by Dovid Katz
This paper was published today by Taylor and Francis on its website. It appears in Dapim: Studies on the Holocaust, volume 31, no. 3, pp. 285-295 (Dec. 2017). Dapim is edited by the Strochlitz Institute for Holocaust Research at the University of Haifa.
In Lithuania, the primary provider for Holocaust studies for close to two decades has been the state-sponsored International Commission for the Evaluation of the Crimes of the Nazi and Soviet Occupation Regimes in Lithuania (ICECNSORL), which was established in 1998 by decree of the nation’s president and is housed in the office of its prime minister, embedding it in the highest strata of Lithuanian politics. Several of its activities have enabled significant contributions in research, education, and public commemoration.
VILNIUS—Beware of any academic conference hosted by a nation’s parliament. This isn’t about Lithuania, the Baltics, or Eastern Europe. It’s about the intellectual independence and academic integrity of bona fide academic conclaves anywhere. There are elementary questions. Was there a public call for papers? Was there an academic committee established to select those papers by the most competent specialists on the actual topic of the conference? An academic committee that would guard against the petty jealousies, politics of revenge and personal exclusions, as well as larger political correctnesses or state-sponsored-agency attempts to predetermine the proceedings or (ab)use them for governmental PR? Is the conference a free tribune for the exchange of ideas in an atmosphere of collegiality and mutual respect? One where scholars of opposing views can thrash it out, robustly and publicly — without the loss of interpersonal respect — to yield positive results for the area of human enquiry to which the conference was dedicated in the first place. One of the ironies is that Vilnius is nowadays host to some of the world’s best (and most academically free) conferences in an array of fields, both in the humanities and the sciences. That Soviet-style rigging should survive in the case of Judaic studies, of all things, will itself be studied one day.
by Dovid Katz
East European state-sponsored “Holocaust Fixing” continues apace. The distinguished German scholar and author of a major two-volume work on the Lithuanian Holocaust, Professor Christoph Dieckmann, has given a major interview intended for the general public on the popular Delfi.lt news portal. He was in town for an IHRA conference held in intimate collaboration with the Lithuanian government’s units on the Holocaust and Jewish affairs, including the Red-Brown Commission, of which Prof. Dieckmann is, surprisingly for many of his genuine admirers, a longtime member and apologist.
VILNIUS—The 22 November edition of the Jerusalem Post carried the following news item about an international meeting at the Peres Center for Peace and Innovation.
Lithuanian and Israeli diplomats, academics, and government officials, together with representatives of Litvak organizations in Israel, the American Jewish Committee, the World Jewish Congress and the Tel Aviv Municipality, will congregate on Thursday at the Peres Center for Peace and Innovation to discuss Lithuania and Israel – Past, Present and Future. Among the Lithuanians will be Lithuanian Ambassador Edminas Bagdonas, Ronaldas Račinskas, executive director of the International Commission for the Evaluation of the Crimes of the Nazi and Soviet Occupation Regimes in Lithuania; Faina Kukliansky, chairwoman of the Lithuanian Jewish Community; and several other Lithuanian dignitaries. Among the topics tabled for discussion is the reinstatement of Lithuanian citizenship to Lithuanian expatriates living in Israel.
by Dovid Katz
This paper appeared today in Dapim: Studies on the Holocaust, published by Taylor and Francis.
ABSTRACT: In contrast to twentieth-century Holocaust Denial, the most recent assault on the narrative of the genocide of European Jewry has emanated from a sophisticated revisionist model known as Double Genocide, codified in the 2008 Prague Declaration. Positing “equality” of Nazi and Soviet crimes, the paradigm’s corollaries sometimes include attempts to rehabilitate perpetrators and discredit survivors. Emanating from pro-Western governments and elites in Eastern Europe in countries with records of high collaboration, the movement has reached out widely to the Holocaust Studies establishment as well as Jewish institutions. It occasionally enjoys the political support of major Western countries in the context of East-West politics, or in the case of Israel, attempts to garner (eastern) European Union support. The empirical effects to date have included demonstrable impact on museums, memorials and exhibits in Eastern Europe and beyond.
The demise of twentieth-century-style Holocaust denial in mainstream Western society is aptly symbolized by David Irving’s loss to Deborah Lipstadt in the London High Court in 2000. But around the same time, a new and more irksome method of writing the Holocaust out of history was emerging under the radar, this time without necessarily denying any of the historical events or a single death. Particularly in Eastern Europe, it was being forged with state funding and more subtle powers of persuasion in academia, the media, the arts and international diplomacy.
OPINION | RED-BROWN COMMISSION (PAGE) | RB COMMISSION (SECTION) | DOUBLE GENOCIDE | VILNIUS YIDDISH INSTITUTE
VILNIUS—The news portal Delfi.lt reported yesterday on Lithuanian sharpshooting star Ronaldas Račinskas making a hit at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics not only for his talents with a rifle, but on his work back home for which the headline calls him the “Nazi-Soviet hunter,” in the latest of a long series of Holocaust terms appropriated and ably recast by the Red-Brown movement’s PR wizzards. Besides heading a commission that now includes the gentleman who launched the campaign, a decade ago, to “hunt” Holocaust survivors who joined the Jewish partisans, his “Nazi and Soviet hunting” refers to his role as Director of the Secretariat of that comission, popularly known as the Red-Brown Commission, a state-financed entity that is one of the main European engines for spreading the revisionist far right’s “Double Genocide” model of World War II history. In that history, as an example, those who liberated Auschwitz are declared to be equal in principle to those who committed the genocide there. Moreover the movement’s primary document, the 2008 Prague Declaration (PD), insists that all European “minds” accept the revised history and regard Nazi and Soviet crimes as equal, a stance widely considered to be a camouflage for obfuscating and diminishing the Holocaust. The response in the European arena came in the form of the 2012 Seventy Years Declaration (SYD).
