Opinion

“Absolute Barbarism”: An Orthodox Jewish Resident of Vilnius Speaks Out on Piramónt (Šnipiškės) Cemetery



O P I N I O N     /     T H E   C E M E T E R Y   A T   P I R A M Ó N T

by Ruta (Reyzke) Bloshtein

Ruta (Reyzke) Bloshtein

This week we Jews observed the saddest day in our people’s tradition — Tisha B’Av (Yiddish: Tíshebov), the annual fast day which commemorates the anniversary of a number of disasters in Jewish history, primarily the destruction of both the first and second temples in Jerusalem. On this day of mourning and lamentation we fast. While sitting on the floor and reading the Book of Lamentations and the Kinoys (sacred poems of mourning), I thought about the Tíshebov tradition of visiting graves of our great sages and of departed family members.

In Vílne (Vilnius), this tradition was observed for ages by visiting the Piramónt cemetery, where throughout a period of more than five hundred years hundreds of thousands have been buried there — the Jews of Vílne, our ancestors among them — and so many illustrious rabbis and sages, who passed on the infinite treasures of their wisdom to us, to help us find the most honest and ethical way of life. It is, in our belief, on account of their merits that the rebuilding of the third temple will come sooner.

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Posted in Bold Citizens Speak Out, Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Christian-Jewish Issues, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Opinion | Tagged , , | Comments Off on “Absolute Barbarism”: An Orthodox Jewish Resident of Vilnius Speaks Out on Piramónt (Šnipiškės) Cemetery

Who is Opposed to the Convention Center on the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės)?



The Opposition in 2015

(I) Institutions

(II) Individuals

(III) Ad-hoc Groups (Litvak Rabbis in the US; in Israel)

(IV) Background

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Posted in Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Opinion | Tagged , | Comments Off on Who is Opposed to the Convention Center on the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės)?

Vilnius Native Ruta Bloshtein Speaks Out about the Old Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės)



O P I N I O N   /   C E M E T E R I E S   /   P I R A M Ó N T   (Š N I P I Š K Ė S)

by Rūta (Reyzke) Bloshtein


Ruta Bloshtein

Rūta (Reyzke) Bloshtein

Šią savaitę mes, žydai, minėjome tragiškiausią mūsų tautos istorijos datą — Tiša b’Av (jidiš: Tišebov) — abiejų Jeruzalės Šventyklų sugriovimą. Gedulą ir netekties skausmą išreiškiame pasninkaudami. Sėdėdama ant grindų ir skaitydama Kinojs knygą (gedulingas elegijas), mąsčiau ir apie tradiciją šią dieną lankyti mūsų didžių išminčių kapus.

Vilniuje ši tradicija buvo puoselėjama lankant Piramont kapines, kuriose per penkis šimtmečius palaidoti šimtai tūkstančių mano protėvių — Vilniaus žydų, tarp jų iškilių rabinų ir išminčių, palikusių neišsemiamus išminties lobius mums, siekiantiems kilniai ir dorai eiti gyvenimo keliu. Per jų nuopelnus bus, duok Dieve, pagreitintas Trečiosios Šventyklos atstatymas.

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Posted in Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Opinion | Tagged , , | Comments Off on Vilnius Native Ruta Bloshtein Speaks Out about the Old Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės)

But Will New Vilnius Mayor Remove City’s Shrines to Holocaust Perpetrators?



O P I N I O N

VILNIUS—Vilnius’s new mayor, the honorable Remigijus Šimašius, continues to express profound respect for his city’s Jewish heritage of many centuries’ standing. His dapper style, originality and flamboyance have impressed many. But some raise questions about the choices he makes about which issues to address or ignore. Julius Norwilla’srecent comment contrasts the mayor’s “instant metal sign” marking gravestones found in the walls of an electric sub-station, marked as a symptom of Soviet barbarism, with his public silence — hopefully soon to be broken! — about plans to build a $25,000,000 convention and entertainment complex smack in the middle of the city’s oldest Jewish cemetery. Hopefully, the mayor will respond to the appeal to authorities from his constituent Professor Pinchos Fridberg, one of his city’s last living Vilnius-born Holocaust survivors (one of about three left from an interwar population of 60,000 Jews that stood ar around 80,000 just before the Holocaust), as well as to the other public appeals to date, that have come from faithful Jewish and Christian sources alike.

New Section on Mayor Šimašius and Jewish Issues over the Years

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Posted in Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Collaborators Glorified, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Museums, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Opinion, Vilnius Mayor Remigijus Šimašius | Tagged , | Comments Off on But Will New Vilnius Mayor Remove City’s Shrines to Holocaust Perpetrators?

Double Genocide Discourse Now Standard for the New York Times?



O P I N I O N     /     M E D I A   W A T C H

VILNIUS—Naturally the New York Times cannot publish or even post very many of the Letters to the Editor that it receives. But when a dozen or so reactions from different parts of the world to a single article are all discarded, it is perhaps worth someone posting a submitted letter elsewhere for the record. This is especially true where there is a larger concern. In this case, it is the paper’s imposition, in recent years, of a wall of silence about the Holocaust Obfuscation, World War II revisionism and far-right historiography peddled by East European countries. These are, as it happens, the same countries who are in today’s geopolitics America’s and the West’s most reliable European allies in the New Cold War against the authoritarian, revanchist Putin regime.

The Times’ policy has sometimes extended to misrepresenting the East European far right’s history revisionism as accepted fact by publishing multiple op-eds from only one side of the argument. When the Times did (obliquely) cover the Seventy Years Declaration in early 2012, its reporter, tightly controlled by the State Department, would not mention the declaration by name, would not meet any of the government’s critics to hear their views, confused the two declarations in contest, and quoted a famous Brandeis professor without mentioning he was in town to receive a medal from the Lithuanian president for helping the state’s PR.

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Posted in Double Genocide, Dovid Katz, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Media Watch, Museums, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Double Genocide Discourse Now Standard for the New York Times?

Who Has Yet to Express a Public View on the Wisdom of Planting a Convention Center in the Middle of the Old Jewish Cemetery in Vilnius?



VILNIUS—Public opposition to the placing of a twenty-five million dollar convention center in the heart of Vilna’s old Jewish cemetery has come from an array of individuals and organizations, in Vilnius and internationally.

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Posted in Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Opinion, Politics of Memory | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Who Has Yet to Express a Public View on the Wisdom of Planting a Convention Center in the Middle of the Old Jewish Cemetery in Vilnius?

Open Letter to Members of CPJCE in the UK: Do You Really Want a Convention Center in the Heart of Vilna’s Old Jewish Cemetery?



O P I N I O N   /   O P E N   L E T T E R

Dear Esteemed Associates of the “Committee for the Preservation of Jewish Cemeteries in Europe” enumerated on the CPJCE letterhead [more than one eminent personage on the list is deceased; their precious names might perhaps best not be invoked for the organization’s current adventures?]

S.B.E. Berger, Rabbi B.Z. Blum, L. Davis, Rabbi J.H. Dunner, Rabbi Z. Feldman, D. Frand, B.S.E. Freshwater, A.C. Ginsberg, Rabbi H. Gluck OBE, A. Goldman, S. Grosz,  M. Hershaft, D. Herzka, M.B. Krausz, J. Kruskal, J. Lobenstein MBE, Y. Marmorstein, Rabbi A. Pinter, Rabbi E. Schlesinger, Rabbi E. Shechter, J. Shik, M.E. Stern, S.B. Stern, Rabbi C. M. Wosner


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Posted in Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Opinion | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Open Letter to Members of CPJCE in the UK: Do You Really Want a Convention Center in the Heart of Vilna’s Old Jewish Cemetery?

What’s The Story With the Mass Grave Uncovered near Šiauliai (Shavl)?



