WHAT IS IT ALL ABOUT?
THE LITVAK GUIDE
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- ♦ Three Yiddish institutions in Vilnius…
- ♦ New section on the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery and its fate
- ♦ Michael Shafir on Holocaust deflection and obfuscation in Hungary (and beyond)
- ♦ Litvak Links page relaunched
- ♦ Nationalist critique in Vilnius on Rūta Vanagaitė’s Holocaust remembrance project
- — Lithuania Tribune (Eng. Delfi) report
- ♦ Debate over plans for congress and entertainment hall on Vilna’s Old Jewish Cemetery site
- — New Lithuanian gov. commission to preserve Jewish heritage
- ♦ Will Yiddish poetry serve Neocon politics at SLS?
- ♦ Geoff Vasil reviews Lithuanian TV show with viewers’ votes on whether “the Jews should return”…
- ♦ VIDEO: Would a nation’s president and its one Jewish MP honor Holocaust-era fascist police volunteers alongside Shoah victims?
- ♦ Josh Cohen has advice for Ukraine in Foreign Policy magazine
- ♦ Rachel Kostanian speaks out on integrity and future of Holocaust commemoration in Lithuania
- ♦ Vilna Holocaust survivor writes to head of NY Yivo about Red-Brown Commission; director replies
- ♦ Andrius Kulikauskas explores the role of Lithuania’s 1941 leaders in the Holocaust
- ♦ Hungarian Holocaust museum leaves out “C word” (collaboration)
- ♦ Poets rise to the occasion
- ♦ USA page
- ♦ Aleksandras Bosas (1951—2014), valiant poet
- ♦ Strange tale of Yiddish, Vilnius, the WJC and ORT
- ♦ Hungary
- ♦ Latvia
- ♦ Ukraine
- ♦ Free Speech
- ♦ Film and video
- ♦ Books in the debate
- ♦ New section: Lithuanian citizens speak out with courage
- ♦ New section: Christian-Jewish Relations
- ♦ New section: Obituaries
- ♦ Free speech in Paris? Efraim Zuroff slams Latvian veto of UNESCO Holocaust exhibit in French capital
- ♦ One-sided coverage in Canada of Ukraine’s far right?
- ♦ Auschwitz debates rage on
- ♦ Czech president decries Ukraine’s choice of World War II fascists as “national heroes”
- ♦ Wiesenthal Center protests event featuring Genocide Center maestro at a Jewish memorial event
The Years and The Sites
Far & Wide
- ♦ View by Country
- ♦ US
- ♦ UK
- ♦ EU
- ♦ Hungary
- ♦ Ukraine
- ♦ The Baltics: Efraim Zuroff in JP
- ♦ Lithuania: Shimon Alperovich (1928-2014)
Survivors & Memory
- ♦ Dobke Yonis of Zezmer dies in Vilnius at 102
- ♦ What brings Anatoly to Vilnius from faraway Brest
- ♦ Zoya’s death leaves husband Meishke the last Jew in Svintsyán
- ♦ The bottle that waited in the attic 70 years to remind us of its unknown owner
- ♦ Meilach Stalevich turns 90
- ♦ Vilnius Holocaust survivor Pinchos Fridberg will not remain silent at distortion of history
- ♦ Nor will Shavl survivor Rachel Kostanian, former director of the Green House Holocaust exhibit
- ♦ Nor will flight survivor Milan Chersonski, former editor of Jewish community’s “Jerusalem of Lithuania”
- ♦ Survivors in Israel say no to abuse of Sutzkever’s legacy
- ♦ More from Holocaust survivors
- ♦ Survivor, resistance hero, scholar: Yitzhak Arad unravels the obfuscation of history
- ♦ Petitions by 2nd gen survivor Monica Lowenberg
- ♦ Let’s celebrate the bold Lithuanian citizens who speak up with courage
The Baltic Holocaust
Battle of Ideas
- • Bernard Dichek on the unfolding debate
- • Vytenis Andriukaitis on the freedom of history
- • Yitzhak Arad on Holocaust Obfuscation
- • Disagreeing with Snyder’s “Bloodlands”
- • Danny Ben-Moshe on Double Genocide
- • Leonidas Donskis on honoring of collaborators
- • Dovid Katz on three definitions
- • Monica Lowenberg on UK policy
- • Efraim Zuroff on Israeli policy
Tag Archives: Pinchos Fridberg
Vilnius Jewish Community Releases Letter Signed by 20 Elected Board Members Addressed to “Good Will Foundation”
VILNIUS—One month ago, on 7 July 2017, twenty of the twenty-one elected board members of the Vilnius Jewish Community (the 21st was abroad) signed a full-hearted letter addressed to the Good Will Foundation, the Lithuanian government restitution fund for Jewish community survival deriving from part of the value of the communal properties owned by the annihilated religious Jewish communities of prewar Lithuania. To this date, there has been no reply from the Good Will Foundation, nor any statement from its esteemed foreign board members who represent the World Jewish Restitution Organization. The board’s co-chair is Andrew Baker of the American Jewish Committee, who is a recipient of a number of Lithuanian government medals over the years.
