Opinion

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?

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

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’

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?

Books in the Debate to Late 2017


[updated] 


In the Debate to Late 2017

YEAR OF PUBLICATION VARIES.  

See DH’s BOOKS SECTION

Andriukaitis (reviewed by Vasil)

Bankier [Kuniuchowsky Collection] (reviewed by Zuroff)

Berlin (notice of appearance in Defending History)

Bubnys (reviewed by Katz; by Vasil)

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

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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)

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

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

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

Latvian Court Rules Against a Protester Who Turned Out Against the Annual Waffen SS March



FREE SPEECH  |  LATVIA  |  RIGA PRO-NAZI MARCHES  |  PRO-NAZI MARCHES

by Aleksandr Kuzmin (Riga)

On March 16, 2017, the annual march honoring Waffen SS Latvian Legion veterans took place in Riga as usual. A co-ruling political party had called the legionnaires “freedom fighters”[1], the Security Police had denounced opponents of the march as “so-called Anti-Fascists” and put them in the chapter “Manifestations of Russia’s compatriot policies in Latvia” of its annual report.[2] The counter-picket applied for by the Latvian Anti-Nazi Committee had been ordered to move farther from the march route. Again, a pretty usual development.

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Posted in Aleksandr Kuzmin, Collaborators Glorified, Free Speech & Democracy, Human Rights, Latvia, Neo-Nazi & Fascist Marches, News & Views, Opinion, Riga's Waffen SS Marches, Symbology | Comments Off on Latvian Court Rules Against a Protester Who Turned Out Against the Annual Waffen SS March

Ukrainian City Naming Street in Honor of Waffen-SS Hauptsturmführer


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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

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

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?

Is Prof. Krutikov the Latest Lithuanian Gov. “Yiddish Star” to be Manipulated?



OPINION  |  JEWISH STUDIES AS COVER  |  YIDDISH AFFAIRS

VILNIUS—Beware of any academic conference hosted by a nation’s parliament. This isn’t about Lithuania, the Baltics, or Eastern Europe. It’s about the intellectual independence and academic integrity of bona fide academic conclaves anywhere. There are elementary questions. Was there a public call for papers? Was there an academic committee established to select those papers by the most competent specialists on the actual topic of the conference? An academic committee that would guard against the petty jealousies, politics of revenge and personal exclusions, as well as larger political correctnesses or state-sponsored-agency attempts to predetermine the proceedings or (ab)use them for governmental PR? Is the conference a free tribune for the exchange of ideas in an atmosphere of collegiality and mutual respect? One where scholars of opposing views can thrash it out, robustly and publicly — without the loss of interpersonal respect — to yield positive results for the area of human enquiry to which the conference was dedicated in the first place. One of the ironies is that Vilnius is nowadays host to some of the world’s best (and most academically free) conferences in an array of fields, both in the humanities and the sciences. That Soviet-style rigging should survive in the case of Judaic studies, of all things, will itself be studied one day.

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Posted in "Good Will Foundation" (Jewish Restitution in Lithuania), "Jewish" Events as Cover?, "Red-Brown Commission", Bloomington-Borns Program Manipulated?, News & Views, Opinion, Vilnius Jewish Life (from 2016), Vilnius Yiddish Institute, Yiddish Affairs, Yivo Manipulated? | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Is Prof. Krutikov the Latest Lithuanian Gov. “Yiddish Star” to be Manipulated?

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?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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?

Israel Chronicle


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Israeli Foreign Policy and the Holocaust in Eastern Europe (1990 — 2017)

Debate Tracker:

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Media Tracker:

2016   2015   2014   2013   2012   2011   2010   2009   2008   2007   earlier years


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Posted in "Good Will Foundation" (Jewish Restitution in Lithuania), A 21st Century Campaign Against Lithuanian Holocaust Survivors?, Foreign Ministries: Holocaust Politics Abuse?, Israel, Lithuania, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory, Yad Vashem Manipulated? | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Israel Chronicle

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”

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?

Community Democratization: Four Leadership Jobs? Four People!



OPINION  |  HUMAN RIGHTS  |  VILNIUS JEWISH LIFE  |  LITVAK AFFAIRS  |  MEDIA WATCH

VILNIUS—The disappointing failure of the official website of the Jewish Community of Lithuania to give Equal Space to each candidate, and to each campaign, in the current leadership contest is a scar in the modern community’s history that can still be repaired as the campaign turns to its final stages. Let us hope it will be, and that this minimal democratic standard will be respected by the site’s editor and by the Good Will Foundation that allocates lavish finance for the website, which was never intended to be a Soviet-style paean to a single never-to-be-questioned Leader. Perhaps the Board’s foreign members, in particular, will rise to the occasion, at long last, at next week’s scheduled meeting here in Vilnius, especially in light of the recent series of unsettling reports.

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Posted in "Good Will Foundation" (Jewish Restitution in Lithuania), Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Media Watch, News & Views, Opinion, Vilnius Jewish Life (from 2016) | Comments Off on Community Democratization: Four Leadership Jobs? Four People!

What Should be Done with the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery?



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

by Shnayer Leiman

What should be done with the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery (Piramónt, in the Šnipiškės district of modern Vilnius)? It should be restored. For this to happen, the Soviet ruin in its center should be taken down to ground level, with no further earthworks in the cemetery, ever. Let it forever remain a testimonial to the vibrancy of Jewish life in Vilna.