O P I N I O N

by Evaldas Balčiūnas

Last week, there was a flurry of reports in the Lithuanian media about human skeletons and personal effects turning up during routine roadworks at Pročiūnai in the region of Šiauliai (in Jewish history: Shavl). Reports and gory pictures appeared among other places in 15min.lt; Etaplius.lt; Skrastas.lt and Snaujienos.lt. I myself, a concerned resident of Šiauliai, commented on the subject on my own blog (here and here). Various articles published contained theorizations about the buried here being victims of Soviet crimes or even equally of Nazi and Soviet crimes.

Monday 13 July. It is probably correct to say that the international scandal was set alight when the “routine” BNS (Baltic News Service) report appeared in English in the Lithuania Tribune (amalgamated with English Delfi). The archaeologist placed in charge by the local government of the investigation of the human remains, Audronė Šapaitė, is quoted in the article as presenting the following certain conclusions. Excerpts follow:

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Posted in Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Evaldas Balčiūnas, Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Opinion | Tagged , , , , , | Comments Off on What’s The Story With the Mass Grave Uncovered near Šiauliai (Shavl)?

London Based “CPJCE” Rushes to Take Credit for Provincial Mass Grave Site Preservation; Fails to Mention Involvement in “Sale” of Vilna’s Old Jewish Cemetery



O P I N I O N

LONDON—The same London-based European cemetery-preservation group that allegedly takes money (for supervision fees) for “supervising” cemetery “conversions” in Eastern Europe forbidden by other rabbinical authorities, today issued a triumphant press release (image below) about its “rescue” of a provincial mass grave site uncovered during routine roadworks in northern Lithuania, near Šiauliai (Yiddish Shavl). The group is the CPJCE (Committee for the Preservation of Jewish Cemeteries in Europe), which was recently received by the prime minister of Lithuania upon its agreeing to a convention center in the middle of Vilna’s old Jewish cemetery, with no reference to any of the local rabbis or to universal decency on the question of what is appropriate in an old cemetery.

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Posted in Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Opinion, United Kingdom | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on London Based “CPJCE” Rushes to Take Credit for Provincial Mass Grave Site Preservation; Fails to Mention Involvement in “Sale” of Vilna’s Old Jewish Cemetery

What Does the Mayor of Vilnius Think About His City’s Thousands of Jewish Graves?



O P I N I O N

by Julius Norwilla

Back in May, the story broke about an electrical station on an uninhabited hillside by a highway here in the Lithuanian capital, Vilnius, being made out of pilfered old Jewish gravestones. It quickly spread to the international press, including London’s Daily Mail. The city’s recently elected mayor, Remigijus Šimašius reacted with lightning speed, getting the city’s sign-making maestros to create and mount a handsome solid-metal smartly round-edged bilingual sign condemning the “example of Soviet barbarism” and promising the rapid removal of the stones to a place of dignity where they will form part of a memorial. A PR disaster was spun into a rapid reaction force’s PR triumph against discrimination that could only do our great city proud.

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Posted in Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Double Games, Julius Norwilla, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Media Watch, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Opinion, Politics of Memory, Vilnius Mayor Remigijus Šimašius | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on What Does the Mayor of Vilnius Think About His City’s Thousands of Jewish Graves?

A Letter from Leffond, France to the Mayor of Vilnius, Capital of Lithuania



O P I N I O N

by Christian Bonneville


Leffond, France, 5 July 2015

Hon. Remigijus Šimašius, Mayor of Vilnius, Lithuania

Monsieur le Maire,

  • Convention and Congress Center
  • Conversion of the Sport Palace Center along the Neris at the Piramónt Location

Congratulations on your election and your determination to develop the cohesion and the attractiveness of the city to be enriched with new facilities and services including a new Conference and Congress Center.

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Posted in Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Opinion, Politics of Memory, Vilnius Mayor Remigijus Šimašius | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on A Letter from Leffond, France to the Mayor of Vilnius, Capital of Lithuania

Dancing on Jewish Graves in Vilna



O P I N I O N

by Pinchos Fridberg

Editor’s note: Reprint from The Times of Israel, where this article, with several photographs, appeared on 25 June 2016.


I am a Holocaust survivor. I was born here in Vilnius (Yiddish: Vílne), today’s capital of Lithuania, known forever as the “Jerusalem of Lithuania” for its vibrant Jewish culture, religious and secular, for hundreds of years. Today our post-Holocaust Jewish community is a tiny remnant, just a few thousand people, but we are vibrant, and, as always, a community of many opinions. Once again, a question has arisen that calls for robust discourse.

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Posted in Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Opinion, Pinchos Fridberg | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on Dancing on Jewish Graves in Vilna

Vilnius’s Shnipishek Jewish Cemetery



O P I N I O N

by Bernard Fryshman, PhD

This article appeared in today’s edition of Yated Ne’eman. The PDF of the original is available here.


First, a brief review: In June 2005, Reb Chizkiya Kalmanowitz discovered construction taking place in the Shnipishek Jewish Cemetery in Vilnius. The Shnipishek Cemetery is where the Gaon of Vilna was buried, as was the Ger Tzedek. Even now, the cemetery contains the bodies of the Chayei Adam and the Be’er Hagolah among many others.

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Posted in Cemeteries and Mass Graves, EU, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Opinion, United States, US State Dept Manipulated? | Tagged , , | Comments Off on Vilnius’s Shnipishek Jewish Cemetery

The June 2015 Memorial for the Lietūkis Garage Massacre in Kaunas, Lithuania



O P I N I O N   /   E Y E W I T N E S S   A C C O U N T

by Julius Norwilla

To mark the 74th anniversary of one of the iconic events of the Lithuanian Holocaust, the infamous Lietūkis Garage Massacre of 27 June 1941, the Kaunas Jewish Community organized its annual memorial event at the site, last Friday, 26 June 2015. The massacre, carried out by local Lithuanian “patriots” wearing the white armbands of the Lithuanian Activist Front (LAF), butchered dozens of Jewish passers-by at a garage on Kaunas’s Vytautas Avenue, using a variety of execution methods, including clubbing to death with crowbars, and particularly, forcing water from high-pressure hoses into bodily orifices of the victims until they burst. A growing crowd, including women holding up their young children to get the best views, cheered them on.

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Rewriting History in Latvia



B O O K S    /    L A T V I A

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

Since I became interested in the fate of the Jewish victims of the Holocaust in Latvia, rather late (2009), I never failed to buy books when I visited that country, first and foremost written by Jewish survivors of these terrible times, but, also, some books written by non-Jewish Latvians in order to see how they perceived these tragic events, how they related to the Jewish victims of the Holocaust and how they presented the history of the German occupation and the mass slaughter of more than 95% of the Jewish population of their country (using the figures of Jews on site at the time of the Nazi invasion as the basis for historians’ estimates).

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Why Was Richard Maullin, Head of California ISO, Honored by the Foreign Minister of Lithuania?



O P I N I O N

LOS ANGELES—Richard A. Maullin, elected less than a year ago as the chair of the California Independent System Operator (ISO) Board, was lavishly honored here on May 31st by both the Lithuanian ambassador to the United States and the Foreign Minister of Lithuania. The latter, in the tradition of royalty, meticulously placed the Lithuanian Diplomatic Star around the neck of Dr. Maullin, a major American pollster and principal of the LA polling and public policy research firm FM3, often still known by its older name Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates.

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Posted in "Jewish" Events as Cover?, Double Games, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory, Richard Maullin, United States, Vilnius Yiddish Institute | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Why Was Richard Maullin, Head of California ISO, Honored by the Foreign Minister of Lithuania?

In Defense of Transparency at the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra



O P I N I O N   /    M U S I C

by Ronald C. Kent

In January 2012 I became aware of a then-upcoming performance of Carl Orff’s “Carmina Burana” by the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra. Since I knew that Carl Orff was a Nazi-approved composer, who created this work in 1936, I wrote a letter to Maestro Andreas Delfs and Music Director Edo de Waart, requesting that they place the biography of Orff during the Nazi period in the program, in the interest of enlightenment, transparency, and full disclosure, thereby situating “Carmina Burana” in its historical context for listeners.