Appeal to the conscience of the members of the renewed state-financed “International Commission for the Evaluation of the Crimes of the Nazi and Soviet Occupation Regimes in Lithuania”
O P I N I O N
Editor’s note: Reprint from The Times of Israel, where this article, with several photographs, appeared on 25 June 2016.
I am a Holocaust survivor. I was born here in Vilnius (Yiddish: Vílne), today’s capital of Lithuania, known forever as the “Jerusalem of Lithuania” for its vibrant Jewish culture, religious and secular, for hundreds of years. Today our post-Holocaust Jewish community is a tiny remnant, just a few thousand people, but we are vibrant, and, as always, a community of many opinions. Once again, a question has arisen that calls for robust discourse.
A Protestant Pastor in Vilnius Speaks Out About Church Steps Still Made of Pilfered Jewish Gravestones
O P I N I O N
“And Rachel died and was buried on the road to Ephrath—the same is Beth-lehem. And Jacob set up a gravestone upon her grave, it is the Tomb of Rachel unto this very day.”
(Genesis 35, 19-20)
Back in 1989 I had become a minister in our Reformed Evangelical Church here in Vilnius. The end of the 1980s in Lithuania had been a particularly pivotal period for church-state relations. The government changed its policy radically. There was a liberalization of religious activities and along with religious revivals came the idea of restitution of church properties that had been nationalized under the communist policies of the Soviet state. In order to bring to realization that idea, and to speed the process of restitution, we as reformed protestants organized a number of open air meetings and worship services on the street in front of historical church buildings in Vilnius and Kaunas, Lithuania’s two major cities.
Editor’s note: The following is a translation of the open letter by Professor Pinchos Fridberg, a Holocaust survivor in Vilnius, and the reply by Yivo’s director, Dr. Jonathan Brent. Both were published in the Yiddish Forward (Forverts) on 1 March 2015. Prof. Fridberg has also posted an audio file of his reading his letter aloud in his native Vilna Yiddish. In the case of any issue arising, the Yiddish text is authoritative. For readers’ reference, hyperlinks have been added (by Defending History) to various of the documents and topics cited. See also the Pinchos Fridberg page and section in Defending History, page and section on the state-sponsored commission discussed, and section on Yivo issues.
September 2014 at Ponár, the mass muder site of Vilna Jewry: Three representatives of the controversial state sponsored commission on Nazi and Soviet crimes pay respects in unison: (from left): Dr. Jonathan Brent, Emanuelis Zingeris, Ronaldas Račinskas. Photo: Defending History.
ear Dr. Jonathan Brent,
I appeal to you in Yiddish. Do you know why? Because I believe, that a person who is the leader of the Yivo institute will understand me. My name is Pinchos Fridberg. I was born in Vilna before the war and am a survivor of the Holocaust. My grandmother and grandfather, and all our relatives on my mother’s side — 28 people — lie [at the mass murder site] Ponár.
O P I N I O N
NOTE: The following is an English version of Prof. Fridberg’s Russian op-ed, posted earlier today. In the event of any query or issues, the Russian text alone is authoritative.
Is the Holocaust drowning in a sea of “European tolerance”? I love humor. Especially black humor.
Yesterday afternoon the largest Russian-language newspaper in Lithuania, Obzor, reprinted the article, “Museum in Tartu, Estonia Invites Visitors to Come Laugh at the Holocaust” [The affair has been covered in English by the Jerusalem Post, Times of Israel, and the Simon Wiesenthal Center, among others].
Pinchos Fridberg on Why Russia Should be Invited to the 70th Anniversary Events Marking Liberation of Auschwitz
Translated for Defending History by Ludmila Makedonskaya (Grodno) from the original Russian text published in Obzor, where the title translates as “Seventieth Anniversary of Auschwitz Liberation is Not an Occasion for Political Posturing.” In the event of any matter arising, the original Russian text is authoritative.
The seventieth anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz is one more opportunity to remember and to honor the victims of Nazism. I am deeply convinced that the place of death of almost one and a half million people, most of whom were my fellow Jews, must not be turned into a springboard for political squabbles. I am writing these words as a man who miraculously survived the Holocaust, which took away my grandparents, as well as twenty-eight other members of our family. I know that most of them were murdered in Ponár (Paneriai). But it is also possible that some of them could have been sent to Auschwitz.
Coming across the Jewish Life in Poland section of Yivo’s website, I decided to write this short memoir. This photograph shows the teachers and graduates of the Vilner Yiddish Real-Gymnasium (Vílner yídishe reál-gimnázye) in 1930. The school’s principal was Leyb Turbowich, and the literature teacher was the great Jewish poet Moyshe Kulbak, the author of a well-known Yiddish poem Vílne, among many others.
O P I N I O N
by Defending History Staff
On the occasion of the Jewish new year, 5775 (Sept. 2014 — Sept. 2015), starting this Wednesday evening 24 September at sundown, Defending History has announced seven symbolic (non-material) awards to individuals of extraordinary individual achievement in the field of human rights and tolerance in Lithuania. By “individual achievement” we refer to people who stood up, spoke out, and rose to the moral imperative of saying what needed to be said in the spirit of the prophets who felt an inner voice compelling their rising up, rather than in the context of a job or position at an NGO or other institution. These two genres are harmoniously complementary, and in no way demeaning to each other.
