Logo for the new Hotel Wrocław?
WROCŁAW—It would be hard to find a better illustration of what is at stake in the current conflict over the fate of the old Vilna Jewish cemetery in Vilnius, Lithuania, than the partly analogous scenario playing out here in this western Polish city that was once the German Breslau (Yiddish Brésle), home to a major European Jewish community. The Gwarna Street Cemetery, just opposite the main railway station, was this city’s first Jewish cemetery, in active use from 1760 until 1856. Although closed for new burials in 1856, it was lovingly maintained, and remained open for visitors until World War II. Several thousand people were buried here.
Posted in Cemeteries and Mass Graves, CPJCE (London), Human Rights, News & Views, Poland, Politics of Memory, United Kingdom, US Commission for Preservation of the American Heritage Abroad
Tagged Agnieszka Jablonska, Benzion Shalom Eliezer Freshwater, CPJCE, Hotel Wrocław, Jewish cemeteries in Poland, Jewish heritage in Poland, USCPAHA, Wroclaw, Wroclaw Jewish cemetery
VILNIUS—Polish scholar, author, film maker and Jewish heritage specialist Dr. Tomasz (Tomek) Wiśniewski is renowned as a world specialist on the culture and remnants of numerous erstwhile centers of East European Jewish life, most famously Białystok (in Poland, but in Jewish culture within the Litvak north of Jewish Eastern Europe). He was a delegate at last month’s Rothschild Foundation London (Hanadiv) conference on Jewish cemeteries, held here in Vilnius. Following the event, he issued a statement on his Facebook page concerning the fate of the old Vilna Jewish cemetery, known as Piramónt, in today’s Šnipiškės district. A slightly revised version was translated from Polish by Julius Norwilla and the translation approved by the author. It reads as follows:
Posted in Cemeteries and Mass Graves, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Opinion, Poland, Politics of Memory, Rothschild Foundation Europe (Hanadiv): Lithuanian Issues
Tagged Piramont, Rothschild Conference Jewish cemeteries, Snipiskes Jewish cemetery, Tomasz Wiszniewski, Tomek Wisniewski
The unfortunate and wasteful campaign of Holocaust obfuscation waged by certain East European state institutions continues apace. The level of investment continues to strike outsiders as puzzling, given current economic and cultural issues and the younger population’s clear focus on the future and a better life for all in the new and multicultural European Union. Here in Lithuania, the first victims of the government’s (rather Soviet-style) “genocide industry” are the hard-working people of the country who deserve more judicious disbursement of their nation’s resources. The state-sponsored Genocide Center has just released three simultaneous editions (English, Lithuanian and Russian) of a new book on the Vilna Ghetto by historian Arūnas Bubnys, its own “director of the Genocide and Resistance Research Department.”
Dr. Bubnys is also a member of the state-sponsored “International Commission for the Evaluation of the Crimes of the Nazi and Soviet Occupation Regimes in Lithuania” (known for short as the “red-brown commission”). He was one of a minority of members of the Commission who refused to sign the (in the opinion of some, inadequate) letter of 14 October 2013 to Dr. Yitzhak Arad.
Posted in "Red-Brown Commission", Books, Double Games, Double Genocide, Dovid Katz, EU, Genocide Center (Vilnius), History, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Opinion, Poland, Politics of Memory, Ponár (Ponary, Paneriai)
Tagged Arunas Bubnys, Genocide Center Vilnius, Holocaust Obfuscation, International Commission for the Evaluation of the Crimes of the Nazi and Soviet Occupation Regimes in Lithuania, Lithuania, Vilna Ghetto, Vilnius, Yitzhak Arad
The following is an English translation, by Geoff Vasil, from the original Lithuanian text that appears on the website of the Office of the Chief Archivist of Lithuania concerning the Vilna Ghetto, on the occasion of the seventieth anniversary of its liquidation on September 23, 1943.
In an important article that appeared in Lithuanian in Bernardinai.lt, and in English in the Lithuania Tribune, author Sergejus Kanovičius pointed out the remarkable disparity of tone between the Lithuanian version on the Chief Archivist’s website (that appears below in English translation), and the English version provided on the Chief Archivist’s website…
O P I N I O N
The modern Republic of Lithuania has been creating a cult of the partisans. Statues are built to memorialize them. There are commemorative plaques and streets are named after them, as well as schools. One of the most prominent to be hallowed by the cult is Jonas Žemaitis, also called Vytautas, Luke, Matthew, the Silent and general as well as president. His biography is a tapestry of events and adventures. One could write an adventure novel about them, except that… Žemaitis isn’t necessarily a hero.
