Monthly Archives: December 2017

Vilnius Jewish Community (VJC) Issues Historic Statement Calling for Free Democratic Elections for Lithuania’s Jews



DOCUMENTS  |  VILNIUS JEWISH LIFE  |  LITVAK AFFAIRS  |  DEMOCRACY  |  GOOD WILL FOUNDATION  |  HUMAN RIGHTS

VILNIUS—The Vilnius Jewish Community (VJC) today issued the following authoritative English language text of its statement following the Vilnius District Court’s decision of 21 December 2017 (earlier versions appeared in Lithuanian and Russian). The following is the text as it appeared today on the VJC’s Facebook page. Since the court ruling there have been media reports in Defending History, JTA, Times of Israel, Forward, and various other outlets.

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Take Note, Historians of Israeli Diplomacy: Betraying the Truth about the Holocaust is Not a Good Idea



OPINION  |  ISRAEL PAGE  |  ISRAEL SECTION   |  HONORING COLLABORATORS  |  LEGACY OF JOE MELAMED  |  LEGACY OF DOV LEVIN  |  FOREIGN MINISTRIES AND THE HOLOCAUST

by Dovid Katz (Vilnius)

VILNIUS—We had the painful responsibility last week to record the folly of the Israeli embassy in an East European country that would go out of its way to lend “Jewish legitimacy” to a lamentable decision of a national parliament to name the incoming year 2018 in honor of a man, who in addition to whatever acts of bravery as a resistance figure in the postwar Soviet period, was also a leader of an armed pro-Nazi militia in the early days of the Lithuanian Holocaust, in late June and early July of 1941. The primary achievement of these groups, many affiliated with the LAF (Lithuanian Activist Front) fascist “white-armbanders” was the unleashing of pillage, humiliation, harm and murder of their Jewish citizen neighbors. Make no mistake, the Soviets were fleeing, in June 1941, from Hitler’s invasion, the largest in human history, not from the local Jew-killers.

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Posted in Collaborators Glorified, Dovid Katz, Foreign Ministries: Holocaust Politics Abuse?, Israel, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Take Note, Historians of Israeli Diplomacy: Betraying the Truth about the Holocaust is Not a Good Idea

Vilnius District Court Nullifies LJC Head’s Spring 2017 Alleged “Kangaroo-Election Power Grab”



DOCUMENTS  |  VILNIUS JEWISH LIFE  |  LITVAK AFFAIRS  |  DEMOCRACY  |  GOOD WILL FOUNDATION  |  HUMAN RIGHTS

VILNIUS—In her ruling issued earlier today, Vilnius District Court Judge Rima Bražinskienė, following up on her crucial 29 May 2017 judgment, confirmed the illegality of last April’s mid-campaign rule change by the board of the “Lithuanian Jewish (Litvak) Community” which effectively disenfranchised the 2,200 members of the Vilnius Jewish community (as well as the Jewish people in the other. smaller communities) by replacing the long-standing proportional voting system with an oligarchic system giving one vote to each board member (most of whom have allegedly received professional, promotional or financial benefits from the funds of the “Good Will Foundation” that finances the community). As a result, the capacity of the Holocaust-remnant Jewish community of Lithuania to democratically choose its leadership was in one tragic fell swoop annulled in favor of a system that gave that authority to a roomful of wannabe-oligarchs, some of whom hold two or three votes each. The large corpus of protests include last summer’s letter from twenty of the elected members of the Vilnius Jewish Community’s council and a more recent article by Professor Josifas Parasonis.

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The court action asking for relief was brought by the Vilnius Jewish Community as plaintiff. Its 21 member council was elected last May 24th in the largest Jewish electoral assembly in Lithuania this century with meticulous voting open to all community members. Today’s ruling includes the text:

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Posted in Documents, Free Speech & Democracy, Human Rights, Lithuania, Lithuania's Jewish Community Issues, Litvak Affairs, Media Watch, News & Views | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Vilnius District Court Nullifies LJC Head’s Spring 2017 Alleged “Kangaroo-Election Power Grab”

Vilnius Authorities Dump 1000 Jewish Tombstone Fragments on the Wrong Cemetery



OPINION  |  OLD VILNA JEWISH CEMETERY  |  OPPOSITION TO CONVENTION CENTER PROJECT  |  PETITION   |  CHRISTIAN-JEWISH RELATIONS  |  CEMETERIES

by Sid Leiman

with photographs and input by Julius Norwilla

Not only the living turn to dust; the dead do so as well. So too the tombstones we erect in their memory. Some people merit having their tombstone stand for one generation; others merit having their tombstone stand for two generations. But in the end, it gradually sinks until it is swallowed up by the earth.