Western Mainstream Media Fails to Mention that East European Allies of the West are Investing in Glorification of Hitler’s Local Collaborators
Appeal to the conscience of the members of the renewed state-financed “International Commission for the Evaluation of the Crimes of the Nazi and Soviet Occupation Regimes in Lithuania”
Forward Coverage of Yivo Strife Omits Mention of Instrumentalization by Lithuanian Holocaust Revisionism Industry
NEW YORK CITY—A 9 March 2016 Forward article, by Britta Lokting, focused on Martin Peretz’s recent resignation from Yivo’s board, cited a number of current Yivo issues. It did not, however, mention the major issue of instrumentalization by the Lithuanian government’s campaign of Holocaust obfuscation, relativization and revisionism. It did reference the now-famous Vilnius-based digitization project.
In 2011, Yivo honored an antisemitic foreign minister while failing to honor the Yiddish speaking Vilna Holocaust survivors maligned by Lithuanian prosecutors, resulting in a heartfelt plea from the long-time editor of the Jewish community’s quadrilingual newspaper. Then, in 2012, it sent its director to Vilnius to help cover for the reburial with full honors of a Holocaust perpetrator, and saw its director join (and thereby give legitimacy to) the notorious “Red-Brown Commission.” A year ago, the organization was called to task by a Vilna Holocaust survivor in the Yiddish Fórverts (English translation here; unmentioned in the English Forward?). See Defending History’s section on Yivo issues in recent years.
VILNIUS—Yet again, the “Vilnius Jewish Public Library,” housed in exquisite city-center premises in a courtyard off the capital’s central Gedimino Boulevard, has been the base for a Holocaust-obfuscating event featuring stars of the state’s “Red-Brown Commission” who are dispatched far and wide to deny the existence of the state-sponsored “Double Genocide” campaign, to mitigate the campaign against Holocaust survivors, the efforts to glorify local collaborators, and to obscure entirely the Second Opinion expressed in the Seventy Years Declaration. Incredibly, the roster of invited speakers did not include Ms. Rūta Vanagaitė, author of Mūsiškiai, the new best-selling book on the Holocaust that has in effect revolutionized the country’s coming to terms with its Holocaust-era past. What is the “Jewish” Library afraid of?
As the Lithuanian government-sponsored “Red-Brown Commission” (popular moniker for the “International Commission for Evaluation of the Crimes of the Nazi and Soviet Occupational Regimes of Lithuania“), quiet on the international front for a time, announces a comeback global conclave for 17-19 March 2016, suspense is rising as to whether various Jewish organizations, including Yivo and the AJC, but above all the Israel Foreign Ministry, will again be coming on board to legitimize the body that is the midwife of the Double Genocide movement in the European Parliament.
VILNIUS—Over the past decade, few foreign embassies in Lithuania have done as much as Japan’s to help ensure that the accurate history of the Holocaust in Lithuania is never forgotten and indeed, that remembrance events and educational programs feed into both national and international efforts to raise awareness and sensitivities in the cause of averting future massacres of innocent civilians.
Japan’s Holocaust remembrance achievements in Lithuania are manifold. From 2008, when state prosecutors connected to the Genocide Center began defaming local Holocaust survivors, Japan’s embassy joined with others in giving honor to the wrongly accused, including the 2009 “Walk in the Rain” organized by then Norwegian ambassador Steinar Gil. More well known are the embassy’s activities in commemoration of Chiune (Sempo) Sugihara, the inspirational Japanese humanist who saved thousands of lives by issuing visas in Kaunas in 1940. One of the most important goes back to the turn of our century when the embassy participated actively, and generously, in setting up Sugihara House in Kaunas.
O P I N I O N
by Dovid Katz
Note: This text is the Lithuanian translation, provided by the Being a Jew project, of the written text of a lecture from the 17 April 2015 conference on the Holocaust in Lithuania organized by Rūta Vanagaitė. The original English is here.
O P I N I O N
VILNIUS—Ronaldas Račinskas, executive director of the Lithuanian-government financed “International Commission for the Evaluation of the Crimes of the Nazi and Soviet Occupation Regimes in Lithuania,” widely known for brevity as the “Red-Brown Commission,” has revealed — on camera, to the producers of the documentary film Liza Ruft — his thoughts about the “war crimes investigation” into Fania Brantsovsky. The video clip of his statement was released today on Youtube.
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.
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.
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.
by Dovid Katz
Vilnius has just lost one of its most powerful and authentic Litvak personalities, and one of the last Vilna-born prewar Jews still resident in the city. Meilach Stalevich, who was born on June 28th 1923 passed away peacefully during the night of 8 t0 9 November this month, in the middle of his ninety-second year, following a heart attack several days earlier.
For some who didn’t know him personally, he will forever be celebrated for his extraordinary soundbite in Wendy Robbins’ BBC radio documentary in 2010, when he was asked what he thought of the idea that the Nazi and Soviet regimes were similar in nature. In a few seconds, in the rich Yiddish tones of a Vilna native, he was able to debunk the current array of Holocaust revisionists rather more effectively than perhaps all of the academic efforts underway taken together.
