Many in the local Lithuanian Jewish and the international Litvak communities have responded with some shock to the news that the Lithuanian government’s official “Year of the Gaon of Vilna and Jewish Heritage” has been launched by a handsome, shiny 10 Euro Coin that plonks a symbol beloved in recent years of neo-Nazis (and prominently used in their new projects) onto a Jewish Menorah. The symbolism strikes some as evoking the idea that the largely vanished Lithuanian Jews and their language make for one of the “cute Jewish toys” for the ultranationalist camp to exploit in its PR outreach to unwitting foreigners.
VILNIUS—Who’s afraid of DefendingHistory.com? Yet again, a treatment of Holocaust history and Jewish issues in Lithuania involving government funding of a journalist’s trip coincides with the “two frightening words” Defending History not being mentioned, in spite of the journal’s being one of the central addresses for these matters for a decade now, entailing publication of several thousand reports over the decade, including dozens of authors and subjects. There has been no such hesitation in reports in the New York Times, BBC and other general outlets. Are readers of Jewish publications not entitled to the same standards of inclusion of views and news?
Today’s extensive and important article by Raphael Ahren on some of the most pressing Lithuanian-Jewish issues appears in The Times of Israel. The Defending History community’s comments appear in an informal posting on the journal’s Facebook page. An unedited paste-in follows below.
Who’s afraid to mention the words Defending History?
◊ Congrats to Raphael Ahren on his historically important article in today’s Times of Israel: https://www.timesofisrael.com/graves-guilt-and-genius-inside-lithuanias-struggle-with-its-checkered-past/. Its most singular achievement is perhaps the sterling quote from Prof. Yehuda Bauer, dean of Holocaust scholars in Israel and far beyond, a powerful retort to the nonsense that those who disagree with the Lithuanian government’s (small but powerful and overfinanced) ‘history fixing units’ are ipso facto non-scholars, scoundrels, and all the rest. As ever, journalists who do not reach out to interview ANY of the dozen or so DefendingHistory.com authors in Lithuania, and whose articles don’t mention the two words Defending History are sometimes prone to being manipulated by their government hosts (on state sponsored trips) to the detriment of at least some aspects of genuine open debate. Just a few examples from today’s article:
(1) While the debate over the degree of local complicity in the Holocaust is important, it should not obviate the need to at least deal with the massive campaign to export to the West a revised view of the Holocaust altogether (the Double Genocide or Two Holocausts theory). The primary documents are the Prague Declaration, and our rejoinder, The Seventy Years Declaration, signed also by eight incredibly brave Lithuanian parliamentarians (none of them were reached out to for the article). In other words, there is a serious battle over the wider history that remains unmentioned. There is a larger issue on the extent to which the Holocaust “fixing” policies of a whole range of East European states are ipso facto the 21st century incarnation of Holocaust Denial per se. See for example: https://archive.jewishcurrents.org/the-double-genocide-theory/. For more academic papers on these subjects please see: http://defendinghistory.com/holocaust-and-antisemitism-studies-papers-and-reviewsin-academic-venues.
(2) The ongoing need for state apologies to the Holocaust survivors (or their families) defamed for posterity as potential war criminals in history books and on the web (it was Mr. Ahren himself who penned one of the best articles on that back in 2009, and now — wholly unmentioned). Of course these kangaroo charges were themselves a function of Double Genocide thinking, and the need to “find” supposedly “equivalent genocide perpetrators” among the handful of Holocaust survivors. Please see Mr. Ahren’s terrific 2009 article: http://www.operationlastchance.org/PDF/p_8_lith_2.pdf.
(3) The article cites a government official’s mistatement of DH editor Dovid katz’s opinion, claiming the view that “all” anti-Soviet heroes are being called Holocaust collaborators! This is a scurrilous misstatement (and locally very dangerous and already led to a new death threat). It was wrong of the journalist to quote it without also speaking to DK and the Defending History team to be able to cite the named person’s response.
