthermore she has the support of the European Jewish Congress and she has many supporters in Israel.

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Posted in Christian-Jewish Issues, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Malát (Molėtai), Media Watch, News & Views, Vilnius Jewish Life (from 2016) | Comments Off on Translation of Birutė Vyšniauskaitė’s Interview with Faina Kukliansky

Новая «литвакская» почтовая марка стала источником беспокойства для литовских евреев, жертв Холокоста и любителей идиша



Довид Кац

Перевод: Юлия Рец

Исходный текст на английском языке здесь

Не нужно быть великим теоретиком, чтобы заметить разительный контраст между двумя главными «продуктами» последней недели сентября, на которую приходится ежегодная поминальная активность Литвы по чествованию убитых в годы Холокоста литовских евреев – особенно в легендарной столице Литвы, в Вильнюсе. Под «продуктом» мы понимаем культурные события, имевшие вещественное воплощение, артефакты, которые надолго переживут недельное позерство, речи и встречи блестящих государственных чиновников и национальных лидеров.

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Posted in Dovid Katz, Identity Theft of the Litvak Heritage, In Russian, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Vilnius Jewish Life (from 2016) | Comments Off on Новая «литвакская» почтовая марка стала источником беспокойства для литовских евреев, жертв Холокоста и любителей идиша

New Section in Lithuanian on the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės)



OLD VILNA JEWISH CEMETERY  |  OPPOSITION TO CONVENTION CENTER PROJECT  |  PETITION   |  CHRISTIAN-JEWISH RELATIONS  |  CEMETERIES

VILNIUSDefending History today inaugurated a new section, in the Lithuanian language, on the international efforts calling for restoration of the old Vilna Jewish cemetery at Piramónt and for the Jewish heritage of Vilna and Lithuania to not be defiled by a convention center surrounded by a half millennium of Litvak graves. The convention center project can easily be moved to another appropriate venue. The section aims to provide content stemming from various communities within Lithuania as well as translations of the international outcry over the convention center project.

Vilniaus senosios žydų (Piramonto) kapinės Šnipiškėse

Posted in Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Lithuania, Lithuanian Adventures of the Hon. Herbert Block (AK, AZM, (LG)CJH, CPJCE, GWF, USCPAHA, SATMAR/“AARON BRANCH", WJRO), Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Opinion, Politics of Memory, Vilnius Jewish Life (from 2016) | Tagged , , | Comments Off on New Section in Lithuanian on the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės)

Rabinų deklaracija dėl senųjų Vilniaus Piramonto žydų kapinių (Šnipiškėse)



OLD VILNA JEWISH CEMETERY  |  OPPOSITION TO CONVENTION CENTER PROJECT  |  PETITION   |  CHRISTIAN-JEWISH RELATIONS  |  CEMETERIES

Lietuvių kalba

Neseniai, 5775 žydų kalendoriaus metų Avo mėnesį (2015 m. liepos 16-rugpjūčio 15), buvo hebrajiškai ir angliškai paskelbta rabinų deklaracija dėl senųjų žydų kapinių Vilniuje (tekstas buvo paskelbtas abiem kalbomis 2015 m. liepos 30 d. „Hamodia“ numeryje; liepos 29 d. „Hamodia“ tinklapyje ir liepos 30 d. defendinghistory.com buvo paskelbta apie šį dokumentą).

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Posted in Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Documents, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Opinion, Vilniaus senosios žydų (Piramonto) kapinės Šnipiškėse | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on Rabinų deklaracija dėl senųjų Vilniaus Piramonto žydų kapinių (Šnipiškėse)

Real or Rigged ‘International Conference on Fascism and Antisemitism’ in Vilnius on 9 November?



OPINION  | HUMAN RIGHTS  |  ANTISEMITISM  |  VILNIUS JEWISH LIFE

VILNIUS—Yet again, a conference here in the Lithuanian capital dedicated to combating fascism and antisemitism is announced, without there having been a public call for papers, without a single speaker from among those who actually combat fascism and antisemitism in the country, with nobody from the democratically elected Vilnius Jewish community (not even the long-time editor of Jerusalem of Lithuania who has exposed and combated antisemitism for decades). No Holocaust survivors. None of the nationally relevant questions of the day can be found on the conference program. As ever, outstanding academic personalities from abroad are recruited to lend the gravitas and provide serious papers on an array of topics (which they admirably do), as long as these have little directly to do with the actual contemporary issues here in Lithuania (but the conference introduction by Prof. Dovilė Budrytė does indeed touch on some of the issues, which seem, however, to be largely absent from the actual conference program). The last such event, in 2015, resulted in the Norwegian Embassy withdrawing support and launching an inquiry on behalf of the EEA (European Economic Area) funders of that event.

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Posted in Antisemitism & Bias, Events, Free Speech & Democracy, Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Vilnius Jewish Life (from 2016) | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Real or Rigged ‘International Conference on Fascism and Antisemitism’ in Vilnius on 9 November?

Harvard Publishes “Catalog of the Leyzer Ran Collection in Harvard College Library”



BOOKS  |  LITVAK AFFAIRS  |  VILNIUS JEWISH LIFE

Image (279)VILNIUS—As the first small shipment of Harvard Library’s new book, Catalog of the Leyzer Ran Collection in the Harvard College Library arrived this week in the Lithuanian capital, there was widespread satisfaction that at least a tabulation of the contents of Leyzer Ran’s extensive archive of Jewish Vilna is finally available. The collection was bequeathed to Harvard University where the Library maintains it as a distinct entity with its own name, space, and now, a handsome catalogue brought out by Harvard University. Leyzer Ran (1912-1995) is widely considered to be the primary postwar chronicler of the centuries-old unique Jewish civilization of the city known in Yiddish as Vílne, Yerusholáyim d’Líte — Vilna, Jerusalem of Lithuania. The newly appeared catalogue was compiled and edited by Dr. Charles Berlin, who is Head of Judaica at Harvard Library and Harvard University’s Lee M. Friedman Bibliographer in Judaica.

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Posted in Books, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Vilnius Jewish Life (from 2016), Yiddish Affairs | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Harvard Publishes “Catalog of the Leyzer Ran Collection in Harvard College Library”

“Weekly of Vilnius” Provides Exclusive English Language Coverage of the Vanagaitė Saga



FREE SPEECH  |  COLLABORATORS GLORIFIED  |  MEDIA WATCH  |  CHRISTIAN-JEWISH RELATIONS  |  VILNIUS JEWISH LIFE  |  HUMAN RIGHTS

VILNIUSThe Weekly of Vilnius, sometimes considered to be this city’s most prestigious English-language news publication, today released its weekly issue which contains a highly documented summary of many of the sides in the debate over author and PR specialist Ruta Vanagaitė’s comments concerning state plans to name 2018 for someone who led a pro-Nazi militia during the early days of the Lithuanian Holocaust in 1941, but who is being honored for his postwar service in the anti-Soviet resistance. Defending History has published its own take along with a much more limited summary of the debate which readers may consult for comparison and helping “complete the picture” as best as it can be in English. Note that selections of Lithuanian articles on the subject from the major news portal Delfi.lt, and from BNS (Baltic News Service), in both cases generally representing government and “nationalist establishment” positions, are available in English translation on the English Delfi.lt (Lithuania Tribune) site (search “Vanagaitė” for rapid reference).

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Posted in Collaborators Glorified, Free Speech & Democracy, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Media Watch, News & Views, Politics of Memory, Rūta Vanagaitė, Vilnius Jewish Life (from 2016) | Tagged , , , , , | Comments Off on “Weekly of Vilnius” Provides Exclusive English Language Coverage of the Vanagaitė Saga

The World Celebrates Professor Greimas With No Regard for His Victims



OPINION  |  HISTORY  |  COLLABORATORS GLORIFIED  |  CHRISTIAN-JEWISH RELATIONS  |  LITVAK AFFAIRS

by Andrius Kulikauskas

Greimas00

 

Renowned Lithuanian-French thinker Algirdas Julius Greimas (1917-1992) was more forthcoming than most about his dubious, or frankly, criminal behavior as a young man.

Greimas01

From his interviews we know that in 1940, he gave public speeches in support of Soviet annexation of Lithuania. And in 1941, he served as an editor for the newspaper Tėvynė in Šiauliai, which repeatedly called for ethnic cleansing of Jews from Lithuania.

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Posted in Andrius Kulikauskas, Christian-Jewish Issues, Collaborators Glorified, Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on The World Celebrates Professor Greimas With No Regard for His Victims

Vilnius District Court’s 29 May 2017 Ruling on LJC’s Mid-Campaign Election Rule Change



DOCUMENTS  |  VILNIUS JEWISH LIFE  |  LITVAK AFFAIRS  |  DEMOCRACY  |  GOOD WILL FOUNDATION  |  HUMAN RIGHTS

Vilnius District Court Judge Rima Bražinskienė’s 29 May 2017 ruling, concerning the “official” Lithuanian Jewish Community’s mid-campaign rule change during last spring’s leadership contest, effectively disenfranchising 2,200 Jewish people of Vilnius (the vast majority of Lithuania’s Jews today) in favor of a new voting system granting effective power over the election to a roomful of “oligarchs” (some of whom have two or three votes each, i.e. two or three times as much weight as the 2,200 Jews disenfranchised) is now publicly available.

The following, for the convenience of our readers, is an English translation. Note that in the case of any query arising, the Lithuanian original is alone authoritative.

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Posted in Free Speech & Democracy, Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Vilnius Jewish Life (from 2016) | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on Vilnius District Court’s 29 May 2017 Ruling on LJC’s Mid-Campaign Election Rule Change

Defending History Calls on Ukraine’s President to Publicly Rebuke Senior Official for “Dog Whistle” Advocating Antisemitic Violence



OPINION  |  GLORIFICATION OF PERPETRATORS  |  UKRAINE

In response to a protest from the World Jewish Congress, after the Ukrainian city of Vinnitsa unveiled a statue celebrating nationalist leader Symon Petliura — whose troops killed tens of thousands of Jews in pogroms between 1918 and 1921 — a regional official from the extremist Svoboda party threatened Jewish citizens. In a Facebook rant, the Svoboda official warned Jews opposed to the Petliura statue to fall in line or face the consequences. The Svoboda official stated that “the only time we comfortably coexisted with kikes is Koliyvishchyna,” a reference to an 18th century pogrom against Jews in Ukraine.