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Posted in Christian-Jewish Issues, Collaborators Glorified, Germany, Media Watch, Music, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on In Defense of Transparency at the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra

Ukrainian Hitlerist Icons Celebrated in Weston-on-Trent in Derbyshire, England



O P I N I O N    /   U K    /    U K R A I N E

by J. North

Earlier this month, the Ukrainian Youth Association (CYM Great Britain) held a remembrance day at the Tarasivka camp at Weston-on-Trent in Derbyshire. They advertised the event on their website (http://cym.org/uk) and with a poster replete with (ultra)nationalist imagery.

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Posted in Bandera, Celebrations of Fascism, Collaborators Glorified, Events, Human Rights, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory, Ukraine, United Kingdom | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on Ukrainian Hitlerist Icons Celebrated in Weston-on-Trent in Derbyshire, England

Would this Building Project be Pursued if the Cemetery Were the Resting Place of Christians?



O P I N I O N    /   C H R I S T I A N – J E W I S H   R E L A T I O N S   /   C E M E T E R I E S

by Pastor Michael Maass

I would like to make an observation concerning the use of Jewish cemeteries for building projects, as this has come to be a major issue of controversy in Lithuania, and in other nations as well.

I would like to pose a question:  Would these building projects be pursued if the cemeteries in question were the resting places of Catholics, Protestant Christians, or other non-Jewish people?

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Posted in Antisemitism & Bias, Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Christian-Jewish Issues, Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Michael & Fausta Maass, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Opinion, Politics of Memory, Racism | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on Would this Building Project be Pursued if the Cemetery Were the Resting Place of Christians?

SLS’s 2015 Sutzkever Prize: Yiddish Poetry Serving Right-Wing East European Politics?



O P I N I O N

The bizarre saga of the Montreal-based Summer Literary Seminars (SLS) “Jewish Lithuania Sutzkever Prize” continues apace with ever-increasing disrespect toward Abraham Sutzkever and his fellow Jewish partisans who helped liberate Lithuania from the Nazis, and ever more political entanglement with current geopolitical instrumentalization of Yiddish and Jewish causes in Eastern Europe in the context of East-West tensions.

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“The Naked Truth” on Lithuanian Television



O P I N I O N

by Geoff Vasil

The national Lithuanian television channel Lietuvos rytas TV recently (on May 4) broadcast a show by veteran talk-show host Rūta Grinevičiūtė (surname recently changed to Janutienė) called Nuoga Tiesa, “Naked Truth,” which posed the question, “Do you want the Jews to return again [sic] to Lithuania?” Viewers were invited to call in and/or vote by special telephone lines for Yes and No with a one euro toll per call. For that and a number of other reasons the entire program had something of the macabre about it, and although some of the guests made some important points, all of them seemed to miss certain glaring details which would have been the center of attention in the West.

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Posted in Antisemitism & Bias, Geoff Vasil, History, Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Media Watch, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory, Ponár (Ponary, Paneriai), Rūta Vanagaitė | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on “The Naked Truth” on Lithuanian Television

Lithuanian Translation of Efraim Zuroff’s 17 April 2015 Vilnius Conference (Prerecorded) Lecture



O P I N I O N

by Efraim Zuroff

Note: Authorized Lithuanian translation, provided by the Being a Jew project, of the pre-recorded video address by Dr. Efraim Zuroff at the 17 April 2015 conference on the Holocaust in Lithuania organized by Rūta Vanagaitė. The original English text is here.

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Lithuanian Translation of Dovid Katz’s 17 April 2015 Vilnius Conference Lecture


O P I N I O N

by Dovid Katz

Note: This text is the Lithuanian translation, provided by the Being a Jew project, of the written text of a lecture from the 17 April 2015 conference on the Holocaust in Lithuania organized by Rūta Vanagaitė. The original English is here.

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Bubnys Replies to Editor of Defending History



O P I N I O N

VILNIUS–Genocide Center historian Dr. Arūnas Bubnys has posted on Facebook the following comment about this journal’s editor.

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Posted in Free Speech & Democracy, Genocide Center (Vilnius), History, Human Rights, Lithuania, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory | Tagged , | Comments Off on Bubnys Replies to Editor of Defending History

A Protestant Pastor in Vilnius Speaks Out About Church Steps Still Made of Pilfered Jewish Gravestones



O P I N I O N

by Julius Norvila

“And Rachel died and was buried on the road to Ephrath—the same is Beth-lehem. And Jacob set up a gravestone upon her grave, it is the Tomb of Rachel unto this very day.”

 (Genesis 35, 19-20)

Back in 1989 I had become a minister in our Reformed Evangelical Church here in Vilnius. The end of the 1980s in Lithuania had been a particularly pivotal period for church-state relations. The government changed its policy radically. There was a liberalization of religious activities and along with religious revivals came the idea of restitution of church properties that had been nationalized under the communist policies of the Soviet state. In order to bring to realization that idea, and to speed the process of restitution, we as reformed protestants organized a number of open air meetings and worship services on the street in front of historical church buildings in Vilnius and Kaunas, Lithuania’s two major cities.

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Why We Have Not, Do Not and Will Not Talk About the Holocaust in Lithuania



O P I N I O N

by Rūta Vanagaitė

The following article by Rūta Vanagaitė, in the authorized English translation by Geoff Vasil,  was first published in Lithuanian in Delfi. lt.  The article emerged from the conference on Holocaust education organized by the author, held at Vilnius City Hall on 17 April 2015. Conference program. Conference’s final press release. Project website.

Vilijampolė — a part of Kaunas — wintertime. The project is “Being a Jew.” A group of thirty teachers led by a Jewish guide is standing in the former Kaunas ghetto. Houses, garages, storage spaces, wood piles where during the war thousands of Jews, herded here like animals by the Nazis, milled about, yards where Jewish children played, and were later taken to the square or to one of the Kaunas forts and shot. The houses and storage buildings have been rebuilt, renovated, replaced, and there are Kaunas residents living in them now who don’t know where they live and what happened here before they were here. And how could they know? There is no written notice, nothing preserved, only a stone next to the entrance. And a building is being renovated which was the store whose display window once featured the head cut off of the rabbi who lived here.

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An Appeal to the Conscience of the Members of the Lithuanian Government’s International Commission for the Evaluation etc.


[updated]

Posted in "Jewish" Events as Cover?, "Red-Brown Commission", 70 Years Declaration, Double Genocide, Germany, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Opinion, Pinchos Fridberg, Politics of Memory, Prague "Platform", Yad Vashem Manipulated?, Yivo Manipulated? | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off on An Appeal to the Conscience of the Members of the Lithuanian Government’s International Commission for the Evaluation etc.

Respectfully Disagreeing with Professor Timothy Snyder


[last updated]

Jump to Reviews of Bloodlands


This journal holds leading historian Professor Timothy Snyder (Yale University) in the highest esteem, and trusts that this select list of reviews taking issue with aspects of Bloodlands of direct concern to DefendingHistory.com will not be taken amiss. It does not include reviews which have engaged in personal attack or pursued grudges, or which focus on other issues.

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Posted in Australia, Books, Double Genocide, EU, Lithuania, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory, United States | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on Respectfully Disagreeing with Professor Timothy Snyder

A Jewish Hideout Discovered in Butrimonys



E Y E W I T N E S S   R E P O R T   /   O P I N I O N

by Andrius Kulikauskas

Renovation of the ground floor of an art gallery in the town of Butrimonys, Lithuania has revealed the existence of an unusual cellar that was apparently a Jewish hideout during the Holocaust. Daina Nemeikštienė, the owner of the gallery, “Dainos galerija”, is moving forward with the renovation, which means that what remains of the cellar will be cemented over, at least for now. Could some day this hideout offer an opportunity for respecting, valuing, studying, preserving and highlighting Litvak and Lithuanian heritage? For now, it illustrates the challenges in honoring even the most heroic aspects of the Holocaust.

