Monthly Archives: September 2015

On the Eve of the 30 Sept. 2015 “Conference on Antisemitism and Radicalism” in Vilnius



From our front page of 29 September 2015:

Wednesday’s Conference in Vilnius on Antisemitism and Radicalism

Will it confront issues or be another de-facto government PR exercise?

Will the conference discuss neo-Nazi marches allowed to take over the center of Kaunas each February 16th and the center of Vilnius each March 11th? Shrines, plaques and street names that honor Holocaust collaborators? Attacks on Holocaust survivors by state commissions? Defamation of Jewish partisan veterans? Absence of state apologies to defamed Jewish partisan heroes? Prosecutorial persecution of Lithuanian Holocaust truth-tellers and other violations of freedom of speech? Whether neo-Nazi PR master “Zeppelinus” is still a high Economy Ministry official? The 2010 legalization of swastikas? 2010 criminalization of Western views of World War II? 2015 project to build a $25,000,000 convention center in the heart of Vilnius’s old Jewish cemetery? A Protestant pastor spoke out; so did Litvak rabbis from around the world, a Holocaust survivor, and the top expert on the cemetery’s history. But when the chief rabbi of 11 years supported the international consensus, he was fired for his opinion. His views on antisemitism in Lithuania could have enlightened this conference — but he was not invited to speak.

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Posted in Antisemitism & Bias, Events, Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views | Comments Off on On the Eve of the 30 Sept. 2015 “Conference on Antisemitism and Radicalism” in Vilnius

Suspicions Rise on Role of “U.S. Commission for Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad” in Plans to Build a $25,000,000 Convention Center in Heart of Vilnius’s Old Jewish Cemetery



VILNIUS—The American taxpayer-funded agency known as the “U.S. Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad” has a mission statement that stresses commitment to preserving Jewish cemeteries in post-Holocaust Eastern Europe. They are in special danger because of the Holocaust: the people buried have no descendants or relatives to care for the preservation of their final resting place. Moreover, nationalism and antisemitism sometimes come into play, with powers that be not wanting any city-center reminders of major erstwhile Jewish populations in their cities, and in any case, applying very different standards to the preservation of Jewish and Christian cemeteries. The issue was addressed in a 2014 U.S. Congressional resolution.

SEE MORE ON USPACA’S RECORD ON THE PLANS TO DESECRATE A MAJOR EUROPEAN JEWISH CEMETERY

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Posted in Cemeteries and Mass Graves, CPJCE (London), Herbert Block and Issues of Lithuanian Jewish Cemetery Preservation, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), United States, US Commission for Preservation of the American Heritage Abroad, US State Dept Manipulated? | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off on Suspicions Rise on Role of “U.S. Commission for Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad” in Plans to Build a $25,000,000 Convention Center in Heart of Vilnius’s Old Jewish Cemetery

Vilnius Names Street for Beloved Lithuanian Rescuer Ona Šimaitė



E V E N T S    /    O P I N I O N

by Defending History Staff

VILNIUS—For many years it has been a source of deep pain to many Lithuanians, Jews and others that the capital (and cities and towns around the country) continue to have street names honoring Holocaust perpetrators and collaborators but none for the true heroes of the Lithuanian Holocaust — the Lithuanian rescuers, who risked their and their families’ lives to “just do the right thing” and rescue some person or persons of a minority marked for rapid murder on the basis of Jewish birth. In the Baltics, the rescuers had to have much more courage even than in many other countries, because they were regarded as enemies of nationalist patriotism, as then constructed, not only as defiers of the German occupying forces’ program of extermination. They were regarded here as “enemies of Lithuania” (or Latvia, or Estonia), and sympathizes of communism who could expect no mercy if found out either by the German authorities or the local Lithuanian forces.

In 2013, Defending History objected to the plan to name a street for Ona Šimaitė in the boondocks and pressed for her street to be right in the city center.

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Posted in CPJCE (London), Events, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory, Vilnius Mayor Remigijus Šimašius | Comments Off on Vilnius Names Street for Beloved Lithuanian Rescuer Ona Šimaitė

Ponár (Paneriai) Memorial: No Rabbi, No Cantor, No Kaddish



Ponár (Paneriai) Commemoration on Lithuania’s Annual Holocaust Day is Dejudaicized Even More in “Nationalist Takeover of Litvak Heritage”: No Rabbi, No Cantor, No Kaddish

But ethnic Lithuanian costume and song are featured at the mass grave of Vilna Jewry. Honor guard with bayoneted rifles was a questionable touch.

