Opinion

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



O P I N I O N

by Tomas Venclova

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

 

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

 ◊

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

Tomas Venclova April 17 2015 by Julius Norwilla

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

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Posted in Collaborators Glorified, Double Genocide, Lithuania, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory, Tomas Venclova | Tagged , , , | Comments Off

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



 

O P I N I O N

by Dovid Katz

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

Politics, Policy, and Lithuanian Holocaust Discourse

 

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

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Posted in 70 Years Declaration, Double Genocide, Dovid Katz, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory | Comments Off

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



O P I N I O N

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


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


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Is the World Jewish Congress Facing a Yiddish Ethics-and-Values Test?



O P I N I O N

VILNIUS—The World Jewish Congress’s new Yiddish Center here started its de facto working life this academic year with a number of admirable academic seminars catering either to Israeli teachers or to students from the former Soviet area. Rising above the local Yiddish politics which have been tragically intertwined for years with state efforts to rewrite Holocaust history and cover the revisionism with “Yiddish,” the Center has invited lecturers from all sides of the spectrum without reference to their acceptability to the “Red-Brown Commission.” The perceived “need” for a commission on Nazi and Soviet crimes to mix in Jewish Studies can baffle outsiders.

But here, the commission and its circles dominate much of Yiddish (and Jewish) Studies, to the point where the decade-and-a-half-old university-based Vilnius Yiddish Institute, a separate entity, was itself debased into a PR hulk with no serious Yiddish studies (or resident Jewish academic staff) for eleven months a year (outside a lucrative summer course), directed by a member of the red-brown commission who keeps an eye on that “higher purpose.” All that was unthinkable when the Institute was founded in 2001. It must stand as a warning for the new Center, situated in the swankiest district of the capital’s center, on Vienuolio Street, between the corner of Gedimino Boulevard and the National Opera and Ballet Theatre.

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


O P I N I O N   /   B O O K S

by Geoff Vasil

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

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Posted in "Red-Brown Commission", Bold Citizens Speak Out, Books, Double Games, Geoff Vasil, History, Lithuania, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory | Comments Off

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



O P I N I O N

by Roland Binet (Braine-l’Alleud)

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

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

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



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

by Evaldas Balčiūnas

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

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Posted in Antisemitism & Bias, Bold Citizens Speak Out, Celebrations of Fascism, Collaborators Glorified, EU, Evaldas Balčiūnas, History, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory | Comments Off

Homophobic Draft Laws on Lithuanian Parliament’s Spring Agenda



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

by Lithuanian LGBT Rights Organization / LGL

Reposted from the LGL site with permission

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

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



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

by Geoff Vasil

 

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

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Posted in Antisemitism & Bias, Celebrations of Fascism, EU, Events, Geoff Vasil, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Neo-Nazi & Fascist Marches, News & Views, Opinion, Racism | Comments Off

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


[updated]

Posted in "Jewish" Events as Cover?, "Red-Brown Commission", 70 Years Declaration, Double Genocide, Germany, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Opinion, Pinchos Fridberg, Politics of Memory, Prague "Platform", Yad Vashem Manipulated?, Yivo Manipulated? | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off

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



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

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

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

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Posted in Bold Citizens Speak Out, Celebrations of Fascism, Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Neo-Nazi & Fascist Marches, News & Views, Opinion | Comments Off

An Open Letter from Professor Pinchos Fridberg



O P I N I O N

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

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

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



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

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Posted in Antisemitism & Bias, Celebrations of Fascism, Collaborators Glorified, Documents, Efraim Zuroff, Events, Faina Kukliansky, Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Neo-Nazi & Fascist Marches, News & Views, Opinion | Comments Off

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



O P I N I O N

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

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


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

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

Dr. Vilhjálmsson’s letter reads as follows:

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Posted in Antisemitism & Bias, Celebrations of Fascism, EU, Events, Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Neo-Nazi & Fascist Marches, News & Views, Opinion, Vilhjálmur Vilhjálmsson | Tagged , , , , , | Comments Off

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


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

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Posted in Antisemitism & Bias, Celebrations of Fascism, Efraim Zuroff, EU, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Neo-Nazi & Fascist Marches, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory | Comments Off

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



D O C U M E N T S

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

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


 

D

ear Dr. Jonathan Brent,

 

