Memoirs

Libau — A Place by the Sea



LATVIA  |  MEMOIRS

by Monica Lowenberg  (London)

“To remember would be to remember their life and their death. But that memory is forbidden, and one is afraid of thinking that something exists that is worth remembering, when one does not manage to remember this. All memory seems to be, ought to be, memory of that, all forgetting, forgetting of that. Like an unchanging symptom, the repeated pain caused by the realization that one constantly forgets places, moments, people, is like the simple reflection of the pain that finds in them its true name.”

N. Fresco, Remembering the Unknown

 

On the 18th of February 1960 my late father Ernest Lowenberg went to the German embassy in London to declare his brother Paul Loewenberg and Latvian born father David Loewenberg/Levenbergs dead.

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Letter from a German Soldier in Kaunas, 29 June 1941



DOCUMENTS   |   HISTORY

by Andreas Kuck

The following letter, presented in German facsmile of the original and in a draft English translation, was sent by German soldier Heinrich Sandt (1908 — 19??) from Kaunas (Kovno), Lithuania, on 29 June 1941 (the letter is both dated and stamped with the date). He was a member of the 10th Company of Infantry Regiment 89 (later Grenadier Regiment 89). He wrote the letter to his wife Elisabeth about what he witnessed in Kaunas. The 89th appears to have crossed the Nemunas (Nieman River) on 25 June 1941. 

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The Photograph



MEMOIRS

by Motiejus Martišius

Whenever I drive from Skaudvilė to Batakiai I almost always turn off the road at Šilas, stopping at the location of the mass grave of the people who were shot there in 1941. Here, the sky is always dark. The sunlight over the graves is blocked out by a forest of unruly spruce, birches, aspen. Everything seems completely calm here. Occasionally, I catch the light scent of the forest, carried out on a breeze as the wind roars through the trees. I pause. I remove my hat. Slowly, I pull a photograph out of a notebook I carry with me always. A twelve year old girl smiles out at me from that photograph. The photograph is quite worn out. In places there are creases. That’s because I have been carrying this photograph around with me for many years now. The person who this photograph belongs to is already long gone and buried. I listen and I can almost hear her voice: “My Algis, farewell. I am leaving forever.”Continue reading

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Simon Malkes Perpetuates Memory of Vilna Rescuer Karl Plagge



MEMOIRS  |  BOOKS  |  HISTORY

by Simon Malkes (Paris)

Simon Malkes

SIMON MALKES

I was born in 1927 in the city whose official name was then Wilno, Poland (historically Vilna, today’s Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania). When I was fourteen, the Nazis took over the city, began murdering its Jewish population and set up the Vilna Ghetto. My own survival is due to my having been taken as a teenage repairman of German military vehicles at the plant known as HKP (Heereskraftfahrpark or Army Motor Vehicle Repair Park) on Subotsh Street (today’s Subačiaus). That one enterprise was under the directorship of Major Karl Plagge (1897–1957), a righteous gentile who did everything he could to protect as many Jewish workers as possible from the huge murder machine. Famously, shortly before the Nazi flight from the Soviet army in the summer of 1944, he gave a coded warning to his workers about a need for imminent escape.

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We Shall Never Forget Kazimierz Sakowicz’s “Ponary Diary”



BOOKS  |  OPINION  |  LITHUANIA  |  HISTORY

by Roland Binet (Braine-l’Alleud/Belgium)

Ponary Diary, 1941 — 1943. A Bystander’s Account of a Mass Murder. by Kazimierz Sakowicz. Edited by Yitzhak Arad. Foreword by Rachel Margolis. Yale University Press: New Haven and London 2005.