S. Y. Agnon, A City in Its Fullness

Abba-Menachem Kremerman

Abba-Menachem Kremerman, who died at 15 in Vilna in 1939. He was buried at the Zaretsha (Užupis) Jewish cemetery. For years now, his gravestone, along with many others, lay in a heap at a garden center. And now, in 2017 it was among a batch dumped by Vilnius municipal authorities on the site of a different Jewish cemetery, the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės), now reconceived as real estate for a national convention center. What’s going on?

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Posted in Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Christian-Jewish Issues, CPJCE (London), Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Opinion, Politics of Memory, Sid (Shnayer) Leiman, Vilnius Mayor Remigijus Šimašius | Comments Off on Vilnius Authorities Dump 1000 Jewish Tombstone Fragments on the Wrong Cemetery

Virtual Yiddish Mini-Museum of Jewish Life in Interwar Lithuania (Honoring Lithuania’s 100th)



מוזייעלע פון יידישן לעבן אין דער קאָוונער ליטע

Mažasis žydų gyvenimo tarpukario Lietuvoje muziejus

ESTABLISHED IN HONOR OF THE 2018 CENTENARY OF THE RISE OF INDEPENDENT, DEMOCRATIC LITHUANIA IN 1918

by Dovid Katz
See also: Yiddish Mini-Museum of Old Jewish Vilna

EXHIBITS TO DATE 

1919

Thumbnail of yidishe shtime 1919

The 28 October 1919 issue of Kaunas’s Zionist Yiddish daily Di Yídishe shtíme

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Clemens Heni Confronts the “Red-Brown Equalization Project” in Major Interview in “Frankfurter Rundschau”



MEDIA WATCH  |  GERMANY  |  ANTISEMITISM  |  DOUBLE GENOCIDE

Capture

BERLIN—In a groundbreaking interview with Dr. Clemens Heni, director of the Berlin International Center for the Study of Antisemitism (BICSA) in the leading German liberal daily Frankfurter Rundschau, Heni criticizes the ongoing comparison of Hitler and Stalin and the relativization of the Holocaust. He reminds readers, in the interview conducted by journalist Katja Thorwarth, what psychoanalyst Zvi Rix had to say about German reception of the Holocaust: “The Germans will never forgive the Jews for Auschwitz.”

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Two Perspicacious Comments in Today’s Issue of “The Weekly of Vilnius”



OPINION  |  MEDIA WATCH  |  FOREIGN MINISTRIES AND HOLOCAUST ISSUES  |  CHRISTIAN-JEWISH RELATIONS  |  VILNIUS JEWISH LIFE  |  ISRAEL PAGE  |  ISRAEL SECTION  |  COLLABORATORS GLORIFIED

 

VILNIUS—With the permission of the publishers of The Weekly of Vilnius, we are reproducing extracts of two comments from this week’s edition that covers Lithuanian news from 11 to 17 December 2017. The Weekly of Vilnius is sometimes considered to be this city’s most prestigious English-language news publication, famed for its editorial independence and capacity for presenting views that tend to be ignored in the nationalist and ultranationalist media that can be fixated with the “official line.” In the spirit of classic journalism, The Weekly of Vilnius has no online edition (there is an online description and Facebook page) and is available weekly by emailed PDF or hard copy to its elite circle of subscribers, known to include embassies, government agencies, captains of industry, politicians, academics,  libraries, and think tanks.

See also:  Does ambassador’s gesture “legitimize” naming of 2018 for an alleged collaborator?

First, on the subject of this week’s visit with flowers by the ambassador of Israel to the daughter and (successful) chief campaigner for 2018 to be named by the Lithuanian parliament for an alleged Holocaust collaborator (see Defending History‘s coverage), The Weekly of Vilnius highlights, accurately, we believe, the current Israeli embassy’s proclivity for implicitly claiming to act for “the interests of Lithuanian (or Litvak) Jewry” and to speak for “Lithuanian-Jewish relations” when in fact the (sometimes short-term) interests of the present Israeli government are (quite naturally) the determining factor. In fact, the embassy has arguably established a record of harming Lithuanian Jewish interests since it was opened in early 2015. Most shockingly, the Israeli Foreign Ministry seems to have “muscled in” even on restitution payments, deriving from the religious properties of the annihilated communities, now intended for the survival of the Lithuanian Jewish community. See the relevant entries in the grant items enumerated here and here.

