By Defending History Staff
Photos by Julius Norwilla, Ruta Ostrovskaya, and Dovid Katz
VILNIUS—For the 11th year running, the center of Lithuania’s beautiful capital, Vilnius, was gifted in the high afternoon hours this past Sunday, Match 11th, to far-righters and neo-Nazis on the annual holiday cherished by the free world for its historic importance, in 1990, in the series of events that toppled the Soviet Union’s hated misrule. The Defending History community, all resolute admirers of Lithuania who celebrate its success, has monitored this event annually. The international outcry after the 2008 event, which featured “Juden raus” and a throng of swastikas had led to curious “compromises” each year between organizers and the municipality on what will and will not be done. But no sign yet of the mayor’s office, municipality or government finding the moral backbone to just say, “No, not in the center of our capital on our independence day.”
Posted in Antisemitism & Bias, Collaborators Glorified, EU, Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Neo-Nazi & Fascist Marches, News & Views, Opinion, Racism, Vilnius Neo-Nazi Marches
VILNIUS—Lithuanian Jewish Community chairperson Faina Kukliansky today issued a powerful statement on the community’s website condemning the newest call from some top politicians asking the population to revere a national holiday in Lithuania, Užgavėnės, or Shrovetide, that falls this year tomorrow, 28 February 2017. Defending History has been (intermittently) monitoring the day since 2008, as part of the mission to monitor antisemitism and racism, and to cover those sectors of Human Rights that tend to be wholly ignored by the lavishly funded, official human rights organizations here in the Lithuanian capital.
UPDATES AND INTERNATIONAL COVERAGE:
Posted in Antisemitism & Bias, Bold Citizens Speak Out, Christian-Jewish Issues, Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Racism, Roma
Tagged antisemitism and racism (Lithuania), antisemitism Eastern Europe, Faina Kukliansky, Jewish Community of Lithuania, Shrovetide (Lithuania), Uzgavenes
Vilma Fiokla Kiurė
A Nigerian citizen was attacked with a knife and injured in Kaunas, Lithuania, earlier this month. Trying hard to avoid describing the assault as a racially motivated hate crime, law enforcement officials and the mainstream media alike explained that the incident was purely part of a private dispute. Strange to tell, reading through official statistics you would rapidly come to the conclusion that racist and xenopohobic crimes in Lithuania stand at about zero. And, that neo-Nazi minded youth are “just patriotic.”
It is no great secret in this part of the world that law enforcement officials and some politicians like to beautify the statistics, or to terminate or redefine proceedings brought in respect of racial or xenophobic hatred. One example comes to mind from 2011, when MPs J. Narkevičius and E. Zingeris appealed to the General Prosecutor’s Office to do something about the neo-Nazi ideology espoused in the song “Diktatūra” by the group “Šalčininkų rajonas” (Šalčininkai District).
Posted in Bold Citizens Speak Out, Human Rights, Lithuania, Media Watch, News & Views, Opinion, Racism, Roma, Vilma Fiokla Kiurė
Tagged Diktatūra, Human rights in Lihtuania, neo-Nazis in Lithuania, Racism in Lithuania, Roma in Lithuania, Šalčininkų rajonas, Vilma Fiokla Kiure
VILNIUS—The pseudonymous neo-Nazi blogger “Zeppelinus,” long alleged to be the alias of a high official in the Ministry of the Economy (DH still awaits a reply to our open letter of 2013 to the relevant minister), is notorious for his racist, antisemitic, and homophobic images that continue to needlessly damage Lithuania’s good name (sampling at end of article). This web journal’s editor has long been one of his many photoshop and photofake targets, naturally a source of pride for any and all within Vilnius’s bona fide human rights community. As some Lithuanian human rights activists put it, “If you didn’t make it into Zeppelinus’s sicko gallery, you’re not really doing enough for human rights in this country.”
Posted in Antisemitism & Bias, Human Rights, LGBT Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Media Watch, News & Views, Racism
Tagged Antisemitism in Lithuania, human rights in Lithuania, Lithuanian Ministry of Economy, Lithuanian Ministry of Finance, Zeppelinus
I would like to make an observation concerning the use of Jewish cemeteries for building projects, as this has come to be a major issue of controversy in Lithuania, and in other nations as well.