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

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



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

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


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

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

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

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Silence in the Past, Silence Now



O P I N I O N

by Roland Binet (Braine-l’Alleud)

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

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Chairperson of the Jewish Community on the Commemoration Event at Auschwitz



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

Commentary by Faina Kukliansky, chair of the Lithuanian Jewish Community

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

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



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

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

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

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Posted in Antisemitism & Bias, Collaborators Glorified, Events, Faina Kukliansky, Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Neo-Nazi & Fascist Marches, News & Views, Opinion | Comments Off

Efraim Zuroff Leads Kaunas Protest


 


Event Summary and Links to Coverage:

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

Lithuanian Jewish Community Issues Statement on Feb. 20th

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

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Posted in Antisemitism & Bias, Events, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Neo-Nazi & Fascist Marches, News & Views, Opinion | Comments Off

February 16th 2015 in Kaunas…



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

by Evaldas Balčiūnas

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

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



O P I N I O N

by Alex Nosovich (Kaliningrad)

*Editor’s note

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

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Correspondence with Kaunas Mayor’s Office to 13 February 2015



D O C U M E N T S

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

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



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

SEE EXTENDED COVERAGE ON PAGE 1

The text of the letter is as follows:

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


Dear Mayor Kupčinskas,

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Posted in Antisemitism & Bias, Celebrations of Fascism, Collaborators Glorified, Efraim Zuroff, EU, Events, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Neo-Nazi & Fascist Marches, News & Views, Opinion | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments Off

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



 

O P I N I O N

by Pinchos Fridberg

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


 ◊

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

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

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Posted in Bandera, Estonia, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Museums, News & Views, Opinion, Pinchos Fridberg, Politics of Memory, Ukraine | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments Off

How Did Lithuanians Wrong Litvaks?



O P I N I O N    /    H I S T O R Y

by Andrius Kulikauskas

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

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

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

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The Nazis are Just Nuts



O P I N I O N    /    H I S T O R Y

by Geoff Vasil

◊ 

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

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Red-Brown Commission Boss Speaks Out at Ponár on Brantsovsky “Investigation” and on the Holocaust



O P I N I O N

VILNIUS—Ronaldas Račinskas, executive director of the Lithuanian-government financed “International Commission for the Evaluation of the Crimes of the Nazi and Soviet Occupation Regimes in Lithuania,” widely known for brevity as the “Red-Brown Commission,” has revealed — on camera — his thoughts about the “war crimes investigation” into Fania Brantsovsky, and by extension, other Jewish partisan heroes in the anti-Nazi resistance.

COMMISSION’S HOLOCAUST DOUBLE-TALK?

In one situation, you know, the same person could be a victim, in another situation the same person can be a murderer and vice versa.”

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Posted in "Red-Brown Commission", Double Games, Double Genocide, EU, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Opinion, Ponár (Ponary, Paneriai) | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off

The Bubnys Event at the 2015 Jewish Community Auschwitz Commemoration



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

by Julius Norwilla

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

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

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Posted in Books, Events, Genocide Center (Vilnius), Julius Norwilla, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

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



H I S T O R Y

by Aleksandras Vitkus and Chaim Bargman

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

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Jewish Community’s Formal Reply to Dr. Efraim Zuroff



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

 

STATEMENT BY THE JEWISH (LITVAK) COMMUNITY

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

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Posted in Events, Faina Kukliansky, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory | Tagged , , | Comments Off

Books in the Debate in 2015


[updated] 


In the Debate in 2015

YEAR OF PUBLICATION VARIES

See also BOOKS SECTION

Andriukaitis (reviewed by Vasil)

Bankier [Kuniuchowsky Collection] (reviewed by Zuroff)

Bubnys (reviewed by Katz)

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

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Three Holocaust Remembrance Day Events in Vilnius on 26 January 2015



O P I N I O N

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

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Posted in Double Genocide, Events, Genocide Center (Vilnius), Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Museums, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off

No Cover-Up at Auschwitz!



 

O P I N I O N

by Dovid Katz

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


 

No Cover-Up at Auschwitz!