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Text of Efraim Zuroff’s Prerecorded April 17th Video Address to Vilnius Conference



O P I N I O N

by Efraim Zuroff

The following text is the authorized English transcription of the text of Dr. Efraim Zuroff’s prefilmed video address that formed part of the program at a conference on Holocaust issues, organized by Rūta Vanagaitė, held at Vilnius City Hall on 17 April 2015. The video is here. Conference program. Conference’s final press release. Dr. Zuroff is the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s chief Nazi hunter, the director of its East European Affairs Department and of the website Operation Last Chance.

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Basic Challenges of Holocaust Education

 

G

ood afternoon to everybody. I’m very happy to be given the opportunity to address this conference, even if it has to be by film. Unfortunately I could not be present personally, but because of the importance of the topic and the rare opportunity that this is to discuss these issues in a very serious way, I am addressing you through this film.

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Is the WJC Facing a Yiddish Values-and-Ethics Test?



O P I N I O N

VILNIUS—Yiddish comedy is alive and kicking. Here’s the plot for the new play. The World Jewish Congress gets millions from a Kyrgyz-Kazachstani donor with Lithuanian connections to set up the International Yiddish Center in Vilnius that will save the Yiddish language, a high priority for both the Kyrgyz and Kazachstani peoples. There are just a few strings attached from Lithuanian government-related units and commissions about who may not have a Yiddish teaching job there (for example those who oppose Holocaust Denial or have stood up for Yiddish speaking survivors accused by Lithuanian authorities of war crimes). The new International Yiddish Center is offered an opportunity one day to raise its profile bigtime by being showcased  in the Lithuanian Parliament. Who could refuse that? There may even be some medals to go around. But what is it they have to pull off to get there?

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Double Genocide in Action? Victims and Perpetrators Interchangeable



O P I N I O N

VILNIUS—Ronaldas Račinskas, executive director of the Lithuanian-government financed “International Commission for the Evaluation of the Crimes of the Nazi and Soviet Occupation Regimes in Lithuania,” widely known for brevity as the “Red-Brown Commission,” has revealed — on camera, to the producers of the documentary film Liza Ruft — his thoughts about the “war crimes investigation” into Fania Brantsovsky. The video clip of his statement was released today on Youtube.

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Tomas Venclova’s Lecture at Vilnius Conference on 17 April 2015



O P I N I O N

by Tomas Venclova

The following text is the authorized English translation, by Geoff Vasil, of Professor Venclova’s address at a conference on Holocaust issues, organized by Rūta Vanagaitė, held at Vilnius City Hall on 17 April 2015. The original Lithuanian text. Video of Tomas Venclova speaking. Conference program. Conference’s final press release.

 

Lithuanians and Jews: What’s Changed and What Hasn’t over the last Forty Years?

 ◊

Exactly 40 years ago I wrote an article called “Jews and Lithuanians.” It first appeared in the Jewish underground press, later in Israel, and still later it was translated and published by Lithuanian immigrants. The article caused a bit of a stir in the émigré communities. Vytautas Kavolis, Liūtas Mockūnas, Algirdas Julius Greimas and several others told me they agreed with what I wrote, but there were responses from the opposite side as well, although they were mostly anonymous or pseudonymous. I was still in Lithuania then, and left two years later.

Tomas Venclova April 17 2015 by Julius Norwilla

Tomas Venclova addresses conference at Vilnius City Hall on 17 April 2015. Photo: Julius Norwilla.

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Dovid Katz’s Lecture at Vilnius Conference on 17 April 2015



 

O P I N I O N

by Dovid Katz

The following is the written version of Dovid Katz’s presentation at the International Conference on Holocaust Education organized by Rūta Vanagaitė as part of a Europe for Citizens project, held at Vilnius City Hall on 17 April 2015. Conference program. Conference’s final press release. Project website.

Politics, Policy, and Lithuanian Holocaust Discourse

 

Good afternoon. Sincerest thanks to everyone who made today possible, above all to dear Rūta Vanagaitė for successfully bringing together folks from many sides of today’s issues here in Vilnius for the first time in the twenty-first century, in the fine spirit of openness and tolerance that is particularly important, now, when politics and current events can easily deflate freedom of opinion on history, the progress of civil discourse, and the dignity of education.

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Member of Red-Brown Commission and Trasher of Yiddish Dissidents is Appointed to Council of Europe’s “Commission against Racism and Intolerance” (ECRI)



O P I N I O N

VILNIUS—Waves of shock laced with the “actual” human rights community’s usual black humor undulated through the different struggling branches of that community this week as the Council of Europe announced the appointment of one of the most multiply-titled intellectuals of modern Lithuania (or Europe), Prof. Dr. S. Liekis, as a new member of the Commission Against Racism and Intolerance (CARI). Professor Liekis is professor at Vilnius University, Romeris University, Vytautas Magnus University, and a crack member of the government’s red-brown commission, formally known by its somewhat Orwellian name, The International Commission for the Evaluation of the Crimes of the Nazi and Soviet Occupation Regimes in Lithuania. The local term “actual human rights” community in Lithuania refers to those who monitor and publicly post on issues, as opposed to those on endless government and EU budgets who are sometimes accused of covering up issues and shirking from anything that is not nationalist PR meant for naive Westerners.


One immediate opportunity presents itself. CARI and the Council of Europe could quickly make clear their view of the Lithuanian government’s decision to allow an SS banner with a swastika to be foisted at the nation’s Parliament (the Seimas) for over an hour on the nation’s hallowed independence day, 11 March 2015. Reports on the day, which funded human rights organizations here generally failed to monitor, in Defending History and on the website of the Jewish Community of Lithuania.


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A New Book on the Kaunas (Kovno) Ghetto by Arūnas Bubnys



O P I N I O N   /   B O O K S

by Geoff Vasil

This small book, brought out in three separate editions (English, Lithuanian, Russian) by the state-supported Genocide Center, looks more like a brochure than anything else. The cover features the author’s name, in small type, above all else, then a larger Kaunas Ghetto, then a line with the years 1941-1944, against a backdrop of a computerized dark blue sky above a “tasteful” black-and-white picture of Jews lined up in columns inside Kaunas ghetto. The computerized dark blue wraps around the spine to the back cover where some vague lines comprise a hand-drawn map of the streets making up Kaunas ghetto, an ISBN number in white above UPC Bookland barcode featuring the same number again, and then a web address, www.genocid.lt.  I found myself staring at the internet address and wondering what language that was supposed to be. Lithuanian is always “genocidas” and “genocid” isn’t possible as any permutation or declension of the noun, and of course English is “genocide.” Perhaps it’s Russian in Latin-letter transcription? But that would contradict the nationalist and ethnic bias of the publisher, the Center for the Study of the Genocide and Resistance of Lithuanian Residents where Arūnas Bubnys is a leading figure. Perhaps “genocid” is someone’s notion of a non-English and yet international form of the word, formed by reducing it from the Lithuanian nominative case ending -as? I checked my favorite search engine, and of course the Lithuanian organization’s webpage came up first, but was soon followed by a wikipedia and wiktionary entry for the Croatian word.

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Restitution of Stolen Jewish Property in Latvia to Victims and Rightful Heirs



O P I N I O N

by Roland Binet (Braine-l’Alleud)

On November 17, 2013 I was invited and participated as a guest speaker at the Yizkor memorial event organized by the “Jewish Survivors of Latvia, Inc.” (New York). The event was held at the Park East Synagogue at 163 East 67th Street in Manhattan.

The really important speech, though, was given by Douglas Davidson, the US Special Envoy for Holocaust Issues. He dealt with the results of his numerous visits to Latvia pertaining to that specific issue: due restitution to the Jewish victims or their heirs. Their properties were stolen or requisitioned during the war and the massacres.

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New Memorial, on State Land in Western Lithuania, Honors Alleged Murderer of Thousands of Civilians



O P I N I O N    /    C O L L A B O R A T O R S    G L O R I F I E D

by Evaldas Balčiūnas

When I wrote several years ago (Lithuanian; English) about the monument erected to Juozas Barzda at Iešnalis Lake, I thought it must have been some sort of misunderstanding.