It goes without saying that a book of eyewitness Holocaust testimony penned at Lithuania’s largest mass grave site in the years 1941 to 1943, and first published in English in 2005, does not lose its importance for those who have not read it even a decade later; even if many other, much less important books, sport a more recent date of publication. Moreover, given the Lithuanian government’s campaign against the scholar who rediscovered and first published the manuscript in the 1990s, and against the scholar who edited the English edition cited above (both as part of its campaign against Jewish partisan survivors), the poignancy and human interest are even greater. It is indeed  a most appropriate time to pay tribute to that rediscoverer, Dr. Rachel Margolis (1921—2015), who passed away in Rehovot, Israel last summer, without realizing, in her nineties, her dying wish of visiting her native Vilna one last time, because of her fear of prosecutors’ threats and intimidation.

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Breaking the Silence



B O O K S

by Merilyn Moos

1783482966-230x345While there has been some research on and recognition of the exiles from Nazism who settled in the UK, little is known about their children: the British second generation, and what the long term effects of their parents’ exile have been on them. Indeed, this has been a largely invisible group. My book Breaking the Silence. Voices of the British Children of Refugees from Nazism  (Rowman and Littlefield, 2015) set out to cast light on this second generation group.

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Some Family Relics of Jewish Vilna



M E M O I R S

by Pinchos Fridberg

 ◊

Coming across the Jewish Life in Poland section of Yivo’s website, I decided to write this short memoir. This photograph shows the teachers and graduates of the Vilner Yiddish Real-Gymnasium (Vílner yídishe reál-gimnázye) in 1930. The school’s principal was Leyb Turbowich, and the literature teacher was the great Jewish poet Moyshe Kulbak, the author of  a well-known Yiddish poem Vílne, among many others.

1

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Max Kaufmann’s Book on the Latvian Holocaust Now Available in English



B O O K S

by Roland Binet (Braine-l’Alleud/Belgium)

 

“For us, all of Latvia is a huge cemetery – a cemetery without graves or gravestones.”

— Max Kaufmann

The English edition of Max Kaufman’s largely forgotten book, Churbn Lettland: The Destruction of the Jews of Latvia, now available online, is a most welcome, and important, addition to the library of serious works on the Latvian Holocaust.[1]

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A Second Political Case



O P I N I O N

by Evaldas Balčiūnas

 ◊

My Monday  morning began with confusion. Usually the first thing I do on a Monday morning is prepare a work-report on the week gone by, but the police called me Friday, August 29, 2014, and later delivered a summons ordering me to appear at nine o’clock on September first at the office of Ovidijus Brazys, police investigator with the criminal police department of the Šiauliai municipal police commissariat, in room 312 at Purienų street no. 48, Šiauliai.

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Henke’s Legend



M E M O I R S

by Shloyme Gilinsky

This extract from a Litvak memoir by Shloyme Gilinsky who was born in 1888 in Lingmyán (now Linkmenys, Lithuania), and died in 1961 in the US, has been translated from the original Yiddish by the author’s son, Victor Gilinsky (Los Angeles, California).

Victor Gilinsky writes:

Gilinsky picture

The teacher, Shloyme Gilinsky, is at the left.

“My father was born in 1988 in Lingmyan and died in 1961 in Lexington NY, on a summer holiday. He lived n NYC. I have attached my favorite picture of him—teaching a class, probably around the time of World War I. Note the kids have very short hair—just growing back after having their heads shaved to deal with lice, and they don’t have shoes.  This was their only way to the larger world, like in an earlier generation the Gaon’s Kloyz, and the ferment around it, was for him.

“I’m in Santa Monica. I had a small memorial plaque put on a bench facing the ocean near the Santa Monica pier. I was allowed three lines of 24 characters each so I had to figure out how to sum him up with that limitation. I had them inscribe: 

Shloyme Gilinsky d 1961

Started Yiddish schools 

in Poland, mourned them

“I found the material in handwritten notes in my mother’s files that I only recently went through. She sent most of his stuff to Yivo but when I got in touch with them they could hardly find anything. It seems to have disappeared. Nor did they seem to have any interest in it. I have some other material but the handwriting is just too hard to read.”