Related: Ukraine’s Minister for Infrastructure Plans to Build Actual “Road to Bandera”

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Posted in Celebrations of Fascism, Collaborators Glorified, History, Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory, Ukraine | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Defending History Calls on Ukraine’s President to Publicly Rebuke Senior Official for “Dog Whistle” Advocating Antisemitic Violence

Joseph Melamed, Major Leader of International Litvak Community, Dies in Tel Aviv at 93



OBITUARIES  |  LITVAK AFFAIRS

See Defending History’s Joe Melamed section

The Real Litvak Champion of the 21st century: Joe Melamed, who passed away Thursday in Tel Aviv at 93 was the genuine Litvak who could not be bought, seduced or bamboozled (not even by photo-ops with presidents and ambassadors, glorious roots trips, grants, honors and other pots of lentils). He lived and breathed with loyalty to his annihilated people, the truth of their disappearance by genocide, and the future of their scattered remnants. And he did so in beautiful Kovno Yiddish, elegant modern Hebrew or a diplomat’s English.

Melamed-alone-Nov-2011

Joe Melamed in his Tel Aviv office on King David Boulevard in 2011. Photo ©DefendingHistory.com.

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Double Genocide: New and Official Form of Holocaust Denial



OPINION  |  DOUBLE GENOCIDE  |  POLITICS OF MEMORY

by Dovid Katz

This article appeared today in Jewish Currents:

America was jolted this past summer not only by a neo-Nazi event in Charlottesville, Virginia that left an anti-Nazi protester dead by vehicular homicide, but by President Trump’s “blame on both sides” line, which created in America a microcosm of a debate that has been raging for some years in Eastern Europe among historians of World War II and the Holocaust and several Eastern European governments.

The entire Charlottesville debate was over a bogus moral equivalence that Trump drew between American neo-Nazi demonstrators and those who turned out to oppose them. The larger context was about whether those who who fought for slavery and secession in the Civil War are “the same” as those who fought against slavery and for the Union. Magnify that all a hundred-fold to begin to comprehend what is a major intellectual and political push to contextualize the actual Nazi genocide, the Holocaust, within the Hitlerist “freedom fight” against Soviet Communist domination in Eastern Europe.

Such are our times, in which well-presented postmodernist slop can stultify elementary clarity of thought. In the various cases at hand, different versions of the same bogus moral equivalence strategy of argumentation are used, at a minimum, to make prosaic and palatable that which is inherently beyond the pale, such as state-sponsored public-square adulation for those who collaborated in genocide in Eastern Europe (or, indeed, in slavery).

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Instead of Removing Honors for Holocaust Collaborators, New Petition is Launched to Ask for Yet Another



OPINION  |  GLORIFICATION OF COLLABORATORS

by Evaldas Balčiūnas

In a 2012 article in Defending History, I asked why Holocaust perpetrator Jonas Noreika is made into a “national hero” here in Lithuania, one honored by street names and public plaques. Since then protests have come, among others, from a somewhat obscured  petition by Lithuanian intellectuals,  an appeal from journalist and Declaration of Independence signatory Rimvydas Valatka, Lithuania’s official Jewish community, Grant Gochin, a South African born author resident in the United States, and others. These appeals, all from 2015, were crowned by a rare protest by Jewish students at a Noreika shrine in central Vilnius (see Defending History’s guide for English readers to the links in the 2015 debate).

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Posted in Collaborators Glorified, Evaldas Balčiūnas, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory, Vilnius Jewish Life (from 2016) | Comments Off on Instead of Removing Honors for Holocaust Collaborators, New Petition is Launched to Ask for Yet Another

Anti-Nazi Partisan Hero Chasia Langbord Shpanerflig, 96, Dies in Vilnius



OBITUARIES  |  VILNIUS JEWISH LIFE  |  LITVAK AFFAIRS

VILNIUS—At Sabbath services at Vilnius’s Choral Synagogue this morning, word began to spread that Vilnius’s oldest surviving veteran of the Jewish Partisans, Chasia (Khásye) Langbord Shpanerflig, had passed away at the age of 96.

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Text of Irish Ambassador Dónal Denham’s 2008 Speech at Brantsovsky Reception is Released for the Record



DOCUMENTS  |  IRELAND  |  BLAMING THE VICTIMS?

Nearly a decade after MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAHE Dónal Denham’s 3 June 2008 historic reception for Fania Brantsovsky, a hero of the Holocaust-era anti-Nazi Jewish partisan resistance in Lithuania, held at the Irish Ambassador’s Residence in Vinius, the text of his speech has been released. It appears below. See our report on the June 2008 event. Historical note: Defending History believes it was the first time since collapse of the Soviet Union that Western embassies in one of the new democracies saw a need to honor a person who was being unjustly targeted by state prosecution services and other national elites. The American, Austrian, British, French, German, Norwegian and other embassies followed the Irish lead. 

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Lithuania’s Prime Minister Bizarrely Claims that Conference Center on Old Jewish Cemetery will “Lift” Vilnius…



OLD VILNA JEWISH CEMETERY  |  OPPOSITION TO CONVENTION CENTER PROJECT  |  PETITION   |  CHRISTIAN-JEWISH RELATIONS  |  CEMETERIES  |  VILNIUS JEWISH LIFE  | MEDIA WATCH

VILNIUS—In comments reported today by the Lithuanian press service ELTA, the nation’s prime minister, Saulius Skvernelis has announced and hailed the decision to proceed with a national convention center in the heart of the old Vilna Jewish cemetery as one that “will lift the Lithuanian capital to a higher level of competitiveness in tourism.” He also notes that “the lack of a modern congress center in Vilnius is the main obstacle for the development of conference tourism in Lithuania,” not mentioning that there are numerous alternative sites for much more rapid and hassle-free construction of such a center.

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Posted in Cemeteries and Mass Graves, CPJCE (London), Lithuania, Lithuanian Adventures of the Hon. Herbert Block (AK, AZM, (LG)CJH, CPJCE, GWF, USCPAHA, SATMAR/“AARON BRANCH", WJRO), Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Opinion, Politics of Memory, US Commission for Preservation of the American Heritage Abroad | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Lithuania’s Prime Minister Bizarrely Claims that Conference Center on Old Jewish Cemetery will “Lift” Vilnius…

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.

READ MOREAS PDF.

 

Posted in Arts, Bold Citizens Speak Out, Books, History, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Media Watch, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory, Rūta Vanagaitė | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on Linas Vildžiūnas’s Review of Rūta Vanagaitė’s ‘Mūsiškiai’ Now Available in English Translation

Red-Brown Iconography



DOUBLE GENOCIDE  |  SYMBOLOGY

The governing establishments in Eastern European states sometimes produce red-brown symbols as part of the wider campaign to give the notion of red-brown equality an aura of official sanctioned status. The effects are obvious: People are being desensitized to the swastika, Soviet symbols are ‘artistically’ (i.e. via political kitsch) recombinated into the new Dual Equal Evil symbols making the revisionist history ‘true’. Severe pain is caused to families of Holocaust Survivors and anti-Nazi Soviet war veterans alike. The continued silence of the European Union, the OSCE and NATO encourages the drift toward the far right, which includes clean-up of the image of Nazi collaborators in elite circles, and glorification of Nazi symbols in more uncouth environments.

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New “Litvak” Postage Stamp is Disturbing for Lithuanian Jews, Holocaust Survivors, and Yiddish Lovers



OPINION  |  VILNIUS JEWISH LIFE  |  LITVAK AFFAIRS  |  IDENTITY THEFT OF LITVAK HERITAGE  |  YIDDISH AFFAIRS  |  SYMBOLOGY

by Dovid Katz

One does not have to be a theoretical champion of Free Enterprise vs. Government Intervention to take stock of this week’s incredible contrast between the two major products of this last week in September, the annual week of intensive Jewish commemoration activity in Lithuania, and particularly, in its fabled capital, Vilnius. By “products” we mean things of substantive physicality that will outlive by far the week’s posturing, speeches, and meetings with glittering public officials and national leaders.

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Posted in Commemorations for Destroyed Communities, Identity Theft of the Litvak Heritage, Israel, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory, Symbology, Yiddish Affairs | Tagged , | Comments Off on New “Litvak” Postage Stamp is Disturbing for Lithuanian Jews, Holocaust Survivors, and Yiddish Lovers

Andrius Kulikauskas’s Presentation at Sept. 2017 Conference in Lublin, Poland



OPINION  |  OLD VILNA JEWISH CEMETERY  |  CHRISTIAN-JEWISH RELATIONS  |  ANTISEMITISM

by Andrius Kulikauskas

The following is a reposting of the author’s posting on his website, with his permission, of his presentation at Culture • Cognition • Communication: (Inter)cultural Perspectives on Language and the Mind (ICPLM 2017), held at the University of Lublin in Polnand on 14 and 15 September 2017. Audio recordingDr. Kulikauskas is assistant professor at Vilnius Gediminas Technical University (VGTU).

Evolution of Self-Identity in the Intercultural Debate on Whether to Restore Vilnius’s Oldest Jewish Cemetery

How Do Things Come to Matter?

Evolution of Self-Identity in the Intercultural Debate on Whether to Restore Vilnius’s Oldest Jewish Cemetery. My name is Andrius Kulikauskas of Vilnius Gediminas Technical University in Lithuania. I will be speaking about a question important to me, How do things come to matter? and I will relate it to the topic of Lithuanian Jewish heritage: The Evolution of Self-Identity in the Intercultural Debate on Whether to Restore Vilnius’s Oldest Jewish Cemetery. So I am very grateful to the organizers and to our last speaker for having a very much related topic and I’ll be focusing on my own philosophical question but as a citizen of Lithuania I am very glad to be able to think about this very concrete issue. In our case, the cemetery is from the 1500s. As you know, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania had fantastic relations with Jews up until the Holocaust when Lithuania was I think the first place where all of the Jews were killed, in our countryside in 1941 even before the Wansee conference.

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Posted in Andrius Kulikauskas, Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Christian-Jewish Issues, Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Opinion, Politics of Memory, Symbology | Tagged , , | Comments Off on Andrius Kulikauskas’s Presentation at Sept. 2017 Conference in Lublin, Poland

Premier Vilnius Showing of “Last Sunday in August” is Free and Open to Public



FILM AND THEATER  |  EVENTS  |  VILNIUS JEWISH LIFE  |  COMMEMORATIONS  |  MALÁT

Lat Sunday

All welcome at next Sunday’s Vilnius showing of the new film The Last Sunday in August about Malát (Molėtai). 24 September 2017 at 6 PM at the Ozas Multi Cinema, Ozo 18, Vilnius 08009. Admission free but pre-registration required (phone or SMS: +3706 718-6202 or +3706 153-9950). For background see DH’s Malát sectionTrailer for the film.