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21st Century Lowpoint for Israeli Diplomacy? Ambassador Poses with Photos of Alleged Holocaust Collaborator



OPINION  |  ISRAEL PAGE  |  ISRAEL SECTION   |  HONORING COLLABORATORS  |  LEGACY OF JOE MELAMED  |  LEGACY OF DOV LEVIN  |  FOREIGN MINISTRIES AND THE HOLOCAUST

by Dovid Katz (Vilnius)

 

PHOTO: DELFI.LT

VILNIUS—Israel may have crossed a red line today when it was flaunted on the major News portal Delfi.lt here, both in Lithuanian and in English, that Israeli ambassador Amir Maimon had found the time this week to stage a demonstrative PR-photographed visit to the chief campaigner for the parliament’s decision less than one month ago to name 2018 in honor of Adolfas Ramanauskas — his daughter in Vilnius, Auksutė Ramanauskaitė-Skokauskienė, who is a prime icon of the ultranationalist camp that often glorifies various collaborators and participants in the Holocaust on the grounds that they were also anti-Soviet activists. The PR move came just after a major political commentator asked what Lithuania is getting in return for its staunch political support for the Netanyahu government.

UPDATES TO THIS ARTICLE: WEEKLY OF VILNIUS COMMENTARY; AMBASSADOR’S BETRAYAL OF HOLOCAUST HISTORY A FIASCO AS LITHUANIA VOTES ANYWAY AGAINST U.S. DECISION TO MOVE ITS EMBASSY (PARTING WITH NEIGHBORING LATVIA)

One of the PR photos released shows the ambassador posing underneath adulatory photos of the 1941 pro-Nazi militiaman (from various other periods in his life). Of course Lithuania has a vast number of inspirational historical heroes, including many anti-Soviet heroes, who were not Holocaust collaborators, and state decisions to honor collaborators cause untold pain to survivors, their families, and the remnant Jewish communities in Eastern Europe. They all send a message that becomes part of the history-revision campaign to downgrade the Holocaust in the context of “Double Genocide” revisionism.

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Posted in Collaborators Glorified, Dovid Katz, Foreign Ministries: Holocaust Politics Abuse?, Human Rights, Israel, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on 21st Century Lowpoint for Israeli Diplomacy? Ambassador Poses with Photos of Alleged Holocaust Collaborator

Kūrybos tikslas — gyvybė, o vaisius — ramybė



VILNIAUS SENOSIOS ŽYDŲ (PIRAMONTO) KAPINĖS  |  OLD VILNA JEWISH CEMETERY  |  OPPOSITION TO CONVENTION CENTER PROJECT  |  PETITION   |  CHRISTIAN-JEWISH RELATIONS  |  CEMETERIES

Andrius Kulikauskas (Vilniaus Gedimino technikos universitetas)

Mokslinis pranešimas skaitytas Lietuvos kultūros tyrimo institute,  prof. Antano Andrijausko rengtoje konferencijoje Dabartinių estetikos ir meno filosofijos diskursų kaita, balandžio mėn. 29 d., 2017 m.

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US Government Commission’s Herbert Block Visits Defending History Team in Vilnius, Pledges Support for Moving Convention Center Project Away from Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery



THE PETITION  |  THE OLD VILNA CEMETERY  |  INTERNATIONAL OPPOSITION TO CONVENTION CENTER ON THE CEMETERY  |  IN LITHUANIAN  |  HUMAN RIGHTS

VILNIUS—Herbert Block, a veteran member of the American government’s Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad, and chair of its committee on the old Vilnius Jewish cemetery, visited yesterday and today for two sessions with staff of the Defending History team here in the Lithuanian capital. Mr. Block is a well-known and beloved figure for the Lithuanian Jewish community, with whom he worked closely for many years (1999 to 2015), during his tenure as Assistant Executive Vice President of the Joint Distribution Committee (JDC or “Joint”), where his work included coordinating successful efforts to achieve restitution that could enable the Jewish community’s survival for generations to come. At present, he is executive director of the American Zionist Movement (AZM). Previously Mr. Block served as Assistant Director for Intergovernmental and Public Affairs for the New York City Independent Budget Office (1996-1999) and was Deputy Director for Intergovernmental Relations at the federal Corporation for National and Community Service in  1994-1995.  He was Assistant to the Mayor of the City of New York from 1990 to 1993 and Special Assistant to the Manhattan Borough President from 1986 to 1989. For years he has been a member of the World Jewish Restitution Organization (WJRO) with specialization in the Baltic region and Poland.

Herb Block explained how hard he has been working behind the scenes to ensure the cemetery’s preservation, and pledged his firm personal commitment to work resolutely for the convention center project to be moved to another venue in town — away from Vilna’s Old Jewish Cemetery. 

