O P I N I O N / R E P L Y / D E B A T E
by Janina Bucevičė (Telšiai)
I am submitting this reply in view of the article which for several weeks is being kept in the first page of Lithuanian Jewish Community website (www.lzb.lt/en/) “Instead of Truth about the Holocaust – Myths about Saving Jews” written by Pinchos Fridberg. In this article the author mentions the conference organized by me for teachers and students to commemorate the seventieth anniversary of Telšiai ghetto annihilation on the 12th of October, 2011. During the conference Jadvyga Stulpinaitė, who is a daughter of Jew rescuers, shared her memories about her parents and neighbors saving Jews in the Telšiai region and Žemaičių Kalvarija district.
This is well- known and properly documented story about the Stulpinai and Straupai families that together with the other good will people saved from the hell of the Holocaust not less than 25 Jews (information is available in the Vilna Gaon State Jewish Museum website: http://www.jmuseum.lt/index.aspx?Element=ViewArticle&TopicID=423 where the information about the exhibition “Rescued Lithuanian Jewish Child Tells about Shoah” is provided at: www.issigelbejesvaikas.lt). For their deeds Juozas and Bronislava Straupis (1981) and Boleslovas and Ona Stulpinas (1993) were awarded the title Righteous among the Nations by the Yad Vashem –World Center for Holocaust Research, Documentation, Education and Commemoration (the information is available on the official Yad Vashem website: http://www1.yadvashem.org/yv/en/righteous/pdf/virtial_wall/lithuania.pdf and in Vilna Gaon State Jewish Museum website: http://media.search.lt/GetFile.php?OID=242755&FID=709390, in the latter list the numbers of above mentioned Righteous among the Nations are as follows: 651, 652, 658, and 659).
For rescuing Jewish people during World War II from Nazi genocide, in the face of deadly danger for themselves and their families, the President of the Republic of Lithuania awarded Juozas Straupis and Bronislava Straupienė the Life Saving Cross (Decree No. 579 of 20 September 1999).
However Pinchos Fridberg in his article brings the assertive mind-boggling untruth: “With full responsibility I can assure you: this Lithuanian family did not exist. This is pure myth…”
The author of the present article is referring to Professor Pinchos Fridberg’s article that appeared in Operation Last Chance (Simon Wiesenthal Center); Defending History; the Algemeiner Journal; the website of the Jewish Community of Lithuania.
Note also that a version of the present article was already replied to by Professor Fridberg in his subsequent Defending History article that was published on 14 February 2013, itself an approved English translation of the Lithuanian original that appeared in this journal one day earlier.
It seems possible to explain author’s behavior by the lack of knowledge and competency, but he had phoned several times me and the rescuers’ daughter Jadvyga Stulpinaitė and the priest Andrej Sabaliauskas (who assisted me in organizing the conference in 2011) and had been asking for additional information. I am not able to understand the motives behind his behavior and eagerness to purposely spread untruths about the departed rescuers, proclaiming them non-existent. This way he tramples not only their honorable memory and selfless heroic deed, which is highly respected by fellow countrymen and shown as exemplary to our young generation, but also grimly insults saved victims of the Holocaust: if the rescuers didn’t exist consequently the victims didn’t exist as well. I think that such actions are intentionally aimed to make mischief in society and publicly to denigrate sincerely working people.
I do believe that obvious spreading of untruths should be considered not only as a matter of conscience of Pinchos Fridberg who is a member of Lithuanian Jewish Community. I hope that Lithuanian Jewish Community will review their website with the offensive article and publicly oppose the misstatement, and offer an apology to relatives for proclaiming the rescuers non-existent and to the saved victims of the Holocaust, and the other people who were insulted in this article.
The author is a history teacher at the Vincentas Borisevičius Gymnasium in Telšiai.