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Posted in Commemorations for Destroyed Communities, Film, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Malát (Molėtai), News & Views | Tagged , , | Comments Off on Premier Vilnius Showing of “Last Sunday in August” is Free and Open to Public

Whom Does the “Lithuanian Jewish Community” Board Really Represent?



OPINION  |  VILNIUS JEWISH LIFE  |  GOOD WILL FOUNDATION

by Josifas Parasonis

Professor Josifas Parasonis (Vilnius Gediminas Technical University) contributed this opinion piece in Lithuanian earlier today. This translation is provided by Defending History, with Prof. Parasonis’s consent, for our readers’ information (with hyperlinks provided by DH). In the event of any query arising, the Lithuanian version alone is authoritative. Prof. Parasonis is one of the twenty-one Vilnius Jewish Community council members elected on 24 May 2017. See also the letter signed by him and nineteen others, addressed to the Good Will Foundation last July, and, in reverse chronological order, Defending History’s section on Vilnius Jewish life. DH opinion pieces represent the views of the author.

Methods of authoritarian and obtuse governance, evident for many years in the management of the Lithuanian Jewish Community (LJC), have recently reached the public sphere. Despite the fierce resistance and brutal interference of the chairwoman of the LJC (and, until recently, of the Vilnius Jewish Community, too) Faina Kukliansky, the Vilnius Jewish Community (VJC) [on 24 May 2017] organized a general conference of Vilnius Jews according to all legal procedures — with, incidentally, record-high attendance — and elected its new council [of 21 members] democratically. But the notion that Jewish people solve their problems in a wise manner, although prevalent in society, demonstrably did not take root in this case. As a former deputy chairman of the LJC (2000–2005), I feel an obligation to share my thoughts on why this has happened. It seems to me that I have a moral right to share these thoughts.

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Posted in "Good Will Foundation" (Jewish Restitution in Lithuania), Free Speech & Democracy, Human Rights, Josifas Parasonis, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Opinion, Vilnius Jewish Life (from 2016) | Comments Off on Whom Does the “Lithuanian Jewish Community” Board Really Represent?

Lithuanian Gov. Announces Renaming of “Genocide Museum”; Defending History Congratulates Officials



Defending History Brings Results

Lithuanian Gov. Announces Name Change for a Far-Right History-Distorting “Genocide Museum”

“COURAGEOUS STEP”;  DEFENDING HISTORY SAYS: CONGRATULATIONS!

See Dovid Katz in 2009;  Defending History in 2010;  “Genocide Center” behind the museum; 2016 study of “Double Genocide” impact on museums

THE CHANGE IS A MAJOR SETBACK FOR THE DOUBLE GENOCIDE MOVEMENT’S CAMPAIGN TO REDEFINE GENOCIDE IN THE CAUSE OF EQUALIZING AND MIX-AND-MATCHING TWO ENTIRELY DIFFERENT EVILS

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Posted in Double Genocide, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Museums, News & Views, Politics of Memory, Symbology, Vilnius Jewish Life (from 2016) | Comments Off on Lithuanian Gov. Announces Renaming of “Genocide Museum”; Defending History Congratulates Officials

Dr. Andrius Kulikauskas Launches Survey on Empathy for Lithuania’s Jews



   CHRISTIAN-JEWISH RELATIONS  |  HUMAN RIGHTS  |  CEMETERIES  |  OLD VILNA JEWISH CEMETERY  |  OPPOSITION TO CONVENTION CENTER PROJECT  |  PETITION

VILNIUS—VGTU Lecturer Dr. Andrius Kulikauskas invites readers of all backgrounds to help in his new survey by answering an online questionnaire, in English (What Would Deepen Empathy for Lithuania’s Jews?) or in Lithuanian (Kas didintų atjautą Lietuvos žydams?). He is hoping for as wide a diversity of views as possible.

Our answers will help his research which he will present in Lublin, Poland on September 14, 2017.  His presentation is: How Do Things Come to Matter? Evolution of Self-Identity in the Intercultural Debate on Whether to Restore Vilnius’s Oldest Jewish Cemetery.  He will be speaking at ICPLM 2017, a conference on Culture − Cognition − Communication: (Inter)cultural perspectives on language and the mind. All are welcome to attend and participate in the discussion.

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Posted in Andrius Kulikauskas, Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Christian-Jewish Issues, Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok) | Comments Off on Dr. Andrius Kulikauskas Launches Survey on Empathy for Lithuania’s Jews

Vilnius Celebrating Milan Chersonski’s 80th Birthday on September 2nd 2017



EVENTS  |  VILNIUS JEWISH LIFE

אַ ליכטיקן געבאָרנטאָג, טײַערער מילאַן!

Happy Birthday, Milan!

Milan Chersonski

Holocaust flight survivor. Powerful essayist and masterful editor. For 20 years he directed the Vilnius Yiddish Folk Theater. Then, for a dozen years he edited Jerusalem of Lithuania, the Jewish community’s quadrilingual (English-Lithuanian-Russian-Yiddish) newspaper (with each issue produced in four separate editions!). Beloved writer at DefendingHistory.com. Champion of Yiddish culture, Jewish heritage, teaching the truth about the Holocaust, human rights and equality, honesty in journalism and intellectual discourse, freedom of speech, and a more just and fair society for all. 

Posted in Events, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Milan Chersonski, News & Views, Vilnius Jewish Life (from 2016) | Comments Off on Vilnius Celebrating Milan Chersonski’s 80th Birthday on September 2nd 2017

Historic Conference on Future of Vilna Great Synagogue Site is Open to All



EVENTS  |  VILNIUS JEWISH LIFE  |  LITVAK TIMES

VILNIUS—Excitement in Jewish-interest circles in Lithuania and its region is building in anticipation of next week’s open international conference on the future of the site of the historic Great Vilna Synagogue. Destroyed during and after the war, an unsightly Soviet era school was then plonked on top (somewhat analogously, morally and aesthetically, to the unsightly old Soviet “sports palace” atop the city’s old Jewish cemetery at Piramónt).

The conference, to be held in Vilnius next Monday and Tuesday, 4 and 5 September 2017, is free and open to the public. Everybody is welcome. But pre-registration is required at the website of the organizing NGO, Litvak World.

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Honest Error at German Embassy in Vilnius?



OPINION  |  USE AND ABUSE OF PONÁR  |  VILNIUS JEWISH LIFE  |  LITVAK AFFAIRS

VILNIUS—“There is nothing new under the sun,” as the Good Book says (Ecclesiastes 1:9). Sure, on occasion, Irish communities will feud in Boston, Italians in New York, Chinese in LA and Lithuanians in Chicago. It is part of the professional training, posture, and policy of diplomats to negotiate such inevitabilities by way of common sense, wisdom, and fairness. For years now, the widely admired German ambassador to Lithuania, HE Jutta Schmitz has kept her embassy’s diplomatic table open to people and organizations, governmental and non-governmental, from across the colorfully diverse spectrum of opinion in Lithuania. It is not known whether the recent completion of her Vilnius ambassadorship and departure from Lithuania,  and the temporary vacancy,  had anything to do with the embassy’s recent, and quite innocent, faux-pas.

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Posted in Commemorations for Destroyed Communities, Germany, Israel, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Opinion, Ponár (Ponary, Paneriai), Vilnius Jewish Life (from 2016) | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off on Honest Error at German Embassy in Vilnius?

Brand New Yiddish Signs Come to Malát (Molėtai), Town in Northeast Lithuania



MALÁT  |  SHTETL COMMEMORATIONS  |  YIDDISH AFFAIRS

MALÁT (MOLĖTAI)—At the initiative of Viktorija Kazlienė, founder and director of the Museum of the Molėtai Region (Molėtų krašto muziejus) in northeastern Lithuania, a series of Jewish historical signs were unveiled this week. The project came to fruition thanks to the material support of the Department of Cultural Heritage, that is under the aegis of Lithuania’s Ministry of Culture.

In the event, these signs mark the one-year anniversary of the internationally acclaimed march of memory held in August 2016 to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the massacre of the town’s Jews in 1941 by local collaborators, under the aegis of the Nazis, and during the period of rapid annihilation of Lithuania’s provincial Jewry. In addition to playing a pivotal role in enabling the 2016 march and commemorative events, Ms. Kazlienė organized an extensive exhibition on the centuries-old Jewish life in the erstwhile shtetl, known in Yiddish as Malát. With Leonas Kaplanas, she coauthored a book based on the exhibition. It was featured in this year’s Vilnius Book Fair.

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Posted in Bold Citizens Speak Out, Commemorations for Destroyed Communities, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Malát (Molėtai), News & Views, Politics of Memory, Symbology, Vilnius Jewish Life (from 2016) | Tagged , , | Comments Off on Brand New Yiddish Signs Come to Malát (Molėtai), Town in Northeast Lithuania

Neo-Nazis in Lithuania Again Get “Material” from “Official” Jewish Community’s Leadership



VILNIUS—In a kind of topsy-turvy-world follow-up to last June’s neo-Nazi pick-up of an abusive article on the website of the official state-sponsored Jewish Community of Lithuania, the nation’s chief neo-Nazi blogger, “Zeppelinus,” infamous for his racist, misogynistic, homophobic and antisemitic invective and graphics (samples here and here), has again jumped on the recent attempts of the current leadership of the state-sponsored official “Jewish Community of Lithuania” to use the historic term “Litvak” (‘Jew of Lithuanian heritage’) to divide the Jewish community racially and ethnically between alleged “pure-blooded Lithuanian Jews identifiable today by their Lithuanian language” and “Russian-speakers.” On at least one occasion, an international scandal resulted in a half-mouthed apology following the most offensive official posting and a hapless attempted “edit” that followed on. Vilna-born Holocaust survivor Prof. Pinchos Fridberg has commented on the affair.