For First Time, NY Yivo to Honor (on Dec. 17) a Holocaust Resistance Hero Defamed by Lithuania’s Prosecutors
HOPES RISE FOR LITHUANIAN GOVERNMENT PUBLIC APOLOGY TO DR. YITZHAK ARAD, HOLOCAUST SURVIVOR, HERO OF THE ANTI-NAZI RESISTANCE AND ISRAEL’S WAR OF INDEPENDENCE, MAJOR HOLOCAUST SCHOLAR AND FORMER DIRECTOR OF YAD VASHEM
Yivo leaders manipulated by Lithuanian government PR operatives? Chronology of a crisis of confidence, 2011-2014 (in reverse chronological order)
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.
The following 7 March 2014 comment by Olga Zabludoff on the video posted of the 14 February 2014 event at Yivo appears in the Comments section for her earlier article in the Algemeiner Journal, where readers can follow the entire discussion.
Many thanks to Yivo for posting the video of the discussion “Unresolved History: Jews and Lithuanians after the Holocaust.” In my opinion, the champion panelist was Leonidas Donskis who opened his heart with conviction and courage. As a Jewish Lithuanian his understanding of and sympathy for both Jews and Lithuanians have generated wise insights and pervasive truths. Among his magnitude of analytical comments to be applauded, Donskis explained that the Far Right in Lithuania has managed to get close to the center of power where they have been “mainstreamed” rather than marginalized. He also reflected on how difficult it is for Lithuanians who have decided to tell the truth. As a nation “we lack the political courage,” he remarked.
VILNIUS—Professor Pinchos Fridberg today posted a Youtube video replying to attacks on himself by the executive director of the Lithuanian government’s International Commission for the Evaluation of the Crimes of the Nazi and Soviet Occupation Regimes in Lithuania.
The following, in reverse chronological order, is the text of Monica Lowenberg’s two comments to Ronaldas Racinskas’s comment, all in the discussion following Olga Zabludoff’s article in the Algemeiner Journal on the Holocaust in Lithuania and a Yivo symposium in New York. These and other comments appear in the AJ‘s comments section.
Another Panel at Yivo, Neo-Nazi Marches in Lithuania, and American Silence on Glorification of Nazi Collaborators
O P I N I O N
by Olga Zalubdoff
The following is the text of Olga Zabludoff’s op-ed published on 13 February 2014 in the Algemeiner Journal. Comments by readers are available at the original site of publication.
Yivo, Lithuania, The Holocaust
Nobody could love or respect the Yivo Institute for Jewish Research more than I do. It was founded as the Yiddish Scientific Institute in Vilna, Poland (now Vilnius, Lithuania) in 1925. Yivo remains a symbol for all who cherish our Yiddish heritage and, now, its last prewar survivors. Through the years I have spent many wondrous hours at Yivo, digging, discovering, and learning about my Litvak ancestors, their shtetlakh, and their culture. Being there always felt like being home. The books and documents I handled seemed almost sacred. Memories of conversations with Yivo’s’s revered librarian Dina Abramowicz still make me smile. . .
This week has seen a further public and, in most assessments, vitriolic attack, from the president of the (Prague-based) “Platform of European Memory and Conscience,” the European Union financed body responsible for “enacting” the 2008 Prague Declaration, against one of its own founding constituent members, the (Prague-based) “Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes.”
VILNIUS—Among other news portals in Lithuania, 15min.lt reported on 23 December that a group of nationalists in the Seimas (parliament) had proposed establishment of a new institution, the “National Council of Historical Memory” to set the “indisputable truth about historic events.” Coming on top of the 2010 red-brown criminalization of opinion law that has brought alarm from human rights circles in the European Union, this latest layer of state establishment of alleged historic truth would compound the damage.
O P I N I O N
by Geoff Vasil
And the Lord God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat. Genesis 3:13
And he said, What hast thou done? the voice of thy brother’s blood crieth unto me from the ground. Genesis 4:10
Driving east out of Rokiškis, fields give way to forest, and the lake country leads on to strange and wild hills in an abandoned quarter of the country bordering Latvia. The lake country is beautiful, almost alpine in its effect, and spotted with small settlements and villages of varying sizes, some even boasting gas stations and schools.
University of Toronto’s Centre for Jewish Studies is latest target of Lithuanian Government’s one-sided roadshow featuring the “Red Brown Commission”; Recent gigs in Vilnius, Berlin, LA, London, Philadelphia
But in addition to THREE Commission members, announced panel also included Kovno Ghetto survivor and scholar Prof. Sara Ginaitė who challenged ongoing revisionism re outbreak of the Holocaust in the week of 22 June 1941
O P I N I O N
NOTE: This English version of a recent piece by Professor Pinchos Fridberg (of Vilnius), translated by Lumilla Makedonskaya (of Grodno), is for our readers’ information. In the case of any doubt or matter arising, the original Russian text alone is authoritative.
by Dovid Katz
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.
O P I N I O N
by Rachel Croucher (Melbourne, Australia)
Lithuania declared its restoration of independence from the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) on March 11, 1990. The country then began to immediately seek closer ties with established Western European institutions as a means to consolidate its national and economic security. After centuries of subjugation at the hands of various foreign powers, this need for national and economic security was seen as being of primary and urgent concern to the fledgling democracy. This race to join as many Western European institutions as possible was also a way to prove to the rest of the world that Lithuania was now in practice a true European country, part of the post-1945 Western European order. The sentiment behind this is best expressed by Czech-born and naturalized French writer Milan Kundera when he stated in 1989 that
Defending History Brings Real (But Not Enough) Results…
After 7 Years of Silence, Part of Lithuanian Government’s “Red-Brown Commission” Expresses “Sorrow and Anger” at “Unwarranted Attacks” on Yitzhak Arad
REVIEW OF KEEP ME IN MIND
by Geoff Vasil
The Contemporary Art Center’s reading room in Vilnius is hosting an unusual-for-Lithuania Holocaust event called Keep Me in Mind. Briefly, visitors are invited to wander among different tables where good-looking and polite people await them with small boxes and sheaves of papers. When you sit down the narrator at the table tells the story of an individual Holocaust survivor, from childhood to the present. Almost all of the survivors seem to now live in Haifa, Israel. One survivor, Benjamin Ginzburg, came from Vilnius.