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Posted in Christian-Jewish Issues, Commemorations for Destroyed Communities, Events, Identity Theft of Litvak Heritage, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory, Ponár (Ponary, Paneriai) | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Ponár (Paneriai) Memorial: No Rabbi, No Cantor, No Kaddish

90th Anniversary Yivo Conference in Vilnius is Major Success



E V E N T S    /    O P I N I O N

VILNIUS—Despite the relatively modest number of participants in the hall, around fifty, the 90th Anniversary Conference of Yivo in Vilnius was unanimously judged to be a major success with Yiddish scholars and cultural leaders from Buenos Aires, New York, Tel Aviv and Vilnius reading papers in English, Lithuanian, and Yiddish. Four papers were in Yiddish (by Lea Garfinkel, Dovid Katz, Abraham Lichtenbaum and Mordehay Yushkovsky), representing a serious Yiddish-in-Yiddish component of an academic conference for the first time in years. Yiddish greetings were also delivered by Emanuelis Zingeris, parliamentarian and founder of the city’s Jewish museum. There were greetings from the Israeli ambassador and the Lithuanian parliament and foreign ministry.

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Posted in Events, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Yiddish Affairs, Yivo Manipulated? | Comments Off on 90th Anniversary Yivo Conference in Vilnius is Major Success

Delegates to Yivo Conference: Welcome to Vilnius!


ברוכיﬦ הביﬦ ﬡין וויﬥנע, דעלעגאַטן ויף דער ייוואָ קאָנפערענץ!

SVEIKI ATVYKĘ Į VILNIŲ, JIVO KONFERENCIJOS DELEGATAI!

WELCOME TO VILNIUS, DELEGATES TO THE YIVO CONFERENCE!

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Posted in Events, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Yiddish Affairs, Yivo Manipulated? | Comments Off on Delegates to Yivo Conference: Welcome to Vilnius!

Israel Faced Some Delicate Post-Holocaust Issues During Lithuanian PM’s September Visit



Efraim Zuroff asked in the Jerusalem Post that the Baltic state’s campaign to revise Holocaust history — and its plans to plonk a convention center in the middle of Vilna’s old Jewish cemetery — be on the table; Zuroff’s post-visit article in i24

INTERNATIONAL OPPOSITION TO “CONVENTION CENTER IN THE JEWISH CEMETERY”

PAPER TRAIL

ISRAEL PAGE

ISRAEL SECTION

7 SOLUTIONS

AFTER MEETING NETANYAHU, PRIME MINISTER BUTKEVICIUS GLOATED TO MEDIA THAT ISRAEL DOESN’T OBJECT TO THE “GRAVEYARD CONVENTION CENTER” DESPITE INTERNATIONAL OPPOSITION; JTA REPORT; IN THE JERUSALEM POST

CAMPAIGN AGAINST JEWISH PARTISANS NOT EVEN MENTIONED? Does Israel betray its own citizens by not asking apologies for the World War II heroes Yitzhak Arad, (the late) Rachel Margolis and  Joseph Melamed? Arad and Melamed are heroes of Israel’s 1948 war of independence.  Will there now be a public apology on the prosecutors’ page that still defames him [as PDF]  and from the “Human Rights Association”? Apologies to Israeli citizens Rachel Margolis and Joseph Melamed? The 2009 Leivick House (Tel Aviv) speech of the late Ambassador Chen Ivri Apter. What does Dr. Arad  think?

BUT PM DECRIED “DOUBLE GENOCIDE” IN PUBLIC (JP REPORT). HE WILL HOPEFULLY FOLLOW UP AT HOME ON STREET NAMES AND PUBLIC HONORS FOR HOLOCAUST PERPETRATORS [CURRENT DEBATE]; OVERDUE APOLOGIES TO JEWISH PARTISANS; RAPID REFORM OR ABOLITION OF GENOCIDE CENTER AND RED-BROWN COMMISSION — AND REPUDIATION OF THE PRAGUE DECLARATION.  NEO-NAZI PARADES ON INDEPENDENCE DAYS?

RECENT MEDIA:  Slate.  The Forward.  Jerusalem Post.  JTA.  Times of Israel.

Posted in Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Israel, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Politics of Memory | Comments Off on Israel Faced Some Delicate Post-Holocaust Issues During Lithuanian PM’s September Visit

A HAPPY AND HEALTHY NEW YEAR!



TO OUR JEWISH READERS EVERYWHERE ON THE OCCASION OF RÒSHESHÓNE (THE JEWISH NEW YEAR):

אַ גוטן געבענטשטן יאָר

און אַ גמר חתימה טובה

leshone toyve

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New Jewish Monument in Rokiškis (Rákeshik), Lithuania, Commemorates 3 Synagogues



E V E N T S   /   O P I N I O N

by Dovid Katz

For many years, international visitors to Rokiškis (in Yiddish: Rákishok, or less formally: Rákeshik), in northeastern Lithuania, have remarked that the town’s central area seemed to preserve little (or no) trace or commemoration of its erstwhile Jewish population, though a large monument now graces the entrance to the old Jewish cemetery outside town. Before the Holocaust, this town was home to around 3,500 Jews (some 40% of the total population, and the overwhelming majority in its central area). Luckily, a short film of pre-Holocaust Jewish Rákishok survives (from 1937), and is available on Youtube. Thanks to Polish film maker Tomek Wisniewski for circulating the link in recent days. 