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Posted in Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Lithuania, Lithuanian Adventures of the Hon. Herbert Block (AK, AZM, (LG)CJH, CPJCE, GWF, USCPAHA, SATMAR/“AARON BRANCH", WJRO), Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), US Commission for Preservation of the American Heritage Abroad | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on US Government Commission’s Herbert Block Visits Defending History Team in Vilnius, Pledges Support for Moving Convention Center Project Away from Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery

Lithuania’s Ambassador in Washington Tells Audience of Ruta Vanagaite’s “Russian Connection”



EVENTS  |  COLLABORATORS GLORIFIED  |  BOOKS    | PIRAMÓNT CEMETERY  |  LITHUANIA

by Josh Cohen (Washington DC)

As anyone who has been following events in Lithuania for the last several years surely knows by now, the country sports street names and monuments honoring locals who collaborated with the Nazis during World War Two. It was in this context that I attended an event in Washington, DC yesterday at the Wilson Center’s Kennan Institute discussing Ruta Vanagaite’s controversial book “Our People” (it appeared in Lithuanian in 2016) that blows open the door describing the true extent of Lithuanian collaboration in the Holocaust. Vanagaite and her co-author Efraim Zuroff , director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Israel Office, spoke at the event.

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Posted in Books, Collaborators Glorified, Events, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Opinion, Politics of Memory, United States | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Lithuania’s Ambassador in Washington Tells Audience of Ruta Vanagaite’s “Russian Connection”

Sad Error of Naming 2018 for Someone who “Just” Led a Pro-Nazi “Partisan Squad” in Lithuania in June and July of 1941



OPINION  |  GLORIFICATION OF COLLABORATORS  |  POLITICS OF MEMORY

by Evaldas Balčiūnas

The national scandal unleashed by the Lithuanian Rūta Vanagaitė and the Jewish Efraim Zuroff via their statements about Adolfas Ramanauskas-Vanagas, is gradually losing momentum. The Seimas (parliament) went right ahead and declared the incoming year, 2018, to be The Year of Ramanauskas-Vanagas. That is sad. Three years ago, I wrote about this person’s activities in Druskininkai in 1941. Society back then was silent about it. It was only the desire of some politicians to glorify this personage that led to the aforementioned Lithuanian and Jewish commentators to talk about him. They spoke loudly and an antisemitic bubble burst. Vanagaitė’s statement had some inaccuracies. The very statement was taken as an insult by the mainstream. Public details about Zuroff’s statement were scarce. My 2014 article was among those details.

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Posted in Collaborators Glorified, Evaldas Balčiūnas, History, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on Sad Error of Naming 2018 for Someone who “Just” Led a Pro-Nazi “Partisan Squad” in Lithuania in June and July of 1941

The Extraordinary Recent History of Holocaust Studies in Lithuania



OPINION  |  HISTORY  |  LITHUANIA’S STATE COMMISSION ON NAZI AND SOVIET CRIMES   |  LITVAK AFFAIRS

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.

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PEN America Protests Ban and Proposed Pulping of Ruta Vanagaite’s Books in Lithuania, Including Book on the Holocaust



FREE SPEECH  |  HUMAN RIGHTS  |  POLITICS OF MEMORY  |  COLLABORATORS GLORIFIED

PEN America released this statement on its website today:

NEW YORK—The decision by the Alma Littera publishing house to cut all ties with their author Ruta Vanagaite, and to remove remaining copies of all of her five books from circulation and pulp them, is a troubling overreaction and should be reconsidered, said PEN America today.

The publisher’s decision to remove and destroy all of Vanagaite’s books was a response to her recent criticism of Adolfas Ramanauskas, a Lithuanian nationalist widely perceived as a hero. Vanagaite previously touched on sensitive historical issues in her most recent book, Mūsiškiai (Our People), published in Lithuania in 2016, which discusses the role of Lithuanian nationalists and freedom fighters in the persecution of Jewish Lithuanians and the Holocaust during World War II. Lithuania still denies their role in WWII and the Lithuanian authorities claimed that the book jeopardized national security. The destruction and removal of Vanagaite’s books demonstrates the tight borders of what is acceptable criticism of a national hero in Lithuania. Since the publication of the book, Vanagaite has received threats, which have escalated in recent weeks; a suit against her for slander and denigration of a deceased person has also been filed with the prosecutor by a patriotic group (the prosecutor has declined to take up the case, finding no evidence of malicious intent).

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Posted in Free Speech & Democracy, Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Politics of Memory, Rūta Vanagaitė, United States | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off on PEN America Protests Ban and Proposed Pulping of Ruta Vanagaite’s Books in Lithuania, Including Book on the Holocaust