Tag Archives: Pinchos Fridberg
Summer 2018 Discourse on Proposed Removal of Plaques & Street Names Glorifying Holocaust Perpetrator Jonas Noreika
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».