O P I N I O N
In 1998 the “International Commission for the Evaluation of the Crimes of the Nazi and Soviet Occupational Regimes in Lithuania” was established by Lithuanian presidential decree.
The commission is directed in tandem by Emanuelis Zingeris and Ronaldas Račinskas. The former is the commission’s chairman and a Conservative MP in the Lithuanian Seimas, while the latter is the commission’s executive director. The Lithuanian Jewish Community has no representation on the commission.
Пинхос Фридберг (Вильнюс)
В 1998 году декретом Президента Литовской Республики была создана «Международная комиссия по оценке преступлений нацистского и советского оккупационных режимов в Литве».
1998 metais Lietuvos Respublikos Prezidento dekretu buvo įkurta „Tarptautinė komisija nacių ir sovietinio okupacinių režimų nusikaltimams Lietuvoje įvertinti“. Komisijai vadovauja tandemas E.Zingeris — R.Račinskas: pirmasis iš jų — pirmininkas, Lietuvos Seimo narys, konservatorius, antrasis — vykdantysys direktorius. Lietuvos žydų bendruomenė komisijoje neturi savo atstovo.
Three members of the Lithuanian government’s renewed “Red-Brown Commission” are to headline its next American PR event, scheduled for Philadelphia on 10 November. The Commission is widely seen as one of the politico-academic engines of Holocaust revisionism in the European Union in the spirit of “Double Genocide.” Moreover the body publicly supports the (2008) Prague Declaration, the “bible” of the Double Genocide movement. Its website does not mention existence of the European parliamentary rejoinder, the (2012) Seventy Years Declaration, signed by seventy-one EU parliamentarians, including six courageous MPs and MEPs from Lithuania.
O P I N I O N
Authorized translation into Russian by Milan Chersonski of Danny Ben-Moshe’s op-ed, Yad Vashem and the “Two Genocides” in the 26 August 2013 edition of Jerusalem Report.
Яд Вашем и «Два геноцида»
Восточно-европейские политики, переписывая историю Холокоста, создают «двумя геноцидами» угрозу деятельности Яд Вашем по сохранению памяти о Холокосте
Я помню своё первое посещение Яд Вашем, когда 16-летним подростком я оказался в Иерусалиме. Он произвел на меня глубокое впечатление, можно сказать, потряс меня. Когда я уходил оттуда, к лацкану моего пиджака был приколот значок со словом «Захор», что на иврите значит – «Память».
Editor’s note: Professor Pinchos Fridberg today released for publication the following email exchange. His most recent publication on the issue at hand is “Lithuania paying with its image for an official’s ambitions” which has appeared in Russian (English translation here; background).
The following, for readers’ reference, is a translation of Professor Pinchos Fridberg’s article that appeared in Russian in Zman.com (on 9 April 2013). It was reprinted in Obzor and Shofar7.
Lithuania is Paying with its Image for an Official’s Ambitions
O P I N I O N
This opinion piece and eyewitness report by Geoff Vasil relates to the July 10th event in honor of the Red-Brown Commission held at the Vilnius Jewish Public Library. See related reports on the library’s instrumentalization as a PR platform for the Commission and the more or less contemporaneous announcement of the Commission’s resumed activities, in the absence of apologies to Yitzhak Arad, Pinchos Fridberg, and the other accused Holocaust survivors.
A Library with an Agenda? Bringing American Naifs On Board the Ultranationalists’ Baltic Holocaust Distortion Train?
SUMMARY COVERAGE OF “VILNIUS JEWISH PUBLIC LIBRARY” EVENTS TO 19 JULY 2013:
State-sponsored Zingeris-Račinskas “red-brown commission” (officially: International Commission for the Evaluation of the Crimes of the Nazi and Soviet Occupational Regimes in Lithuania) in Vilnius posts new list of members.
Page on the commission
Resignations to date from Commission-related bodies include Dr. Yitzhak Arad, Sir Martin Gilbert (London), Prof. Gershon Greenberg (Washington DC), Prof. Konrad Kwiet (Sydney) and Prof. Dov Levin (Jerusalem).
Holocaust survivors themselves have stood up to express disquiet about some aspects of the commission: Yitzhak Arad, Pinchos Fridberg (more), Dov Levin (more), Joseph Melamed (more), Basheva Ran, the Association of Lithuanian Jews in Israel, Jewish Community of Lithuania / Union of Ghetto Survivors. A decade and a half of issues.
O P I N I O N
by Geoff Vasil
In an interview posted on the Delfi website on June 21, 2013, Lithuanian government historian Arūnas Bubnys, head of department for the Orwellian- or even Kafkaesque-sounding Center for the Study of the Genocide and Resistance of the Residents of Lithuania, once again lent support to the pro-Nazi Lithuanian Quisling government that seized power on June 23, 1941.
What follows is my commentary on that interview.
[updated 12 June 2013]
Was a goodwill opportunity squandered when the director general of the Vilnius based “red-brown” commission used his lecture time (at the Riga conference on Holocaust commemoration in post-Communist countries) for personal remarks (with inaccurate comments about the editor of Defending History)?