Accused of “war crimes” or of speaking out freely on Holocaust issues (accusations of “libel” against nationalist heroes and state-sponsored educators)
Four of them, in their late 80s or 90s, are heroic veterans of the anti-Nazi war effort who escaped the Vilna, Kovno or Svintsyán Ghetto to join up with the partisans in the forests of Lithuania. All their families perished in the Lithuanian Holocaust.
The following comment by Professor Pinchos Fridberg was posted in Tablet on 11 February 2014, as a comment on a previous comment by Dr. Efraim Zuroff in the same discussion. See also Defending History sections on Prof. Fridberg and Dr. Zuroff.
R E P L Y / O P I N I O N
NOTE: Translated from the Russian by Ludmilla Makadonskaya (Grodno). In the event of any matter arising or doubt, the Russian original is alone authoritative.
BNS (Baltic News Service), Tuesday, November 19, 2013, 15:04:
Высшая арифметика истории Холокоста в Литве
O P I N I O N
Authorized English translation of Dr. Zuroff’s speech at the annual commemoration event held by the Association of Lithuanian Jews in Israel, received from the Israel Office of the Simon Wiesenthal Center. Hebrew original is here.
Attorney Yosef Melamed asked me to update you regarding the recent events which have taken place since the last memorial event a year ago, concerning the attempts by the Lithuanian government to distort the history of the Holocaust and to minimize or deny the participation of many Lithuanians in the murder of Jews, not only in Lithuania but also beyond its borders.
O P I N I O N
In 1998 the “International Commission for the Evaluation of the Crimes of the Nazi and Soviet Occupational Regimes in Lithuania” was established by Lithuanian presidential decree.
The commission is directed in tandem by Emanuelis Zingeris and Ronaldas Račinskas. The former is the commission’s chairman and a Conservative MP in the Lithuanian Seimas, while the latter is the commission’s executive director. The Lithuanian Jewish Community has no representation on the commission.
O P I N I O N
by Danny Ben-Moshe (Melbourne)
I remember my first visit to Yad Vashem as a 16-year-old visitor to Jerusalem. It had a profound, and indeed formative, effect on me. I left there with a badge clipped to my lapel inscribed with the motto, zakhor, the Hebrew word for remember.
Yet for all its splendid work, Yad Vashem whose formal title is The Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Authority, I am sorry to say, is now dramatically failing both the martyrs and heroes of the country where the percentage of the Jewish community annihilated in the Holocaust was higher than anywhere else in Europe – Lithuania.
O P I N I O N
Authorized translation into Russian by Milan Chersonski of Danny Ben-Moshe’s op-ed, Yad Vashem and the “Two Genocides” in the 26 August 2013 edition of Jerusalem Report.
Яд Вашем и «Два геноцида»
Восточно-европейские политики, переписывая историю Холокоста, создают «двумя геноцидами» угрозу деятельности Яд Вашем по сохранению памяти о Холокосте
Я помню своё первое посещение Яд Вашем, когда 16-летним подростком я оказался в Иерусалиме. Он произвел на меня глубокое впечатление, можно сказать, потряс меня. Когда я уходил оттуда, к лацкану моего пиджака был приколот значок со словом «Захор», что на иврите значит – «Память».
A Library with an Agenda? Bringing American Naifs On Board the Ultranationalists’ Baltic Holocaust Distortion Train?
SUMMARY COVERAGE OF “VILNIUS JEWISH PUBLIC LIBRARY” EVENTS TO 19 JULY 2013:
State-sponsored Zingeris-Račinskas “red-brown commission” (officially: International Commission for the Evaluation of the Crimes of the Nazi and Soviet Occupational Regimes in Lithuania) in Vilnius posts new list of members.
Page on the commission
Resignations to date from Commission-related bodies include Dr. Yitzhak Arad, Sir Martin Gilbert (London), Prof. Gershon Greenberg (Washington DC), Prof. Konrad Kwiet (Sydney) and Prof. Dov Levin (Jerusalem).
Holocaust survivors themselves have stood up to express disquiet about some aspects of the commission: Yitzhak Arad, Pinchos Fridberg (more), Dov Levin (more), Joseph Melamed (more), Basheva Ran, the Association of Lithuanian Jews in Israel, Jewish Community of Lithuania / Union of Ghetto Survivors. A decade and a half of issues.
Tolerance Education? State-Sponsored Commission Uses its Website to Call Holocaust Survivor a “Liar” & to Demand “Apology from Jewish Community”
O P I N I O N
by Dovid Katz
Educators, diplomats, historians and journalists thought they had seen it all when it came to Holocaust-in-Lithuania issues in recent times. But an online attack by the state sponsored “history commission” on a local Holocaust survivor, Professor Pinchos Fridberg, who is deeply involved in honoring righteous Lithuanians who saved a Jewish neighbor, because he expressed his views against distortion of the Holocaust? That is a bit much even for here.