C O M M E N T
With the president: Professor Antony Polonsky wearing the Cross of the Officer of the Order for Merits to Lithuania. Photo: Džoja Barysaitė
VILNIUS—Professor Antony Polonsky of Brandeis University, one of the world’s most accomplished scholars of Polish-Jewish history and the long time editor of the seminal Polish Jewish history series Polin, was at the Lithuanian president’s palace today to receive from her excellency the prestigious Cross of the Officer of the Order for Merits to Lithuania. The award, pinned on his chest by President Dalia Grybauskaitė, was not for a lifetime of sterling work on Polish Jewish history, but it seemed, for several years’ staunch and perhaps somewhat naive loyalty to the public relations program of the current government of Lithuania. The presidential press release, reported in English by Baltic News Service (BNS), put it this way:
Posted in "Jewish" Events as Cover?, A 21st Century Campaign Against Lithuanian Holocaust Survivors?, Foreign Ministries: Holocaust Politics Abuse?, Lithuania, News & Views, Opinion, Poland, Politics of Memory, Symbology, United States, US State Dept Manipulated?
Tagged Antony Polonsky, Antony Polonsky + Lithuania, definition of genocide, Holocaust in Lithuania, Polonsky + Cross of the Officer of the Order for Merits to Lithuania, Polonsky + Margolis, prosecution of Holocaust survivors by Lithuanian prosecutors, Rachel Margolis, Sarunas Liekis
O P I N I O N
by Evaldas Balčiūnas
Evaldas Balčiūnas of Šiauliai on a recent visit to Vilnius, Lithuania’s capital
The Vilna Ghetto memoir of Rozka Korczak-Marlé (1921–1988) is unfortunately completely unknown to Lithuanians today. I have therefore decided to translate the book into Lithuanian (from the Russian edition that Korczak herself edited), and have published two samples, here and here, on Anarchija.lt.
Posted in Bold Citizens Speak Out, Books, Evaldas Balčiūnas, History, Litvak Affairs, Memoirs, News & Views, Opinion, Poland, Politics of Memory, Yiddish Affairs
Tagged Holocaust in Lithuania
O P I N I O N
by Grzegorz Rossoliński-Liebe (Berlin)
Review of Timothy Snyder, Bloodlands. Europe Between Hitler and Stalin, Basic Books: New York 2010. This review first appeared in German in H-Soz-u-Kult (online version here; PDF here). This English version and publication in DefendingHistory.com are by authorization of the author and H-Soz-u-Kult, which has kindly supplied the following copyright notice: Copyright © 2011 by H-Net, Clio-online, and the author, all rights reserved. This work may be copied and redistributed for non-commercial, educational purposes, if permission is granted by the author and usage right holders. For permission please contact H-SOZ-U-KULT@H-NET.MSU.EDU.
“The bloodlands were where most of Europe’s Jews lived, where Hitler and Stalin’s imperial plans overlapped, where the Wehrmacht and the Soviet Army fought, and where the Soviet NKVD and the German SS concentrated their forces” (p. xi) ― as defined by Timothy Snyder, a territory where between 1933 and 1945 approximately 14 million people were killed by the Nazi and Soviet regimes (p. 409). “In the political geography of the 1930s and early 1940s, this meant Poland, the Baltic states, Soviet Belarus, Soviet Ukraine, and the western fringe of Soviet Russia” (p. xi). “The bloodlands were no political territory, real or imagined; they are simply where Europe’s most murderous regimes did their most murderous work” (p. xviii). Snyder’s task is to “turn the number back into people. If we cannot do that, then Hitler and Stalin have shaped not only our world, but our humanity” (p. 408).Continue reading
Posted in Books, G. Rossoliński-Liebe, History, Opinion, Poland, Ukraine
Tagged G. Rossoliński-Liebe, H-Soz-u-Kult, Holocaust Ukraine, Review of Timothy Snyder's Bloodlands, Timothy Snyder, Ukrainian Holocaust
Rumors are flying in the Lithuanian capital about plans to induce foreign institutions and governments to support the building of a new Holocaust Museum at the mass-murder site Ponár (Paneriai), where no unsuspecting tourist or visitor to Vilnius would ever see it, more than six miles out of town, unless they have prior special interest that would motivate the hiring of a taxi for that purpose.