I would like to pose a question: Would these building projects be pursued if the cemeteries in question were the resting places of Catholics, Protestant Christians, or other non-Jewish people?
Posted in Antisemitism & Bias, Appeals to the European Commission on Piramónt, Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Christian-Jewish Issues, Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Michael & Fausta Maass, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Opinion, Politics of Memory, Racism
Tagged cemetery at Piramont (Snipiskes, Christian-Jewish relations in Lithuania, Jewish cemetery in Vilnius, Lithuania, Shnipishok)
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.
Posted in Antisemitism & Bias, Celebrations of Fascism, EU, Events, Geoff Vasil, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Neo-Nazi & Fascist Marches, News & Views, Opinion, Racism, Vilnius Neo-Nazi Marches
The following report appeared today in LGL and is reposted by permission:
Representatives of two parties that are part of Lithuania’s ruling coalition, the Labour Party and Order and Justice, have expressed their views on LGBT issues to Lrt.lt. Deputy chairman of the Lithuanian Labour Party Kęstutis Daukšys was asked a question about the party’s short program, which states that members of the European Parliament representing the Labour Party are going to protect people from legislative initiatives coming from Europe that contradict the Lithuanian character.
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Vilma Fiokla Kiurė (photo: Benediktas Januševičius)
The first international congress of Roma was held on April 8, 1971 in Oprington, England. In 1990, the date was designated International Roma Day.
On this day Roma celebrate and hold concerts, but also remember the most tragic eras in the history of the Roma: persecution by the Nazis and their collaborators in World War II and the resulting genocide of the Roma people. On this day the Vilnius Roma community floats wreaths of flowers on the Neris River in remembrance of their compatriots.
Roma who survived the Second World War, ethnic cleansing and genocide remember that the Nazi soldiers and their local police collaborators used simple external recognition to persecute the Roma. At that time the Roma were still wanderers, and it was a rare member of the community who had identification documents. Few had relationships with sedentary residents, making physical resemblance to the typical Roma the main indicator of ethnicity, in many cases guaranteeing death.
Posted in Human Rights, Lithuania, News & Views, Opinion, Racism, Roma, Vilma Fiokla Kiurė
Tagged "Gypsies" in Lithuania, International Roma Day, Roma / Romani / Gypsy Human Rights, Roma + Lithuania, Vilma Fiokla Kiure
Richard Howitt, British Labour Member of the European Parliament, and spokesperson for the European Parliament Human Rights Sub-Committee today issued the following text of his statement which will be read out in Riga this Sunday March 16th.
Posted in Antisemitism & Bias, Celebrations of Fascism, Collaborators Glorified, Documents, EU, Events, Human Rights, Latvia, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory, Racism, Riga's Waffen SS Marches, United Kingdom
Tagged Holocaust in Latvia, Human Rights in the Baltics, Richard Howitt, UK Conservatives + Latvia, Waffen SS march in Riga
Last May, this journal reported on a full page of racial hate directed at Latvia’s “Russians” (a cover term for Russian-speakers of a multitude of backgrounds). It had appeared in the Baltic Times, under cover of the responsibility-shirking label “Advertisement.” Heaven help us all if the word advertisement can in European Union and NATO countries cover for spreads of hate and incitement to violation of human rights. In this case, the demand is for the veritable expulsion of a million peaceful, legal residents of a member state of these international alliances, both of which are based on the shared commitment to uphold the human rights of all.
Rather than repeat the commentary offered at the page’s earlier appearance, we refer back to it here on the occasion of its reappearance in this month’s Baltic Times (dated 31 October — 27 November 2013), that occupies all of page 5 in the main news (!) section.
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Original 2 May 2013 report; Person identified by the media submits 13 May 2013 complaint to the Press Commission [draft English translation], citing Anarchija.lt, Balsas.lt, KaunoŽinios.lt, Lrytas.lt as well as DefendingHistory.com. He does not deny the identification but disputes the characterization of his work as in harmony with neo-Nazism.
23 July update: Zeppelinus greets Baltic Pride with a new hate image.
Dear Mr. Gustas,
Congratulations on your recent appointment as Economy Minister. May your tenure be blessed with success, wisdom and good fortune for all of Lithuania’s citizens.