UPDATE of 21 February 2014:
One year later: Defamation continues on Commission website;
See Chronology of a Debate and what Pinchos Fridberg actually said…
O P I N I O N
by Pinchos Fridberg
Editor’s note [updated 27 January 2013]:
Pinchos Fridberg, a native and resident of Vilnius, is a Holocaust survivor. He graduated from Vilnius University in 1961 and completed his PhD in theoretical and mathematical physics in 1965 and an additional doctoral science degree in radio physics in 1974. From 1961 to 1978 he was chair of the Laboratory of Theoretical Investigations at the Vilnius Scientific Institute of Radio Measuring Devices. In 1978 he joined Grodno State University, where he was named professor. In 1989 he became head of the Department of Theoretical Radio Physics at the Zondas Company in Vilnius.
Each author is exclusively responsible for his or her signed contribution.
UPDATED MARCH 2017. See also (older, not updated) Responses page.
The campaign of defamation by Lithuanian state prosecutors and allied elites (particularly in the Genocide Center and the antisemitic right-wing press) has resulted in a number of cherished Holocaust Survivors being smeared as “war criminals” without a single charge ever having been leveled against anybody. Launched in 2006, the campaign, abusing tools such as “pre-trial investigations” and leaks to the media, have sought to brand as “war criminals” the heroes of the war against Hitler. It grew in 2011 with the addition of equally perverse “libel charges,” launched with fanfare when Interpol (!) was sent to disturb in Tel Aviv the elected head of the last active group of Litvak Holocaust survivors in the world. Then, in 2013, the state’s “red-brown commission” defamed one of Vilnius’s last survivors on equally perverse grounds, all the while putting on “Holocaust events” for naive Western audiences, usually funded by the (unknowing) Lithuanian taxpayer, in venues including London, New York, Toronto, and Vilnius.
A single public letter from the president could fix it all. Instantly.
The campaign of defamation results in permanent calumny in historians’ works, Wikipedia, and elsewhere (see below) that is more than a grave injustice to the Holocaust survivors targeted (and their families). It is a deliberate ultranationalist falsification of history in the spirit of the wider campaign to find fault with the victims and make heroes of the perpetrators. These are components of the movement to obfuscate the issues, and downgrade the Holocaust in the spirit of the Double Genocide movement and its central document, the 2008 Prague Declaration.
All but one of the accused survivors — most in their late eighties or nineties — are still alive (as of February 2016). Dr. Rachel Margolis passed away on 6 July 2015, having failed to fulfill her final wish of one last trip to her native Vilna.
A single public letter of apology from the president or prime minister of Lithuania, accompanied by an apology from the state prosecutors, would be the minimal gesture of good will needed to repair the damage. Public defamation can only be (partly) repaired by public apology. Moreover, the state has a splendid last chance to end its relationship with its own Holocaust survivors, after a 700 year history in Lithuania, on a rather higher note than police coming to look for aged women veterans of the heroic Jewish resistance in the forests of Lithuania.
During his own tenure before these events, Lithuania’s eminent late president (later prime minister) Algirdas Brazauskas, a champion of confronting historical truth with courage and dignity, awarded certificates of honor to the selfsame Jewish partisan veterans for the selfsame service in helping to liberate Lithuania from Nazism. . .
22 April 2006. Article in Respublika accuses Dr. Yitzhak Arad, Holocaust survivor, resistance hero, veteran of the Israeli war of independence and long-time director of Yad Vashem, of being a war criminal on the basis of misquoted, decontextualized passages in his own 1979 book, The Partisan. [ADDENDUM of April 2014: One of the chief stone-throwers (final section) is A. Anušauskas, who is today a member of the state’s commission on Nazi and Soviet crimes. In 2006 he was “scientific editor” at the Genocide Center. Since 2008 he has been a member of parliament where he was for some years chair of the Committee on National Security and Defense.]
10 September 2007. Prosecutors in Lithuania confirm that their investigation of Holocaust survivor, anti-Nazi resistance hero and former director of Yad Vashem Dr. Yitzhak Arad, on suspicion of “crimes against humanity” had been initiated in May 2006. The “investigation” was based on an article in the antisemitic daily Respublika (22 April 2006), in which the special prosecutor and head of the Genocide Center are extensively quoted. In June 2006 the daily triumphantly proclaimed that prosecutors were acting on its earlier article. English summary. See below at 25 September 2008 for “conclusion” of the investigation and the 2010 report of the “Lithuanian Human Rights Association” . . . In 2014, ongoing defamation evident from Wikipedia entry.
30 April 2008. The Embassy of the United States in Lithuania issues a certificate of appreciation, signed by Ambassador John A. Cloud, to Fania Yocheles Brantsovsky; presented by political officer Joseph Boski at a luncheon organized by the Vilnius Yiddish Institute.