 
The heralded 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz approaches, amidst a grand oblivion to what is happening before our very eyes to the actual history of the Holocaust. If we fail to speak out about the irksome issues too, the pomp and circumstance ipso facto morph into an unsavoury cover-up.
Posted in "Jewish" Events as Cover?, 70 Years Declaration, Dovid Katz, EU, Events, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory | Tagged , , , , , | Comments Off

Wiesenthal Center Slams Latvian Veto of Holocaust Exhibition at UNESCO


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

SEE ALSO JTA REPORT

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

According to Zuroff:

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


For more information: 972-50-721-4156 

www.operationlastchance.org  or www.wiesenthal.com

 

Posted in Efraim Zuroff, EU, Events, Free Speech & Democracy, Latvia, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory | Tagged , , , , , | Comments Off

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



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

by Lithuanian LGBT Rights Organization / LGL

Reposted from the LGL site with permission

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

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



O P I N I O N

by Pinchos Fridberg

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

 ◊

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

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Posted in Bold Citizens Speak Out, EU, Events, News & Views, Opinion, Pinchos Fridberg, Politics of Memory | Tagged , , , | Comments Off

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



O P I N I O N

by Dovid Katz

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

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Posted in "Jewish" Events as Cover?, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Museums, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory, Ponár (Ponary, Paneriai) | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

Letter from the Director of SLS of 13 May 2011


 


HISTORICAL DOCUMENTS  /  US FOREIGN POLICY AND THE HOLOCAUST

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

UPDATE: SEE ALSO REPLY

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

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Posted in "Jewish" Events as Cover?, Documents, News & Views, Opinion, The Great SLS About-Face, US State Dept Manipulated? | Tagged , , | Comments Off

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



O P I N I O N

by Sebastian Hager

 

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

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Posted in Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Museums, News & Views, Opinion, Ponár (Ponary, Paneriai) | Tagged , , , | Comments Off

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



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

by Frank Brendle  (Berlin)

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

 

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

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Posted in Collaborators Glorified, Frank Brendle, Museums, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory, Ukraine | Tagged , , , , , | Comments Off

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



B O O K S

by Ira Gold

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

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

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A Lowpoint in American (and Canadian) Diplomacy?



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

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

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

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Posted in Canada, Double Genocide, EU, Events, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory, Ukraine, United States, US State Dept Manipulated? | Comments Off

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



O P I N I O N

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

 ◊

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

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Posted in Antisemitism & Bias, Belgium, News & Views, Opinion, Roland Binet | Tagged , , | Comments Off

Tomas Venclova Speaks Out on Banderism and its European Analogues



O P I N I O N

venclova

Tomas Venclova

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

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

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Posted in Bandera, Belgium, Latvia, Lithuania, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory, Tomas Venclova, Ukraine | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments Off

Persecution of Roma in Lithuania and Britain



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

by Ruth Barnett

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

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



O P I N I O N

by Jacob Piliansky

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

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

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Posted in Antisemitism & Bias, Collaborators Glorified, Jacob Piliansky, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Neo-Nazi & Fascist Marches, News & Views, Opinion | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments Off

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



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

by Vilma Fiokla Kiurė

Fiokla Kiure by B Janusevicius

Vilma Fiokla Kiurė. Photo: Benediktas Januševičius.

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

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

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Posted in Human Rights, News & Views, Opinion, Roma, Vilma Fiokla Kiurė | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off

Which Issues Did the Exhibition Neglect to Cover?



M U S E U M S   /   O P I N I O N

by Milan Chersonski

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

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Antisemitism and Banking 



O P I N I O N   /   A N T I S E M I T I S M

by Ivo Mosley  (London)

To Vita Rose Mosley, born 21 October 2014 

A good deal of today’s nationalist and right-wing antisemitism rests upon the fantasy that “the Jews” control the world through finance and banking. Nor is the same fantasy entirely absent from left-wing antisemitism, which currently tends to concentrate itself on criticism of Israel.

The fact that some Jews are very good at banking is, apparently, enough to justify race-hate in the antisemite’s mind. Of course, a number of Jews are also prominent as scientists, civil rights activists, generals, hairdressers, actors, musicians, historians, etcetera, without anyone blaming science, civil rights, theatre, hairdressing, war, music, history, etcetera on “the Jews.”  This highlights one of the traditional functions of antisemitism: if something is obviously bad, “the Jews” can be reached for as a scapegoat.