We address you on the advent of your tenure on a human rights matter rather than an economic question. We feel certain you would agree that there is a demonstrable correlation between the long-term successful economies of the world and free and open democratic societies that reject all forms of state-supported fascism, racism, antisemitism, homophobia and other forms of hate and exclusionism directed at segments of the population.
Posted in Antisemitism & Bias, Dovid Katz, EU, Human Rights, LGBT Rights, Lithuania, News & Views, Opinion, Racism, Russian Speakers' Personal Status
Tagged Antisemitism, Evaldas Gustas, homophobia in Lithuania, Human Rights, human rights in Lithuania, racism, Zeppelinus
O P I N I O N
by Dovid Katz
The leading neo-Nazi blogger in Lithuania, “Zeppelinus,” who was unmasked several months ago by a number of publications as a high official at the Ministry for the Economy and chairman of the nation’s Tripartite Commission, did not deny the identification.
Instead, quite incredibly, he complained to the press commission against those who would dare deem to be unacceptable his hateful racist, antisemitic, homophobic and pro-fascist productions.
Posted in Antisemitism & Bias, Events, Human Rights, LGBT Rights, Media Watch, News & Views, Opinion, Racism
Tagged Antisemitism in Lithuania, Gay Rights (LGBT) in Lithuania, homophobia, racism, Zeppelinus
The half-page article on the “Business” page of the Baltic Times (dated 4-17 April 2013 but widely available this week here in Vilnius) carries at its end the words “This is a paid advertisement.”
But these words do not succeed in mitigating the moral responsibility of the increasingly ultranationalist, far-right newspaper in disseminating hate material against any minority, least of all of in an EU / NATO member state. The inherent equality of peoples and their races and languages and national and personal identities are an inseparable component of what the European Union and NATO are all about.
Lrytas.lt today published an article by Martynas Čerkauskas, “Lithuanian Economics Ministry Accused of Nationalism” which follows this week’s exposés in Antifa.lt, Baltas.lt, and Kauno Žinios, which all imply or claim that the neo-Nazi internet “hero” who calls himself “Zeppelinus” is actually director of the Economic Ministry’s Expansion of Human Resources Department and a member of the Tripartite Council (labor, business and government), where he is the chief representative of the government’s interests.
A sampling of images attributed to “Zeppelinus” is provided here.
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A dedicated Facebook page provides facts and photos on today’s dignified and courageous demonstration by a small group of young Lithuanian human rights advocates against Vilnius University’s proceeding with an exhibition of an envelope designer whose work features flagrant antisemitic, homophobic and racist material (larger selection here).
Fiokla Kiure’s images of the event are available here; a small selection follows this article.
Posted in Antisemitism & Bias, Bloomington-Borns Program Manipulated?, LGBT Rights, Lithuania, News & Views, Opinion, Racism, Richard Maullin, Russian Speakers' Personal Status, Vilnius Yiddish Institute, Yiddish Affairs
Tagged Anna Shepherd, Antanas Sakalys, Antisemitism in Lithuania, Dan Opatoshu, Daniel Berg, Fairbank Maslin, FM3, homophobia in Lithuania, Richard Maullin, Tina Lunson, Vilnius University, Vilnius University Library, Vilnius Yiddish Institute, Vilnius Yiddish Summer Program
According to Vilnius University’s website, a ceremony to open an exhibition of “envelope art” by Antanas Šakalys will be held in the White Hall of the university’s main library on 27 September at 2 PM. Mr. Šakalys’s antisemitic postcards were on sale for many years at the capital’s main Post Office, and were exposed in 2008 by the Jewish community’s newspaper, Jerusalem of Lithuania.
Posted in Antisemitism & Bias, Bloomington-Borns Program Manipulated?, Collaborators Glorified, Events, Human Rights, LGBT Rights, News & Views, Politics of Memory, Racism, Vilnius Yiddish Institute, Yiddish Affairs
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by Dovid Katz
Thought experiment: Imagine an African American in the city of Columbia, South Carolina, being called an extremist or fanatic for peacefully expressing the opinion that it is offensive for the Confederate flag to be hoisted on the grounds of the state capitol building. Imagine him or her being called extremist or fanatic for failing to be grateful that the flag was, after much protest, moved from atop the dome to the mere grounds of the capitol and its design slightly changed to conform to the Confederate Battle Flag (as a “concession”).