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Posted in Antisemitism & Bias, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Media Watch, News & Views, Vilnius Jewish Life (from 2016) | Comments Off on Neo-Nazis in Lithuania Again Get “Material” from “Official” Jewish Community’s Leadership

New NATO Film Unwittingly Glorifies Holocaust Collaborators


OPINION


by Dovid Katz

Our take? NATO needs to stand for Western values. Putin’s shameful “Zapad 17” military exercise demo, in  regions bordering the eastern democratic lands of NATO and the EU — including the three Baltic states, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia — is intended to intimidate their peaceful populations and to provoke regional unease. Not to mention the very real danger that various of the troops will find one way or another “to stay in the region after the exercises are over” in a very tired old Soviet spirit of things. These military exercises need to be exposed for what they are, and countered with stalwart determination. NATO’s commitment to its members must remain sacrosanct and permanent, while remaining true to the ideals for which, ultimately, it exists.

That makes it all the more critical for the North Atlantic alliance (and the EU) not to succumb to regional far-right, ultranationalist, chauvinist, Holocaust-revisionist, and antisemitic forces in the course of the proceedings.

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Posted in Collaborators Glorified, Debates on the Postwar "Forest Brothers", Dovid Katz, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on New NATO Film Unwittingly Glorifies Holocaust Collaborators

Vilnius TV & Radio Debates on Future of Piramónt — the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery



DOCUMENTS  |  THE OLD VILNA JEWISH CEMETERY  |  OPPOSITION TO CONVENTION CENTER PROJECT  |  INTERNATIONAL PETITION   |  CHRISTIAN-JEWISH RELATIONS  |  CEMETERIES  |  VILNIUS JEWISH LIFE  |  HUMAN RIGHTS

VILNIUS—Following Defending History’s publication last weekend of the 28 July 2017 letter to the president of Lithuania signed by twelve United States congressmen, pleading for the new national convention center project to be moved away from the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery (Piramónt, in the Šnipiškės district of modern Vilnius), the news was reported by The Weekly of Vilnius, an elite diplomatic publication on Lithuanian affairs, and then by BNS (Baltic News Service, and in English via the Lithuania Tribune), which put it into the wider Baltic domain. Last Monday, 14 August, there were at least four panel discussions broadcast on Lithuanian TV and radio. The following are full English translations of each of these broadcasts, provided by DefendingHistory.com.

(1) LNK TV: News. With Simon Gurevich (Simonas Gurevičius), Faina Kukliansky,   Rūta Leitanaitė, Daniel Lupschitz (Danielius Lupšicas),  Deividas Matulionis, Romas Pakalnis, Donatas Stundis

(2) LRT TV: Panorama. With Simon Gurevich, Skirmantas Malinauskas, Valdonė Rundenkienė

(3) LRT Radio: Lithuanian Day. With Simon Gurevich, Agnė Kairiūnaitė, Deividas Matulionis

(4) LRT Radio: 60 Minutes. With Simon Gurevich, Agnė Kairiūnaitė, Faina Kukliansky, Deividas Matulionis, passers-by and a taxi driver

LITE-Vulovak-on-national-convention-center-opening

Vulovak for DefendingHistory.com

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Posted in Cemeteries and Mass Graves, CPJCE (London), Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Media Watch, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Opinion, Politics of Memory, Vilnius Jewish Life (from 2016) | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Vilnius TV & Radio Debates on Future of Piramónt — the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery

Professor Leiman Responds to Lithuanian President on the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery



OLD VILNA JEWISH CEMETERY  |  OPPOSITION TO CONVENTION CENTER PROJECT  |  PETITION   |  CHRISTIAN-JEWISH RELATIONS  |  CEMETERIES  |  VILNIUS JEWISH LIFE

VILNIUS—The following statement by Professor Shnayer (Sid) Leiman, appeared today in the respected American weekly Five Towns Jewish Times. It is a reaction to the comments by Lithuania’s top leaders, made after receiving a letter of protest from twelve United States congressmen concerning plans to site a projected new national convention center in the heart of the territory of the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in the Šnipiškės district of modern Vilnius). International opposition to “the convention center in the old Jewish cemetery” continues to mount.

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Posted in Antisemitism & Bias, Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Christian-Jewish Issues, CPJCE (London), Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Opinion, Sid (Shnayer) Leiman, Vilnius Jewish Life (from 2016) | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on Professor Leiman Responds to Lithuanian President on the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery

Why the Dead Jews of Vilna Cannot Rest in Peace



OLD VILNA JEWISH CEMETERY  |  OPPOSITION TO CONVENTION CENTER PROJECT  |  PETITION   |  CHRISTIAN-JEWISH RELATIONS  |  CEMETERIES  |  VILNIUS JEWISH LIFE

The following article which covers the recent meetings between the mayor of Vilnius and Jewish leaders in New York City, appeared today in Five Towns Jewish Times (as PDF).

by Rabbi Zev Friedman

The dispute over Vilna’s oldest synagogue has been brewing for more than a decade. Recently, as a result of the involvement and protestations of a coalition of rabbinic leaders and activists, the fight has intensified.

The Jewish community in Lithuania is hundreds of years old. The Vilna Gaon, who lived in the 18th century, and other great Torah luminaries helped Vilna earn its reputation as the Jerusalem of Eastern Europe.

The Shoah. Lithuania has rightfully earned one of the most sordid reputations of anti-Semitism based upon its participation in the Holocaust. While almost everyone heard of Babi Yar, where 33,000 men, women, and children were murdered, many have not heard about Ponary (Ponár), the forest outside of Vilna where double that amount — approximately 70,000 Jews — were rounded up and massacred by Lithuanian Nazi collaborators.

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Posted in Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Christian-Jewish Issues, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Politics of Memory, Vilnius Mayor Remigijus Šimašius | Tagged | Comments Off on Why the Dead Jews of Vilna Cannot Rest in Peace

Ruta Bloshtein Responds to Lithuania’s Top Politicians on Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery



OLD VILNA JEWISH CEMETERY  |  OPPOSITION TO CONVENTION CENTER PROJECT  |  PETITION   |  CHRISTIAN-JEWISH RELATIONS  |  CEMETERIES  |  VILNIUS JEWISH LIFE

VILNIUS—The following statement by Vilnius native and resident Ruta Bloshtein, an active member of the city’s religious Jewish community, appeared today as an update to her international petition, which has just approached the 40,000 signature mark. Her update was issued as  a reaction to the comments by Lithuania’s top leaders, made after receiving a letter of protest from twelve United States congressmen concerning plans to site a projected new national convention center in the heart of the territory of the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in the Šnipiškės district of modern Vilnius). International opposition to “the convention center in the old Jewish cemetery” continues to mount.


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Posted in Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Human Rights, Lithuanian Adventures of the Hon. Herbert Block (AK, AZM, (LG)CJH, CPJCE, GWF, USCPAHA, SATMAR/“AARON BRANCH", WJRO), Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Opinion, Politics of Memory, Ruta (Reyzke) Bloshtein, Vilnius Jewish Life (from 2016) | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on Ruta Bloshtein Responds to Lithuania’s Top Politicians on Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery

“Weekly of Vilnius” is First Lithuanian Publication to Cover US Congress Letter on Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery



DOCUMENTS  |  THE OLD VILNA JEWISH CEMETERY  |  OPPOSITION TO CONVENTION CENTER PROJECT  |  INTERNATIONAL PETITION   |  CHRISTIAN-JEWISH RELATIONS  |  CEMETERIES  |  VILNIUS JEWISH LIFE  |  HUMAN RIGHTS

VILNIUSThe Weekly of Vilnius, widely considered to be this city’s most prestigious English-language news publication, was today the first in the Lithuanian capital to cover news of the letter from twelve United States congressmen to the president of Lithuania concerning current plans to situate a projected new national convention center in the heart of the city’s historic old Jewish cemetery, at Piramónt, in the Šnipiškės section of modern Vilnius. With the permission of the publishers, we are reproducing the title page of today’s edition and the entire article concerning the cemetery. In the spirit of classic journalism, The Weekly of Vilnius has no online edition (only an online description page) and is available weekly by emailed PDF or hard copy to its elite group of subscribers, known to include embassies, government agencies, captains of industry, politicians, academics and relevant institutions, libraries, and think tanks around the world. It is edited by the distinguished economist and journalist Mr. Nehro Khalil. A PDF facsimile of today’s report follows. Please use the arrows in the upper left hand corner to turn pages in either direction.

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Posted in Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Media Watch, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Vilnius Jewish Life (from 2016) | Comments Off on “Weekly of Vilnius” is First Lithuanian Publication to Cover US Congress Letter on Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery

12 US Congressmen Call on Lithuania’s President to Move Convention Center Project Away from Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery



OLD VILNA JEWISH CEMETERY  |  OPPOSITION TO CONVENTION CENTER PROJECT  |  PETITION   |  CHRISTIAN-JEWISH RELATIONS  |  CEMETERIES  |  VILNIUS JEWISH LIFE

Congress Letter on Piramont

WASHINGTON—A resolute letter (facsimile below; as PDF) signed by twelve United States congressmen to the president of Lithuania, Dalia Grybauskaitė, was released here today. Dated 28 July 2017, the letter expresses American “opposition to the conversion of the old Vilnius Palace of Concerts and Sports into a convention center on the site of the old Jewish cemetery.” It asserts that “the very presence of the existing structure in the middle of the old Jewish cemetery desecrates it and conflicts with the respect for human dignity that forms the basis of Western Civilization. By contrast, moving the convention center project to another site, and permitting the dismantling of the abandoned Sports Palace it was to replace, would affirm the Lithuanian government’s commitment to basic human rights.”

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Posted in Antisemitism & Bias, Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Christian-Jewish Issues, Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), United States, US Commission for Preservation of the American Heritage Abroad, Vilnius Jewish Life (from 2016) | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on 12 US Congressmen Call on Lithuania’s President to Move Convention Center Project Away from Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery

Vilnius Jewish Community Releases Letter Signed by 20 Elected Board Members Addressed to “Good Will Foundation”



DOCUMENTS  |  VILNIUS JEWISH LIFE  |  LITVAK AFFAIRS  |  DEMOCRACY  |  GOOD WILL FOUNDATION  |  HUMAN RIGHTS

VILNIUS—One month ago, on 7 July 2017, twenty of the twenty-one elected board members of the Vilnius Jewish Community (the 21st was abroad) signed a full-hearted letter addressed to the Good Will Foundation, the Lithuanian government restitution fund for Jewish community survival deriving from part of the value of the communal properties owned by the annihilated religious Jewish communities of prewar Lithuania. To this date, there has been no reply from the Good Will Foundation, nor any statement from its esteemed foreign board members who represent the World Jewish Restitution Organization. The board’s co-chair is Andrew Baker of the American Jewish Committee, who is a recipient of a number of Lithuanian government medals over the years.