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An Open Letter to Inna Rogatchi



O P I N I O N

Dear Dr. Rogatchi,

Warm congratulations on your excellent film, The Lessons of Survival. Conversations with Simon Wiesenthal. We encourage all our readers to see the film, and those who live in or near Vilnius to attend the screening this Tuesday 28 October 2014 at 5 PM at the Vilnius Jewish Public Library, followed  by a distinguished panel discussion.

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Posted in "Jewish" Events as Cover?, Film, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

The Holocaust: A Photographic and Musical Tribute



O P I N I O N   /   M U S I C

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

 

MUSICAL AND PHOTOGRAPHIC COMPOSITION HERE

 

I know persons within my circle of acquaintances who refuse to look at the terrible pictures that this video exhibits. Photographs of Jewish victims of beatings, slayings.  Pictures of dead Jewish victims.  Pictures of local collaborators in the process of helping the Nazis in killing Jews.

These persons find those historical pictures too offensive, too terrible, too awful, for their taste.  They are not able too look at them, they are far too sensitive to put up with such awful scenes.

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Posted in Arts, Latvia, Lithuania, Music, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory, Roland Binet | Comments Off

A Second Political Case



O P I N I O N

by Evaldas Balčiūnas

 ◊

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

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Posted in Aleksandras Bosas, EU, Evaldas Balčiūnas, Free Speech & Democracy, Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Memoirs, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory | Comments Off

Alex Ryvchin Speaks Out at Babi Yar Memorial Event in Sydney, Australia



O P I N I O N

by Alex Ryvchin

The following is the text of the opening address delivered today by Alex Ryvchin, public affairs director at the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, at the memorial and monument unveiling commemorating the victims of Babi Yar near Kiev, Ukraine.

Ladies and gentlemen, on behalf of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry and the co-hosts of this event, Friends of Refugees of Eastern Europe, the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies, the Sydney Jewish Museum and the Australian Association of Jewish Holocaust Survivors and Descendants, I want to welcome you here today and to thank you for giving up your time to honour the victims of the Babi Yar Massacre.

“Today in the very places where these massacres took place, there are attempts to revise or deny the history of the Holocaust. War criminals are being rehabilitated into great patriots.”

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Posted in Australia, Events, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory, Ukraine | Tagged , , | Comments Off

N.Y. Yivo Announces Campaign for Five and a Quarter Million Dollars for new “Vilna Project”



O P I N I O N

by Dovid Katz

 

In a widely disseminated press release today, the Yivo Institute for Jewish Research announced the launch of a fundraising campaign for US $5,250,000 for the “Yivo Vilna Project.” We are told that it is for “a seven-year international project to preserve, digitize and reunite virtually Yivo’s prewar archives located in New York City and Vilnius, Lithuania, through a dedicated web portal” that will create “the largest collection of Yiddish language materials in the world.”

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Posted in Double Games, Double Genocide, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Litvak Identity Theft?, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory, Yivo Manipulated? | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

Israel Chronicle


[most recent update]


Israeli Foreign Policy and the Holocaust in Eastern Europe

(1990 — 2014)

Collation of Debates and Bibliography

Jump to:  2015   2014   2013   2012   2011   2010   2009   2008   2007   earlier years

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Posted in Israel, Lithuania, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory, Yad Vashem Manipulated? | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

Respectfully Disagreeing with Professor Timothy Snyder


[last updated]

Jump to Reviews of Bloodlands


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

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Posted in Australia, Books, Double Genocide, EU, Lithuania, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory, United States | Tagged , , , | Comments Off

Five Years of Defending History Dot Com



F

ive years have elapsed since this journal was founded as Holocaust in the Baltics on 6 Sept. 2009, in memory of Professor Meir Shub (1924-2009). Outside coverage includes David Hirsch in Engage and Jonathan Freedland in the Guardian (2009); Avi Friedman in Mishpacha, Ricky Ben-David in the Jerusalem Post, Mark Ames in The Nation, and Wendy Robbins on BBC World Service (2010); Cindy Mindell in the Jewish Ledger and Peter Jukes in Motley Moose (2011); Danny Ben-Moshe in his film Rewriting History (2012); Bernard Dichek in Jerusalem Report (2013); Richard Bloom in his film Defending Holocaust History (2014).