5 May 2008. Police come looking for Dr. Rachel Margolis [born 1921] and Ms. Fania Yocheles Brantsovsky [born 1922] on a ‘war crimes’ investigation. Dovid Katz’s report to colleagues at the Vilnius Yiddish Institute. Reports in the Jerusalem Post (PDF here), and Jewish Chronicle (PDF here). [Note: Three years earlier, on 8 May 2005, then Prime Minister Algirdas Brazauskas had awarded Dr. Margolis a certificate of appreciation for her role as an anti-Nazi partisan.]
3 June 2008. The Embassy of Ireland in Lithuania issues a certificate of lifetime achievement to Fania Yocheles Brantsovsky, signed by Ambassador Dónal Denham, who presented the award at a reception at the ambassador’s residence.
11 July 2008. Prosecutors reply to the Jewish Community of Lithuania.
20 July 2008. Washington Times op-ed by Dan Mariaschin, of B’nai B’rith International.
19 August 2008. Open Letter from students and faculty of the summer program in Yiddish language and literature at the Vilnius Yiddish Institute at Vilnius University (text by Elliott Palevsky, director of the cultural program).
25 August 2008. Letter to Dr Rachel Margolis from nine NATO embassies in Vilnius.
4 September 2008. Question to the German parliament by a group of members.
25 September 2008. Prosecutors close part of the Arad investigation, ask the public for assistance in looking for “evidence” and fault his book on the basis of an anonymous “doctor of humanitarian sciences (expert-historian)”. Question: Will the anonymous expert-historian trasher of Dr Arad’s book please identify himself and share his evidence with colleagues?
25 September 2008. Response of UK MP Denis MacShane: excerpt from p 33 of his Globalising Hatred. The New Antisemitism (see Recent Books → 2008 → MacShane).
October-December 2008. ‘Bitter pill of history’ by Milan Chersonski in Jerusalem of Lithuania, 143-144 (7-8), p 7.
16 April 2009. Letter to Dr Rachel Margolis from the National Director of ADL.
21 May 2009. Dovid Katz’s op-ed in the Jewish Chronicle posits a link between the Double Genocide movement (and its prime document, the Prague Declaratin of 2008) with the campaign against Holocaust survivors.
19 June 2009. Lord Janner of Braunstone issues a certificate of appreciation to Dr. Rachel Margolis, delivered at the Dr Rachel Margolis event chaired at Leivick House in Tel Aviv by its director, composer Daniel Galay. The keynote speaker was Israeli ambassador to Latvia and Lithuania, Chen Ivri Apter, who awarded Dr. Margolis a certificate of merit from his embassy. Tel Aviv school children who study Yiddish with Hannah Pollin-Galay presented a cultural program of song, and a gift of flowers to Dr. Margolis. Other speakers included professors Israel Bartal, Dov Levin (Jerusalem) and Dovid Katz (Vilnius). Dr. Margolis addresses the audience. After the event. Dr. Margolis with Ambassador Apter. Photos by Leyzer Burko. Leivick House report on the event.
23 September 2009. Faina Kukliansky, chairwoman of the Vilnius Jewish Community, and legal advisor to the Jewish Community of Lithuania, speaking at the annual September 23 commemoration a Ponar (Paneriai), cites prosecutors’ attempts to mischaracterize the status of Jewish anti-Nazi partisan veterans Fania Yocheles Brantsovsky and Rachel Margolis; comments cited in column 5 of the report by Milan Chersonski, editor of the Jewish community’s Jerusalem of Lithuania (Fall 2009 issue).
28 October 2009. The mainstream Delfi.lt reports: “Germany honors red partisan under investigation for mass murder in Vilnius”; caricature of Holocaust survivor and anti-Nazi partisan veteran Fania Yocheles Brantsovsky published with the article. English translation. BNS’s 29 Oct 2009 English summary. Coverage of the situation in Jerusalem of Lithuania (autumn 2009 issue), publication of the Jewish Community of Lithuania, by its editor Milan Chersonski: “Congratulations on the Award!”
3 December 2009. United States congressmen Shelley Berkley, Howard Berman (chairman, House Foreign Affairs Committee), Paul Hodes, James Moran, and Robert Wexler (chairman, House Subcommittee on Europe) protest the Lithuanian government’s defamation and persecution of Holocaust Survivors Dr. Rachel Margolis and Ms. Fania Yocheles Brantsovsky.
27 January 2010. On 27 January (Holocaust Remembrance Day, marking the liberation of Auschwitz), Lithuanian prosecutors visited the Jewish Community of Lithuania at Pylimo Street 4 in Vilnius, demanding information about Joseph Melamed in connection with a new ‘investigation’, the nature of which is not publicly known. Mr. Melamed, a Kovno Ghetto survivor, veteran of the anti-Nazi partisans in the forests of Lithuania and of Israel’s War of Independence, is the elected chairman of the Association of Lithuanian Jews in Israel. It is one of the last active associations of Litvaks in the world. Mr. Melamed and the Association have spoken out boldly against the Prague Declaration and the “Double Genocide” movement, most recently during the recent Global Forum on Combating Antisemitism. Prosecutors in Vilnius have yet to announce the basis of their interest in Mr. Melamed, the author of a number of works on Litvak issues. There has moreover been no explanation of why they came to disturb the local Jewish community in Vilnius on Holocaust Remembrance Day instead of contacting Mr. Melamed directly with any questions they might have. Report on the home page includes quotations from an exclusive Holocaust in the Baltics interview with Joseph Melamed. February 10 report on Interfax. February 11 report on Izrus.