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Posted in "Good Will Foundation" (Jewish Restitution in Lithuania), Free Speech & Democracy, Lithuania, Lithuanian Adventures of the Hon. Herbert Block (AK, AZM, (LG)CJH, CPJCE, GWF, USCPAHA, SATMAR/“AARON BRANCH", WJRO), Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Simon Gurevich (Simonas Gurevičius), Vilnius Jewish Life (from 2016) | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Vilnius Jewish Community Releases Letter Signed by 20 Elected Board Members Addressed to “Good Will Foundation”

Defending History Releases Yiddish Version of Julius Norwilla’s Lithuanian and English Poster for Piramónt



OLD VILNA JEWISH CEMETERY  |  OPPOSITION TO CONVENTION CENTER PROJECT  |  PETITION   |  CHRISTIAN-JEWISH RELATIONS  |  CEMETERIES  |  VILNIUS JEWISH LIFE

VILNIUS—Defending History today released here a Yiddish version of Julius Norwilla’s Lithuanian and English posters produced in the course of the current campaign to save the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery from becoming the “geo-basis” for a new national convention center where revelers would cheer, clap, sing, and dance, and use bars and toilets, surrounded by thousands of Jewish graves from the fifteenth to the nineteenth centuries. Human rights specialists concur that such a fate would not be contemplated for a Christian cemetery in the European Union, much less with the proposed EU contribution of millions of euros in “structural funds”.

As in the case of the Lithuanian and English posters, readers are invited to make as many printouts as possible, and to distribute them far and wide, mentioning wherever possible the ongoing international petition which has to date attracted some 40,000 signatures from many parts of the globe. The Yiddish poster is also available as PDF and higher-res image.

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Posted in Antisemitism & Bias, Bold Citizens Speak Out, Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Julius Norwilla, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Opinion, Politics of Memory, Vilnius Jewish Life (from 2016), Yiddish Affairs | Comments Off on Defending History Releases Yiddish Version of Julius Norwilla’s Lithuanian and English Poster for Piramónt

Julius Norwilla Releases English Version of Poster for Saving Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery



OLD VILNA JEWISH CEMETERY  |  OPPOSITION TO CONVENTION CENTER PROJECT  |  PETITION   |  CHRISTIAN-JEWISH RELATIONS  |  CEMETERIES  |  VILNIUS JEWISH LIFE

VILNIUS—Following his recent release of a Lithuanian-language poster calling for restoration of the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt, Julius Norwilla (Norvila) today released the English-language version, which follows. Readers are invited to print out copies of the poster to help in the campaign (as PDF; as image). [UPDATE: A Yiddish version  of the poster was subsequently published.]

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Posted in Bold Citizens Speak Out, Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Human Rights, Julius Norwilla, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Opinion, Politics of Memory | Comments Off on Julius Norwilla Releases English Version of Poster for Saving Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery

Summer’s Cool New Vilnius Poster to Save Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery



OLD VILNA JEWISH CEMETERY  |  OPPOSITION TO CONVENTION CENTER PROJECT  |  PETITION   |  CHRISTIAN-JEWISH RELATIONS  |  CEMETERIES  |  VILNIUS JEWISH LIFE

VILNIUS—For the first time in the history of modern Lithuania, a non-Jewish campaign initiative for a Jewish cause has seen its poster flood the streets of this city’s storied Old Town at the height of the summer tourist season. Conceived and produced by Julius Norwilla (Norvila), a former Protestant minister, using a quote from Dr. Andrius Kulikauskas, a Catholic philosopher, and based on an artistic visualization of a young Vilnius artist who supports the campaign, the poster is entitled “Vilnius Without its Ugliest Soviet Eyesore”. That is a reference to the hated ruin of the Soviet Sports Palace which stands in the middle of the old Vilna cemetery, where the city’s Jewish residents were buried in graves paid for by their families as freehold property, from the 15th to the 19th century. The poster makes reference to Vilnius native Ruta Bloshtein’s international petition, which is, at 40,000 signatures to date, arguably the largest Litvak initiative since the Holocaust. Members of Lithuania’s Jewish community who have spoken out to date include Moyshe Bairak, Ruta Bloshtein, Milan Chersonski, Pinchos Fridberg, Dovid Katz, and Josif Parasonis (more here). Current and recent rabbis in Vilnius who have taken a public stand include Chaim Burshtein, Shmuel Jacob Feffer, Kalev Krelin, and Sholom Ber Krinsky.

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Posted in Bold Citizens Speak Out, Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Documents, Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Politics of Memory, Vilnius Jewish Life (from 2016) | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on Summer’s Cool New Vilnius Poster to Save Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery

In Alytus, a Monument Brings Us Together



EVENTS  |  HISTORY  |  BALTIC HEROES  |  HONORING RESCUERS  |  CHRISTIAN-JEWISH RELATIONS

by Andrius Kulikauskas

(Department of Philosophy & Cultural Studies, Vilnius Gediminas Technical University)

01-Monument

On Tuesday, July 4, 2017, at 11:00 pm, some forty residents of Alytus assembled at Vaclovas Jankauskas’s sculpture garden to welcome a new monument, “For a Person Who Tried to Save a Person” (Žmogui gelbėjusiam žmogų), and to forever honor those who risked all they had to help Jews during the traumatic days and years of the Holocaust.
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Posted in Andrius Kulikauskas, Bold Citizens Speak Out, Christian-Jewish Issues, Events, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Symbology | Comments Off on In Alytus, a Monument Brings Us Together

Kulikauskas to Address Conference in Wrocław, Poland on “Determining Personal Responsibility” in Lithuania’s Holocaust



OPINION  |  HISTORY  |  COLLABORATORS  |  CHRISTIAN-JEWISH RELATIONS

by Andrius Kulikauskas

(Department of Philosophy & Cultural Studies, Vilnius Gediminas Technical University)

Dr. Andrius Kulikauskas of Vilnius Gediminas Technical University is scheduled to speak at the XIII Philosophers’ Rally on “Determining Personal Responsibility for a Social Calamity: The Origins of the Holocaust in Lithuania”. The event is Poland’s annual philosophy conference and will take place on 6-8 July at the University of Wrocław, at the Faculty of Law, Administration and Economics (LAE), Building D. He will speak on Saturday, 8 July, 12:30−13:00, in Lecture Hall 2D, which is the main hall. The LAE faculty is especially interested in how philosophy addresses challenges from the contemporary sociopolitical world. Dr. Kulikauskas’s talk will be based on his findings, which have appeared in English in Defending History: “How Did Lithuanians Wrong Litvaks?” and, in particular, his analysis of champions and facilitators of the Holocaust in Lithuania. His abstract for the upcoming Wrocław conference follows his analytic chart below.

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Posted in Andrius Kulikauskas, Christian-Jewish Issues, Collaborators Glorified, History, Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory | Comments Off on Kulikauskas to Address Conference in Wrocław, Poland on “Determining Personal Responsibility” in Lithuania’s Holocaust

Vilnius, 23 June 2017: Nationalists Glorify Atrocities with Posters on Genocide Museum Fence



OPINION  |  HISTORY  |  COLLABORATORS GLORIFIED  |  VILNIUS GENOCIDE CENTER  |  MUSEUMS  |  CHRISTIAN-JEWISH RELATIONS

by Andrius Kulikauskas

(Department of Philosophy & Cultural Studies, Vilnius Gediminas Technical University)

On June 23, 2017, the Lithuanian Freedom Fighters Association (Lietuvos laisvės kovotojų sąjunga) organized a commemoration of the June 23, 1941 anti-Soviet uprising with a complete lack of sensitivity for Lithuanian victims of the Holocaust.

The official celebration at the Parliament’s Independence Square included an elaborately choreographed flag raising by the Lithuanian Army’s Honor Guard, music by the Armed Forces Orchestra, a reenactment of the Declaration of Independence with its hopes for a place for Lithuania in Hitler’s New Europe, and a speech by Vytautas Landsbergis, patriarch of modern-day Lithuania.

More by Andrius Kulikauskas. Articles by Evaldas Balčiūnas; Milan Chersonski; Leonidas Donskis; Nida Vasiliauskaitė.  See also:
DH section on The Legacy of 23 June 1941. DH pages on: LAF intentions; painful street names; dry-clean of the week of 23 June 1941.

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Posted in Andrius Kulikauskas, Antisemitism & Bias, Celebrations of Fascism, Christian-Jewish Issues, Collaborators Glorified, Genocide Center (Vilnius), History, Human Rights, Legacy of 23 June 1941, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Museums, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory, Symbology, Vilnius Jewish Life (from 2016) | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on Vilnius, 23 June 2017: Nationalists Glorify Atrocities with Posters on Genocide Museum Fence

Has Yivo Again been Manipulated for Promotion of Holocaust Revisionism? (or: “Ót azélkhe shkhéynim?”)



OPINION  |  YIVO   |  JEWISH STUDIES MANIPULATED FOR HOLOCAUST OBFUSCATION?

VILNIUS—Less than one month after an inspiring, and by all accounts successful launch of the new Yivo-backed Jewish Studies Center at the Martynas Mažvydas National Library on 22 and 23 May 2017, the same institution, a national library of an EU and NATO member state, has launched, on the very same floor, another new center. This slightly-later launched institute, named for Holocaust collaborator and ethnic cleansing supporter Adolfas Damušis, made its debut on 15 and 16 June 2017. Its opening ceremony is described by Andrius Kulikauskas.

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Posted in Double Games, Double Genocide, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Politics of Memory, United States, Yiddish Affairs, Yivo Manipulated? | Comments Off on Has Yivo Again been Manipulated for Promotion of Holocaust Revisionism? (or: “Ót azélkhe shkhéynim?”)

Really? A Street in an EU Capital Named for 23 June 1941?



COLLABORATORS GLORIFIED  |  LEGACY OF 23 JUNE  |  POLITICS OF MEMORY  |  CHRISTIAN-JEWISH RELATIONS

June-23rd-Street-in-Vilnius

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Vilnius street named for 23 June 1941, and once again: events to honor the shameful day in Lithuanian history, when, guided by the LAF and its provisional government, political, moral and religious leaders turned on their Jewish neighbors in a hate campaign that was to end with the highest rate of Holocaust murder in Europe. More here. More on this and other offensive street names and public shrines. And — How are members of the tiny surviving Jewish minority in Lithuania supposed to feel about this? Holocaust survivors and their families and descendants internationally?