Two of Vilna’s greatest photographers and artists, Juozapas Kamarauskas (d. 1946) and Jan Bulhak (d. 1950) were mesmerized by Vilna’s Jewish sites, and especially by the Old Jewish Cemetery. They left us with an abundance of photographs and sketches of the Old Jewish Cemetery. Jewish scholars of the 19th and 20th centuries, residents of Vilna, recorded and published for posterity meticulous transcriptions of the texts of hundreds of epitaphs inscribed on the tombstones of the Old Jewish Cemetery.

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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, Politics of Memory, Sid (Shnayer) Leiman, Vilnius Jewish Life (from 2016) | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on What Should be Done with the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery?

Full Transcript of the “Fania Brantsovsky Witch Hunt Ceremony” on Lithuania’s Independence Day



OPINION  |  DOCUMENTS  |   BLAMING THE VICTIMS?  |  DOUBLE GENOCIDE  |  VILNIUS GENOCIDE CENTER  |  ANTISEMITISM  |  PRO-NAZI MARCHES  |  VILNIUS MARCHES

VILNIUS—This year’s March 11th independence day march here last month was again granted the route of highest prestige, from Cathedral Square, up the whole of the capital’s main thoroughfare, Gedimino Boulevard, and ending at Parliament Square. Defending History’s eyewitness report recounted this year’s “detour” to the presidential palace for the bizarre ceremony of attacking Lithuania’s oldest Holocaust survivor, Fania Yocheles Brantsovsky (Brancovskaja), 95 next month, one of the Jewish partisans subjected to defamation by the state’s campaign of Holocaust revisionism that has included a “blame the victims” components that started eleven years ago.

CAMPAIGN AGAINST (ONLY JEWISH) VETERANS OF THE ANTI-NAZI PARTISANS; RENEWED 2017 CAMPAIGN AGAINST FANIA YOCHELES BRANTSOVSKY

 

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Posted in A 21st Century Campaign Against Lithuanian Holocaust Survivors?, Antisemitism & Bias, Celebrations of Fascism, Collaborators Glorified, Debates on the Postwar "Forest Brothers", Documents, Events, Genocide Center (Vilnius), Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Neo-Nazi & Fascist Marches, News & Views, Opinion, Vilnius Neo-Nazi Marches | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Full Transcript of the “Fania Brantsovsky Witch Hunt Ceremony” on Lithuania’s Independence Day

Hon. Herbert Block’s Lithuanian Engagements and the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery



OPINION  |  PIRAMÓNT  | OPPOSITION  |   USCPAHA (US COMMISSION FOR AMERICAN HERITAGE ABROAD)  |  CPJCE  |  ADMAS KODESH  |  PAPER  TRAIL  |  CEMETERIES

VILNIUS—The Hon. Herbert Block, a prominent and popular personality known to New Yorkers from his days as the highly successful Jewish affairs liaison for the campaign and administration of New York City mayor David Dinkins years ago has emerged as a major force at the confluence of Jewish-Hasidic, American and Lithuanian-government politics on issues in Lithuanian-Jewish affairs. There are conflicting views about his myriad, and some would say conflict-of-interest laden, entanglements that include a Satmar group in Monroe, New York intent on fulfilling the wishes of Vilnius builders for a convention center and annex in the heart of the old Jewish cemetery of Vilnius (allegedly for the financial benefit of their London followers in the CPJCE), a US taxpayer funded agency that exists to preserve  Jewish cemeteries (but has yet to issue a word of protest at the “convention center in the Jewish cemetery” project) and the Lithuanian government’s “Good Will Foundation” that allocates monies deriving from the religious properties of the annihilated Jewish communities of Lithuania.

NEW SECTION ON MR. BLOCK’S LITHUANIAN INVOLVEMENTS

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Posted in "Admas Kodesh", "Good Will Foundation" (Jewish Restitution in Lithuania), 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, United States, US Commission for Preservation of the American Heritage Abroad | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Hon. Herbert Block’s Lithuanian Engagements and the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery

Lithuanian Jews Call for Democracy in their Community



OPINION  |  HUMAN RIGHTS  |  VILNIUS JEWISH LIFE  |  LITVAK AFFAIRS

VILNIUS—The human rights of even small, weak and demographically struggling minorities to enjoy a free and open website that offers a forum to people and groups of diverse opinions is well established. It is also a test of democracy that members of such groups feel able to speak out when those rights are abrogated. Against that backdrop, it was significant today that a group of older members of Lithuania’s Jewish community (including Holocaust survivors), spoke out on the subject, around a week after a pubic appeal for website democracy by a younger generation on Facebook.  The older group blogs under the name of the semi-legendary 19th century Vilna Jewish “wisecracker and whistleblower” Mótke Chabád in the Russian-language Vilnius-based publication Obzor (not to be confused with Defending History’s “own” Motke Chabad…).

“Bravo to Vilnius’s Jewish community for their pre-Passover 2017 stand for democracy, the younger generation in Facebook, the survivor generation in Obzor.”

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Posted in "Good Will Foundation" (Jewish Restitution in Lithuania), Free Speech & Democracy, Human Rights, Lithuania, Lithuanian Adventures of the Hon. Herbert Block (AK, AZM, (LG)CJH, CPJCE, GWF, USCPAHA, SATMAR/“AARON BRANCH", WJRO), Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Opinion, Simon Gurevich (Simonas Gurevičius), Vilnius Jewish Life (from 2016) | Comments Off on Lithuanian Jews Call for Democracy in their Community

Major German Holocaust Scholar Slips (Again) into Baltic Nationalist Discourse



OPINION  |  HISTORY  |  LITHUANIA  |  LITVAK AFAIRS  |  RED-BROWN COMMISSION

by Dovid Katz

East European state-sponsored “Holocaust Fixing” continues apace. The distinguished German scholar and author of a major two-volume work on the Lithuanian Holocaust, Professor Christoph Dieckmann, has given a major interview intended for the general public on the popular Delfi.lt news portal. He was in town for an IHRA conference held in intimate collaboration with the Lithuanian government’s units on the Holocaust and Jewish affairs, including the Red-Brown Commission, of which Prof. Dieckmann is, surprisingly for many of his genuine admirers, a longtime member and apologist.