Posted in "Jewish" Events as Cover?, "Red-Brown Commission", Commemorations for Destroyed Communities, Double Genocide, Museums, News & Views, Poland, Politics of Memory, Ponár (Ponary, Paneriai)
Tagged Prague Declaration, Prague Declaration on European Conscience and Communism, Prague Process
Professors Saulius Sužiedėlis (Millersville University, Pennsylvania) and Šarūnas Liekis (Vilnius Yiddish Institute, Vilnius University, Vytautas Magnus University, etc), two excellent historians with impressive track records, have again been engaged by the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry to present a Holocaust program abroad for foreign consumption.
VILNIUS—The following is the text of HE Polish ambassador Janusz Skolimowski’s 26 November letter in Veidas, which the ambassador copied to Lithuania’s Minister of the Interior. This authorized English translation was kindly provided to Defending History by the Embassy of Poland here. The letter followed one by seven other ambassadors regarding the same events in Lithuania.
From: Ambassador of the Republic of Poland in Vilnius
To: Editor-in-Chief of the weekly magazine “Veidas”
For the attention of: Mr. Raimundas Palaitis, Minister of the Interior of the Republic of Lithuania
Concerns: Article of Petras Stankeras dated November 14th, 2010:
“The International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg — the biggest legal farce in history”
Dear Mr. Editor-in-Chief,
Posted in Antisemitism & Bias, Documents, Human Rights, Lithuania, Media Watch, News & Views, Opinion, Poland, Politics of Memory
Tagged Holocaust in Lithuania, Janusz Skolimowski, Nuremberg Trials, Petras Stankeras, Polish Embassy in Vilnius, Raimundas Palaitis, Veidas
The Polish Embassy in Vilnius, Lithuania, today released to DefendingHistory.com the authorized English text of the letter which Ambassador Janusz Skolimowski had published in Veidas, on 26 November 2010, in relation to the Stankeras Affair and Holocaust Denial more generally; it was issued one day after the letter from seven European ambassadors to Lithuania’s leaders.
The English text of Ambassador Skolimowski’s letter is posted here.
It is hoped that release of the Polish ambassador’s letter will make it easier for release to be authorized of the seven other ambassadors’ letter, of 25 November, 2010, as recently proposed in the Commons by MP Denis MacShane.
BNS reported today that the Vilnius-based ambassadors of Britain, Estonia, France, Finland, Netherlands, Norway and Sweden have written in no uncertain terms to the president and other major officials of Lithuania to express concern over the growing manifestations of antisemitism.
Two of the signatories confirmed privately to Defending History that the initiative had come from British ambassador HE Simon Butt, who also drafted the letter. Ambassador Butt had in 2008 organized a letter in moral support of Dr. Rachel Margolis, a walk through the Vilna Ghetto with Ms. Fania Brantsovsky, and had, together with other senior Western diplomats stationed in Vilnius, visited the decaying Jewish partisan fort in the forest.
“Spurious attempts are made to equate the uniquely evil genocide of the Jews with Soviet crimes against Lithuania, which, though great in magnitude, cannot be regarded as equivalent in either their intention or result.”
Excerpt from a letter to the president of Lithuania from the ambassadors of Britain, Estonia, Finland, France, Netherlands, Norway and Sweden, 25 November 2010
Posted in A 21st Century Campaign Against Lithuanian Holocaust Survivors?, Double Genocide, Estonia, EU, France, News & Views, Norway, Poland, Politics of Memory, Sweden, Symbology, United Kingdom, United States
Under the leadership of Yidish lebt (‘Yiddish Lives’), a group uniting non-Jewish and Jewish enthusiasts and students of Yiddish language, literature and culture in Warsaw, a peaceful counter-demonstration is being planned in response to the neo-Nazi march slated to take place on November 11th, Polish Independence Day. More details here. Image of the Yiddish group’s poster:Continue reading
Some eighty people gathered at midday today, in an eerie mix of wind and autumn sun, at the forest mass grave memorial site just outside the town once known in Yiddish as Svintsyánke (or Nay-Svintsyán; now Lithuania’s Švenčioneliai, interwar Poland’s Nowo-Święciany). Such is the custom every year on the first Sunday in October, to remember the eight thousand Jewish civilians murdered there after a gruesome ten days of imprisonment, deprivation of basic human needs, and torture, in makeshift barracks here at the site, in October 1941. The eight thousand Jews were marched (with the lame and the old transported on wagons) from their hometowns in the area to the site on September 27th. They were all shot over a two-day period on the 7th and 8th of October 1941.