Tag Archives: Leonidas Donskis
by Defending History Staff
The well-organized conference “Antisemitism, Radicalization and Violent Extremism” was held on 30 September 2015 at Vilnius’s Novotel Hotel by the Human Rights Monitoring Institute (HMRI) with partners (see program). It will go down in history as one of the most remarkable capers yet in the fraught local “Dead Jew Business,” as it is increasingly becoming known. The biggest shock of the day was that one of the three keynote morning session speakers was Swedish-born Lithuania-resident filmmaker Jonas Ohman, known in town for his (far right style) glorification of postwar resistance fighters — one of the most painful issues of Baltic antisemitism in the twenty-first century — without the slightest mention of the alleged Holocaust perpetrator background of the precise figures glorified.
But the film maker chosen for the morning session manages at the same time to also be a (far left style) Israel baiter, whose current “humanitarian project” is a petition asking the mayor of Vilnius to sack a Jewish (Israeli-Lithuanian) advisor on the basis of social media “silly photos” that become bacteriologically antisemitic when recycled in his own petition, and beyond, in its recontextualized, politically charged incarnation. Far from doing the same to counter officials and advisors with neo-Nazi links, he boasted in his talk (amateur video) of his links to Right Sector and other Ukrainian groups that adulate wartime Holocaust perpetrators. When he was trashing Israel, the Israeli ambassador to Lithuania, Amir Maimon, sitting in the hall, boldly called out a question: “Are you rewriting the history?” (at time code 13:31).
Высшая арифметика истории Холокоста в Литве
The renowned philosopher and current Liberal MEP representing Lithuania, Professor Leonidas Donskis, has spoken out again on the interrelationships between current antisemitism and Double Genocide discourse, and on the enormous credit due Lithuanian authors who dare confront the historic truth. The following article appeared in the print edition of The Baltic Times on 29 August 2013. Daiva Čepauskaitė’s 2011 play, Day and Night, referred to in the article, was reviewed in Defending History in December 2011. See also our Bold Citizens page.
O P I N I O N
The run-up to next week’s controversial Lithuanian-government sponsored conference on Lithuanian Jewish issues in London, which is sowing enough confusion as it is, was put into further disarray as it emerged that an email received by hundreds of people (from various forwarders) is apparently part of a curious hoax. The only discernible purpose seemed to be bring discord into the fragile ranks of the surviving Litvak camp by spreading a set of “symmetrical” false rumors.
Some of the emails were identified as originally coming from an official of an NGO, “Maceva” that is dedicated to the laudable cause of maintaining Lithuanian Jewish graveyards, but it is increasingly thought that this shocking attribution could well be part of the hoaxter’s agenda, and that an unambiguous denial — or apology —will be forthcoming from Maceva’s board of directors at the earliest possible opportunity.
The major two — actually three — pieces of disinformation being disseminated are:
Each author is exclusively responsible for his or her signed contribution.
O P I N I O N
by Dovid Katz
This is a slightly edited reprint of the comment posted today in reply to the article “Lithuania under the Nazis: Hero or Villain?” on the Economist’s online “Eastern Approaches” section, at: http://www.economist.com/comment/1472788#comment-1472788.
Many thanks to the Economist and its online Eastern Approaches section for highlighting this important issue that so many others have just swept under the rug. But frankly speaking, it does our Lithuanian friends no good to slant each report in the direction of sophisticated apologetics for the Lithuanian (and other regional) governments’ tragic veering to the far right on issues of historic integrity, human rights, freedom of speech, antisemitism, racism, gay rights, and perhaps above all, state-sponsored adulation of local Nazi war criminals and collaborators, and actual local mass murderers of the region’s Jewish population. It was, alas, a level of participation that resulted in the Baltics having the highest percentage of murder of its Jewish population in Holocaust-era Europe.