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Far-Left and Far-Right Politics are Not Good for Yiddish



O P I N I O N

Early this summer (for the second year in a row), several participants in the annual Helix trip to Eastern Europe contacted Defending History asking to meet with us during their stay here in Vilnius. We promptly replied to each, explaining that one of us would be delighted to speak to the group, even for a very short talk, and gratis, but that we did not feel comfortable with the idea of them meeting us “secretly,” in other words without the agreement of the group’s leadership and/or sponsors.

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Posted in "Jewish" Events as Cover?, Double Games, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Litvak Identity Theft?, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory, United States | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off

Lithuanian TV Nixes LGBT Rights Video, Again



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

The following report appeared today on the LGL website, and is reposted here by permission of LGL.

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Posted in Human Rights, LGBT Rights, Lithuania, Media Watch, News & Views, Opinion | Comments Off

What Riga Ghetto Survivors Recall about Herberts Cukurs, Now “Hero” of New Show in Latvia



O P I N I O N / H I S T O R Y

by Aleksandrs Feigmanis (Riga)

Herberts Cukurs (1900-1965) had been an officer and a famous aviator during the years of the interwar Latvian Republic (1918-1940). After Nazi Germany’s 1941 occupation of Latvia, he became a significant figure in the infamous Arājs Kommando (or Sonderkommando Arajs), a notorious killing unit during the Latvian Holocaust. The Arājs group consisted of about 1,200 people, mostly local Latvians. It was established at the beginning of July 1941 within the German security services.

The Arājs Kommando carried out the killing of at least 30,000 Jews in numerous cities and towns in Latvia. The toll included the family of my grandfather in Vilani (in Yiddish Vilon), which occurred at dawn on August 4, 1941. The victims were his parents, and his sisters and their husbands and young children.

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Posted in Aleksandrs Feigmanis, Antisemitism & Bias, Arts, Bold Citizens Speak Out, Celebrations of Fascism, Collaborators Glorified, EU, History, Latvia, News & Views, Opinion | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off

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



M E M O I R   /   O P I N I O N

by Evaldas Balčiūnas

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


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

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Posted in Antisemitism & Bias, EU, Evaldas Balčiūnas, Free Speech & Democracy, Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Memoirs, News & Views, Opinion | Comments Off

Regina Kopilevich, Genealogist and Historical Tour Guide for Jewish Lithuania, Speaks Out on Yiddish in Vilnius


VILNIUS—Regina Kopilevich, whose extensive contributions to Jewish genealogy and tourism have been covered by the New York Times, today released a statement about the new Yiddish language teaching positions planned in Vilnius. Ms. Kopilevich is one of the leading tour guides in the Baltic region for both Jewish history and family roots voyagers.

The statement follows in short order those released by Milan Chersonski, longtime editor (1999-2011) of Jerusalem of Lithuania, the Jewish community’s former newspaper; Daniel Galay, director of Leivick House and the Union of Yiddish Writers and Journalists in Israel; and Professor Olegas Poliakovas, a philology professor at Vilnius University and longtime member of the university’s senate. The positions are being arranged by high officials of the World Jewish Congress.

The text of Ms. Kopilevich’s statement follows.


Open Letter from Regina Kopilevich

Vilnius, 28 July 2014

Professor Dovid Katz first came to Lithuania when it was part of the Soviet Union, and set out on 25 years of interviewing and recording (and always helping) aged Holocaust survivors in Lithuania, Latvia, Belarus, Ukraine, and northeastern Poland.

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Posted in Bold Citizens Speak Out, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Opinion, Regina Kopilevich, Vilnius Yiddish Institute, World Jewish Congress (WJC) and ORT | Tagged , , | Comments Off

Aleksandras Bosas (1951-2014)



O B I T U A R Y

by Evaldas Balčiūnas

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Aleksandras Bosas (1951 — 2014). Photo: Sandrauga.

Aleksandras Bosas, a respected Lithuanian poet, died unexpectedly on July 24, 2014. The wider Defending History  community extends deepest condolences to the family and friends of our suddenly departed colleague, who is survived by his wife, Natalija, three sons and a daughter.

We have lost a courageously active literary voice against fascism and against the contemporary attempts at high levels to glorify fascism via posthumous honors for collaborators and local perpetrators of the Lithuanian Holocaust.