(4) On the question of the Old Vilna Jewish cemetery, there are still thousands of graves extant (found by ground radar) on all four sides of the Soviet dump slated to become the national convention center. A year ago, a New York Times journalist was not afraid to ask also the views of the democratically elected head of the Vilnius Jewish Community too (https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/30/world/europe/lithuania-genocide-museum-jews.html) But perhaps the next journalist to look into all this will ask gov. officials just one question: Had this been a 500 year old Christian Lithuanian cemetery, would they be building a national convention center with graves all around, or would it be lovingly and respectfully restored as a national and international treasure?
(7) Mr. Ahren writes that he is consciously staying away from internal Jewish community rifts which are sadly a part of the scene in many places. That is in itself a fine position to take, but here it seems to function as an excuse for shutting out entirely and failing to ALSO interview the democratically elected head of the Vilnius Jewish Community, Simon Gurevich, which represents the vast majority of Lithuanian Jews, and who has taken a DIFFERENT stance on the very issues dealt with in this article (most famously the fate of the old Vilna Jewish cemetery slated to become a national convention center, with the support of the government-supported non-democratic official Jewish community; see: http://defendinghistory.com/democratically-elected-leadership-of-vilnius-jewish-community-shows-consistent-moral-clarity-on-old-vilna-jewish-cemeterys-fate/97300).
(8) Finally, let us hope that future journalistic quests will reach out to the Jewish Lithuanian citizens who have over the years actually spoken out with inspirational courage. They do not deserve to be omitted from a foreign journalist’s quest to learn the various sides of issues that they have given so very much to express themselves, even when not convenient to their careers or status. To name just a few: Moyshe Bairak, Roza Bieliauskiene, Ruta Bloshtein, Milan Chersonski, Prof. Pinchos Fridberg, Simon Gurevich, Leon Kaplan, Sania Kerbelis, Rachel Kostanian, Arkady Kurliandchik, Chona Leibovich (Leibovičius), Prof. Josif Parasonis… When journalists fail to do so, it can mean that “the names of the right Jews to talk to” have been provided by the same government whose policies are being critically discussed. . . In other words, a state apparatus supplies its “own list of dissidents” for the benefit of journalists. And, last but not least, there are the many inspirational non-Jews who have earned over decades of blood, sweat and tears the moral right to be heard by foreign journalists on these topics. Here in Lithuania they include: Vytenis Andriukaitis, Evaldas Balciunas, Saulius Berzinis, Andrius Kulikauskas, Fiokla Kiure, Julius Norvila, Ruta Ostrovskaya, Prof. Liudas Truska, Linas Vildziunas, If you have a moment, do look up their essays on the pages of www.DefendingHistory.com AUTHORS page is at: http://defendinghistory.com/authors) —————————
◊ (2) The ongoing debates with a small and powerful government unit do not equate to being “against” a country. They do concern important issues on which there are various opinions. Defending History’s summary of the currently outstanding Lithuanian-Jewish issues is an updated version of the original that was hammered out in close consultation with the late Dr. Shimon Alperovich, the long-time beloved head of the Jewish community. It’s at: http://defendinghistory.com/7-solutions Perhaps one day a journalist will come and at least ask these seven questions and even dare to report that for the state’s “Jewish issue units” to come to terms with them would cost so very little — and do so very much good. . . . A good week to all!
Five years ago, I wrote about the alleged connections of Adolfas Ramanauskas to the persecution of Jews in Druskininkai. Following publication of the Lithuanian version, the English version appeared here in Defending History in 2014. The connections are based in the first instance on Ramanauskas’s own memoirs, published in post-Soviet independent Lithuania, where he boasts that he served as leader of “the rebels’ squad” during the precise days and weeks of June and July 1941 when these “rebels” of the Lithuanian Activist Front (LAF) were in fact unleashing humiliation, plunder, violence and indeed murder against Jewish neighbors (the Soviet army was escaping Hitler’s invasion, not these white-armbanded LAFers). Following upon Ramanauskas’s own memoir and boast came research into the actual police records of the summer of 1941, as well as the postwar Soviet war crimes trials’ transcripts.
When writing that first article in 2014, my goal was not to find or prove something directly compromising. I was simply disturbed by the obvious collision of this heroic myth and its historical circumstances. It was part of my series of articles in Defending History, starting in 2012, that was launched by my essay “Why does the State Commemorate Murderers?”.