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Homophobic Draft Laws on Lithuanian Parliament’s Spring Agenda



H U M A N   R I G H T S   /   L G B T   R I G H T S

by Lithuanian LGBT Rights Organization / LGL

Reposted from the LGL site with permission

On the 19th of March, 2015, the spring work agenda of the Parliament of the Republic of Lithuania (the Seimas) was approved. First, it contains a long list of initiatives seeking to limit LGBT* rights.

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An “Inner” View of the Neo-March on Vilnius, 2015



O P I N I O N   /   N E O – N A Z I   M A R C H E S

by Geoff Vasil

 

Afunny thing happened on the way to the neo-Nazi march. I saw a man walking towards me, and thought I knew him. Apparently he thought the same thing, and we both said hello in Lithuanian as we passed one another. As I pondered how we might know each other, it came to me: I had seen him at an earlier neo-Nazi march, probably the one in Kaunas a month earlier. He thought I was a fellow marcher, apparently, or at least not an enemy to the cause.

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Jewish Community of Lithuania Issues Statement on Neo-Nazis’ March in Central Vilnius



VILNIUS—The Jewish Community of Lithuania today issued a statement concerning yesterday’s far-right march for which state powers again allocated the capital’s most prestigious central boulevard and a march route starting at Gediminas’ Hill and the Cathedral, and passing by the offices of the prime minister and government and concluding at the nation’s parliament.

The text of the statement, which follows earlier statements and discussions, is as follows:

The Lithuanian Jewish Community does not approve of the march by the Union of Lithuanian Nationalist Youth held on March 11, Lithuanian Independence Day, in Vilnius, because we believe the values publicly espoused by the marchers do not correspond to the principles of the modern democratic state which has been the basis for the creation of Lithuania for the last 25 years.

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An Open Letter from Professor Pinchos Fridberg



O P I N I O N

Editor’s note: The following open letter has been translated from the original Yiddish which will appear separately. See also the English version of the statement referred to in the open letter.

For many years now I have been starting the day by reading the latest on the website of the Jewish Community of Lithunia. Today for the first time in a long time I saw a published statement by chairperson Faina Kukliansky which I would happily sign on to. I would like to say: Bravo, Faina Kukliansky!

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On Eve of Planned Neo-Nazi March, Statements by Head of Lithuanian Jewish Community and the Simon Wiesenthal Center



VILNIUS—On the eve of the planned neo-Nazi march in central Vilnius, slated for 3 PM on March 11th, Lithuania’s independence day, the chairperson of the Jewish Community of Lithuania, Faina Kukliansky, issued a statement on the community’s website, which was followed within minutes by a statement from the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Director of East European Affairs, Dr. Efraim Zuroff. The full text of both statements follows:

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Arkadijus Vinokuras: Again Twisting the Facts About Those who Stand Up to the Far Right?



O P I N I O N

VILNIUS—It seems the best way for Jewish wannabees to score points with the ultranationalist and elite-antisemitic establishment here is to throw well-crafted darts at Defending History. Back in 2011, former clown (and outstanding comedian and talented author) Arkadijus Vinokuras, when he was “official advisor to the government on Jewish affairs” accused the editor of this journal of participation in “Goebbels-worthy” misinformation, without citing a single error of fact. At various points in time, he issued personal attacks against the late head of the Jewish Community of Lithuania, Dr. Shimon Alperovich, and more general attacks on the community per se when its opinions happened to differ from the state’s on this or that issue, though such disagreements are quite a prosaic phenomenon in democratic societies.

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Icelandic Author Calls on Vilnius Human Rights Monitoring Institute (HRMI) to Break Silence on Neo-Nazi Marches


REYKJAVIK—Dr. Vilhjálmur Örn Vilhjálmsson, an historian, archaeologist and human rights specialist in Iceland and Denmark, who has in recent years contributed to Defending History, today released to the media his letter to the Human Rights Monitoring Institute asking if the HRMI will again this week maintain its perennial silence about the capital’s annual neo-Nazi marches on the March 11th independence day. The municipality of Vilnius, Lithuania’s capital, has been granting the city center on independence day to neo-Nazis and other far-right extremists who have since 2008 been chanting each year exclusivist and exclusionary slogans as well as sporting racist and Nazi signs and symbols. In recent years, they have also featured huge banners honoring a local 1941 Nazi collaborator in the Holocaust who was in 2012 reburied with full honors by the state.

The neo-Nazi marches in central Vilnius on independence day got underway in 2008.

Dr. Vilhjálmsson’s letter reads as follows:

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Efraim Zuroff Appeals to Vilnius Mayor Zuokas to Cancel Neo-Nazi March


JERUSALEM—The Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Israel office today released the following letter from its director, Dr. Efraim Zuroff, to the mayor of Vilnius, Artūras Zuokas, concerning next week’s planned neo-Nazi march slated for the center of the city on the nation’s independence day.

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Translation of a Yiddish Correspondence: The Vilna Holocaust Survivor and the Director of Yivo



D O C U M E N T S

Editor’s note: The following is a translation of the open letter by Professor Pinchos Fridberg, a Holocaust survivor in Vilnius, and the reply by Yivo’s director, Dr. Jonathan Brent. Both were published in the Yiddish Forward (Forverts) on 1 March 2015. Prof. Fridberg has also posted an audio file of his reading his letter aloud in his native Vilna Yiddish. In the case of any issue arising, the Yiddish text is authoritative. For readers’ reference, hyperlinks have been added (by Defending History) to various of the documents and topics cited. See also the Pinchos Fridberg page and section in Defending History, page and section on the state-sponsored commission discussed, and section on Yivo issues.

September 2014 at Ponár, the mass muder site of Vilna Jewry: Three representatives of the controversial state sponsored commission on Nazi and Soviet crimes pay respects in unison: (from left): Dr. Jonathan Brent, Emanuelis Zingeris, Ronaldas Račinskas. Photo: Defending History.


 

D

ear Dr. Jonathan Brent,

 

I appeal to you in Yiddish. Do you know why? Because I believe, that a person who is the leader of the Yivo institute will understand me. My name is Pinchos Fridberg. I was born in Vilna before the war and am a survivor of the Holocaust. My grandmother and grandfather, and all our relatives on my mother’s side — 28 people — lie [at the mass murder site] Ponár.

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In English Translation: V. Brandišauskas’s Classic Review of A. Liekis



D O C U M E N T S   /   B O O K S   /   H I S T O R Y

The following is an English translation by Geoff Vasil of a book review by Valentinas Brandišauskas of Algimantas Liekis’s Lietuvos laikinoji vyriausybė (1941 06 22–08 05) that appeared in the Lithuanian publication Genocidas ir Rezistencija No. 8, 2000, and is posted online


Review: A Doubtful Selection of “Frontists,” or, about One More in a Series of A. Liekis’s “Monographs”: Lietuvos laikinoji vyriausybë (1941 06 22–08 05) [Provisional Government of Lithuania, June 22—August 5, 1941], Vilnius, 2000, 428 pp.

 ◊

The negative predictions have been fulfilled, unfortunately, even beyond expectations. That’s what can be said about a news item that appeared in the Lithuanian exile community’s monthly Akiračiai regarding preparations by Lithuanian historian Algimatas Liekis, who did some work at the Lithuanian Studies Research and Studies Center in Chicago, to write a book about the June Uprising of 1941 and the Provisional Government (PG). Recalling the historian’s past (“during the Soviet era […] he was the komsorg [Communist Youth Party minder] in the Soviet navy, Party secretary of the History Institute of the Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic…”) and doubting his reputation as an academic, it was said that “Frontist successors” to the Lithuanian Activist Front (LAF) had invited Liekis

“to write a book that would help the Lithuanian parliament push through the legislation needed to ‘legalize’ the Provisional Government and to proclaim the day of the uprising a national holiday.”