O P I N I O N
by Leonidas Donskis
The ceremonial reburial of the head of the Lithuanian Provisional Government (PG), Juozas Ambrazevičius-Brazaitis, which recently took place, and the tension and details associated with it, said more about Lithuania today than all the news and commentary over the past twenty years put together.
MEP Leonidas Donskis’s letter, in reply to Krystyna Anna Steiger, author of the international petition against the VMU event, was released today by the MEP for immediate publication in DefendingHistory.com (more background here).
The full text is as follows:
A number of citizens of Lithuania from diverse backgrounds have spoken out against antisemitism, racism, and Holocaust Obfuscation. See the Defending History sections dedicated to the authors Vytenis Povilas Andriukaitis, Kristina Apanavičiūtė Sulikienė, Evaldas Balčiūnas, Aleksandras Bosas, Milan Chersonski, Algis Davidavičius, Leonidas Donskis, Pinchos Fridberg, Vilma Fiokla Kiurė, Regina Kopilevich, Andrius Kulikauskas, Fausta and Michael Maass, Julius Norwilla, Jacob Piliansky, Kamilė Rupeikaitė, Geoff Vasil (Vasiliauskas), Nida Vasiliauskaitė, Tomas Venclova, Lina Žigelytė and others.
Lithuanian film directors are at the forefront of producing bold new documentaries. See recent works by Saulius Beržinis and Alicija Žukauskaitė.
FIRST-WEEK RESCUERS PAGE (JUST GETTING STARTED — CONTRIBUTIONS WELCOME)
The following is a selection. There are many more citizens of Lithuania who have stood up with courage.
18 December 2015. Defending History: ‘Documents which argue for ethnic cleansing (by Kazys Škirpa, Stasys Raštikis, Stasys Lozoraitis and Petras Klimas in 1940-1941 and by Birutė Teresė Burauskaitė in 2015)’ by Andrius Kulikauskas.
10 November 2015. Lithuanian Jewish Community: ‘Litvak youth protest honoring of General Vetra in Vilnius’ [extracts in English from the full 9 Nov. article in Lithuanian in 15min.lt by Paulius Gritenis].
4 October 2015. Defending History: ‘Police prevent Kaunas Jewish guide Chaim Bargman from attending annual memorial for the annihilated Jews of Ukmergė (Vilkomir)’ [introducing video interview of Chaim Bargman in Yiddish].
20 April 2015. Defending History [courtesy of International Conference on Holocaust Education]: ‘Lithuanians and Jews: What’s changed and what hasn’t over the last forty years?’ by Tomas Venclova. In Delfi.lt (24 April 2015).
19 March 2015. Mi Zdes: Correspondence between Vilnius Holocaust survivor Pinchos Fridberg and Yico director Jonathan Brent in Russian translation. In English (in DH); reprint in Operation Last Chance (Simon Wiesenthal Center). In Yiddish.
19 February 2015. Defending History: ‘February 16th 2015 in Kaunas…’ by Evaldas Balčiūnas.
4 February 2015. Defending History: ‘The Nazis are just nuts’ by Geoff Vasil.
16 November 2014. Defending History: ‘Which issues did the exhibit neglect to cover? [Review of a 2014 exhibition “Lithuanian Jews behind the Iron Curtain” at the Vilna Gaon Jewish State Museum]‘ by Milan Chersonski.
11 November 2014. Defending History: ‘Meilach Stalevich (1923 — 2014)’ by Dovid Katz.
8 November 2014. LatvianNews.lv: ‘Herberts Cukrus. A criminal. Just a criminal’.
17 August 2014. Defending History: ‘Vilnius daily’s report on the Dyukov affair’.
3 March 2014. Pinchos Fridberg’s Youtube: ‘Lakhn iz gezunt’ by Pinchos Fridberg [in Yiddish]. Reaction to a comment posted at Olga Zabludoff’s 13 February 2014 op-ed in the Algemeiner Journal.