I write this in nineteen hundred sixty in New York, a long way from my beginnings before the turn of the century in a Lithuanian shtetl. We Jews called it Duksht. The Lithuanians in the surrounding countryside had their own name, as did the Poles, and the ruling Russians. But we lived apart from the rest, in our own world, a situation that was about to change. I want to tell you how Henke’s legend awakened me and the other young Jewish boys in town to the broader world, and how it ultimately set the course of my life.

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Our Staff Writer Evaldas Balčiūnas Interrogated for Articles Opposing Glorification of Nazi Collaborators and Current Neo-Nazism



M E M O I R   /   O P I N I O N

by Evaldas Balčiūnas

Note: This memoir continues the narrative started in the author’s earlier accounts of 22 May 2014, of 4 July, and of 9 July. See also our report of 22 May with image and translation of the actual summons. Evaldas Balčiūnas’s articles on Holocaust collaborators who are glorified in state-funded public settings can be found (in reverse chronological order) in the DH sections Evaldas Balčiūnas and Collaborators Glorified. See also sections on Free Speech and Human Rights. Other Lithuanian citizens disturbed by police for opposing state honors for Holocaust collaborators include Saulius Beržinis, Aleksandras Bosas, and Giedrius Grabauskas. This memoir was translated by Geoff Vasil and the final version approved by the author.


My wife told me that the police who delivered the summons on the afternoon of July 8th 2014 carried a large A4 format photograph of me. The police had serious plans… If I hadn’t told my wife to accept the summons, I might have been subject to an operation to locate or even arrest me. It was possible to laugh, but I needed to find transportation. I didn’t want to take my car. There and back entailed five hours of driving. It would be exhausting, and the experience could be expected to throw me off balance during the interrogation.

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Riga, Roots and Reflections


 


M E M O I R S   /   O P I N I O N

by Monica Lowenberg

 

In 2011, I made my first journey to Riga, the capital city of Latvia.

A few months before, I had been tracked down by two distant cousins on a genealogy site, quite out of the blue. I remember the strange feeling I had when one of them asked me if I felt “Latvian.” Latvian? German Christian, German Jewish, British, yes — but Latvian Jewish? No.

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Yehiel Zilberman’s Memoirs (excerpt)


 


M E M O I R S

by Yehiel Zilberman

Translated from Russian by Olga Gorelik

 

This is a chapter from the memoirs written by Yehiel Zilberman, translated from Russian by Olga Gorelik (© Yehiel Zilberman & Olga Gorelik). The chapter appears in Defending History by permission of the copyright holders, with thanks to the good offices of Victor Shifrin (Los Angeles).

Yehiel (Yekhíel) Zilberman was born in Lithuania in 1922. In 1940 he graduated from the H. N. Bialik Hebrew High School in Shavl (Šiauliai) and was admitted to the Institute of Commerce in the same city. In June of 1941, one year after Lithuania fell under Soviet rule, Yehiel along with his parents and brother Moshe (Mikhail) was exiled to the Altai Region in Russia where he lived until 1945. In 1949 he graduated with Honors from Gorky Industrial Institute and became a chemical engineer. Yehiel worked in both manufacturing and scientific research. In 1954 he received his PhD from the Moscow Institute of Chemical Technology. In 1965 Dr. Zilberman received the title of Professor. From 1970 to 1990 he taught at Gorky Polytechnic Institute.

Dr. Yehiel Zilberman has been resident in Haifa, Israel, since 1990.

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Why I am Translating Rozka Korczak’s Vilna Ghetto Memoir



O P I N I O N

by Evaldas Balčiūnas

Evaldas Balčiūnas of Šiauliai on a recent visit to Vilnius, Lithuania’s capital

The Vilna Ghetto memoir of Rozka Korczak-Marlé (1921–1988) is unfortunately completely unknown to Lithuanians today. I have therefore decided to translate the book into Lithuanian (from the Russian edition that Korczak herself edited), and have published two samples, here and here, on Anarchija.lt.

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