MULTIMEDIA RECORD OF EVENTS: VIDEO OF RONALDAS RAČINSKAS’S (28 MAY) LECTURE (in Russian) IN RESPONSE TO DOVID KATZ’S (27 MAY) LECTURE (PDF OF HIS PP; VIDEO PROVIDED BY THE CONFERENCE; PARTIAL IPHONE VIDEO [BY JOE KOREN] ).
Edward Jacobs in the Huffington Post (31 May 2013)
More materials (including videos of the entire conference) posted by conference organizers; videos also on YouTube (12 June 2013)
In the meantime there has been no apology to the Vilnius Holocaust Survivor the state-sponsored commission called a liar on its website (in 2013), or to its own founding member Yitzhak Arad. Resignations on principle from the commission and its associated committees include Sir Martin Gilbert, Prof. Gershon Greenberg, Prof. Konrad Kwiet, and Prof. Dov Levin. The state-sponsored “International Commission for the Evaluation of the Crimes of the Nazi and Soviet Occupation Regimes in Lithuania” continues to flaunt the Prague Declaration on its website, in both Lithuanian and English.
SEE ALSO: Milan Chersonski’s Riga conference paper (27 May) “Rehabilitation of the Past as a Tool of Modern Politics” (authorized English translation). Milan Chersonski (Chersonskij) edited the Lithuanian Jewish Community’s quadrilingual (English-Lithuanian-Russian-Yiddish) newspaper Jerusalem of Lithuania from 1999 to the paper’s demise in 2010-2011. See our Milan Chersonski section. His publications in Defending History represent his own views.
O P I N I O N
by Pinchos Fridberg (Vilnius)
Editor’s note: This article was first published by Professor Fridberg in Russian in Мы здесь. The following translation, by Ludmila Makedonskaya, was commissioned by Defending History, and it appears with Professor Fridberg’s permission, and with Defending History’s sole responsibility for the translation. The original text is authoritative in any instance of doubt or nuance.
On December 13th, 2012, the portal Zman.com published my article (in Russian) “Instead of the Truth About the Holocaust — Myths About Saving Jews.” It was republished by a number of websites including Newswe.com. I sent a picture and added one important phrase specifically for your site. The fundamental point: the article was republished (in Russian and in English) by the official site of the Lithuanian Jewish Community (LJC).
Instead of an immediate public apology for providing unreliable information and closing the matter, they started looking for a way to discredit me personally. You will ask why? My answer is because the article ends with three not very convenient questions. I should pay tribute to the Lithuanian journalist Račas who did not remain in the background, but answered very straightforwardly and simply:
A month ago my article “A Mine for the Myth” was published in the international magazine Мы здесь (We Are Here). I mentioned the solemn ceremony of the reburial of the former prime minister of the Provisional Government of Lithuania Juozas Ambrazevičius Brazaitis. I’d like to quote the last paragraph.
O P I N I O N
by Pinchos Fridberg
Editor’s note [with updates to 3 March 2013]:
On his personal blog, Artūras Račas, director of Baltic News Service (BNS), attacked the director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Israel office, Holocaust historian Dr. Efraim Zuroff, as well as the prominent Vilnius-born, and currently Vilnius-resident Holocaust survivor and retired professor of radio physics, Dr. Pinchos Fridberg. A full English translation of Mr. Račas’s article is included in Defending History’s coverage of the sensational outburst by the head of Lithuania’s major news agency.
Tolerance Education? State-Sponsored Commission Uses its Website to Call Holocaust Survivor a “Liar” & to Demand “Apology from Jewish Community”
O P I N I O N
by Dovid Katz
Educators, diplomats, historians and journalists thought they had seen it all when it came to Holocaust-in-Lithuania issues in recent times. But an online attack by the state sponsored “history commission” on a local Holocaust survivor, Professor Pinchos Fridberg, who is deeply involved in honoring righteous Lithuanians who saved a Jewish neighbor, because he expressed his views against distortion of the Holocaust? That is a bit much even for here.
UPDATE of 21 February 2014:
One year later: Defamation continues on Commission website;
See Chronology of a Debate and what Pinchos Fridberg actually said…
Vilnius native and life-long resident Professor Pinchos Fridberg sent the following question to the leadership of the Jewish Community of Lithuania (JCL), and received the following answer. These official English translations, accepted by JCL, are reprinted verbatim, with permission from the website of the Jewish Community of Lithuania, where the question appears here and the reply here.
O P I N I O N
by Geoff Vasil
I’ve never met Christine Beresniova, but I’ve followed her career, so to speak, through the media and mutual acquaintances, and wish her only the best. She first came to my attention after apparently making some very limited and not very public criticisms of Lithuanian Holocaust education, which sufficiently pissed off the Holocaust Obfuscation establishment ensconced within the corridors of state power for them to label her some kind of Russian agent in informal conversations.
O P I N I O N
by Dovid Katz
The blog Christine Beresniova and Rokas Beresniovas recently published the article “A lamentable absence of sexy scandals.” We will refrain from comment on their understanding of the concept “sexy scandals” and stick to the work of fellow human rights advocates, which entails standing up to powerful establishments on behalf of minorities, victims of prejudice, and in the case of Eastern Europe, the victims (and handful of survivors) of genocide. Those who stand up know all too well that to do so is not all that often convenient, easygoing or self-serving.
The Lithuanian government sponsored “International Commission for the Evaluation of the Crimes of the Nazi and Soviet Occupational Regimes of Lithuania,” known for short as the “Red-Brown Commission” has recently added a new layer of obfuscation and opacity to its activities.