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Silence in the Past, Silence Now



O P I N I O N

by Roland Binet (Braine-l’Alleud)

During World War II, numerous proofs of the systematic massacre of the Jews on a large scale had made known to the allied leaders. As the British had very early in the course of the war cracked the Enigma code, their Intelligence Service could read nearly all military dispatches sent by the German units to their headquarters, including those daily reports sent by the Einsatzgruppen leaders who duly sent the daily figures of the Jews and other “enemies” they had killed. One of these reports told of some 30,000 Jews having been killed.[1]

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Chairperson of the Jewish Community on the Commemoration Event at Auschwitz



The following statrement appeared today on the website of the Jewish Community of Lithuania:

Commentary by Faina Kukliansky, chair of the Lithuanian Jewish Community

Auschwitz in the winter, during International Holocaust Day, was as moving as the Holocaust survivors who met here. My thoughts swirled around the people who are still alive. In Lithuania the only still living survivor is Meyshe Preis, who through some sort of miracle survived the Auschwitz, Stutthoff and Dachau concentration camps. His poor health didn’t allow him to attend the commemoration of Auschwitz victims on January 27. Kings, queens and heads of state did attend. I want the people of Lithuania, her politicians and high-ranking civil servants, and especially her decision makers, to understood that a trip to Auschwitz is not the same thing as travelling to Brussels for the usual meeting.

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Lithuanian Jewish Community Issues Statement on Feb 16th 2015 March in Kaunas



The following statement appeared  today on the website of the Jewish Commnity of Lithuania:

The Position of the Lithuanian Jewish Community on the Slogan Chanted by the Lithuanian Union of Nationalist Youth, “Lithuania for Lithuanians”

The Lithuanian Jewish (Litvak) Community, deeply upset and concerned by recent anti-Semitic attacks in the Kingdom of Denmark and France and by the rise in neo-Nazi tendencies all over Europe, calls upon the government institutions of the Lithuanian state to take stock of the situation in Lithuania at the current time. By identifying the problem of ethnic hate early, we can prevent possible tragedy in the future.

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Efraim Zuroff Leads Kaunas Protest


 


Event Summary and Links to Coverage:

Defending History’s Team of 12 Monitors & Protests Kaunas Independence Day Neo-Nazi March on Feb. 16th

Lithuanian Jewish Community Issues Statement on Feb. 20th

MARCH FEATURED LONG SERIES OF FASCIST-STYLE TAUNTS OF LIETUVA LIETUVIAMS  (“LITHUANIA FOR [ETHNIC] LITHUANIANS”) ALONG WITH SWASTIKAS, OTHER FASCIST SYMBOLS AND A HUGE BANNER OF THE 1941 NAZI PUPPET PM WHO COLLABORATED IN THE DESTRUCTION OF HIS CITY’S CITIZENS WHO WERE JEWISH. MAYOR’S OFFICE GAVE PERMITS FOR CITY CENTER TRAVESTY ON NATION’S INDEPENDENCE DAY.

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February 16th 2015 in Kaunas…



E Y E W I T N E S S   A C C O U N T   /   O P I N I O N

by Evaldas Balčiūnas

February 16th in Kaunas. The Kaunas municipal administration was asked by the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s  Efraim Zuroff and Defending History’s editor Dovid Katz not to allow this march for a number of reasons. The Kaunas municipality saw no problem and allowed the march to go ahead. As in earlier years, a Defending History team observed the march. The Kaunas Antifa organization decided not to hold a protest this year, so I was at liberty to be present as part of the DefendingHistory team.

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A Russian Observer Replies to Recent Feast of an American Daily Beast



O P I N I O N

by Alex Nosovich (Kaliningrad)

*Editor’s note

The governments of the Baltic countries, while cheerleading the introduction of new sanctions against the Russian Federation, are also doing something else that is going unnoticed. They are exploiting tensions between the West and Russia to settle scores with local dissidents, who advocate equal rights for national minorities and oppose glorification of Nazi collaborators. They are prevented from holding events, and impacted at the personal level, while their activities are marginalized so that they might become invisible in the eyes of the international community. This is done with help of American Neocons (neoconservatives), including the Foreign Policy Initiative (FPI), an organization established in 2009.

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Correspondence with Kaunas Mayor’s Office to 13 February 2015



D O C U M E N T S

Below, (1) the text of DH’s letter to the mayor of Kaunas on 3 February, (2) the response received from his office on 11 February, (3) our response of the same date, and (4) the response from the mayor’s office received on 13 February and (5) our response of the same date. The correspondence relates to the annual neo-Nazi march planned for 16 February 2015 in central Kaunas. See also section on previous marches, and our 3 February 2015  correspondence with the Kaunas police. Note that a banner featuring a major Kaunas Holocaust collaborator, the Nazi puppet prime minister Juozas Ambrazevicius Brazaitis (reburied with full honors as a hero in Kaunas, in 2012), is depicted in a 2014 photograph used by the march’s organizers to advertise the 2015 event.

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Wiesenthal Center’s Efraim Zuroff Writes to Mayor of Kaunas on Neo-Nazi March



JERUSALEM—The Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Israel office here today released the text of a letter sent by director Dr. Efraim Zuroff to the mayor of Kaunas, Lithuania, Andrius Kupčinskas, concerning the neo-Nazi march scheduled for February 16th. See also Defending History’s correspondence with the mayor’s office and our background summary.

SEE EXTENDED COVERAGE ON PAGE 1

The text of the letter is as follows:

February 12, 2015
Meras Andrius Kupčinskas
Laisves al. 96 201 kab.
Kaunas
LITHUANIA


Dear Mayor Kupčinskas,

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Is the Holocaust Going to Drown in a Sea of “European Tolerance?”



 

O P I N I O N

by Pinchos Fridberg

NOTE: The following is an English version of Prof. Fridberg’s Russian op-ed, posted earlier today. In the event of any query or issues, the Russian text alone is authoritative.


 ◊

Is the Holocaust drowning in a sea of “European tolerance”?  I love humor. Especially black humor.

Yesterday afternoon the largest Russian-language newspaper in Lithuania, Obzor, reprinted the article, “Museum in Tartu, Estonia Invites Visitors to Come Laugh at the Holocaust” [The affair has been covered in English by the Jerusalem Post, Times of Israel, and the Simon Wiesenthal Center, among others].

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How Did Lithuanians Wrong Litvaks?



O P I N I O N    /    H I S T O R Y

by Andrius Kulikauskas

Iwill speak about painful things, and so I understand if some of you won’t want to listen and will step out.

It is most important that we empathize with the victims of the Holocaust, and yet we must also empathize with the perpetrators if we wish to understand what happened and who was responsible for what. Litvaks outside of Lithuania feel hurt that Lithuanians shirk responsibility for the Holocaust.

I won’t be indifferent. I am a deliberate Lithuanian. I was born in the diaspora. I chose to be Lithuanian. Is the Lithuanian worldview harmful? I must investigate.

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The Nazis are Just Nuts



O P I N I O N    /    H I S T O R Y

by Geoff Vasil

◊ 

Somewhere in his voluminous correspondence, correspondence that far surpasses in quantity any of his literary endeavors, H. P. Lovecraft mentions what he sees as the almost arbitrary adoption of Christianity by northern European peoples, and comments that another religion might work just as well. That sense of another religion operating in parallel runs heavily throughout his stories, and nowhere is his notion better illustrated than in his short piece The Festival, roughly centered around an “I’ll be home for Christmas” motif in an unknown village of New England that turns terribly strange but somehow familiar for all its strangeness.

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The Bubnys Event at the 2015 Jewish Community Auschwitz Commemoration



E Y E W I T N E S S   R E P O R T   /   O P I N I O N

by Julius Norwilla

This year much of the world commemorates the seventieth anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz in 1945. The day of its liberation, January 27th, is International Holocaust Remembrance Day. To mark the day this year, on the 26th of January, the Jewish Community of Lithuania organized three events, as reported in Defending History.