23 February 2014. Defending History: Prof. Pinchos Fridberg’s sound file ‘Lakhn iz gezunt’ (in Yiddish) in response to R. Račinskas’s comment to Olga Zabludoff’s 13 February 2014 article in the Algemeiner Journal. Background here and here.
11 February 2014. Tablet: ‘A comment from Professor Pinchos Fridberg, Vilnius’. Reprint in DefendingHistory.com.
10 February 2014. Antifa.lt: Antifa.lt announces its 16 February 2014 protest against neo-Nazi march in central Kaunas; On Facebook.
21 January 2014. JosephLevinson.com: Joseph Levinson website launched.
17 January 2014. DefendingHistory.com: ‘Forget me knot’ by Geoff Vasil (Vailiauskas).
24 December 2013. DefendingHistory.com: ‘A Love Story’ by Pinchos Fridberg.
25 September 2013: DefendingHistory.com: ‘Inclusion and occlusion. A review ofthe Prague Platform’s travelling exhibition “Totalitarianism in Europe” (currently on show at Tuskulenai Peace Park in Vilnius, Lithuania)’ by Geoff Vasil (Vasiliauskas).
25 September 2013: DefendingHistory.com: ‘Chersonski replies to Aleksandravičius on the 2012 Kaunas reburial with full honors of 1941 Nazi puppet prime minister’ by Milan Chersonski [in Russian; English translation forthcoming].
29 August 2013. The Baltic Times: ‘How memory prevails’ by Leonidas Donskis.
23 June 2013. Around ten young anti-fascists from Antifa Lietuva stage a march in Kaunas protesting the glorification of the Lithuanian Activist Front who unleashed murder upon local Jewish populations on this date in 1941 in dozens of locations. Milan Chersonski reports from Kaunas. More on Antifa.lt and Facebook. The banner carried translates: ‘Real heroes rescued people instead of killing them. Remember the victims of the Holocaust’.
22 April 2013. Jerusalem Report: ‘Lithuania’s deceit’ by Bernard Dichek [see interviews with Fania Brantsovsky and Milda Jakulytė-Vasil].
15 March 2013. DefendingHistory.com: ‘Believe it or not: Lithuanian parliament honors organizers of neo-Nazi march in central Vilnius’ [with full translation of Dovydas Pancerovas’s courageous article].
11 March 2013. DefendingHistory.com: ‘3,000 participants in “unauthorized” neo-Nazi march in central Vilnius on 2013 independence day’ by Anna Shepherd [with reports on the courageous groups of Lithuanian citizens who turned out to oppose the neo-Nazi march in central Vilnius].
2 March 2013. DefendingHistory.com: ‘Letter to the editor’ by Pinchos Fridberg [with two sound files of MP Emanuelis Zingeris at the November 2012 Seimas conference on ‘United Europe — United History’].
14 February 2013. DefendingHistory.com: ‘Righteous among the nations: Zháger (Žagarė).
14 February 2013. The Baltic Times: ‘Lithuanian PM is against instigation of ethnic hatred’.
8 February 2013. VilNews.com: ‘A poem about the witches among us’ by K.R. Slade.
• Eight Lithuanian parliamentarians (six MPs and two MEPs) courageously sign the Seventy Years Declaration. They are rapidly attacked by the foreign minister, and defended by UK MP Denis MacShane, who wrote to each. The New York Times reports. Jewish Chronicle. Algemeiner Journal. MP Vytenis Povilas Andriukaitis (now minister of health) replied powerfully. So did UK MP and author Denis MacShane. Andres Spokoiny’s tribute to MP Andriukaitis.
• Hundreds of Lithuanian citizens of all backgrounds, resident in Lithuania and in a dozen countries, courageously sign Olga Zabludoff’s petition asking the Lithuanian government to ban the neo-Nazi march from the central boulevard of Lithuania’s beautiful capital Vilnius on its proud independence day of March 11th.