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Posted in "Red-Brown Commission", Double Genocide, Foreign Ministries: Holocaust Politics Abuse?, Germany, History, Legacy of 23 June 1941, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Media Watch, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory | Comments Off on Major German Holocaust Scholar Slips (Again) into Baltic Nationalist Discourse

State-Sponsored “Genocide Center” Issues Document that is “2017’s Jew-Witch Hunt” Against 95 Year Old Holocaust Survivor Fania Yocheles Brantsovsky



OPINION  |  DOCUMENTS  |   BLAMING THE VICTIMS?  |  DOUBLE GENOCIDE  |  VILNIUS GENOCIDE CENTER  |  ANTISEMITISM

by Dovid Katz

VILNIUS—The following (text below) is a translation from Lithuanian of the 2 March 2017 letter from the state-sponsored Genocide and Resistance Research Center of Lithuania (widely known as the Genocide Center) to a nationalist group that put on this year’s March 11th Independence Day neo-Nazi march, with authorities’ permission, in the center of Vilnius, the Lithuanian capital. The group had complained about Lithuania’s president, Dalia Grybauskaite, having granted an award on February 16th to Lithuania’s oldest Holocaust survivor, Fania Yocheles Brantsovsky, soon to turn 95, for her work in the field of Holocaust education. The president’s office had referred the complaint to the Genocide Center which issued this letter (facsimile of the original below). The correspondence was then read out at a bizarre ceremony that some observers thought bore the hallmarks of a 2017 “Jew-witch hunt” when the Independence day festivities announced a detour to the presidential palace to read out the various letters and condemn Fania Yocheles Brantsovsky, who is the only one of her family to survive the Holocaust precisely because she escaped the Vilna Ghetto in September 1943 and joined up with the anti-Nazi Soviet partisans, the only force seriously challenging Hitler’s rule of Lithuania.

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Posted in A 21st Century Campaign Against Lithuanian Holocaust Survivors?, Antisemitism & Bias, Christian-Jewish Issues, Documents, Double Genocide, Dovid Katz, EU, Genocide Center (Vilnius), Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory, Vilnius Neo-Nazi Marches | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off on State-Sponsored “Genocide Center” Issues Document that is “2017’s Jew-Witch Hunt” Against 95 Year Old Holocaust Survivor Fania Yocheles Brantsovsky

Monica Lowenberg’s Speech at the Protest Outside the Latvian Embassy in Berlin



LATVIA | GERMANY | WAFFEN SS MARCHES IN RIGABALTIC MARCHES | GLORIFYING COLLABORATORS

by Monica Lowenberg (London)

The following is an English translation of Monica Lowenberg’s speech that was read out at the protest at the Latvian Embassy in Berlin on 15 March 2017 also addressed by German member of parliament Volker Beck. Ms. Lowenberg could not be in attendance and her speech, published here in the author’s English translation, was read to the assembled by historian Dr. Hans Coppi, chairman of the VVN (Union of Persecutees of the Nazi Regime in Berlin).

Dr Hans Coppi speaking VVN protesting outside the Latvian embassy Berlin 15.03.2017

Historian Dr. Hans Coppi (with microphone, center rear) addressing protesters at the Latvian Embassy in Berlin on the eve of the 2017 annual Waffen SS march in central Riga. PHOTO: LOTHAR EBERHARDT.

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Posted in Collaborators Glorified, Germany, Human Rights, Latvia, Monica Lowenberg, Neo-Nazi & Fascist Marches, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory, Riga's Waffen SS Marches | Comments Off on Monica Lowenberg’s Speech at the Protest Outside the Latvian Embassy in Berlin

German Member of Parliament Volker Beck Joins Protest at the Latvian Embassy in Berlin



LATVIA | GERMANY | WAFFEN SS MARCHES IN RIGABALTIC MARCHES | GLORIFYING COLLABORATORS

by Monica Lowenberg (London)

Last Wednesday, on 15 March 2017, eve of the annual events glorifying Latvia’s Waffen SS in the very heart of the capital city, Riga, one German member of parliament (the Bundestag), Volker Beck, came to the Latvian Embassy in the heart of Germany’s capital, Berlin, to give a speech of support to the protesters. Beck, a member of the Greens, is president of the German-Israeli Parliamentary Friendship Group. The following is the text of his speech, which I have translated into English.

Volker Beck speaking outside the Latvian embassy

Volker Beck gives a speech of support to protesters at the Latvian Embassy in Berlin on the eve of the 2017 annual Waffen SS march in central Riga. PHOTO: LOTHAR EBERHARDT.

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Posted in Collaborators Glorified, Events, Germany, Human Rights, Latvia, Monica Lowenberg, Neo-Nazi & Fascist Marches, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory, Riga's Waffen SS Marches | Tagged , , , , , | Comments Off on German Member of Parliament Volker Beck Joins Protest at the Latvian Embassy in Berlin

“Statistics” Posted by the “Good Will Foundation” in Vilnius



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

VILNIUS—The following list of “Statistics: Project Funding Allocations” is a screenshot taken today of the page of that name on the website of the Lithuanian government’s Good Will Foundation (GWF). It is also available (with some browsers) in the alternative interactive Tableau format (below the screenshot).