3 January 2011. Report that the Lithuanian Human Rights Association (LHRA) had released on its website at the end of December 2010, a July 2010 document, prepared and signed by ten of its experts, defaming Yitzhak Arad, Fania Yocheles Brantsovsky and Rachel Margolis more outrageously than ever before. See full report.
30 August 2011. On the demand of Lithuanian prosecutors, Interpol agents in Tel Aviv visit with Joseph Melamed, Holocaust survivor (of the Kovno Ghetto), veteran of the partisans’ struggle against Nazi forces, and of the Israeli War of Independence. He is interviewed concerning his 2009 book Crime and Punishment. Yossi Melman’s report in Haaretz. Other reports in Arutz Sheva (English), in Neues Deutschland and Junge Welt (in German), and JSS (in French); also: Associated Press (→ CBS News, Fox, MSNBC, Washington Post, YahooNews etc); JTA (→ WJC, JJ, Juedische.at, etc); Mishpacha. Geoff Vasil in the Jewish Chronicle.
8 September 2011. Early Day Motion 2161 in the British Parliament on the Melamed case.
9 September 2011. Yivo director Jonathan Brent issues circular to staff denying Yossi Melman’s report in Haaretz on the Interpol visit to Joseph Melamed. Yossi Melman’s reply.
15 September 2011. Yossi Melman’s reply to Jonathan Brent.
22 September 2011. Yad Vashem withdraws invitation to Lithuanian minister over Melamed affair.
28 September 2011. An event held by the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry to mark the publication (with the ministry’s financial support) of Timothy Snyder’s Bloodlands includes a speech by the director of the History Institute that included an attack on Jewish anti-Nazi partisans.
2012. Final chapter of Marek Jan Chodakiewicz’s Intermarium (2012) is a chapter of defamation against Jewish partisans including (by name) Yitzhak Arad, Fania Brantsovsky, and Rachel Margolis. See review by Dovid Katz in Israel Journal of Foreign Affairs (2013).
6 March 2012. Holocaust survivors Tel Aviv led by Joseph Melamed, picket an event hosted by wealthy South African Jews to honor the Lithuanian foreign minister infamous for his “moustache comparison” of Hitler and Stalin and antisemitic slurs. The accusations against Jewish partisans are very much in the air, as Melamed, 87, holds a sign asking the diners in the Panorama Hotel: “Where is your conscience? Where is your solidarity with Holocaust survivors, with veterans and with the partisans?”
2012. Prosecutor Rimvydas Valentukevicius, asked by Danny Ben-Moshe in the documentary Rewriting History whether Rachel Margolis can safely return to Vilnius for one last visit, replies: “Are you her lawyer?” followed by Prof. Ben-Moshe’s commentary.
September 2012. Vilnius University honors an antisemitic, homophobic “envelope artist,” one of whose prime creations is a further defamation of Dr. Yitzhak Arad. More samples of the designer envelope collection. A group of nine young Lithuanians protested the exhibit. Years earlier, the Jewish community’s newspaper Jerusalem of Lithuania had exposed the envelope artist. For years, the envelopes, including the one “featuring” Dr. Arad, were sold in Vilnius’s Central Post Office on Gedimino Boulevard.
February 2013. State sponsored “International Commission for the Evaluation of the Crimes of the Nazi and Soviet Occupation Regimes in Lithuania” defames Vilnius Holocaust survivor Pinchos Fridberg on its own website [Chronology of the Pinchos Fridberg affair here].
February 2013. Artūras Račas, editor-in-chief of Baltic News Service (BNS), attacks Holocaust Survivor Prof. Pinchos Fridberg. Professor Fridberg replies.
October 2013. Part of the “International Commission for the Evaluation of the Crimes of the Nazi and Soviet Occupation Regimes in Lithuania” writes a letter of regret to Yitzhak Arad. The letter was pointedly not signed by members Arūnas Bubnys (Genocide Center, Vilnius), Jonathan Brent (Yivo), Norman Neimark (Stanford University), Janos Rainer (Institute for History of 1956 Hungarian Revolution), Timothy Snyder (Yale University) and Francoise Thom (Sorbonne).
2014. Defending History names Prof. Pinchos Fridberg Person of the Year following his consistent courage in telling the truth about the Holocaust in the face of defamation by the (former) head of BNS and the state’s International Commission for the Evaluation of the Crimes of the Nazi and Soviet Occupation Regimes in Lithuania.
2014. Wikipedia entry for Dr. Yitzhak Arad is a sample of continuing defamation in the absence of Lithuanian government apologies. See now Dr. Arad’s December 2012 paper in Defending History on the Lithuanian Holocaust and its obfuscation.