The final event of the day was the book launch for The Šiauliai Ghetto featuring as sole announced speaker its author, Dr. Arūnas Bubnys, director of the Genocide and Resistance Research Department of the Genocide and Resistance Research Center of Lithuania; for a critical view of the Genocide Center, as it is known for short, see Defending History’s page and news section on the institution.

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A Secret Revealed? On Destruction of the Jewish Community of Betygala, Lithuania



H I S T O R Y

by Aleksandras Vitkus and Chaim Bargman

Betygala (in Yiddish: Betigóle) is one of the oldest towns in Samogitia (Žemaitija), known since the time of Duke Mindaugas in the thirteenth century. The small town is located about 2 kilometers from the River Dubysa, near the little Vieversa stream. The surroundings of Betygala are very beautiful, especially the valley, shores and effluents of the River Dubysa. In Betygala we can find the monument of Vytautas the Great which remained standing even during the Soviet period.

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Jewish Community’s Formal Reply to Dr. Efraim Zuroff



The following statement appeared today on the website of the Jewish Community of Lithuania:

 

STATEMENT BY THE JEWISH (LITVAK) COMMUNITY

It is not surprising that experienced journalists and politicians as well as leaders of well-known Jewish institutions, who are following Ms. Kukliansky’s activities devoted to expose Nazi criminals as well as to fight Neo-Nazism, were left in a complete state of confusion after reading Mr. Zuroff’s so called protest.

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Books in the Debate in 2015


[updated] 


In the Debate in 2015

YEAR OF PUBLICATION VARIES

See also BOOKS SECTION

Andriukaitis (reviewed by Vasil)

Bankier [Kuniuchowsky Collection] (reviewed by Zuroff)

Bubnys (reviewed by Katz)

Cassedy (reviewed by Katz;  by Nadler;  by Zabludoff;  by Zuroff)

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Three Holocaust Remembrance Day Events in Vilnius on 26 January 2015



O P I N I O N

For some reason held on 26 January, a day before International Holocaust Remembrance Day, three events were announced together in a flyer posted by the Jewish Community of Lithuania and disseminated by other interested organizations in Vilnius.

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No Cover-Up at Auschwitz!



 

O P I N I O N

by Dovid Katz

The following text is the original draft, submitted on 20 January 2015 at the invitation of the London Jewish Chronicle. An edited version (processed with all courtesies to the author) appeared in the JC on 22 January. This version is posted here simply to emphasize the author’s belief that ceremonies at Auschwitz that do not address the current massive campaign by eastern EU states to downgrade and obfuscate the Holocaust are unwittingly part of a cover-up of the very unique historical phenomena they are meant to accurately preservce and pass on. The related issue of whether Russia’s leaders will be invited to the ceremonies has been analyzed in recent pieces by Efraim Zuroff and Pinchos Fridberg.


 

No Cover-Up at Auschwitz!

 
The heralded 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz approaches, amidst a grand oblivion to what is happening before our very eyes to the actual history of the Holocaust. If we fail to speak out about the irksome issues too, the pomp and circumstance ipso facto morph into an unsavoury cover-up.
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Wiesenthal Center Slams Latvian Veto of Holocaust Exhibition at UNESCO


JERUSALEM—The Simon Wiesenthal Center today harshly criticized steps taken by the Latvian delegation to UNESCO which effectively cancelled an exhibition about the Holocaust in Latvia scheduled to open this coming Sunday at UNESCO headquarters in Paris.

SEE ALSO JTA REPORT

In a statement issued here by its Israel director, Holocaust historian Dr. Efraim Zuroff, the Center called the action by the Latvians “an outrageous and ultimately futile attempt to hide the extensive Latvian collaboration with the Nazis in perpetrating Holocaust crimes” and urged UNESCO officials to consider steps to enable the exhibition, titled “Stolen Childhood: Holocaust Victims Seen by Child Inmates of the Salaspils Nazi Concentration Camp,” to be shown to the public.

According to Zuroff:

“This step by the Latvians is part of a systematic effort by the Baltic countries to hide the truth about the extensive collaboration with the Nazis of Balts in the implementation of the Final Solution in their native countries, as well as in Poland and Belarus. Instead of complaining that the exhibition risked damaging her country’s reputation, Latvia’s chief delegate to UNESCO should have welcomed an effort to expose the wartime collaboration of so many Latvians as part of an honest confrontation with her country’s bloody Holocaust past.”


For more information: 972-50-721-4156 

www.operationlastchance.org  or www.wiesenthal.com

 

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Lithuanian Parliamentarian Threatens Violence against LGBT Rights Leader, Accuses Him of “Speaking with an Accent”



H U M A N   R I G H T S   /   L G B T   R I G H T S

by Lithuanian LGBT Rights Organization / LGL

Reposted from the LGL site with permission

On January 18th, 2015, a member of the Lithuanian Parliament (the Seimas), Algirdas Vaclovas Patackas publicly warned the Board Chair of the national LGBT human rights association LGL that the organization is “playing with fire” and that its activities might result in a “black, repulsive and totally unacceptable response” similar to what “happened in Paris.” The statement by the MP was issued as a response to the organization’s humorous suggestion to store 10-litas notes as LGBT souvenirs in the wake of the switchover to the euro on 1 January 2015.

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Pinchos Fridberg on Why Russia Should be Invited to the 70th Anniversary Events Marking Liberation of Auschwitz



O P I N I O N

by Pinchos Fridberg

Translated for Defending History by Ludmila Makedonskaya (Grodno) from the original Russian text published in Obzor, where the title translates as “Seventieth Anniversary of Auschwitz Liberation is Not an Occasion for Political Posturing.” In the event of any matter arising, the original Russian text is authoritative.

 ◊

The seventieth anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz is one more opportunity to remember and to honor the victims of Nazism. I am deeply convinced that the place of death of almost one and a half million people, most of whom were my fellow Jews, must not be turned into a springboard for political squabbles. I am writing these words as a man who miraculously survived the Holocaust, which took away my grandparents, as well as twenty-eight other members of our family. I know that most of them were murdered in Ponár (Paneriai). But it is also possible that some of them could have been sent to Auschwitz.

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Two “C Words” for Holocaust Museums: Center of Town, and — Collaboration



O P I N I O N

by Dovid Katz

Christmas-time congratulations are due to the four architects who have won the Vilnius state Jewish museum’s competition for plans to build a Holocaust museum at the mass murder site known as Ponár in Yiddish, Ponary before the war in Polish, and currently Lithuanian Paneriai. It is a short ride outside the capital city Vilnius. The victory of the foursome, Jautra Bernotaitė, Ronaldas Pučka (team leader), Andrius Ropolas and Paulius Vaitiekūnas, is announced on the museum’s website (and on Mr. Ropolas’s site). The competition was jointly run with the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Lithuania. The elaborate description of the project’s conception, by the Union of Architects, includes many sophisticated concepts, with multiple learned citations, from Freud to Foucault. Just one rather simpler word, a word (and exhibit) needed for any Holocaust museum, is missing from the text: collaboration.

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Letter from the Director of SLS of 13 May 2011


 


HISTORICAL DOCUMENTS  /  US FOREIGN POLICY AND THE HOLOCAUST

While Dr. Efraim Zuroff, an esteemed scholar and accomplished author who has disagreed with the Lithuanian government’s Holocaust revisionism was declared by the US embassy to be “political” and grant-threatening or nullifying for a supported literary program, subsequent speakers reflecting the policies of the Lithuanian government may have been included without hesitation, e.g. E. Cassedy in 2014. Incidentally, Defending History criticized an earlier State Dept. supported visit by Ms. Cassedy, not objecting to her appearance on any of these occasions, but rather to the exclusion of second opinions from the roster of speakers.