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Posted in "Admas Kodesh", "Good Will Foundation" (Jewish Restitution in Lithuania), Documents, 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, Vilnius Jewish Life (from 2016) | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on “Statistics” Posted by the “Good Will Foundation” in Vilnius

Respectfully Disagreeing with Professor Timothy Snyder


[last updated]


 ◊

THE LATEST

Reviews of Bloodlands

Reviews of Black Earth

Instrumentalization?

2012   2013   2014   2015   2016

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 A 21st Century Campaign Against Lithuanian Holocaust Survivors?, Australia, Books, Double Genocide, EU, Foreign Ministries: Holocaust Politics Abuse?, Lithuania, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory, United States | Tagged , , , , , | Comments Off on Respectfully Disagreeing with Professor Timothy Snyder

After “Blissful United Congregation” on Sabbath, Some Leaders of “Official” Community Again Take Aim at Rabbi Krinsky



 HUMAN RIGHTS  |  VILNIUS JEWISH LIFE  |  LITVAK AFFAIRS

by Dovid Katz (Vilnius)

VILNIUS—Since the Vilnius Choral Synagogue, the only one to survive the war as an in-use synagogue (there were around 160 in town before the Holocaust), was reopened for “one and all” several weeks ago by the controlling “Religious Jewish Community,” on Monday 13 February, services have been blissful and harmonious. On Friday night and Saturday morning services, more Litvak handshakes accompanied by Gut-Shábes and A gútn Shábes were echoed up on high than in many a moon. And, as a kind of special blessing for a demographically challenged post-Holocaust post-Soviet community, attendance has been growing, reaching the largest number in years last weekend (not counting visits by organized tourist groups). Cantor Shmuel Yusem had everyone transfixed with his magnificent cantorial talents. Both rabbis in town this past weekend, Rabbi Sholem Ber Krinsky, the Chabad rabbi who has lived here 22 years, and the community’s official junior rabbi, Samson Daniel Izakson, who arrived just over one year ago, gave excellent brief sermons at their usual junctures in the service (each has their traditional slot in the service for the Dvar-Tóyre, or Dvar Torah).

UPDATES: JTA REPORT OF 27 FEB; DEFENDING HISTORY REPORT AND NEW VIDEO OF 28 FEB

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Posted in "Good Will Foundation" (Jewish Restitution in Lithuania), Human Rights, Lithuania, Lithuanian Adventures of the Hon. Herbert Block (AK, AZM, (LG)CJH, CPJCE, GWF, USCPAHA, SATMAR/“AARON BRANCH", WJRO), Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Opinion, Vilnius Jewish Life (from 2016) | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on After “Blissful United Congregation” on Sabbath, Some Leaders of “Official” Community Again Take Aim at Rabbi Krinsky

London CPJCE Spokesman Proclaims a Soviet Ruin in Vilnius to be Lithuania’s “Tower of London” and its “Statue of Liberty”



OPINION  |  PIRAMÓNT  |  PAPER  TRAIL  |  OPPOSITION  |  CEMETERIES

MORE ON THE CPJCE. OUR OPEN LETTER TO THEM. Exposés by WikileaksJerusalem PostJTA, and DH.

UPDATE: THIS ARTICLE WAS REPUBLISHED IN THE FIVE TOWNS JEWISH TIMES

In a remarkable interview cited today in the highly respected Five Towns Jewish Times, an Orthodox publication based in Inwood, Lawrence, Cedarhurst, Woodmere, and Hewlett, all in Nassau County, Queens, New York, Rabbi Abraham Ginsberg, the PR specialist for the London-based CPJCE (“Committee for the Preservation of Jewish Cemeteries in Europe”) is quoted as explaining why, in his estimation, the Lithuanian state feels the burning national-priority need to build a convention center and annex in the heart of Vilna’s historic Jewish cemetery that dates to the 15th century and continues to hold the remains of thousands of Vilna Jewish citizens whose families duly bought their plots over the centuries:

“I asked the rabbi why we are accepting the fact that this excavation and construction that will potentially unearth more bones and destroy many more graves must go forward.

“The rabbi explained that the location is important to Lithuanians because it was in this stadium now in disrepair and rotting that the Lithuanians declared their independence in the aftermath of the collapse of Communism in 1990. ‘This location is Lithuania’s London Tower and Statue of Liberty; they are not letting it go anytime soon,’ Rabbi Ginsberg said.

“He’s a little upset at the American rabbis who met with the Lithuanian ambassador in Washington last week.”

Excerpt from Larry Gordon’s report, “A Grave Matter in Vilna”  in the Five Towns Jewish Times, 23 February 2017

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Posted in "Admas Kodesh", Cemeteries and Mass Graves, CPJCE (London), Dovid Katz, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Opinion | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on London CPJCE Spokesman Proclaims a Soviet Ruin in Vilnius to be Lithuania’s “Tower of London” and its “Statue of Liberty”

A Major New Shtetl Museum for Shádev (Shádov, Shádeve, Today’s — Šeduva)



OPINION  |  LITVAK AFFAIRS  |  MUSEUMS

by Dovid Katz (Vilnius)

VILNIUS—The Litvak world, internationally fragmented and weak, yet so vibrant and creative, has been cheered by news reports of the new shtetl museum to rise in the near future in Shádev, a Lithuanian town of many centuries of Jewish heritage where a great rabbinic personality, Reb Móyshe Ha-Góyle (“Moses the Exile”, Méyshe Ha-Géyle in deep Litvish pronunciation, Moshé Ha-Golé in Israeli Hebrew) thrived in the fifteenth century.