INTERNATIONAL PETITION. See also DH articles by Andrius Kulikauskas, Evaldas Balčiūnas, Milan Chersonski, Leonidas Donskis, Nida Vasiliauskaitė. Also: DH section on The Legacy of 23 June 1941. DH pages on: LAF intentions; painful street names; dry-clean of the week of 23 June 1941.

Posted in Antisemitism & Bias, Collaborators Glorified, Human Rights, Legacy of 23 June 1941, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory, Vilnius Jewish Life (from 2016) | Comments Off on Really? A Street in an EU Capital Named for 23 June 1941?

New Defending History Section: The Legacy of 23 June 1941



OPINION  |  HISTORY  |  COLLABORATORS GLORIFIED  |  HUMAN RIGHTS  |  VILNIUS GENOCIDE CENTER  |  CHRISTIAN-JEWISH RELATIONS

 A new section has been added today to Defending History’s existing repertoire, one dedicated to the legacy of 23 June 1941, which for the Jews of Lithuania and other countries represents the onset of the Holocaust east of the 1939 Molotov-Ribbentrop line, a day after the launch of Hitler’s Operation Barbarossa, his attack on the then Soviet Union. On this day in a number of countries, including Lithuania, Latvia and (western) Ukraine, local “freedom fighters” began to molest, humiliate and butcher innocent Jewish neighbors before the arrival of the first German forces. Nothing can be more painful in the 21st century than pro-Western governments, elites, institutions and societal leaders glorifying the day as one of alleged uprising against the Soviet Union. For one thing, it is falsification of history: the Soviet forces were fleeing Hitler’s invasion, the largest in human history, not the local Jew-killers. For another, the current glorification of the Holocaust’s first local perpetrators is an affront to civilized society, human rights and basic decency. The new section is The Legacy of 23 June.

Posted in Christian-Jewish Issues, Collaborators Glorified, History, Human Rights, Legacy of 23 June 1941, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory | Comments Off on New Defending History Section: The Legacy of 23 June 1941

Lithuania’s National Mažvydas Library Celebrates Adolfas Damušis, a Supporter of Ethnic Cleansing of the Nation’s Jewish Minority



OPINION  |  HISTORY  |  COLLABORATORS GLORIFIED  |  CHRISTIAN-JEWISH RELATIONS

by Andrius Kulikauskas

(Department of Philosophy & Cultural Studies, Vilnius Gediminas Technical University)

 

01

Adolfas Damušis (1908-2003)

The Martynas Mažvydas National Library of Lithuania has just celebrated the opening of the Adolfas Damušis Democratic Studies Center on June 15-16, 2017 with a one-sided view of his life. Gintė Damušytė, Lithuania’s ambassador to Denmark, and Mykolas Romeris University in Vilnius founded the Center in 2013 to honor the memory of her father, Adolfas Damušis (1908-2003). He was a chemist and lifelong idealist. As a Catholic youth activist, he was arrested in 1931 by Smetona’s autocratic regime and held at the Varniai concentration camp for half a year. In 1941, he was one of the organizers in Kaunas of the anti-Soviet uprising on June 23, 1941, the leader of the Lithuanian Activist Front’s military staff in Kaunas, and the Minister of Industry in Lithuania’s short-lived Provisional Government. In 1944-1945, he was held by the Gestapo in a prison in Bayreuth, northern Bavaria, for his anti-Nazi activities. In the US, he served as the leader of the Lithuanian Catholic youth organization “Ateitis” (the Future) and many other organizations, and worked as an editor for “Radio Free Europe”.

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Posted in Andrius Kulikauskas, Collaborators Glorified, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory, Yivo Manipulated? | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on Lithuania’s National Mažvydas Library Celebrates Adolfas Damušis, a Supporter of Ethnic Cleansing of the Nation’s Jewish Minority

In Reply to 40,000 Petition Signatories, Lithuania’s Chancellor Rehashes Reliance on Allegedly Corrupt Group of London Rabbis who Reject Consensus of Litvak Rabbis Internationally



OLD VILNA JEWISH CEMETERY  |  OPPOSITION TO CONVENTION CENTER PROJECT  |  PAPER TRAIL   |  CHRISTIAN-JEWISH RELATIONS  |  CEMETERIES  |  VILNIUS JEWISH LIFE

VILNIUS—Ms. Milda Dargužaitė, since December 2016 the highly respected Chancellor of the Office of the Government of the Republic of Lithuania, on 2 June 2017 issued a written reply to Ruta Bloshtein, the Vilnius-born Orthodox Jew who last December initiated a petition on the old Vilna Jewish cemetery at Piramónt, in today’s Šnipiškės (Yiddish: Shnípishek). The petition asks the Lithuanian government to move the national convention center project away from the old Jewish cemetery, and to restore the historic burial ground which dates to the fifteenth century and contains the remains of many of the greatest Lithuanian Jewish scholars. There has been a massive international outcry against plans to cite a convention center in the heart of the old cemetery where revelers would cheer, clap, do politics, sing, drink at bars and use toilets surrounded by thousands of Jewish graves. Ms. Bloshtein’s petition has been signed by 40,000 people, and has been the subject of coverage in Algemeiner.comAmi, the Jewish Chronicle, Jewish JournalTablet, and numerous other publications.

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Posted in Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Christian-Jewish Issues, CPJCE (London), Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Politics of Memory | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off on In Reply to 40,000 Petition Signatories, Lithuania’s Chancellor Rehashes Reliance on Allegedly Corrupt Group of London Rabbis who Reject Consensus of Litvak Rabbis Internationally

Neo-Nazis Pick Up Hate Materials from… (Hijacked?) Official “Lithuanian Jewish (Litvak) Community” Website



OPINION  |  VILNIUS JEWISH LIFE  |  LITVAK AFFAIRS  |  DEMOCRACY  |  GOOD WILL FOUNDATION  |  HUMAN RIGHTS

VILNIUS—Lithuania’s top neo-Nazi blogger “Zeppelinus” has republished with some noticeable relish, in a post dated 27 May 2017, parts of the 19 May official “Lithuanian Jewish Community website” attack (as PDF) on this journal’s editor, Dovid Katz. The attack was, some would say shamefully, signed “LJC staff” though sources rapidly revealed its prime author (see our rapid response on the day). It is not the first time that the antisemitic far-right has found its material on the website of the official Jewish Community under its current leadership (that is under legal challenge after the recent allegedly rigged election), at a time when the website is, disturbingly, allegedly under control of elements very far from the interests of Lithuania’s Jews. Last autumn’s website attacks on Rabbi Sholom-Ber Krinsky were picked up and elaborated by another key antisemitic blogger who went so far as to  dig up the 1790s antisemitic attacks on a prime founder of Lithuanian Hasidism.

You know something is wrong when the neo-Nazis are finding their material on the “website of an official Jewish community”. It’s a website funded in fact by the state via restitution funds deriving from the communal religious properties of the annihilated Jewish communities of Lithuania, administered by a (this one’s for you, George Orwell) “Good Will Foundation”.

Then there was the most recent fiasco, a comparison of the democratic electoral congress of the Vilnius Jewish Community on 24 May to Russia’s “Zapad 2017” military exercises, and the charge that the assembled 300 or so Vilnius Jews were “mainly Russian speakers calling themselves Jews, with only a minority of people with Litvak blood” (see our report which led to JTA’s coverage, and the essays by Professor Pinchos Fridberg and by Leonas Kaplanas). This was a proverbial gift of the gods to the local antisemitic establishment here that revels in delegitimizing the country’s living Jews while embracing a de-Judaized ersatz “Litvak heritage” for PR, with some help from a tiny elite of privileged “court Jews” who themselves at times, it seems, become conduits for antisemitic invective against the local Jewish community. Prof. Fridberg has pointed out that a subsequent vague and unclear “apology” posted failed to disclose the author(s) of the offending text, and never even appeared in the Russian-language section of the website. Is the author of the offending text still employed by the official “Lithuanian Jewish (Litvak) Community”? Why is his or her identity a secret?

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Posted in Antisemitism & Bias, Human Rights, Identity Theft of the Litvak Heritage, Lithuania, Lithuanian Adventures of the Hon. Herbert Block (AK, AZM, (LG)CJH, CPJCE, GWF, USCPAHA, SATMAR/“AARON BRANCH", WJRO), Litvak Affairs, Media Watch, News & Views, Opinion, Vilnius Jewish Life (from 2016) | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Neo-Nazis Pick Up Hate Materials from… (Hijacked?) Official “Lithuanian Jewish (Litvak) Community” Website

Dr. Jerrold A. Zoloto’s Open Letter to Ms. Kukliansky



OPINION  |  VILNIUS JEWISH LIFE  |  LITVAK AFFAIRS  |  DEMOCRACY  |  HUMAN RIGHTS

by Jerrold A. Zoloto, PhD

The following Open Letter appeared today on Dr. Zoloto’s public Facebook page and is reposted in Defending History with the author’s permission.

We have watched in horror the events leading up to and concluding with your “election” as the leader of the Lithuanian Jewish community. Having grown up in the world’s greatest democracy, it appalls me to see how you have ruthlessly and illegally managed to maintain your power base.

I am a proud Litvak, but you would not consider me a Litvak because I do not fit your definition of a Litvak. My mother was a Litvak and my father was a Jew born in Zhitomir. I grew up with my grandmother who was born in Kaunas. My grandfather was also from Kaunas, though he had died before I was born. Yiddish and Russian were spoken in my home as I grew up. You have disenfranchised Litvaks whose native language was not Lithuanian or whose parents were not both Litvaks or who was not born and raised in Lithuania. Your rhetoric on this subject is dangerously close to that of the Nazis who tried to destroy us. Within that concept of yours, you remind me of a Kapo who will do anything to her own people to ensure her own survival.

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Posted in "Good Will Foundation" (Jewish Restitution in Lithuania), Free Speech & Democracy, Identity Theft of the Litvak Heritage, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Opinion, Vilnius Jewish Life (from 2016) | Comments Off on Dr. Jerrold A. Zoloto’s Open Letter to Ms. Kukliansky

Pinchos Fridberg’s Open Letter Concerning a Website Post of the Official Lithuanian Jewish Community



OPINION  |  VILNIUS JEWISH LIFE  |  LITVAK AFFAIRS  |  DEMOCRACY  |  GOOD WILL FOUNDATION  |  HUMAN RIGHTS

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.

