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.
There were well-received speeches by (among others) Jewish community chairperson Faina Kukliansky; MP Emanuelis Zingeris; survivor and partisan hero Fania Yocheles Brantsovsky; and president of Beit Vilna in Tel Aviv, Mickey Kantor. There was a well-organized laying of stones by schoolchildren at the main monument.
Israeli Ambassador Amir Maimon’s speech was considered a disappointment by some survivors in attendance. There was no mention of the recent death of Dr. Rachel Margolis (1921-2015), an Israeli-Lithuanian citizen, and Vilna Ghetto and anti-Nazi partisan hero. She discovered and published Kazimierz Sakowicz’s long lost eyewitness diary revealing the gruesome truth about Ponár. She dreamt of one last trip to her native Vilna but was intimidated by the prosecutors’ campaign of defamation against her and other Jewish partisan heroes. It was a sharp and painful contrast with the stirring and unforgettable words of the late Israeli ambassador to the Baltics, Chen Ivri Apter. Margolis’s life was considered worthy of note by, among many others, Lithuania’s late president, Algirdas Brazauskas, former UK prime minister Gordon Brown, the ADL’s Abraham Foxman, the late Sir Martin Gilbert, a British House of Lords member, and five members of the US Congress.