A good shtetl museum here will be a blessing to the Litvak, European Jewish, Yiddish and shtetl heritage internationally. It will be a blessing to modern, democratic Lithuania. To this day, the basket of idols of the contemporary Jewish market downplays the magnitude of Yiddish language, literature, and culture, shtetl culture and heritage, and the magnificent East European Jewish legacy more generally. News media have gone with reports by AFP and by JTA, and there is more on the project’s website.

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Posted in Arts, Commemorations for Destroyed Communities, Dovid Katz, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Museums, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory, Shádov (Šeduva), Vilnius Jewish Life (from 2016) | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on A Major New Shtetl Museum for Shádev (Shádov, Shádeve, Today’s — Šeduva)

A Reply to London’s Rabbi Herschel Gluck OBE



PIRAMÓNT  |  PAPER  TRAIL  |  OPPOSITION  |  CEMETERIES

LONDON—The world’s greatest rabbinic authorities are unanimously opposed to the project to construct a 34 million euro convention center in the heart of Vilna’s old Jewish cemetery, surrounded by thousands of graves on all four sides. And now, 34,000 people around the world have also spoken up in a new international petition. Nevertheless, one group of London rabbis, the “CPJCE” (Committee for the Preservation of Jewish Cemeteries in Europe [italics added]) continues to campaign for the convention center in close cooperation with the local business interests and politicians. Its Rabbi Herschel (Hershel) Gluck OBE has spoken out in the London Jewish Chronicle, trashing the petition of a Vilnius born Orthodox Jewish woman, Ruta Bloshtein.

Neither Rabbi Gluck nor the Jewish Chronicle mention that his “CPJCE” was allegedly exposed in Wikileaks (reports in the Jerusalem Post, Times of Israel, DH) for demanding money for their “supervision”. Rabbi Gluck told the London Jewish Chronicle:

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Posted in "Admas Kodesh", Cemeteries and Mass Graves, CPJCE (London), Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Media Watch, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Opinion, Politics of Memory, United Kingdom, Vilnius Jewish Life (from 2016) | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on A Reply to London’s Rabbi Herschel Gluck OBE

Defending History’s 2017 People of the Year



three-winners-1

As 2017 gets underway, Defending History is proud to honor three Vilnius personalities, this year all from its Orthodox Jewish community, who have stood up for cherished principles against powerful forces. In all cases, the principles defended pertain also to human rights more generally. Their courage and determination can serve as an example to all who defend human rights and history even when it is inconvenient and draws the ire of power-invested institutions that are often associated with state-supported entities.

The three honorees are, in alphabetical order, Ruta Bloshtein, Rabbi Kalev Krelin, and Rabbi Sholom Ber Krinsky. On Facebook. See from previous years the Prophet Amos Human Rights Awards and the 2014 Person of the Year.

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Posted in "Good Will Foundation" (Jewish Restitution in Lithuania), Bold Citizens Speak Out, Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Opinion, Vilnius Jewish Life (from 2016) | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Defending History’s 2017 People of the Year

“Surreal” Nov. 29th Vilnius Public Debate on Street Named for Nazi Collaborator


[LAST UPDATE]

In Vilnius, City Council Holds “Surreal” Public Debate on 29 Nov. 2016 on Street Name Honoring a Nazi Collaborator; But Will the Mayor (Who Did Not Attend) Ever Speak Out with Moral Clarity?

Keynote speaker was Mark Adam Harold, the British born city councillor who “courageously and dramatically” proposed renaming the street that currently honors Nazi collaborator K. Škirpa.

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Posted in Bold Citizens Speak Out, Christian-Jewish Issues, Collaborators Glorified, Events, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory, Vilnius Jewish Life (from 2016), Vilnius Mayor Remigijus Šimašius | Comments Off on “Surreal” Nov. 29th Vilnius Public Debate on Street Named for Nazi Collaborator

Conference on East European Holocaust Opens in Warsaw



Conference in Warsaw, 5–7 December 2016:

Conference Features Omer Bartov, Christoph Dieckmann, Dan Michman, Antony Polonsky, Grzegorz Rossoliński-Liebe, Saulius Sužiedėlis, Rūta Vanagaitė, Efraim Zuroff, and Other Major Specialists on the Holocaust in Eastern Europe

Expectations rising that the Lithuanian government sponsored “Red-Brown Commission” (three of whose members are speaking) may now publicly call for (1) research (and acknowledgment of extant research and testimony) on massive “pre-German violence” in dozens of towns in the last week of June 1941; (2) written state apologies to defamed Holocaust survivors Yitzhak Arad, Fania Brantsovsky, Pinchos Fridberg, Rachel Margolis and Joseph Melamed; (3) dismantling of public-space shrines, street names, university lecture halls etc that honor Holocaust collaborators; (4) repeal of the 2010 “red-brown jailtime law” that effectively criminalizes free debate;  (5) abandonment of official adherence to 2008 Prague Declaration (and acknowledgment of the need for consideration also of the points made in the 2012 Seventy Years Declaration).