At the beginning of 2014 his book of poems dedicated to commemorating the Holocaust in Lithuania appeared. It is called Iš ten sugrįžtantiems (“For Those Who Returned from There”).

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Posted in Aleksandras Bosas, Bold Citizens Speak Out, Christian-Jewish Issues, Collaborators Glorified, Evaldas Balčiūnas, News & Views, Obituaries, Opinion | Comments Off

Milan Chersonski, Longtime Editor of “Jerusalem of Lithuania” Calls on World Jewish Congress to Advertise New Yiddish Positions in Vilnius


VILNIUS—Milan Chersonski made public today the text of his letter to Ronald S. Lauder, president of the World Jewish Congress. Mr. Chersonski was editor-in-chief of the quadrilingual (English-Lithuanian-Russian-Yiddish) Jerusalem of Lithuania, the official publication of the Jewish Community of Lithuania, from 1999 to 2011. From 1979 to 1999 he was artistic director of the Jewish Folk Theatre in Vilnius, which for many years had been the only Yiddish theatre in the Soviet Union. A film documentary tribute to his work was released in 2012 (part 1; part 2).

Mr. Chersonski is a regular contributor to Defending History. This statement reflects his personal views.


An Open Letter  to Ronald S. Lauder, President of the World Jewish Congress

 Vilnius, 25 July 2014

Dear Mr. Lauder,

I am one of your loyal admirers who for many years, as editor (in the years 1999-2011) of the quadrilingual newspaper of the Jewish Community of Lithuania, Jerusalem of Lithuania, has been following your achievements, and also your deep commitment to Judaism via a range of philanthropic initiatives that have made a substantial difference for the betterment of Jewish life. When you were appointed to the presidency of the World Jewish Congress in 2007, I was proud as editor to give the event and your many achievements front page coverage (see Jerusalem of Lithuania, 2007, no. 5-6: page 1).

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Posted in "Jewish" Events as Cover?, Bold Citizens Speak Out, Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Milan Chersonski, News & Views, Opinion, Vilnius Yiddish Institute, World Jewish Congress (WJC) and ORT | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off

Prof. Olegas Poliakovas, Longtime Member of Vilnius University’s Senate, Speaks Out on New Yiddish Positions in Vilnius


 VILNIUS—The office of Vilnius University’s Professor Olegas Poliakovas, a leading philologist and member of the Senate of Vilnius University (from 2001 to 2014), issued this statement today concerning possible new Yiddish studies positions in Vilnius.

For background to recent developments, please see the earlier report on the World Jewish Congress initiative; the statement issued by Daniel Galay, director of Leyvik House, the center of Yiddish cultural activities in Israel; and a Facebook comment by Dr. Efraim Zuroff, director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Israel office.

In the meantime, the World Jewish Congress has included news of the new institute in its newsletter, without confirming that the academic positions will be advertised in a fair and transparent process to ensure academic quality, moral integrity, and independence from political pressures. As widely reported, the previous professor of Yiddish (1999-2010), Dr. Dovid Katz (DH’s editor), was terminated following eleven years of incident-free service after speaking out for the Holocaust survivor veterans of the Jewish partisans who are accused of war crimes (in the absence of any charges or specific issues).


Text of Statement issued by Professor Olegas Poliakovas:

Vilnius, 22 July 2014

I was delighted to hear of the possibility that a professorship or major teaching position in Yiddish Studies would be restored in Vilnius. Before World War II, Vilnius was one of the greatest centers of Yiddish culture in Europe. It ceased to have that distinction due to the tragic fate of the Jewish population during the war. Thus, this teaching position could play a part in the restoration of historic justice.

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Posted in Lithuania, News & Views, Opinion, Vilnius Yiddish Institute, World Jewish Congress (WJC) and ORT | Comments Off

DH Staff Writer Evaldas Balčiūnas is Again Harassed by Police in Lithuania



by Evaldas Balčiūnas

For background on the summons the author received from the police, in consequence of his articles on the Holocaust in Defending History and other publications, please see earlier reports here and here. This comment has been translated from the Lithuanian by Geoff Vasil, and the final version approved by the author.