Its website has deleted the names of the “Members of the Commission” thereby rendering it a kind of “secret society.”
O P I N I O N
by Pinchos Fridberg
Editor’s note [updated 27 January 2013]:
Pinchos Fridberg, a native and resident of Vilnius, is a Holocaust survivor. He graduated from Vilnius University in 1961 and completed his PhD in theoretical and mathematical physics in 1965 and an additional doctoral science degree in radio physics in 1974. From 1961 to 1978 he was chair of the Laboratory of Theoretical Investigations at the Vilnius Scientific Institute of Radio Measuring Devices. In 1978 he joined Grodno State University, where he was named professor. In 1989 he became head of the Department of Theoretical Radio Physics at the Zondas Company in Vilnius.
Compiled by Dovid Katz
EU/NATO Ally Honors Holocaust Collaborator; Lithuanian Jewish Community Issues Protest; 3 US Congressmen Write to Prime Minister
Remains of 1941 fascist leader Juozas Ambrazevičius (Brazaitis) met by honor guard at Vilnius Airport on 17 May 2012 and reburied in Kaunas’s Church of the Resurrection on the 20th, as city’s mayor dismisses criticism.
Office of the prime minister, who signed off on government funding (€8,700 / US $11,000), defends reburial & honors of the 1941 Nazi puppet “prime minister” who personally signed the protocols confirming Nazi orders for (1) “all means” against Jews (but avoiding executions in public); (2) setting up a concentration camp for Lithuanian Jews [euphemism for the carnage underway at the Seventh Fort]; (3) all Kaunas Jews to be herded into a ghetto within 4 weeks (English here).
O P I N I O N
by Geoff Vasil
I caught part of the Lithuanian “International” Red-Brown Commission’s “international” conference in the Lithuanian parliament last month, and obtained video of the parts I missed. There are a lot of things intellectually wrong with what the majority of the speakers said, but I can’t help thinking, feeling, that the emotional content was the overriding message, not the various sophistic, sham arguments and contrived non-debate “debate” between Emanuelis Zingeris and other speakers.
It was my feeling that only two of the speakers really spoke with any reverence or respect for the dead, in a tone appropriate to discussing the subject at hand. One was a sociologist I’d never heard of before who spoke in simple statistical figures about current popular Lithuanian views of the Holocaust and Jews.
The other was Saulius Sužiedėlis, a Lithuanian-American scholar (I believe that’s a fair way to characterize his national identity), who said so much that was simply wrong, but at least delivered his somewhat stochastic and very personal message with the sort of sincerity and honor which one expects in a seeker after truth, and which leads one to assume that even if that seeker has some of the details wrong at the moment, he will eventually get it right and will find the inner courage to correct himself.
O P I N I O N
Londoner Monica Lowenberg, who has done so much, with a petition and via press coverage, to keep on Britain’s political agenda the Latvian government-blessed Waffen-SS parades in Riga each year, has in one fell swoop done a huge good for sadly analogous topics pertaining to neighboring Lithuania. By launching an international petition in advance of this month’s Lithuanian government sponsored PR conference in London, and focusing the petition on simple, virtually cost-free good-will solutions to the irksome issues in Lithuanian-Jewish relations, she has shown how easy the extant problems would be to solve if the political will were there from the state (and it is the state, not the everyday people of the country that is the cause of all these problems). A state has embarked on a foolhardy campaign to rewrite history in the direction of glorification of Hitlerist allies in Eastern Europe, precisely the opposite of the values that EU and NATO member states should be instilling in new generations of Europeans.
Ms. Lowenberg’s petition, signed by hundreds of people from a dozen countries in its first few days, begins with the simple request for a public apology by the Lithuanian government to the Holocaust survivors defamed by Lithuania’s antisemitic state prosecutors who have called the courageous Jewish ghetto survivors who joined the anti-Nazi partisans (and are heroes of the free world) — “war criminals.” For half a dozen years, the campaign has included everything from press releases saying that these survivors “cannot be found” to police actually turning up looking for two women in their late eighties.
The Holocaust in Lithuania, and Its Obfuscation, in Lithuanian Sources
by Yitzhak Arad
C O N T E N T S:
Systematic Mass Murder: German Design and Command, Lithuanian Perpetration (late July–November 1941)
The Rewriting of Holocaust History and the Double Genocide Thesis — “The Jewish Holocaust and the Lithuanian Holocaust”
In Lithuania, as in other places in Europe conquered by Nazi Germany, a thorough and comprehensive inquiry into the tragic events that occurred compels consideration of three factors:
Outgoing prime minister, after right wing’s loss in Lithuania’s elections, headlines “Double Genocide” conference in nation’s parliament; Red-Brown Commission is primary organizer of the event; Girnius, Landsbergis, Liekis, Račinskas, Zingeris are featured; Partners include the “Genocide Center” that Glorifies Local Holocaust Perpetrators
UPDATES TO 21 FEBRUARY 2013:
HOLOCAUST SURVIVOR PINCHOS FRIDBERG SPEAKS OUT — ON THE LITHUANIAN JEWISH COMMUNITY’S WEBSITE; IN THE ALGEMEINER; SIMON WIESENTHAL CENTER’S OPERATION LAST CHANCE; AND DEFENDING HISTORY.