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Posted in Events, History, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Opinion, Poland, Politics of Memory | Comments Off on Conference on East European Holocaust Opens in Warsaw

Antisemitism in the 21st Century Shtetl



 

OPINION  |  ANTISEMITISM  |  COMMEMORATIONS FOR DESTROYED COMMUNITIES

by Dovid Katz

This article appeared today in ISGAP Flashpoint:

The words “antisemitism in the shtetl” might evoke recollections of Fiddler on the Roof, a touch of family lore “from the old country” way back when, or for those familiar with modern Yiddish literature, a scene from this or that writer. Baffling as it may sound, however, it a substantial contemporary topic in the study of antisemitism, and, perhaps even more surprisingly, part of a phenomenon with implications for the future, given the vast number of cities, towns and villages in the world with a rich Jewish history but no living Jews, where potent anti-Jewish feeling (as well as pro-Jewish feeling) can be observed. As noted back in Flashpoint 21, antisemitism in Eastern Europe is very different from its much better known Western and Middle East incarnations.

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Posted in Antisemitism & Bias, Collaborators Glorified, Commemorations for Destroyed Communities, Double Genocide, Dovid Katz, Exotic Jewish Tourism, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Malát (Molėtai), News & Views, Norway, Opinion, Politics of Memory, Yiddish Affairs | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on Antisemitism in the 21st Century Shtetl

Is Eastern European “Double Genocide” Revisionism Reaching Museums?



HISTORY  |  DOUBLE GENOCIDE  |  MUSEUMS  |  COLLABORATORS GLORIFIED

by Dovid Katz

This paper appeared today in Dapim: Studies on the Holocaust, published by Taylor and Francis.

ABSTRACT: In contrast to twentieth-century Holocaust Denial, the most recent assault on the narrative of the genocide of European Jewry has emanated from a sophisticated revisionist model known as Double Genocide, codified in the 2008 Prague Declaration. Positing “equality” of Nazi and Soviet crimes, the paradigm’s corollaries sometimes include attempts to rehabilitate perpetrators and discredit survivors. Emanating from pro-Western governments and elites in Eastern Europe in countries with records of high collaboration, the movement has reached out widely to the Holocaust Studies establishment as well as Jewish institutions. It occasionally enjoys the political support of major Western countries in the context of East-West politics, or in the case of Israel, attempts to garner (eastern) European Union support. The empirical effects to date have included demonstrable impact on museums, memorials and exhibits in Eastern Europe and beyond.

The demise of twentieth-century-style Holocaust denial in mainstream Western society is aptly symbolized by David Irving’s loss to Deborah Lipstadt in the London High Court in 2000. But around the same time, a new and more irksome method of writing the Holocaust out of history was emerging under the radar, this time without necessarily denying any of the historical events or a single death. Particularly in Eastern Europe, it was being forged with state funding and more subtle powers of persuasion in academia, the media, the arts and international diplomacy.

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Posted in "Red-Brown Commission", Double Genocide, Dovid Katz, EU, History, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Museums, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Is Eastern European “Double Genocide” Revisionism Reaching Museums?

Vilnius Remembers Valerijus Čekmonas on his 80th



VILNIUS—While some biographies cite 1937 as the year of Professor Valerijus Čekmonas’s month, many of his numerous students and admirers both here in Vilnius, and internationally, who were heartboken by his untimately death in 2004, are taking the 1936 year as definitive and celebrating his life this season on the occasion of what would have been his eightieth birthday.

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Why Can’t Riga Just Replace a Plaque on the Wall?



OPINION  |  POLITICS OF MEMORY  |   LATVIA

by Aleksandrs Feigmanis (Riga)

 


I am a tour guide in Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. Whenever I take tourists through  Riga’s fabled Old Town, we together pass, on the way from Town Hall Square to the still-functioning synagogue, the address Peldu Street 15, right on the corner of Peldu and Kungu. There is a high school building and a twenty-four-hour parking lot guarded all the time. And right in front of us, on the outside wall of Peldu 15, there is the half-destroyed plaque for the Righteous Among the Nations Anna Alma Pole.

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Posted in Aleksandrs Feigmanis, Latvia, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory | Comments Off on Why Can’t Riga Just Replace a Plaque on the Wall?

Head of Lithuanian Jewish Community Calls on Mayor of Vilnius to Remove Plaque Honoring a Holocaust Collaborator



VILNIUS—Jewish Community chairperson Faina Kukliansky, a prominent lawyer here in the Lithuanian capital, today released on the community’s official website the text of her letter to the mayor of Vilnius calling for the removal of a plaque honoring the notorious Holocaust collaborator Jonas Noreika. The letter follows her bold speech at the 23 September Ponár (Paneriai) memorial which likewise called on government officials to remove honors for Holocaust perpetrators, citing three prominent collaborators by name.

There was immediate speculation on which human rights, Jewish and Israeli organizations, here and internationally, would react with rapid public expressions of support for the chairperson’s letter. The charismatic young mayor of Vilnius has a colorful record on Jewish issues, which Defending History has been following for years, starting with his earlier stint as justice minister.

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Posted in Antisemitism & Bias, Christian-Jewish Issues, Debates on the Postwar "Forest Brothers", EU, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory, Vilnius Jewish Life (from 2016), Vilnius Mayor Remigijus Šimašius | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Head of Lithuanian Jewish Community Calls on Mayor of Vilnius to Remove Plaque Honoring a Holocaust Collaborator

Leon Kaplan Comments on Eviction by Jewish Community Head of Rabbi Krinsky and his Fellow Worshippers



VILNIUS JEWISH LIFE  |  HUMAN RIGHTS  |  OPINION

by Leon Kaplan

The following two comments appeared in Facebook on 1 November 2016 and on 3 November 2016, following publication of Dovid Katz’s 1 November article in Defending History. They have been slightly condensed and copy-edited here.