Imagine if a snow-white editor of a web journal singled out for David Duke style praise “Moderate African Americans” who just say “Thank you” when a pathetic morsel of PR is offered up by local authorities in the face of mounting international opprobrium.
There would be public outrage at the racism.
Posted in Antisemitism & Bias, Dovid Katz, Free Speech & Democracy, Human Rights, Litvak Affairs, Media Watch, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory, Racism, South Africa, VilNews.com
Tagged Aage Myhre, Holocaust in Lithuania, Norwegian property magnates in Vilnius, VilNews.com
E Y E W I T N E S S R E P O R T / O P I N I O N
by Dovid Katz
RIGA—According to most estimates, there were around 1500 participants today in the city-center ceremony honoring the Waffen SS, about 1000 police, and about one hundred protesters who turned out in opposition to the event.
The ongoing campaign by some East European governments to repackage far-right ultranationalist politics and policies (with concomitant antisemitic, racist and Nazi-glorifying undertones) as a wholesome British-conservative-style “center right” has suffered a major blow. The battleground of ideas has in recent weeks shifted to the annual Waffen SS commemoration ceremony held at Liberty Monument, the symbolic heart of the capital of Latvia, with the blessing of some of the nation’s top leaders.
Posted in Antisemitism & Bias, Celebrations of Fascism, Collaborators Glorified, Dovid Katz, Events, Human Rights, Latvia, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory, Racism, Riga's Waffen SS Marches, Symbology
Tagged Holocaust in Latvia, Holocaust in the Baltics
O P I N I O N
by David Surjányi
Dozens of people marching on the streets with flags in their hands and badges on their chest.
When they reach their destination a strange looking person steps on the podium and starts to speak. His speech is saturated with hate. He demands a “Jew-free” country. He blames the Roma people for the problems of our society.
And this is not 1944. It is 2012. Here in Hungary.
The Council of Europe’s Commission against Racism and Intolerance today published online its 9 December report ECRI Report on Latvia (fourth monitoring cycle). In the 67 page report, the ECRI (European Commission against Racism and Intolerance) explicitly condemns the Waffen SS marches enabled and supported for many years by some of the highest echelons of Latvian government and society. There is also reference to the more recent case of celebrating the day of Hitler’s invasion in 1941.
Posted in Antisemitism & Bias, Celebrations of Fascism, Collaborators Glorified, Double Genocide, EU, Human Rights, Latvia, Neo-Nazi & Fascist Marches, News & Views, Politics of Memory, Racism, Riga's Waffen SS Marches, United Nations
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by Jared McBride
During my dissertation research in Rivne, I’ve been going through a number of contemporary Volhynian newspapers for articles on a range of historical matters. As a historian of the Second World War, I do not tend to spend as much time with contemporary publications, yet at the end of the day, every activity and research experience is a lesson in some manner when you’re “in country” working.
I spent time working through what I already understood to be the right-wing nationalist newspaper, Volyn’, which is a Rivne oblast’ level paper that comes out once a week. The paper sees itself as the reincarnation of the Nazi occupation newspaper of the same name, which was edited by Volhynian writer Ulas Samchuk, if that tells you anything about the orientation just to start out.
When one orders a run of a paper, you get an entire year at once bound together. I’ll now take you through some of what I saw in the collection for 2002.
Lithuania’s major daily newspaper, Lietuvos rytas — Lrytas.lt — made some local journalistic history today with an extensive article by Dovilė Tuskenytė on the dangerous mainstreaming of neo-Nazism in the country that succeeded in its principal interview in eliciting the unvarnished tone of the movement. The article’s title in translation: ‘Lithuanian Neo-Nazis, who use paganism for cover, work in state institutions and claim the swastika is only a historical symbol’. There was general agreement in the human rights community that the article represented an important advance and that its author is to be congratulated. An English translation is available here.