2014. Monica Lowenberg’s ongoing petition on Change.org.
2014. Dr. Efraim Zuroff’s interview on Salford City Radio (UK), with reference to four of the ‘investigations’ against Jewish partisan heroes who escaped the Vilna, Kovno and Svintsyan ghettos to join up with the anti-Nazi partisans.
2015. On Youtube: The executive director of the Lithuanian government sponsored “International Commission for the Evaluation of the Crimes of the Nazi and Soviet Occupational Regimes in Lithuania” (known for short as “the red-brown commission” to local diplomats) speaks out publicly, at Ponar (Paneriai), in a German documentary film, on why he thinks Holocaust survivors who survived by joining the anti-Nazi resistance need to be investigated. His explanation rapidly became an iconic encapsulation of Double Genocide.
4 March 2016. Prosecutor General Rimvydas Valentukevičius, closely involved in the effort to “investigate” Jewish Holocaust survivors who were partisan veterans from 2006 onward, issues a reply to the Jewish Community of Lithuania in which he fails to even mention the growing request for his office (and the affiliated Genocide Center) to release the names of around one thousand alleged local Holocaust perpetrators generated by his own state-sector colleagues. In other words prosecutors, who for ten years have been publicizing (= defaming) Holocaust survivors by name, never coming up with a single charge or accusation, in a veritable campaign, now refuse to publish the names of Holocaust perpetrators.
22 February 2017. Far right news portal Propatria.lt publishes condemnation of Fania Yocheles Brantsovsky, 95, in connection with President Dalia Grybauskaite’s award to Ms. Brantsovsky on 16 February for her work in Holocaust education in Lithuania.
24 February 2017. Slaptai.lt publishes report on condemnation of Fania Yocheles Brantsovsky by a statement composed by Statys Gorodeckis.
2 March 2017. The state-sponsored “Genocide Center” issues a statement stating that Fania Yocheles Brantsovsky was not at Koniuchy/Koniūkai, but was at other scenes of partisan battles, concludes that her late husband (!) was however present and was therefore a war criminal, considers the Soviet partisans (the only force effectively fighting the then Nazi regime of Lithuania) criminals, but explains that it was… nevertheless fine for the president to give her an award because of the Western narrative…
9 March 2017. The far-right ‘Union of Nationalists’ publishes facsimiles of its statement of 23 February 2017 against Fania Yocheles Brantsovsky, addressed to Lithuania’s president, Dalia Grybauskaitė, asking the president to rescind an award made to Ms. Brantsovsky for work in the field of Holocaust education, on the basis of her service as a Jewish partisan in the war against Hitler. The statement accuses Ms. Brantsovsky and her late husband of participation in massacres against civilians, with not an iota of evidence.
10 March 2017. Report in Alkas.lt on the ‘Union of Nationalists’ statement condemning Fania Yocheles Brantsovsky and her late husband of participation in ‘massacres’ with no critical journalistic comment directing readers to other points of view.
11 March 2017. Author of the statement condemning Fania Yocheles Brantsovsky is offered an honored slot, in the forecourt of Lithuania’s Presidential Palace, as his statement is read out as part of the far right’s Independence Day activities for which the municipality of Vilnius, the nation’s capital, again granted the city center. A video of the “Witch Trial on Independence Day” was posted on Youtube by Alkas.lt.
20 March 2017. Lietuvos žinios article by Jurga Tvaskienė notes anti-Brantsovsky statements by forces of Ramūnas Karbauskis, the head of the country’s ruling party, the Peasants and Greens, and cites criticism of these statements by parliamentarian Arvydas Anušauskas, without, however, noting that it was Dr. Anušauskas who helped launch the anti-Jewish-partisan hysteria in the antisemitic daily Respublika back in 2006. See above under April 2006.
22 March 2017. Jewish Community of Lithuania protests anti-Brantsovsky statements in publications under the control of the ruling Peasants and Greens party, on the community’s official website.
26 March 2017. Defending History editor Dovid Katz’s summary of the 2017 campaign against Ms. Brantsovsky, including full English translations of the Genocide Center’s 2 March 2017 statement, and the reply by the Nationalist Union of 9 March 2017.
13 April 2017. English translation of the full transcript of the March 11th “witch hunt ceremony” on the presidential palace’s forecourt is published in Defending History.
Some Simple and Constructive Solutions to the Irksome “Jewish Issues” that Continue to Haunt the Lithuanian Government and Its Agencies
Abandonment of the state’s financing of the campaign to obfuscate the Holocaust by means of its Double Genocide campaign, including “cooked” international events, conferences, film screenings and panel discussions; withdrawal of formal state support for the Prague Declaration and similar projects, closing down of the “red-brown commission” and the inauguration of an atmosphere of full freedom for citizens and organizations to support alternatives including the Seventy Years Declaration. Holocaust history to be included in historically accurate proportionality in the Genocide Museum and all relevant tourist locations that deal with genocide. Abandonment of the extensive state sponsored program to glorify the local Holocaust perpetrators of 1941, including the “Lithuanian Activist Front” (LAF), whose leaflets indicated desire to murder the country’s Jewish citizens even before arrival of Nazi forces. Rapid correction of the mischaracterization of the early local perpetrators as supposedly heroic rebels in the new basement room on the Holocaust in the Genocide Museum.