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Posted in Free Speech & Democracy, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Media Watch, News & Views, Opinion, Pinchos Fridberg, Vilnius Jewish Life (from 2016) | Comments Off on Pinchos Fridberg’s Open Letter Concerning a Website Post of the Official Lithuanian Jewish Community

Young Vilnius Jews Converge on Jewish Community Center to Protest Rigged Election



OPINION  |  VILNIUS JEWISH LIFE  |  LITVAK AFFAIRS  |  DEMOCRACY  |  GOOD WILL FOUNDATION  |  HUMAN RIGHTS

by Defending History Staff

VILNIUS—In one of the most remarkable events in post-Soviet Jewish Lithuania, around a hundred Jewish residents of this city, most of them from younger generations, came today to the Pylimo 4 headquarters of the “official” Jewish community to monitor the quadrennial elections for chairperson of the Jewish Community of Lithuania which they believed to be rigged. First, the rules had been changed right in the middle of the campaign, on 19 April, disenfranchising the small Jewish population of Lithuania by reducing to one vote each Jewish community and abandoning the long-standing formula of 1 vote for 100 persons which gave a voice to actual Jewish people (while retaining one, two or even three votes for various oligarchs from NGOs and other organizations, associations, and entities, including a not-yet built museum in a town with no Jews). That meant that the 2,200 or so Jews of Vilnius would have one vote rather than around 22.

UPDATES OF 29 MAY:

Vilnius District Court today nullified the Lithuanian Jewish Community’s decision to eliminate proportional representation and reduce the electoral weight of Vilnius Jewry to one vote. It offered temporary relief with a right to appeal within seven days. Net moral effect of the decision is to delegitimize the “re-coronation” of the incumbent chairperson.

Also: The “Good Will Foundation” released its latest allocation figures of funds deriving from the communal religious properties of the annihilated Jewish communities. Incredibly, it contains money for the state-sponsored “Red-Brown Commission” that is dedicated to the 2008 Prague Declaration

Second, the fifteen representatives which the newly elected Vilnius Jewish Community Board designated to attend the election conference were not admitted to the conference. Last Wednesday evening, the VJC elected Simon Gurevich (Simonas Gurevičius) its chairperson. He is the challenger candidate for the national chairpersonship position.

Third, a massive multi-layered security presence (guards in the building wore at least three kinds of fancy uniforms, police and security cars graced the sidewalk outside) added both bad will and farce to a day that will invariably go down in Vilna Jewish history on a number of counts. The Vilnius Jewish Community’s report on the day’s events (in Lithuanian) is available on its Facebook page.

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Posted in "Good Will Foundation" (Jewish Restitution in Lithuania), Free Speech & Democracy, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Opinion, Simon Gurevich (Simonas Gurevičius), Vilnius Jewish Life (from 2016) | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off on Young Vilnius Jews Converge on Jewish Community Center to Protest Rigged Election

S’brent, Bríderlakh, S’brent (It’s Burning, Dear Brothers, it’s Burning)


 


OPINION  |  VILNIUS JEWISH LIFE  |  LITVAK AFFAIRS  |  DEMOCRACY  |  HUMAN RIGHTS

by Leon Kaplan

Last night, Wednesday the 24th of May 2017, I came home from a long (three-and-a-half-hour) but wonderful gathering. It was the Vilnius Jewish Community’s conference, a democratic, well-organized and well-attended election for the Vilnius Jewish Community (VJC) as well as for its new board. When I got home I decided to listen to a disk of Yiddish songs by the late Nechama Lifschitz, a disk that her daughter Roza Litay gave me as a gift during a visit at her apartment in Tel Aviv. Around twelve midnight, while listening to songs of our “singing soul” I opened my Facebook page and could not believe my eyes when I saw the link to an article on the official website of the Lithuanian Jewish Community (LJC) that presumed to cover the evening I had myself attended. It had a big picture not of any of the personalities of the evening, but of the chairperson, Faina Kukliansky standing next to a car and making a V for Victory sign like a victorious general gleeful over the destruction of an array of enemies.

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Posted in Leon Kaplan, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Malát (Molėtai), News & Views, Russian Speakers' Personal Status, Vilnius Jewish Life (from 2016) | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on S’brent, Bríderlakh, S’brent (It’s Burning, Dear Brothers, it’s Burning)

Lithuanian Intellectual Joins Israeli Rabbis in Plea to Ambassador Bagdonas at Tel Aviv Embassy on Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery



OLD VILNA JEWISH CEMETERY  |  OPPOSITION TO CONVENTION CENTER PROJECT  |  PAPER  TRAIL   |  CHRISTIAN-JEWISH RELATIONS  |  CEMETERIES  |  VILNIUS JEWISH LIFE

VILNIUS—In recent weeks, Lithuania’s Jewish community has been shaken by a number of vicious attacks against various of its members, apparently written by operatives out to provoke “senseless interethnic strife and division” who have infiltrated to echelons of the official community’s power structures, and published personal invective replete with “demonstrable falsehoods” under the imprimatur not of any named author but of the “Lithuanian Jewish Community” per se (examples here, here, and here). Against that backdrop many Jews and Lithuanians alike, who enjoy some of the best daily relations of any two groups in Eastern Europe, have been finding it necessary to stress that Lithuanian-Jewish relations are excellent and will not be disturbed by such mischief makers (see also today’s JTA report, and a 2015 paper by this journal’s editor). The ongoing passionate debates about the Holocaust, “Double Genocide”, defamation of Jewish partisans, glorification of local Nazi collaborators, city-center neo-Nazi marches on independence days, plans to have a new national convention center in the heart of the old Jewish cemetery, and the fair allocation of restitution funds, are not disputes between “Jews and Lithuanians”: there are, at least locally, proponents from both groups on all sides of each of these debates and various others.

Julius Norwilla’s speech at the Lithuanian Embassy in Tel Aviv: in English, in Lithuanian

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Posted in Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Christian-Jewish Issues, Events, Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Politics of Memory, Vilnius Jewish Life (from 2016) | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Lithuanian Intellectual Joins Israeli Rabbis in Plea to Ambassador Bagdonas at Tel Aviv Embassy on Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery

Julius Norwilla’s Speech at the Lithuanian Embassy in Tel Aviv



OLD VILNA JEWISH CEMETERY  |  OPPOSITION TO CONVENTION CENTER PROJECT  |  PAPER  TRAIL   |  CHRISTIAN-JEWISH RELATIONS  |  CEMETERIES

TEL AVIV—The following is the text of the speech delivered by Julius Norwilla during the gathering earlier today at the Lithuanian Embassy in Tel Aviv where a delegation of major Litvak rabbis, joined at their request by Mr. Norwilla, who flew in from Vilnius for the event, was welcomed by Ambassador Edminas Bagdonas. Details of the event are here.

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Posted in Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Julius Norwilla, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Politics of Memory | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Julius Norwilla’s Speech at the Lithuanian Embassy in Tel Aviv

Adopting Antisemitic Trope, “Official Jewish Community Website” Blasts 300 Vilnius Jews as “Mainly Russian Speakers Calling Themselves Jews”



OPINION  |  VILNIUS JEWISH LIFE  |  LITVAK AFFAIRS  |  DEMOCRACY  |  GOOD WILL FOUNDATION  |  HUMAN RIGHTS

VILNIUS—Over 300 members of the Vilnius Jewish Community (VJC), representing all adult age groups, and constituting the numerically largest such conference this century, this evening elected a new VJC chairman at the Karolina Hotel in Vilnius. Professionally organized, members with voting rights had to present their membership cards and separate ID at conference tables organized by initial letters of surnames. The proceedings, started with a few sentences of Yiddish by Simon Gurevich (Simonas Gurevicius), were meticulously conducted bilingually, with all proceedings in both Lithuanian (first) and (then) Russian in an atmosphere of democratic catharsis of an East European Jewish community, many of whose members have felt sidelined by the interests of a handful of elites close to government circles in recent years. The assembly included virtually all of the known personalities of Vilnius Jewry who do not happen to have employment at Pylimo Street 4, the official community’s headquarters (but there were a few of those too, as well as some from the official synagogue minyan).

After the election of the new chairperson came elections for twenty-one members of the Vilnius Board. Also, a resolution was adopted cancelling the recent attempt to disenfranchise some two thousand Vilnius Jews by recounting their votes as a single vote (while the heads of various NGOs, including the not-yet-built Sheduva Lost Shtetl Museum, have two or more votes each).

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Posted in "Good Will Foundation" (Jewish Restitution in Lithuania), Free Speech & Democracy, Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Russian Speakers' Personal Status, Vilnius Jewish Life (from 2016) | Comments Off on Adopting Antisemitic Trope, “Official Jewish Community Website” Blasts 300 Vilnius Jews as “Mainly Russian Speakers Calling Themselves Jews”

Gurevich Explains How Kukliansky, Levin, Žakas, and Kanovich Control 40% of Votes in “Kangaroo Election”



OPINION  |  VILNIUS JEWISH LIFE  |  LITVAK AFFAIRS  |  DEMOCRACY  |  GOOD WILL FOUNDATION  |  HUMAN RIGHTS

VILNIUS—Simon Gurevich (Simonas Gurevičius), candidate for the leadership of the Lithuanian Jewish Community, today issued a statement on his public Facebook page inviting members of the community to participate in the electoral conference for chairperson of the Vilnius Jewish Community, to be held this Wednesday evening 24 May 2014 6 PM (18:00) at the Karolina Hotel in Vilnius. His statement, in Lithuanian, reminds readers that the recent attempts to cancel the conference (whose date was democratically voted on by a clear majority of Vilnius Jewish Community Board members) would result in the application of the “new rules” decided on in the middle of the current campaign that would effectively disenfranchise 2,200 Vilnius Jews by recounting their votes from the present 22 or so (via the longstanding formula of 100 people = one vote) to one vote, while each of the elite power brokers in the chairperson’s circle (not all of whom live in Lithuania) would in effect have the votes to decide the entire future of the Jewish community, resulting in a tragic undermining of the future of the actual living Jewish people in Lithuania. To make matters worse, various of these “machers” have two or three votes each.

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Posted in "Good Will Foundation" (Jewish Restitution in Lithuania), Free Speech & Democracy, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Shádov (Šeduva), Simon Gurevich (Simonas Gurevičius), Vilnius Jewish Life (from 2016) | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Gurevich Explains How Kukliansky, Levin, Žakas, and Kanovich Control 40% of Votes in “Kangaroo Election”

Wiesenthal Center Appeals to Lithuanian President to Move Convention Center Project Away from Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery



OPINION  |  PIRAMÓNT  | OPPOSITION TO CONVENTION CENTER PROJECT  |  PAPER  TRAIL  |  CEMETERIES

The Simon Wiesenthal Center issued the following statement on 18 May, bringing it into full de facto support of Ruta Bloshtein’s petition which now approaches 40,000 signatures from around the world. 