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Posted in Christian-Jewish Issues, Commemorations for Destroyed Communities, Dovid Katz, Events, Exotic Jewish Tourism, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Opinion, Rákishok (Rokiškis), Symbology | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on New Jewish Monument in Rokiškis (Rákeshik), Lithuania, Commemorates 3 Synagogues

Lithuanian Post Office Honors Sugihara and Zwartendijk on 75th Anniversary of “Visas for Life”



KAUNAS—The Postal Service of Lithuania today launched two handsome commemorative envelopes in memory of two celebrated European consuls in Kaunas who helped thousands of Jews obtain visas that enabled them to leave Lithuania during the final year before the Nazi invasion and the Holocaust came to the country. The two, Chiune Sugihara (1900−1986) of Japan and Jan Zwartendijk (1896−1976) of the Netherlands risked their careers, and more,  to disobey instructions and the letter of the law to save those who came to them for help. These were primarily citizens of prewar Poland who found themselves in Lithuania in the summer of 1940, when the country was being absorbed into the USSR, and the consulates and embassies in Kaunas were under pressure to close down altogether.

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Posted in Christian-Jewish Issues, Events, Japan, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views | Comments Off on Lithuanian Post Office Honors Sugihara and Zwartendijk on 75th Anniversary of “Visas for Life”

Julius Berman Remembers Uri Chanoch



O B I T U A R I E S   /   L I T V A K   A F F A I R S

The following message following the death of  Uri Chanoch (1928-2015) was circulated this week by Julius Berman, president of the Claims Conference in New York.

I am heartbroken to share the news that Uri Chanoch, a dear friend and stalwart supporter of the Claims Conference, and a member of the board of directors and negotiating committee, passed away at his home in Israel on Tuesday night, September 1. I wrote Uri a note earlier this week and told him how much we appreciate and look forward to his exhortations at board meetings as he cried out from the heart about the continuing despicable conduct of certain European nations regarding restitution.

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Posted in Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Obituaries, Yiddish Affairs | Tagged , , | Comments Off on Julius Berman Remembers Uri Chanoch

Public Shrines to a Holocaust Collaborator and a “Secret” Petition: A Summer’s Strange Media Circus



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

In the midst of this past summer’s heatwave here in Lithuania, Delfi.lt, one of the most popular news portals in the land, exploded with discussions on commemorations and memorials for Nazi collaborators in our country. Rimvydas Valatka, a  columnist for the portal and  signatory of the Declaration of Independence, started it all with his article of 26 July. The “current events background” was the recent removal of the controversial Soviet-era statues of soldiers on Vilnius’s Green Bridge. Valatka, a veteran of Lithuanian journalism with the rarefied street-cred of a Declaration of Independence signatory, appealed for removal of the memorial plaque for Nazi collaborator Jonas Noreika (“Generolas Vėtra”) from a central Vilnius library building, and wrote about a petition for its removal signed by a group of intellectuals and public figures, and addressed to the mayor of Vilnius as well as to the director of the relevant library (Library of the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences), where the plaque hangs prominently in the heart of Lithuania’s capital.


The stone honoring Holocaust collaborator Jonas Noreika tops the lot on the facade of the Genocide Museum on Gedimino Boulevard in the Lithuanian capital, a stone’s throw from the nation’s parliament. When are we going to stop glorifying those who helped annihilate Lithuanian Jewry during the Holocaust? When is this going to come down?


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Posted in Debates on the Postwar "Forest Brothers", Evaldas Balčiūnas, Genocide Center (Vilnius), History, Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Media Watch, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory, State Glorification of Holocaust Collaborator J. Noreika | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on Public Shrines to a Holocaust Collaborator and a “Secret” Petition: A Summer’s Strange Media Circus

Summer 2015 Debate on Removing Vilnius Public Honors for Nazi Collaborators



Balčiūnas,  Gochin,  Kanovich,  and Valatka:  Asking for Vilnius to Take Down Plaques and Street Names that Honor Holocaust Collaborators

But petition to mayor from group of intellectuals stays “secret”

And some local media regards the discussion itself as “a Russian plot”…

SEE DEFENDING HISTORY PAGE AND SECTION ON HONORS FOR PERPETRATORS

Posted in Collaborators Glorified, Debates on the Postwar "Forest Brothers", Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory, State Glorification of Holocaust Collaborator J. Noreika | Comments Off on Summer 2015 Debate on Removing Vilnius Public Honors for Nazi Collaborators