But then, in late 2017, the Seimas (parliament) of the Republic of Lithuania declared 2018 to be the Year of Adolfas Ramanauskas-Vanagas. Indignant at the uncritical worship, Dr. Efraim Zuroff, director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s department of East European affairs, brought a copy of my article to the members of the Seimas and was condemned without them even attempting to read it. During that period, I published a second, follow-up article focused on the moral issues.
Successful resistance to the plans of the Genocide and Resistance Research Center of Lithuania to erect a monument to Ramanauskas in his native city of New Britain, Conn., were enabled exactly by the facts mentioned in the 2014 piece (that saga can be followed in Defending History). One year ago, the City Council of New Britain “just said No.”
VILNIUS—LRT state television reported that an American religious Jewish school would held a polite protest outside the Lithuanian consulate in New York on YomHashoah, 2 May, to protest the Lithuanian government’s continued state-sponsored glorification of Holocaust collaborator Jonas Noreika and others. The protest was carried out by students of the Rambam Mesivta High School, under the guidance of its renowned principal, Rabbi Zev Meir Friedman. See Defending History’s report on the event.
Lithuanian Public Television’s Special Investigation of the controversy over Holocaust perpetrator Jonas Noreika was supposed to air on Thursday May 2 at 7:30 PM (19:30), including an interview with Dr. Andrius Kulikauskas. But the program did not air. Instead, the LRT website posted an “Open Letter Regarding the Increase of Tension in Society” signed by four leaders of Lithuanian (ultra)nationalist organizations. The letter specifically attacks Chicago resident Silvia Foti, Noreika’s granddaughter, California resident Grant Gochin, and other critics of the glorification of Holocaust collaborators, while claiming that Noreika, Škirpa, Brazaitis, Krikštaponis and Kraujelis are national heroes. LRT.lt added a remark clarifying that, according to the Genocide Center, Krikštaponis participated in the mass murder of Jews. The article claims that criticism of glorification of Holocaust collaborators is the work of “Moscow.”
Is it perhaps an opportune moment for the government to abandon plans for a convention center in the heart of the old Vilna Jewish cemetery, where hundreds of the Gaon’s ancestors and descendants still lie buried? International petition continues to grow.
Defending History’s Take: “Canada, a bastion of enlightened liberalism in today’s world, has blundered into a moral mouse-trap. Hopefully its highest leaders will now rapidly correct the error and join all those around the world who condemn the Nazis and their collaborators’ rampages of ethnic-based mass murder and genocide in World War II era Eastern Europe.”
Defending History’s take: “A very sad day for Lithuania and its proud ages-old tradition of Grand Duchy tolerance and its current record as a successful democracy. Ten years after Defending History published images of the plaque honoring Noreika, seven years after Evaldas Balciunas brought the issue to the English speaking world, and one month after Vilnius’s bold mayor boldly had the plaque removed, a mob of antisemites who celebrate the Holocaust’s perpetrators have put up an even shinier plaque, rapidly declared to be illegal by the mayor. The text of the new plaque is rather worse from the viewpoint of historic honesty, by referring to Noreika’s imprisonment by the Nazis at one point (the phenomenon of “Holocaust envy”), as if that makes a hero of a brutal Holocaust collaborator. Lithuania’s great people deserve better! Hopefully, the nation’s highest powers will remove the plaque without further delay, in the name of the rule of law, the nation’s standing, and basic human decency. See DH’s sections on: J. Noreika; Collaborators Glorified; the 2019 midsummer events that presaged the latest events.
At Aug. 7 central Vilnius rally in support of continued glorification of Holocaust collaborators. Sign at left: “Stop Judaeophile vandalism”. Poster at right asks if it is still Lithuania or already the Northern Jerusalem…
Poster advertising Aug. 7th rally blasts mayor who took action against glorification of collaborators, shows Jewish and gay pride symbols as the culprits
Photoshopped version of painting by F. Reshetnikov depicts several boys observing what seems like a Jewish-LGBT event from around the corner. Text at top reads “Škirpa and Vėtra [Noreika] are heroes of Lithuania”. The lower text depicts a rooster (“gaidys” in Lithuanian, used as a homophobic slur) and is labeled “Šimašius”, i.e., the current Mayor of Vilnius Remigijus Šimašius who recently led efforts to remove public glorification of two Holocaust collaborators. Text at bottom: “Let’s defend the heroes of Lithuania! Rally under the Mayor’s windows, by the monument of King Mindaugas. August 7 (Wed.), from 18:00 to 19:30.”