UPDATE: SEE ALSO REPLY

For students of the history of Holocaust issues in American foreign policy during the Obama administration, possible links with officials of a US museum and a Fulbright fellow in Vilnius may prove to be of some interest in future studies of attempts to manipulate the Holocaust debate during these years, in the context of Baltic and east-west politics, and of shifting State Department policy. Others who have remarked on the shift in US policy include Rachel Kostanian, longtime head of the Green House Holocaust museum in Vilnius; Milan Chersonski, longtime editor of the Jewish community’s quadrilingual newspaper; and journalist Geoff Vasil.
One yardstick for a future study will be the roster of Jewish-interest speakers who appeared with direct and indirect State Dept. support, and the percentage who had disagreed with Baltic nationalist Holocaust revisionism.
This document (below) appears here today after an SLS official publicly called the author of an op-ed in New York’s Algemeiner Journal “a bald-faced liar” (in the comments to the op-ed),  for asserting US embassy manipulation of the debate on the Holocaust in Lithuania via SLS, with a follow-up replete with unusual personal invective including the issue of our editor’s choice of city of residence…
Incidentally, the same SLS leader had published a very different earlier set of views numerous times, e.g. here and here, and was pleased for a Defending History section to be devoted to his writings and interviews.

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Austrian Volunteer Reflects on Year in Lithuania, Calls for City-Center Holocaust Museum in the Capital



O P I N I O N

by Sebastian Hager

 

Iwas proud to serve as Austria’s remembrance volunteer (Gedenkdiener) in 2013-2014. Based in Vilnius in the Green House, the country’s only serious Holocaust exhibit, I was able to travel extensively and meet Lithuanian citizens from a wide variety of backgrounds. Despite all the hype, the Jewish heritage is not really in the best of shape. There is a lot of ignorance combined with an ethnocentric nationalist worldview.

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A Visit to Ukraine, Where the Holocaust Becomes a Negligible Detail



O P I N I O N  /   T R A V E L   L O G

by Frank Brendle  (Berlin)

Editor’s note: The author travelled through Ukraine in autumn 2014 with a team from the Berlin-based Educational Center for Peace Research and Pinima productions. A German version of this report appeared in www.bildungswerk-friedensarbeit.org. This English version has been approved by the author. The photographs were supplied by Frank Brendle and Pinima productions, Berlin. Any re-use should credit each photo appropriately. For background on the Ukrainian Holocaust see a recent US Holocaust museum (USHMM) report, and the Defending History work by Grzegorz Rosslinski-Liebe and Per Anders Rudling; also our Ukraine section and page on 2014 international media.

 

It’s a late summer night in Lviv and we have our first encounter with Ukrainian civil society: A demonstration of bicyclists. The words “critical mass” are written on their banners, and they are fighting for more space on the roads. Just like in Germany. But something else is different than in Germany: The leader of the demonstration is shouting “Slava Ukraini!” and the crowd shouts back: “Heroiam Slava” (Glory to Ukraine – Glory to the Heroes). Then comes the next organized chant and reply-to-the-chant: “Glory to the Nation – Death to the Enemies.” fun-in-participation factor is multiplied as passers-by shout the chant, eliciting the expected reply from the marchers.

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The Holocaust Memoir That Doesn’t Fade Out at the Moment of Liberation



B O O K S

by Ira Gold

Waltzing with the Enemy: A Mother and Daughter Confront the Aftermath of the Holocaust by Rasia Kilot and Helen Mitsios. Urim Publications: Jerusalem 2011, 288 pp. Amazon.com. Kindle.

downloadIn Waltzing with the Enemy: A Mother and Daughter Confront the Aftermath of the Holocaust by Rasia Kliot and Helen Mitsios, the authors write a dual memoir of survival and healing. The mother, Rasia, was born into upper class comfort in Vilna (today Vilnius, Lithuania). Her daughter, Helen Mitsios, was born in Montreal, Canada. The dual structure – the first half is titled “Rasia’s Story” and the second half is labeled “Helen’s Story” – works very well.

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A Lowpoint in American (and Canadian) Diplomacy?



UN Resolution for “Combating Glorification of Nazism”Passes in General Assembly Committee (115 for, 3 against, with 55 abstentions)

Resolution, offered by Russia, seen as inherently flawed by Putinist machinations, Russia-Ukraine crisis & East-West feuding; EU abstains, asBaltic nationalists gloat (Delfi.lt)

STILL A SHOCK that three member states voted againstUkraineUSA,Canada. Ukraine’s government recently made “heroes” of Nazi collaborators; catalogue of the last year.

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In Europe, a New Public Curtain of Revisionism, Oblivion and Antisemitism



O P I N I O N

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

 ◊

Isee two new important social and political trends now that have a direct bearing, first on the memory of what happened in Europe and the USSR during the Holocaust and other massacres and, secondly, on the life of the Jews presently living in Europe.

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Tomas Venclova Speaks Out on Banderism and its European Analogues



O P I N I O N

venclova

Tomas Venclova

Editor’s note: Our colleague Prof. Pinchos Fridberg drew our attention to a page on Radio Svoboda’s website, by Elena Fanailova, featuring both the audio and transcript of a recent interview conducted by Donata Subbotko for the Polish weekly Gazeta Wyborcza with the famed Lithuanian humanist, poet, essayist and professor Tomas Venclova. Text of the Polish version appears in Gazeta Wyborcza. The Russian text also appeared, at Prof. Fridberg’s initiative, in Obzor.

The following brief excerpt, concerning Banderism in Ukraine and analogous tendencies in Lithuania and elsewhere, has been translated into English (from the Russian) by Ludmila Makedonskaya. See also Defending History’s section dedicated to Tomas Venclova. Our page on bold Lithuanian truth tellers includes some of Prof. Venclova’s writings from the 1970s onward. His famous essay from the period, Jews and Lithuanians, is available in his collection of essays Forms of Hope.

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Persecution of Roma in Lithuania and Britain



H U M A N   R I G H T S    /    R O M A   I S S U E S    /    O P I N I O N

by Ruth Barnett

Avivid description of the horrific treatment of Roma in Lithuania has just appeared in Defending History. This is yet another in a long line of reports of discrimination  and injustice against Roma in Eastern European countries – a catalogue of unacceptable situations.

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Member of Lithuania’s Jewish Community Speaks Out on Neo-Nazi Parades, and Govt. Flowers at Monument to Hitler’s Soldiers



O P I N I O N

by Jacob Piliansky

Iam proud to be a Litvak, and I am proud to be a citizen of independent and democratic Lithuania. I very much enjoy walking in our city’s delightful Vingis Park, as well as downtown in the beautiful city center area.

 However, I feel suddenly both sad and shocked, when I see neo-Nazi parades with swastikas and other fascist symbols  along  Gedimino Boulevard on our independence day repeating the yelled chants of “Lithuania for [ethnic] Lithuanians.”

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What is the “Program for Roma Integration” in Lithuania?



H U M A N   R I G H T S    /    R O M A   I S S U E S    /    O P I N I O N

by Vilma Fiokla Kiurė

Fiokla Kiure by B Janusevicius

Vilma Fiokla Kiurė. Photo: Benediktas Januševičius.

Here in Lithuania, the words “Roma” and “discrimination” are regarded as inseparable. It seems that even the Roma community is reconciled with that. The situation, however, is worsening and what is currently happening in Kirtimai, a village on the outskirts of Vilnius, the capital city’s home to its most prominent tabor, or Roma settlement, and often referred to just as Kirtimai Tabor. What is happening is something larger than just “discrimination against Roma.”

For starters, the water has been disconnected in upper Kirtimai. There had never been a proper water supply but there was a water “column” used by some three hundred people. But it has been blocked off. Looking at the sight of baby carriages used for carrying urns of water is a sight unbelievable for the beautiful capital city of a European Union member state.

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Which Issues Did the Exhibition Neglect to Cover?



M U S E U M S   /   O P I N I O N

by Milan Chersonski

These observations do not claim to be a review of the traveling exhibition “Lithuanian Jews behind the Iron Curtain,” which was mounted by the Tolerance Center of the Vilna Gaon Jewish State Museum in Vilnius (hereinafter “the state Jewish museum”) from 13 March to 31 July 31 this year. By and large, issues raised refer to the fate of Lithuanian Jewry during World War II and contemporary issues regarding some issues in Lithuanian history.

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