The article is accompanied by a series of 23 photographs making very clear the nature of ‘national patriots’ involved in neo-Nazi activity, as well as the intent of the ‘recycled pagan symbols’ used nowadays by neo-Nazi groups. It follows the recent Delfi.lt article exposing government financial support for such groups.
Ms. Tuskenytė’s article contains an interview with the state-sponsored Genocide Center’s Ričardas Čekutis, who continues to be listed as a ‘chief specialist’ by the Center, some five months after serving as one of the organizers and leaders of a neo-Nazi march through the center of the nation’s capital, Vilnius on 11 March. His statements to Ms. Tuskenytė include the following:
“Čekutis says that the world visions of the EU and Adolf Hitler are identical. Čekutis agrees with neo-Nazis on another issue: that there was no Holocaust. The Lithuanian Nationalist Center chairman says that the victims from all countries in World War II need to be counted, and that most of them lost the same amount of people as the Jews who were murdered. He also explains that the figure of victims in the millions is nothing more than a myth created for contemporary Jews to receive different kinds of compensation from different countries.”
Posted in Antisemitism & Bias, Celebrations of Fascism, Double Genocide, Genocide Center (Vilnius), Human Rights, Lithuania, Media Watch, Neo-Nazi & Fascist Marches, News & Views, Politics of Memory, Racism, Vilnius Neo-Nazi Marches
Tagged Emanuelis Zingeris, Holocaust Denial, International Commission for the Evlauation of the Crimes of the Nazi and Soviet Occupation Regimes in Lithuania, Nazi infiltration in Lithuanian state organizations, neo-Nazis Lithuania, neo-Nazism in Lithuania, Red-Brown Commission Vilnius, Ricardas Cekutis, Ronaldas Racinskas
Citing recent events in Hungary, in which authors Ben Cohen and Karl Pfeifer had a role to play, the Jerusalem Post’s Benjamin Weinthal has published an article in today’s Jerusalem Post exposing the sharply increased proclivity toward primitive antisemitism in the mainstream press in Hungary. The tendency has picked up steam since election of the right wing of government Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and his Fidesz party. The freedom and responsibility of the media have been main issues for the country’s right wing government.
The president of Latvia endorsed this year’s Waffen SS march, “bowing his head” to his nation’s Waffen SS. Latvia’s ambassador to the UK defended the march. Council of Europe condemns the event. UK MP John Mann. UK Parliament Early Day Motion 2866. 1500 Turn Out.
A wreath for Holocaust survivors was covered by the Waffen SS logo by the event’s organizers. Two anti-Nazi activists exposed the wreath again for a short time, before they were removed by police.
Foreign protesters included Efraim Zuroff of the Simon Wiesenthal Center (Jerusalem), Joel Rubinfeld of the European Jewish Parliament (Brussels), Monica Lowenberg, creator of the anti-march international petition (London).
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by Nida Vasiliauskaitė
There is a view that pro-fascist tendencies in Lithuania are nothing more than a bubble blown by the New Left, an informal intellectual and political movement (not a party), that it is a case of “Communist slander” aimed at peaceful and likeable patriots: those who simply love their Homeland, are proud of it and who—unlike the angry folks from the New Left who are “attacking” good people for no reason at all—do not seek enemies (and do not find them), degrade nobody and are a threat to nobody.
No, for them everyone is a friend. (How different they are from, for example, Nida Vasiliauskaitė, who, as they will tell you, “hates everyone” simply and purely at her own whim and out of bad will, or because she has been “paid” by all the comrades of “Brussels” and “Moscow” banded together. They emphasize that which unites, not that which divides…)
Christine Beresniova, a doctoral scholar at Indiana University (Bloomington) has exposed the disturbingly racist images in a popular Lithuanian language manual that have disturbed foreign Lithuanian language students for many years. The public disclosure is reported today in an article in the main daily newspaper in Vilnius, Lietuvos rytas.
The most infamous image features two pairs of stereotypes. There is the Lithuanian woman in national folk costume and a crown on her head, and as foreign counterpart, a bare-breasted black woman in Africa with weird headgear. The caption to the illustration translates ‘This woman is a Lithuanian, and that one is an African’, as if Africa is a country, one-to-one comparable to ‘Lithuania’.