LOS ANGELES AND JERUSALEM—The leaders of the Simon Wiesenthal Center have appealed to Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite to change the current plans of the government to build a convention center on the grounds of the ancient Jewish cemetery at Piramónt in the heart of the Lithuanian capital.

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Posted in Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Christian-Jewish Issues, Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Opinion, Politics of Memory | Comments Off on Wiesenthal Center Appeals to Lithuanian President to Move Convention Center Project Away from Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery

Arkadijus Vinokuras: Chairperson’s Henchman-Spoiler or Independent Candidate?



OPINION  |  VILNIUS JEWISH LIFE  |  LITVAK AFFAIRS  |  DEMOCRACY  |  GOOD WILL FOUNDATION  |  HUMAN RIGHTS

VILNIUS—Arkadijus Vinokuras, the highly talented and successful Lithuanian Jewish author, journalist, and comedian, has today jumped into the fray of the official Jewish Community’s elections for the post of chairperson of the Vilnius Jewish Community. In contrast to Simon Gurevich (Simonas Gurevičius), who declared his candidacy at the start of the election season and whose candidacy has (as of the time of this posting) not even been reported on the official community website, Mr. Vinokuras’s effort comes one week before the scheduled May 24th Vilnius Jewish Community conference, and has been announced with respect and a fine photograph on the website today (the same moment it came out on his own Facebook page). But that is not the main reason his candidacy is thought by many in the community, on first reaction, to be in the service of chairperson Faina Kukliansky, whose democratic terms as chief of both the Lithuanian Jewish Community (LJC) and the Vilnius Jewish Community (VJC) ran out last month.

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Posted in "Good Will Foundation" (Jewish Restitution in Lithuania), Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Opinion, Vilnius Jewish Life (from 2016) | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Arkadijus Vinokuras: Chairperson’s Henchman-Spoiler or Independent Candidate?

Is “Good Will Foundation” Enabling a Mockery of Jewish Community Democracy in Lithuania?



OPINION  |  VILNIUS JEWISH LIFE  |  LITVAK AFFAIRS  |  GOOD WILL FOUNDATION  |  DEMOCRACY  |  HUMAN RIGHTS

VILNIUS—The official trilingual (English-Lithuanian-Russian) website of the Jewish Community of Lithuania, generously financed from the restitution funds (deriving from prewar Jewish religious communal properties) allocated by the state-sponsored Good Will Foundation, is in the nature of things meant to represent that community. Once a community chairperson’s tenure was expired and a democratic election campaign was underway, it was widely expected that the website and its editor, Lithuanian journalist Ilona Rūkienė, would take every care to ensure evenhandedness, giving the various candidates equal space and each campaign the same respect, coverage, and democratic tools for reaching the electorate, thereby enabling voters to make an informed decision.

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Posted in "Good Will Foundation" (Jewish Restitution in Lithuania), Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Opinion, Vilnius Jewish Life (from 2016) | Comments Off on Is “Good Will Foundation” Enabling a Mockery of Jewish Community Democracy in Lithuania?

Lithuanian Jews Dismayed at New Attempt to Crush Democracy



OPINION  |  VILNIUS JEWISH LIFE  |  LITVAK AFFAIRS  |  DEMOCRACY  |  HUMAN RIGHTS

VILNIUS—Coming hard on the heels of the mid-campaign rule-change of 19 April that effectively disenfranchised over 2,000 Vilnius Jews, by “recounting” their collective vote as one vote instead of over 20 (via the long-established formula of 100 persons = one vote), the chairperson of the Lithuanian Jewish Community, eminent attorney Faina Kukliansky, on 4 May placed an announcement on the Lithuanian-language page of the official community website (followed by the Russian section), Lzb.lt, cancelling the widely announced 24 May 2017 conference of the Vilnius Jewish Community decided upon by a clear majority vote of its Council (15 of 21 active members), for which the large hall of Hotel Karolina had already been booked. This was followed on 5 May by an English language version complete with “Red-Ink Warnings from the Leader” which seems to inaccurately report that the planned 24 May conference was an “arbitrary” act of “one” Council of the Vilnius Jewish Community member, presumably referring to her opponent in the race, Simonas Gurevičius.

UPDATES TO 12 MAY 2017: 

8 May 2017: Vilnius Jewish Community board member Simon Ceitlin posts a notice on his Facebook page confirming that the 24 May event at Hotel Karolina will proceed as announced.

10 May 2017: Simonas Gurevičius posts refutation of official Community website notice and confirms that the 24 May meeting, decided by all present at the most recent Vilnius Jewish Community board meeting, will proceed.

12 May 2017: Faina Kukliansky reposts announcement on community website assuring readers that the meeting will not occur.

 

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Posted in "Good Will Foundation" (Jewish Restitution in Lithuania), Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Opinion, Vilnius Jewish Life (from 2016) | Tagged , , , , , | Comments Off on Lithuanian Jews Dismayed at New Attempt to Crush Democracy

Translation of Lithuanian Radio Debate on the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery



OLD VILNA JEWISH CEMETERY  |  OPPOSITION TO CONVENTION CENTER PROJECT  |  PAPER  TRAIL   |  CHRISTIAN-JEWISH RELATIONS  |  CEMETERIES

The following is a full translation of the radio debate on the fate of the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in the capital’s Snipiskes district), aired by LRT.lt radio as part of its People and Ideas series on 1 March and again on 5 March 2017 and available in the original Lithuanian on the station’s website. The debate was hosted by Audra Girijotė with the participants (in alphabetical order here): Renaldas Augustinavičius, Ruta Bloshtein, Faina Kukliansky, Andrius Kulikauskas, Shnayer Leiman, Remigijus Šimašius.

Note that this translation works from the Lithuanian voice-over on Professor Leiman’s originally English contribution, rather than from a separate tape of the full English interview with Professor Leiman used by the organizers (who put together the “debate” after separate interviews with the participants). This was decided upon in the spirit of trying to characterize, as best we can, the text and texture actually received by the Lithuanian language audience.

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Posted in Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Commemorations for Destroyed Communities, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Media Watch, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Opinion, Vilnius Jewish Life (from 2016) | Comments Off on Translation of Lithuanian Radio Debate on the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery

Moral Imagination: Soviet Sports Palace, European Convention Center, or Historic Jewish Cemetery?



OLD VILNA JEWISH CEMETERY | CHRISTIAN-JEWISH RELATIONS  |  CEMETERIES

by Andrius Kulikauskas

MoralImagination-00

I am studying How do people behave? How should they behave? and as part of that, How do issues come to matter? or no longer matter? Today I will share what I am learning about the theoretical power of our imagination to produce and resolve a real life controversy.

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Posted in Andrius Kulikauskas, Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Christian-Jewish Issues, Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Opinion, Politics of Memory, Symbology | Comments Off on Moral Imagination: Soviet Sports Palace, European Convention Center, or Historic Jewish Cemetery?

Vilnius Jews “Shocked” by Maneuver to “Rig the Community’s Elections”



OPINION  |  VILNIUS JEWISH LIFE  |  LITVAK AFFAIRS  |  DEMOCRACY  |  HUMAN RIGHTS

VILNIUS—Interviews by several Defending History staffers with several dozen members of Vilnius’s Jewish community over the past several days have turned up what seems to be a widespread sense of (citing terms that recurred frequently in the conversations) “disappointment” or “shock” at the “unbelievable changing of the rules of an election in the middle of the campaign.” (Such mini-surveys are not scientific, and a professional survey of today’s Jewish community on a number of issues is a critical desideratum here.)

The change seems to be in the cause of in effect disenfranchising the actual living Jews of Lithuania by suddenly decoupling the numbers of living, resident Jews from votes cast for the leadership of the Lithuanian Jewish Community, for which elections are scheduled, as of today, for May 28th (for recent developments see the DH section on Vilnius Jewish Life). A number of those interviewed mentioned the role of the “Good Will Foundation” that allocates funding for the community’s administration, including elections, from the government finance provided as restitution for prewar communal religious Jewish property. Some of its allocations have been highly controversial.

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Posted in "Good Will Foundation" (Jewish Restitution in Lithuania), Free Speech & Democracy, Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Media Watch, News & Views, Opinion, Shádov (Šeduva), Vilnius Jewish Life (from 2016) | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Vilnius Jews “Shocked” by Maneuver to “Rig the Community’s Elections”

New U.S. Video on Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery Features Prof. Shnayer Leiman and Malcolm Hoenlein



PIRAMÓNT  | OPPOSITION TO CONVENTION CENTER PROJECT  |  PAPER  TRAIL  |  CEMETERIES

Posted in Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Christian-Jewish Issues, Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Sid (Shnayer) Leiman | Tagged , , | Comments Off on New U.S. Video on Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery Features Prof. Shnayer Leiman and Malcolm Hoenlein

Would a Lithuanian Church Proceed in 2017 to Honor an Alleged Local Holocaust Perpetrator?



COLLABORATORS GLORIFIED  |   CHRISTIAN-JEWISH RELATIONS  |  MALÁT (MOLĖTAI)  |  COMMEMORATING DESTROYED COMMUNITIES

by Dovid Katz

VILNIUS—Two regular Sunday worshipers at the grand old church in Molėtai, a town of some 6,000 inhabitants in northeastern Lithuania, reported to the Defending History team in Vilnius earlier this week that their priest, Father Kęstutis Kazlauskas, has publicly announced that the church is organizing the production of a bas-relief to be commissioned from “a major Lithuanian artist” (?!) and erected within the sacred premises, to honor alleged Holocaust perpetrator Jonas Žvinys. Outside the two church goers, Defending History has been unable to obtain further corroboration of what would be a shocking development, and a very negative one for modern Lithuania, in a town where 100% of the Jewish residents were murdered in 1941 by the Nazis, with the majority of the actual killing, and its on-site organization, carried out by local nationalist elements.

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Posted in Antisemitism & Bias, Christian-Jewish Issues, Collaborators Glorified, Commemorations for Destroyed Communities, Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Malát (Molėtai), News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on Would a Lithuanian Church Proceed in 2017 to Honor an Alleged Local Holocaust Perpetrator?