Are they aware of the systematic exclusion from their conference of all the local Jewish scholars in this field who have expressed disagreement with the glorification of Holocaust collaborators (including Holocaust survivors who have written about Jewish Vilna)? Will they consider signing Ruta Bloshtein’s petition on the old Vilna Jewish cemetery?
The Question: Will an EU/NATO democracy continue to sink government funds into glorification of Holocaust collaborators? Don’t the Lithuanian people have higher values and causes into which to invest their hard-earned taxpayer money?
Meanwhile, a naive article in National Review accepts the distorted history of Vilnius’s “Genocide Museum” (see our critique of the museum), that calls the Hitlerist “Lithuanian Activist Front” (LAF)’s outbreak of violence against Jewish neighbors a rebellion against the Soviets. The brutal Soviet occupation forces were fleeing Hitler’s invasion (the largest in human history), not the LAF Jew-killers.
These killers didn’t fire a single shot against the Soviets when they were in power. You can’t “rebel” against someone who is in panic running away from someone else. . . The Holocaust is being rewritten by the East European far right (in part to make heroes out of the Eastern European collaborators) even as leaders of major Jewish organization in the US and elsewhere remain silent.
16 June 2019
The Good Old Pattern Continues in Biržai (Birzh), Northern Lithuania:
First monument on American soil glorifying a wartime Nazi collaborator who is also a prime icon for his country’s neo-Nazis today was inaugurated last month (May 4) in the presence of the visiting Lithuanian foreign minister
Defending History’s take: “The people of Chicago, and its proud Lithuanian and Litvak communities, should not have foisted on them a monument glorifying an alleged Holocaust collaborator who led a Hitlerist militia in the early days of the Holocaust, a monument that was overwhelmingly rejected by the New Britain, Connecticut city council one year ago. And, most certainly not without a free, public and transparent process of dialogue and consultation including Holocaust survivors and their families, as well as scholars and institutions representing a diversity of opinions. A one-year moratorium is called for to enable such a process to proceed with dignity.”
DEFENDING HISTORY MONITORING TEAM WAS ON THE SCENE FROM 12 TO 3 PM ON 28 APRIL 2019
Thousands (in groups of 25) were misinformed by guides’ prepared text assurance that convention center is with permission of “European Jewish Community in 2016” (!). Soviet kitsch was praised effusively in latest ruse to turn hated Soviet dump into “a national treasure”. Rabbi S. J. Feffer confronts one of the groups with a heartfelt speech of protest informing visitors of the “wanton theft of our forefathers’ graves” and blessing those who will help stop the travesty from moving forward.
Meanwhile in London, a Serious Incident Report has been filed with the UK’s national Charity Commission requesting an investigation of the role of the CPJCE in the destruction of the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery.
“We unequivocally condemn violent acts against any property. Plaques can and will be replaced, and acts of property violence are totally illegal, inherently unethical, and utterly counterproductive to the noble cause of ridding Europe of glorification of Nazism. There needs to be dignified, peaceful and lawful civic and international pressure for the removal of all state-sponsored, public-space glorification of Holocaust collaborators, not least in Lithuania where some 96% of the Jewish population was massacred with massive local collaboration and participation. The real heroes are the amazing Lithuanians who risked everything in 1941 to just save a neighbor and we pray for the day when plaques and streets for them will abound across the land. See our own Person of the Year for 2018 and 2019.”
Verdict came down on 27 March. Since then: utter silence from the US, UK and Israeli embassies in Vilnius, and from the “Red-Brown” Commission (which has affiliations with the Genocide Center) and its foreign members representing Yivo and the American Jewish Committee. But on April 3rd, the World Jewish Congress issued a major statement, to some extent avoiding the current issue of state glorification of Holocaust perpetrators via street names and plaques.