Evaldas-Balciunas-on-Vilniaus-gatve narrowed

Evaldas Balčiūnas

Yesterday, on July 8, 2014, I was the subject of much telephone attention from the police. This time it was from Šiauliai. They called, they got angry when I told them not to give my address out to whoever may answer first. They asked strange things. A female voice was asking what the door code was, while a male voice was interested in whether I was home at the time…

If anything was missing from this vision of absurdity, it was a warning over giving false testimony, and the question of where I keep my house keys and money… In order to ease the tension somewhat, I called the general emergency number, 112, and complained of telephone scam artists impersonating the police. They took my report, but less than an hour later kindlycalled back to inform me that it was really police officers who had called. It seems these sorts of scam artists have a license from the state to practice this sort of thing. I attempted to tell the man who called that the police are not allowed to present me a summons, accuse me of something or even question me by telephone, so why don’t they follow the normal and accustomed practice and actually send a summons to my officially registered private residential address?

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Posted in EU, Evaldas Balčiūnas, Free Speech & Democracy, Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory | Comments Off

Defending History’s Evaldas Balčiūnas Again Disturbed by Police at his Workplace



O P I N I O N

by Evaldas Balčiūnas

For background on the summons the author received from the police, in consequence of his articles on the Holocaust in Defending History and other publications, please see earlier reports here and here. This comment has been translated from the Lithuanian by Geoff Vasil, and the final version approved by the author.

Today, Friday, July 4th, 2014, a woman phoned me at my place of work, introduced herself as a police officer, and asked if my name is Evaldas.

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Posted in EU, Evaldas Balčiūnas, Free Speech & Democracy, Human Rights, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory | Comments Off

Waiting for Apologies . . .



Five Holocaust Survivors have Endured Years of State-Sponsored Defamation

Accused of “war crimes” or of speaking out freely on Holocaust issues (accusations of “libel” against nationalist heroes and state-sponsored educators)

Four of them, in their late 80s or 90s, are heroic veterans of the anti-Nazi war effort who escaped the Vilna, Kovno or Svintsyán Ghetto to join up with the partisans in the forests of Lithuania. All their families perished in the Lithuanian Holocaust.

combo

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A Corner of a Foreign Field that is Forever Jewish



O P I N I O N

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

 

I happen to live near the town of Waterloo that in June 1815 had been one of the bloodiest battlefields at the time. My wife’s grandfather and my own grandfather fought during four years in the trenches of Flanders during the “Great War.” One of my father’s uncles, a resistance fighter, was captured and beheaded by the Germans during World War II. And for seventeen years I worked with survivors of the Holocaust. I feel a bit acquainted with the significance of wars and victims.

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The Politics of History



O P I N I O N

by Evaldas Balčiūnas

Translated from the Lithuanian by Geoff Vasil. Final version approved by the author.

 

Much has been said about recent history policy in Lithuania. What this means, different speakers understand differently. It probably isn’t wise to dwell long on the concept. Let’s just say “history policy” is the interpretation of historical events provided by state institutions and officials.

SEE SECTION ON

FREE SPEECH

The truth is specific. I will give one example of how this appears in our and neighboring states and how that illuminates the history of our state.

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Posted in Bold Citizens Speak Out, Celebrations of Fascism, Collaborators Glorified, Evaldas Balčiūnas, History, Latvia, Lithuania, Museums, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory | Comments Off

Roma Commemoration at Lety Site in the Czech Republic



O P I N I O N

by Monica Lowenberg

Most people know that six million Jews were murdered by the Nazis in the Holocaust.

Few people know that well over half a million Sinti and Roma Gypsies were murdered in the same ghettos, killing fields and concentration camps alongside the Jews.

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Posted in EU, Events, Hungary, Monica Lowenberg, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory, Roma, The Czech Republic | Comments Off

Holocaust Obfuscation and Double Genocide: The Show Goes On



O P I N I O N

by Vilhjálmur Örn Vilhjálmsson

The latest “Double Genocide” conference sponsored (naively?) by the European Union has just ended in Prague. The two-day event (12-13 June 2014) has a convoluted history (see earlier DH reports: 15 Jan. 201424 Jan. 201426 Feb. 201427 Feb.  20147 March 201420 March 201423 March 201420 May 2014).