Once again: Abusing European Union symbols to give the misimpression that all of the EU supports the East European far right’s Holocaust revisionism and the imposition of Double Genocide historiography under the Orwellian heading “United Europe — United History” (= One Opinion Allowed; the second opinion is punishable by 2 years in jail in Lithuania, 3 years in Hungary):
Kristallnacht Becomes PR Hook for Double Genociders at Berlin Events of the “Prague Process Platform”
The Platform of European Memory and Conscience is the name of one of the main European engines of Double Genocide and Holocaust Obfuscation. Apparently funded by the European Union in part (or more), its name is inspired by the full name of the 2008 “Prague Declaration” (on European Conscience and Communism), which is prominently advertised on its home page. Informally it is referred to as the “Prague Process Platform” (PPP) and is based in the Czech Republic.
Kristallnacht, 74 years ago tonight, was the Night of Broken Glass, in which widespread coordinated violence against Jewish citizens of Germany, supported by the Nazi regime, resulted in at least 91 deaths, 30,000 arrests and transfers to concentration camps, and over a thousand synagogues burned down. The event was a major harbinger of the imminent genocide of European Jewry.
Outgoing Lithuanian PM, Red-Brown Commission and Genocide Center Joining Forces for Mid-November Vilnius Conference Promoting “Double Genocide”
With the recent Lithuanian elections barely out of the way, and the ruling right-wing Homeland Union Conservatives the undisputed losers, the ultranationalist right is losing no time in pressing ahead aggressively with the Double Genocide “red-equals-brown” agenda, reverting to one of the movement’s original slogans: “United Europe — United History.” For pro-tolerance and liberal forces, the profoundly undemocratic message implied is that a united Europe has to also be united (i.e. have one opinion) on questions of history, and that Double Genocide and its central document, the 2008 Prague Declaration, are inviolable truths.
“Red-Brown Commission” is Formal Member of Revisionists’ “Platform of European Memory and Conscience”
It was today confirmed by the Platform of European Memory and Conscience that the Lithuanian government’s “International Commission for the Evaluation of the Crimes of the Nazi and Soviet Occupational Regimes of Lithuania” (known for brevity as the “Red-Brown Commission”) is a formal member of the “Platform.” This is further confirmed on the Platform’s website under the list of “Platform Members” (right hand column).
- April 2010: The Wiesenthal Center’s Dr. Efraim Zuroff comments (in the Guardian) on the American ambassador’s assurance that “The United States and Lithuania are partners in the fight against antisemitism and in efforts to address the legacy of the Holocaust” bereft of any mention of the “slight problems,” e.g. state-sanctioned neo-Nazi marches on independence day, attempted prosecution of Holocaust survivors, glorification of Nazi perpetrators, disturbing comments by top officials and a general decline into the acceptability of antisemitism.
- Continue reading
Baltic News Service (BNS) has just released yet more convoluted news on the renewal of the “red-brown commission” by, it appears, yet another revised presidential decree. Full text of the BNS report follows below.
US Documentary Film Maker Releases Correspondence with Yad Vashem on Alliance with Lithuanian “Red-Brown Commission”
The American documentary film maker Richard Bloom, who has produced a number of documentaries on the Holocaust, today released for publication his recent correspondence with Yad Vashem. He said his decision was taken after he failed to receive substantive replies to his recent queries about Yad Vashem rejoining the Lithuanian government’s “red-brown commission.”
Yad Vashem Sinking Deeper in Lithuanian “Commission” Morass with Political Campaign for Compensation from Russia
The polite fiction that the renewed Lithuanian state sponsored “Red-Brown Commission” will advance Holocaust research and research on Soviet crimes strictly at the academic and educational levels took a big hit today, before even its first meetings.
A BNS report released today confirms that the Commission, officially known as The International Commission for the Evaluation of the Crimes of the Nazi and Soviet Occupation Regimes in Lithuania, is one of the bodies that will be involved with demanding compensation from Russia for Soviet crimes against Lithuania.
Lithuanian President Refinances Red-Brown Commission
Yad Vashem is Pressed by Foreign Ministry to Join as Holocaust Survivors Protest, after Years of Dissent; Rapid Descent into Morass of Lithuanian-Russian Politics
INTERNATIONAL REACTION: DefendingHistory; Lithuanian Holocaust Survivors in Israel issue statement and open letter; Survivor families (USA); Dr. Clemens Heni (Berlin).
Families of Holocaust Survivors in the US Release Public Letter on Renewal of Lithuanian Government’s Red-Brown Commission
The following is the text of the statement released today by the signatories enumerated below.
Welcome to Holocaust Halloween: The Political Obfuscation of the Holocaust in Lithuania by Lies, Masquerades, Tricks, and Treats
The Soviet occupation of Lithuania is a painful part of its history.
The mass murder of approximately 95% of Lithuania’s Jewish population (noted by historians as the highest percentage of any European country) during World War two is an abomination and blot on the history of Lithuania and its citizenry.
The two events are not equal. Historical sufferings are not identical.
The following is a translation of the Hebrew letter from Tel Aviv attorney Joseph Melamed, head of the Association of Lithuanian Jews, to Avner Shalev, director of Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, in reaction to news reports reporting that Yad Vashem would rejoin the Vilnius-based red-brown commission. In addition, the Association issued a statement to the media today.
Tel Aviv, 3 September 2012
Hon. Avner Shalev
Chairman, Yad Vashem
The Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Authority
The Association of Lithuanian Jews in Israel was left in shock by the decision of Yad Vashem to renew its activities in the “International” Commission [for the Evaluation of the Crimes of the Nazi and Soviet Occupational Regimes in Lithuania].
Joseph Melamed, Head of Lithuanian Holocaust Survivors’ Association, Releases Letter to Director of Yad Vashem
TEL AVIV—The office of the Association of Lithuanian Jews in Israel today released the text of the Hebrew letter which the ALJ’s chairman, Tel Aviv attorney Joseph Melamed, sent today to Avner Shalev, the director of Yad Vashem. Images of the letter’s two pages follow (signed letter as PDF). English translation here.