1 November 2016:

It is time to stand up to this behavior. Does Madam Kukliansky think that in Ponar and the other 250 places of murder that Jews, our brothers and sisters, our children (kinderlakh) had been separated at the time of murder and thrown into a Chabad ditch and into a Misnagdim ditch? If this is a decision by Madam Kukliansky, to call the police or to lock out Krinsky from the building of the Jewish Community, then it is simply disgusting.

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Posted in Human Rights, Leon Kaplan, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Opinion, Vilnius Jewish Life (from 2016) | Comments Off on Leon Kaplan Comments on Eviction by Jewish Community Head of Rabbi Krinsky and his Fellow Worshippers

Barring a Jew from Prayer Services is a Human Rights Issue



OPINION  |  VILNIUS JEWISH LIFE  |  LITVAK AFFAIRS  |  HUMAN RIGHTS

by Dovid Katz

VILNIUS—Rabbi Sholom Ber Krinsky, Vilnius’s Chabad rabbi, has served Jewish people here and the city’s diverse cultural mosaic for some twenty-two years. And sure, he has had his share of issues, run-ins and errors over the decades, just like everyone else in town. His numerous packed Jewish holiday celebrations have become part and parcel of the city’s remarkable twenty-first century Jewish footprint, most famously on Chanukah. But yet again, he was denied entry to the Jewish community building for daily prayer services this morning by the burly security guards at the official Jewish Community building, who seemed highly adept at avoiding frontal photography. Services were abruptly moved there on Friday evening because of a mysterious “plumbing problem” (heating, in some versions) at the city’s Choral Synagogue. Then, on Friday evening 28 October, police were called to evict from the makeshift prayer address Rabbi Krinsky and his children, pupils and co-worshippers (reports by R. BloshteinZ. Olickij, and J. Piliansky). A sad date in the modern history of Jewish Vilnius.

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Posted in Human Rights, Identity Theft of the Litvak Heritage, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Opinion, Rákishok (Rokiškis), Vilnius Jewish Life (from 2016) | Tagged , , | Comments Off on Barring a Jew from Prayer Services is a Human Rights Issue

A Confusing Week in Jewish Vilnius



OPINION  |  VILNIUS JEWISH LIFE

by Zecharya Olickij

This last week has been very confusing to me. I’m a local Vilna Jew, and I have been very happy to see the harmony in the city’s Choral Synagogue for many years now. In fact, for over a year now, all Jews have been praying together in absolute harmony in the main synagogue, the only one to survive the war intact.

I was very happy when I saw a large number of local Jews (most of whom are not personally observant) flocking to the synagogue to celebrate Simchas Torah last week. How beautiful to watch the dancing, the singing, the joy, the Torah. No strife, no quarrels, no negativism. The atmosphere of sheer holiness of this ancient and eternal Jewish joy. It was wonderful.

But then came Friday evening (the 28th of October, eve of the Sabbath of 27 Tishrei).

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Posted in Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Opinion, Vilnius Jewish Life (from 2016) | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments Off on A Confusing Week in Jewish Vilnius

Did “Double Genocide” Just Get to the “O’Reilly Factor”?



MEDIA WATCH  |  OPINION  |  USA

by Dovid Katz

NEW YORK—At least a few viewers of the Fox News Channel’s premier prime time program, “The O’Reilly Factor” were taken aback to hear Bill O’Reilly spurt out last night, in his best high-school teacher by-the-way factual tone, “Stalin was as bad as Hitler! Alright, it’s the same thing!” during a segment presented as uncontested truth. The guest inspiring the “truism” was Mr. Marion Smith, executive director of the Washington DC based “Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation” (sometimes known for short as VOC).

fireshot-capture-3-marion-smith-on-the-oreilly-factor-10-21-16-_-https___www-youtube-com_watch

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Posted in Double Genocide, Media Watch, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory, Prague "Platform", United States | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Did “Double Genocide” Just Get to the “O’Reilly Factor”?

When “Putin” Becomes an Excuse for Hitler-Glorification



OPINION

by Dovid Katz

This article appeared today in Jewish Currents:

A recent Washington Post editorial rightfully takes Russia and China to task for persecuting those who dare challenge the state’s distortions of history. In the case of Russia, there is mention of the disgraceful prosecution of a citizen for pointing out that the September 1939 dismemberment of Poland was a joint venture of Germany and the USSR codified by the infamous Molotov-Ribbentrop pact. But wait a minute.

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Posted in Celebrations of Fascism, Collaborators Glorified, Double Genocide, Dovid Katz, Estonia, Free Speech & Democracy, Human Rights, Israel, Latvia, Lithuania, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on When “Putin” Becomes an Excuse for Hitler-Glorification

Leonidas Donskis (1962—2016)



The Defending History Community Mourns our Colleague

LEONIDAS DONSKIS

13 August 1962 — 21 September 2016


HIS WORK IN DEFENDING HISTORY INCLUDES ESSAYS ON:

Inflation of the word “genocide” and criminalization of debate

The campaign against Holocaust survivors who joined the anti-Nazi Soviet partisans and its implications

Response to proposals to “reevaluate” the Hitlerist LAF and Provisional Government collaborators of 1941