• Many Lithuanian citizens, resident in Lithuania and elsewhere, courageously sign Krystyna Anna Steiger’s petition. It started as a petition asking Vytatyas Magnus University to cancel events honoring the 1941 Nazi puppet prime minister. Upon achievement of that goal it shifted to asking the government to cancel its reburial ceremonies. Following the reburial, it evolved to the current petition asking the government to remove memorials to Nazi collaborators on public property.
• Eight of the nine demonstrators who picketed the opening of a racist-homophobe’s art exhibition at Vilnius University on 27 September 2012 are Lithuanian citizens. Details here.
• Among the major bold and courageous contributions to the debate by Lithuanian personalities in 2012: Vytenis Povilas Andriukaitis 1, 2, 3, 4; V.T. Andriukaitis & A. Sysas; Saulius Beržinis; Algis Davidavičius; Leonidas Donskis 1, 2; Darius Udrys, Alicija Žukauskaitė.
25 September 2012. Delfi.lt: ‘Parodos detektyvas VU: žydai pasipiktino dailininku, kairieji organizuoja protestą, universitetas sutrikęs’ [‘A detective story about an exhibit at Vilnius University: Jews upset by artist, leftists organize protest, university in disarray] by Eglė Samoškaitė.
18 July 2012. DefendingHistory.com: ‘Why was a Lithuanian Holocaust perpetrator who also murdered Belarusians given atate honors? Open letter to the Lithuanian Ambassador to Belarus’ by Evaldas Balčiūnas.
17 May 2012. VilNews.com: ‘Juozas Ambrazevičius-Brazaitis is no hero’ by Darius Udrys. Republished in 15min.lt. Republished in the Lithuania Tribune.
17 May 2012. DefendingHistory.com: ‘International Christian Assembly Directors in Lithuania Speak Out on the Glorification of Ambrazevičius-Brazaitis’ [with full text of statement by Michael and Fausta Maass].
12 April 2012. DefendingHistory.com: ‘MP Vytenis Andriukaitis: Open letter to Genocide Center’s “chief specialist” Ričardas Čekutis’ by Vytenis Povilas Andriukaitis. [= authorized English translation of 5 April 2012 Balsas.lt article]
11 February 2012. DefendingHistory.com: ‘Lithuanian parliamentarian Vytenis Andriukaitis, signatory of 70 Years Declaration, replies to foreign minister, cites “moustache” remark and the implications of ‘double genocide”‘. [An authorized translation of the Lithuanian article by Vytenis Andriukaitis that appeared on Delfi.lt on 9 February 2012]
22 January 2012. DefendingHistory.com: ‘Lithuanian foreign minister berates his country’s parliamentarians who signed “70 Years Declaration”; Says Hitler = Stalin except for length of their moustaches’. Republished on Operation Last Chance.
20 January 2012. DefendingHistory.com: ‘The Seventy Years Declaration on the anniversary of the final solution conference at Wannsee’ [including eight Lithuanian signatories].
Milan Chersonski, ‘Jewish Museum renewed Holocaust exhibition’ by Milan Chersonski in Jerusalem of Lithuania [English edition appeared on 18 February 2011; edition of the publication dated July-Sept 2010].
Valentinas Mitė, ‘The murder of Jews in Lithuania. A pigsty and the Holocaust’ in Jerusalem of Lithuania [English translation appeared on 18 February 2011, edition of the publication dated July-Sept 2010].
[Shimon Alperovich (Simonas Alperavičius)], public statement on projects to glorify the 1941 collaborationist Provisional Government of Lithuania. English translation by Geoff Vasil. 7 September 2010.
Algirdas Paleckis, ‘The legacy of fascists and fascism in Lithuania’, paper delivered at the World Without Nazism Conference, Kiev, 21 June 2010.
Lithuanian National Youth Association presents a ‘doll of fascism’ to Henrikas Mickevicius, director of the Human Rights Monitoring Institute, to ‘help’ him frighten others about the dangers of fascism, 1 April 2009.