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Posted in Double Genocide, Estonia, EU, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory, Prague "Platform", The Czech Republic, Vilhjálmur Vilhjálmsson | Comments Off

Tel Aviv’s Leyvik House Issues Call to World Jewish Congress on Vilnius Yiddish Jobs in the Works


 TEL AVIV— Daniel Galay, director of Leyvik House in central Tel Aviv, one of Israel’s major Yiddish culture institutions, issued the following statement today on the Leyvik House website (copy), and on its Facebook page (see also Efraim Zuroff’s Facebook comment). For background see our earlier report.


 

Appeal to the World Jewish Congress

Tel Aviv, 12 June 2014

Like all lovers of Yiddish language and culture, we at Leyvik House in Tel Aviv, home to the Union of Yiddish Writers and Journalists in Israel, were happy to see the recent announcement that the World Jewish Congress would be facilitating a new Yiddish center in Vilnius, Lithuania.

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Posted in "Jewish" Events as Cover?, Double Genocide, Human Rights, Israel, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Opinion, South Africa, Vilnius Yiddish Institute, World Jewish Congress (WJC) and ORT | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments Off

Could WJC get Ensnared in “Yiddish” as Cover for Holocaust Revisionism in Lithuania?



O P I N I O N

A recent report, also available as PDF, suggests sudden and deep involvement of the World Jewish Congress in the Lithuanian government’s repeatedly documented use of Yiddish, Judaic studies and even Holocaust studies as means to advance — or cover for — state-sponsored Double Genocide revisionism with respect to the essential narrative of the Holocaust. The report has proven to be disturbing for the wider Holocaust survivor community and its supporters.

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Posted in "Jewish" Events as Cover?, "Red-Brown Commission", Double Games, Double Genocide, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory, South Africa, Vilnius Yiddish Institute, World Jewish Congress (WJC) and ORT | Tagged , , , , , | Comments Off

Statement of Staff Writer Evaldas Balčiūnas on Summons from Police



My name is Evaldas Balčiūnas and I write for Defending History, in addition to various Lithuanian web journals. On May 14, 2014, I was contacted by local Lithuanian police investigator Reda Šimkutė by telephone at a number which is not registered in my name. She said she needed to “carry out inquiries” about me.

I asked her what the nature of the matter was. She refused to answer, so I suggested she follow normal procedure and send me what they call “an invitation” (in other words a summons) to come to an interrogation at the police department.

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Posted in Bold Citizens Speak Out, EU, Evaldas Balčiūnas, Free Speech & Democracy, Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory | Tagged , , , | Comments Off

UK Labour MP Gareth Thomas is Concerned Over Conservatives’ Alliances in the European Parliament



UK MP Gareth Thomas (Labour), who is shadow Europe Minister, published this opinion piece in today’s Independent under the title “The Tories’ possible allies in Europe are an extremely dubious bunch.”

The European elections this week are set to deliver a fresh European headache for David Cameron as his Conservative MEPs are now in danger of having no group in the new European Parliament which they can join.

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The Stones Tell Me. After All, They Lived Here.



O P I N I O N

by Genrich Agranovski

Genrich Agranovski is co-author (with Irina Guzenberg) of Vilnius: Sites of Jewish Memory as well as other works on Jewish Vilna. This comment was translated from the Russian by Ludmila Makedonskaya. See also DH’s section on old Jewish cemeteries and mass graves.


At the beginning of the 1990s a commission tentatively called “Memorial” was founded at the Jewish Community of Lithuania. Its aims included collecting information about the mass murder and burial sites of the World war II period, Jewish cemeteries, as well as other issues connected with the memory of the perished. The commission was headed by Joseph Levinson. Being a member of the commission, I was in charge of collecting information on Jewish cemeteries in Vilnius. There had been two large Jewish cemeteries in Vilnius before the war: the “old one,” founded, according to Vilna Jewish lore, at the end of the fifteenth century and used till 1830, and Zarechenskoye [“beyond the river”; in Yiddish Zarétshe] (Antokolskoye), which was used from 1828 up to June 1941. The latter was the biggest in the city. According to the Jewish ethnographer Solomon Shik, seventy thousand people had been buried there by 1937. In Soviet times both  cemeteries were destroyed and the gravestones were used for construction purposes.

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Posted in Bold Citizens Speak Out, Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Genrich Agranovski, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory, Reformed Evangelical Church (Vilnius) | Tagged , , | Comments Off