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Posted in A 21st Century Campaign Against Lithuanian Holocaust Survivors?, Bold Citizens Speak Out, Free Speech & Democracy, Leonidas Donskis, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Obituaries, Opinion, Politics of Memory, Vilnius Jewish Life (from 2016) | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Leonidas Donskis (1962—2016)

Yiddish Loses Last Global Position as Symbolic “First Jewish Language” in Vilnius



OPINION  |  COMMEMORATION OF DESTROYED COMMUNITIES  |  YIDDISH AFFAIRS  |  LITVAK AFFAIRS  |  IDENTITY-THEFT LITVAK INDUSTRY

by Dovid Katz

VILNIUS—For close to three decades, Vilnius has been the only city in the world with municipally sponsored public plaques and signs that regularly include Yiddish. Symbologically for a small, weak, stateless, threatened and “threat-to-nobody” language in this part of the world, it was an equally important statement of respect for the language, literature and culture of the murdered Jewish people of the city that Yiddish sometimes came first, “on top,” and always so when it was a question between Yiddish and modern Israeli Hebrew.

For the first time in thirty years, Yiddish has been denied primacy of place among the Jewish languages of the city. The new sign starts with an Israeli Hebrew version used by nobody in pre-Holocaust Vilna.

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Posted in Commemorations for Destroyed Communities, Dovid Katz, Events, Identity Theft of the Litvak Heritage, Israel, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory, Symbology, Vilnius Jewish Life (from 2016), Yiddish Affairs | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Yiddish Loses Last Global Position as Symbolic “First Jewish Language” in Vilnius

Att. Mr. Mayor of Vilnius: Streets Named for Hitler’s Local Partners, and Plans for Congress Center on Top of Old Jewish Cemetery



Sept. 2016 Discourse over “Historic Soul” of Central Vilnius

Will Vilnius Mayor & Lithuania’s PM & President Issue Morally Clear Statements on Two Sites Visible from Grand Dukes’ Medieval Hill?

THERE ARE FIVE JEWISH FORMS OF THE FABLED CITY’S NAME: ווילנא, ווילנע, ווילנה, וילנה, ווילניוס

(1) Changing the name of a city center street that glorifies a Nazi collaborator who enthusiastically supported the removal of his country’s Jewish citizens?

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Posted in Celebrations of Fascism, Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Collaborators Glorified, Debates on the Postwar "Forest Brothers", Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory, Vilnius Jewish Life (from 2016), Vilnius Mayor Remigijus Šimašius | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on Att. Mr. Mayor of Vilnius: Streets Named for Hitler’s Local Partners, and Plans for Congress Center on Top of Old Jewish Cemetery

12 Holocaust Massacre Sites in Vilnius Region; Taking a Closer Look at 2



CEMETERIES AND MASS GRAVES  |  COMMEMORATIONS  |  LITHUANIA

by Julius Norwilla

There are at least twelve Holocaust mass murder sites in the immediate Vilnius region that are marked by some kind of memorial. They are noted in the online Holocaust Atlas of Lithuania, founded by Milda Jakulytė. In Lithuania, there are over 227 such sites that are described in the atlas, which is historically a continuation of the painstaking 1990s work of the late Joseph Levinson, published in his The Book of Sorrow (Vilnius 1997) that documented close to 200 such sites.

The best known is the Paneriai Memorial as the largest mass grave in the country, known as Ponár in Yiddish and Ponary in Polish. It is the site where 100,000 people were humiliated and murdered, around 70,000 of them Jews. This is where official commemorations take place, particularly each year on September 23rd, the day (controversially) designated by the Lithuanian government as the Holocaust Remembrance Day, rather than the international day, on January 27th, or days specific to the Lithuania-wide Holocaust such as June 23rd when violence against and humiliation of Jewish neighbors broke out across Lithuania.

Other mass murder sites in the Vilnius region are visited much less frequently and very often — not at all. But visiting these places is important for the respect for those murdered there and for a deeper understanding of the Holocaust which has so distorted our nation’s qualities.

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Posted in Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Commemorations for Destroyed Communities, Julius Norwilla, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory, Ponár (Ponary, Paneriai), Vilnius Jewish Life (from 2016) | Comments Off on 12 Holocaust Massacre Sites in Vilnius Region; Taking a Closer Look at 2

Editor’s Comment on a Yad Vashem Group Visiting Lithuania



The following comment appeared on Facebook today:

YAD VASHEM’S “political department” and the group that visited Lithuania last week:

Thanks to both members of the group who quietly reached out to the Defending History team for a meeting. As you saw, nothing but good comes from relaxed, pleasurable, respectful and frank exchange of ideas and knowledge, over a cup of coffee. It was sad that the group was (again) hermetically sealed from “The Second Opinion” here in Vilnius (and those Holocaust survivors who hold such opinions), as if Israeli citizens cannot be trusted to cope with a rich tapestry of opposing views when they visit Eastern Europe. (That various “Yiddish” institutions gleefully, at times, play the role of gatekeeper of ideas here is another issue.) For background on the issues from our team’s perspective, please see:
http://defendinghistory.com/…/political-pressure-on-yad-vas…
http://defendinghistory.com/israel-debates/43340
http://defendinghistory.com/blaming-the-victims
http://defendinghistory.com/category/israel

Over the years some amazing Israeli heroes of truth and courage have indeed spoken out.

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Posted in Dovid Katz, Israel, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Opinion, Vilnius Jewish Life (from 2016), World Jewish Congress (WJC) and ORT, Yad Vashem Manipulated?, Yiddish Affairs | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off on Editor’s Comment on a Yad Vashem Group Visiting Lithuania