See also the separate English statement which the ALJ released to the media earlier today, following the recent news about the Lithuanian government renewing a much enlarged red-brown commission with the ostensible participation of Yad Vashem.
TEL AVIV—The following public statement was received at 2:15 PM Tel Aviv time from the offices of the Association of Lithuanian Jews in Israel at King David Boulevard 1. In addition, the ALJ today released the letter written by its chairman to the head of Yad Vashem (English translation here). Background.
The following Facebook entry is reproduced here with permission of the author, Dr. Clemens Heni.
Clemens Heni shared a link.
31 August 2012
1) Dina Porat wrote a piece on the Lithuanian Holocaust years ago, http://defendinghistory.com/readinglist.
2) Her joining the Lithuanian commission makes the institutional / government betrayal coming from Jerusalem even worse: a top honest Holocaust scholar joins with distorters, obfuscationists in a commission that has a track record of throwing its honest Israeli members to the wolves (Arad!), and of using serious foreign scholars with an array of intrigue, complexity, and layered nuance that no foreigner could combat in the multimillion euro den of Holocaust Obfuscation’s European capital.
Holocaust survivors from Lithuania, and their families and advocates, are reporting feelings of “shock and betrayal” at “unbelievable reports” that Yad Vashem might again be lending legitimacy to the Lithuanian government sponsored “red-brown commission.” These accounts derive from a BNS (Baltic News Service) report today that appeared in various Lithuanian media, including Alfa.lt (full translation below), reporting that the president herself signed the decree today for substantial new state investment in the commission.
The Vilnius and Jerusalem rumor mills are equally putting out the word that there had been pressure from the Israeli foreign ministry, itself pressured by the Lithuanian foreign ministry for Holocaust-revising gestures in line with the current Baltic state policy often referred to as “Double Genocide.”
Executive Director of “Red-Brown Commission” Doubts Lithuanian Jews were Killed “on a Racial Basis” Before Arrival of German Forces in 1941
O P I N I O N
A number of viewers of the new Australian documentary film Rewriting History have submitted to DefendingHistory near-identical transcripts of a statement on camera, made to the film’s producers, by the executive director of the “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,” the state-sponsored body has long been opposed by Holocaust survivors and educators. The commission is responsible for Holocaust education in Lithuania, but has also taken an active political role in promoting the 2008 Prague Declaration and various details of alleged “equality” of Nazi and Soviet crimes. The commission’s website features the Prague Declaration in both English and Lithuanian.
The commission’s executive director, Ronaldas Račinskas, is quoted as saying on camera that his commission does not support “Double Genocide” but that he does support the 2008 Prague Declaration (though he concedes there are passages to be “discussed”). The problem is that the Prague Declaration is the primary document of the Double Genocide movement in Europe.
See also: Mr. Račinskas’s 2011 speech in the Lithuanian parliament; Critiques of his commission; 2015 Update: His call for investigations of Holocaust survivors who joined up with the anti-Nazi partisans.
Mr. Račinskas goes on to say, according to the transcripts provided of his Rewriting History interview:
Lithuania’s Embassy in Washington Recruiting “Useful Academics” for Discredited “Red-Brown” Commission
The Baltic state-sponsored political infiltration into supposedly independent academic bodies concerned with Holocaust studies and education came into sharp focus in Washington this week with leakage to the media of a number of letters from Artūras Vazbys, Minister Counselor at the Lithuanian embassy in Washington DC. The identical letters read:
The Seventy Years Declaration, released on 20 January 2012, was the subject of a 31 January 2012 Žinių radijas (News Radio) station panel discussion including one of the Lithuanian signatories of the declaration, Social Democratic MP Vytenis Andriukaitis, himself a signatory of the Lithuanian Declaration of Independence. MP Andriukaitis was attacked by the foreign minister for signing.
MP Andriukaitis’s response won international support, and there is reference in the panel discussion to the support from British human rights champion MP Denis MacShane for all eight Lithuanian parliamentarians who signed the Seventy Years Declaration.
Unconfirmed Report: Yad Vashem asked to Shore Up Discredited Red-Brown Commission with Three (!) New Members
VILNIUS. Unconfirmed rumors were swirling in “Holocaust politics” circles this week about an alleged request by “very high officials” of the Lithuanian government to Yad Vashem in Jerusalem — through channels including both countries’ foreign ministries — to shore up the status of the widely discredited “International Commission for the Evaluation of the Crimes of the Nazi and Soviet Occupation Regimes in Lithuania.” The commission is widely known as the “Red-Brown Commission.”
How the Zingeris-Račinskas Red-Brown Commission “Gently” Pushed Along the Conversion of Holocaust Studies into Double Genocide Studies
O P I N I O N
by Rachel Croucher (Melbourne)
Although not seeking to deny the Holocaust, the ultimate consequence of the movement to redefine genocide is the equalization of National Socialist and Soviet crimes. The characterization of Soviet crimes as genocide is a misrepresentation that hinders authentic remembrance of the Holocaust in Lithuania by helping to obscure the extent and nature of Lithuanian complicity in the killings of the local Jewish population.
The idea that the crimes of Hitler and successive Soviet regimes are in fact equal has been a growing force behind public discourse on the Holocaust since the formulation of the national Holocaust and Genocide Education Program at the sixth meeting of The International Commission for the Evaluation of the Crimes of the Nazi and Soviet Occupation Regimes in Lithuania in June 2002.