Most urgent in the correction of Holocaust distortion (and inversion) is the urgent need for removal of all street names and plaques, and public monuments and memorials to Holocaust collaborators (petition). The reversal of course became ever more urgent in 2012 with the state-sponsored reburial with full honors and accompanying glorification of the 1941 Nazi puppet prime minister and the re-launch of the red-brown commission. The summer of 2015 saw a renewed effort for the removal of plaques honoring one Holocaust perpetrator (J. Noreika) in central Vilnius, and 2016 has seen a litany of requests that the mayor of Vilnius and the nation’s president and PM speak up for replacing a street name in the capital’s center named for another Holocaust collaborator (K. Skirpa).
Written public apologies for the defamed and slandered Jewish Holocaust survivors, including three Israeli citizens (background here; international responses here): Dr. Yitzhak Arad; Ms. Fania Yocheles Brantsovsky; Professor Sara Ginaite; Dr. Rachel Margolis (1921-2015); Mr. Joseph Melamed (1924-2017); Professor Pinchos Fridberg. It was a major and unwelcome shock in the autumn of 2011 that a new and unseemly campaign (via Interpol) had been launched against Holocaust survivor and Litvak leader Joseph Melamed of Tel Aviv. Then came the renewed defamation of Dr. Arad in late 2012. In 2013, the head of the state’s own “red-brown commission” went on to defame Professor Pinchos Fridberg, followed up in 2015 with further defamation of Fania Yocheles Brantsovsky and in spring 2017 with a massive new campaign underpinned by a shameful public statement from the Genocide Center, and a new media frenzy. The climate would be improved exponentially by the simple gesture of a letter of apology and recognition for lifetime achievement for the inspiring contributions of these Lithuanian Jewish survivors of the Holocaust from the current president or prime minister, such as once provided by the late eminent president Algirdas Brazauskas, before the state’s campaign of defamation got underway. The ultimate issue is of unjust defamation for history and in perpetuity along with the concomitant distortion of history (see for example final part of a review of a recent major history book).
Commitment to the simple truth, for example in a low-cost Information Board or plaque about (a) the erstwhile Jewish population’s volume, cultural history and contributions; and (b) its destruction in the Holocaust in the town center of every city and town (not just at the mass grave sites “for the Jews who come in the summer”). In the case of Vilnius and Kaunas, there is an absolute need, in addition to monuments with accurate texts, for city-center Holocaust museums that are wholly accurate and not under the control of the Genocide Center, red-brown commission or other state entities dedicated in part or whole to Double Genocide revisionism.
Serious action to combat the growing state-sponsored (or state-tolerated) antisemitic activity in the country, including: mass media hate material worthy of 1930s fascist countries; city-center state-sanctioned neo-Nazi marches on national holidays in Vilnius and Kaunas; derogatory public impersonations of Jews and Roma at public Užgavėnės celebrations; court rulings legalizing swastika displays; state-sponsored institutions’ failure to disemploy their own outspoken antisemitic activists; antisemitic exhibits in the state sponsored Genocide Museum in central Vilnius and the Gruto Parkas theme park near Druskininkai; failure of officials to condemn mainstream organizations that issue antisemitic statements (e.g. the Lithuanian Human Rights Association); failure of officials to acknowledge and encourage apprehension of the culprits of major antisemitic desecration of Holocaust and Jewish sites; failure of the former foreign minister to apologize for his 2010 antisemitic tirade (reported also on LithChat), which drew a statement of protest from the small remnant Jewish community in Lithuania. Specific 2014-2015 issues: failure to call for the resignations of “Zeppelinus” and the head of the parliament’s budget committee.
Action to repeal the 2010 legislation that would punish with prison sentences up to two years those who would not agree to (in effect) equalizing Soviet and Nazi crimes by regarding the former, in Lithuania, as not amounting to genocide. This law is an affront to democracy and open society, and has already intimidated liberal and Western oriented voices in the country. The people of Lithuania deserve the same level of freedom and democracy as all other people in NATO, the European Union and the OSCE. That freedom includes the equal right to support inter alia the Seventy Years Declaration.
Commitment to preserve as a world heritage site Lithuania’s last Jewish anti-Nazi underground fort which is rapidly disappearing because of failure to take elementary steps to ensure preservation for future generations.
Respect for equal human rights includes respect for Jewish heritage objects being equal to that in play for Christian and ethnic Lithuanian heritage objects. Major 2017 issue is the plan to further desecrate Vilnius’s old Jewish cemetery at Piramónt (in the Šnipiškės district) with a $25,000,000 convention center. Objections and protests have come from far and wide, including members of the local Jewish community, its rabbis, Litvak and non-Litvak rabbis internationally, and numerous Jewish and Christian friends of Lithuania. The simple solution is rapidly to move the convention center project to another venue in Vilnius where it can be a source of pride and joy for all the peoples of the city and beyond.
Vilnius, 1 November 2017