Dr Efraim Zuroff, director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Israel Office, pays tribute to citizens who assisted Operation Last Chance, in his Operation Last Chance, pp 156-160(see Recent Books → 2009 → Zuroff).
The prime minister of Lithuania, Algirdas Brazauskas, awards Dr Rachel Margolis a certificate of appreciation for her contribution to the liberation of Lithuania as an anti-Nazi resistance fighter (8 May 2005).
Alfredas Bumblauskas, ‘Issues in the history of Lithuanian-Jewish relations in the context of historiographical paradigms’ [‘Lietuviu-Zydu santykiu istorijos problema istoriografiniu paradigmu kontekste’] in Kulturos barai 12, pp 49-55.
Rūta Puišytė, ‘The Holocaust in Jurbarkas’, BA thesis supervised by Professor Meir Shub at Vilnius University; prefaces by Professor Meir Shub and Professor Dov Levin; translated into English by Joseph Rosin.
The eminent Lithuanian scholar and poet Tomas Venclova (Yale University) published the first Lithuanian version of his valiant essay, ‘Jews and Lithuanians’ in the samizdat journal Tarbut in 1975. The standard English version appears in his Forms of Hope.
Dr. Jonas Basanavičius (1851-1927), a principal founder of the Lithuanian revival of modern times, and editor of the first newspaper in the language, wrote this letter in 1924 to a Jewish newspaper, upon hearing of plans to ban Yiddish signs in public places. The English translation is followed by a facsimile of the original Lithuanian letter, taken from M. Sudarski’s Líte (New York 1951), p. 143. A facsimile of the page is available here.
“Having learned from Mr. Katsenelenbogen that certain district leaders are banning the public use of the Yiddish language on signs, and thereby violating the sense of justice of the Yiddish speaking citizens of Lithuania, I would like — though it be a cry in the wilderness — to defend their language on the basis of equality, and to advise the organs of government to stop persecuting, pettily, the language of loyal residents, and to stop making them feel aggrieved by the Lithuanian government.”
- Dr. J. Basanavičius
- Palanga, 12 August 1924
This essay first appeared in Transitions on Line on 10 October 2008, with the following editor’s note: “Lithuanian authorities in late September closed their two-year investigation into the wartime partisan activities of Yitzhak Arad, a Lithuanian-born Israeli historian and a former head of the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial, reportedly on the urging of the European Union and the United States. Prosecutors said there was insufficient evidence to link Arad to possible war crimes committed by Soviet partisans during a 1944 fight with German forces that left many Lithuanian civilians dead. The authorities are still considering whether to put two Lithuanian Jewish women, Fania Brantsovskaya (Brantsovsky) and Rachel Margolis, on the witness stand in connection with the killings.”
It is republished here with Professor Donskis’s permission. For a history of the issue, see our page on the subject of Holocaust survivors defamed by prosecutors.
A disturbing tendency has recently appeared in Lithuania. In the words of the eminent scholar of Yiddish Dovid Katz, this tendency may best be described as the “Holocaust Obfuscation movement.” Its essence lies in subversion of the logic and evidence of the Holocaust, whitewashing or at least selectively reading the history of the Second World War and drastically shifting the roles of victims and evil-doers.
O P I N I O N
by Leonidas Donskis
This English version of the essay (the original Lithuanian text appeared in Lietuvos aidas, 28 November 2008) first appeared in the English edition of Jerusalem of Lithuania (Oct-Dec 2008, PDF here) and is republished here with the author’s and editor’s permission.
I have already written that we live in a period of not only monetary inflation, but of concept and value inflation as well. In our time oaths have become worthless, while formerly a person who broke one lost not only all of his own power, but the capacity to represent his values and to participate in the public sphere as well. Nothing, other than his own person and his private life, remained. He no longer had the right to speak on behalf of either his group, his nation, or his society.