At 1 PM on Wed. March 27th, a Vilnius Administrative Court judge read out the court’s ruling dismissing the query of US resident Grant Gochin over Lithuania’s state glorification of Nazi collaborator Jonas Noreika, active during the Holocaust in the region where Gochin lost around 100 relatives. The court said Mr. Gochin had no material interest, ruled that the state-sponsored Genocide Center had answered his query completely, without bias, and without abuse of power, in effect further enshrining in law an EU/NATO state’s glorification of Holocaust collaborators and perpetrators via the financing of ultranationalist and far-right history centers and departments determined to preserve the national hero status of Holocaust collaborators. Whenever government or municipal officials are asked about the numerous street names and plaques honoring collaborators, the invariable answer is that it is all in fact a matter for the experts at the Genocide Center.
Mr. Gochin’s academic specialist, Dr. Andrius Kulikauskas was on hand along with attorney Rokas Rudzinskas. Of the Genocide Center’s staff, only historian Dr. Arūnas Bubnys turned up, sitting in the small gallery surrounded in part by first and second generation Holocaust survivors who turned out to hear the verdict that the Western embassies, human rights organization and official (state-sponsored) Jewish community thought not worth sending an official representative to hear. By contrast the local Vilnius Jewish Community had two observers on hand.
UPDATES: Genocide Center releases statement; official Jewish community issues reply.
JTA report is picked up by some Israeli papers but not one major American media outlet, general or Jewish… Why is that?
A moment before the courtroom clock strikes 1 PM: Genocide Center’s chief historian Dr. Arūnas Bubnys (front row third from right) was the only GC official to come and hear the verdict.
Andrius Kulikauskas will go down in history not only as the hero of the day but as the true patriot of Lithuania whose love for his country is not infected by Holocaust obfuscation and the glorification of Holocaust perpetrators but by a pursuit of simple historic truth. By contrast, the Genocide Center’s shameful performance illustrated, as ever, why the government should not be using taxpayer or EU funds for a far-right ultranationalist Holocaust-obfuscating entity that disparages the freedom of Lithuanian citizens to have diverse opinions (by dictating fake history as per the Soviet playbook) and continues to damage Lithuania’s name in the world (East European democracies need state glorification of Holocaust collaborators like a hole in the head).
Evaldas Balčiūnas, whose 2012 article brought the case to international attention, was in attendance. Icing on the cake was the Genocide Center’s demand that the videographer leave at the outset. So much for government sponsorship of an open and transparent operation. There were close to 20 observers, mostly Vilnius Jewish personalities there in an individual capacity, including Prof. Pinchos Fridberg, who figured in a New York Times article on the subject last September. Elected Vilnius Jewish Community head Simon Gurevich, committed elsewhere, nevertheless made two brief appearances to show moral support for those who stand up to glorification of collaborators and to the community members in attendance. The VJC hosted Dr. Kulikauskas on Jan 14th.
“It had the air of a 21st century Lithuanian version of America’s Scopes Monkey Trial.”
Fania Yocheles Brantsovsky, Legendary Jewish Partisan who Fought the Nazis in the Forests of Lithuania, Currently Major Yiddish Culture Educator, Will be Guest of Honor at Today’s Yiddish Reading Circle
Fania Brantsovsky (left) with the late Dr. Rokhl Margolis (1921-2015) in Vilnius in 2007
6 to 7:30 PM AT THE VILNIUS JEWISH COMMUNITY, MESINIU 3 IN VILNIUS OLD TOWN. ALL ARE WELCOME!
16 February 2019
“IT PAYS TO DEFEND HISTORY”
“Once again, it becomes clear how Defending History is the true friend of Lithuania and other democratic states in the Eastern EU that need glorification of Holocaust collaborators like a hole in the head”
DH’s Vilnius monitors, observing the event for a decade, report on “significant progress”: For the first time in many years, the far-right February 16 march, though at times noxious (e.g. when a group reveled in a “Noreika plaque photo-op”), had no visible banners glorifying local Holocaust collaborators and no visible swastikas on flags, and no organized chants of “Lietuva Lietuviams” (Lithuania for Lithuanians). By contrast, a few Latvian visitors wore jackets emblazoned with “Waffen SS”. At its conclusion, two of the march’s organizers approached our team for a civil discussion which turned to the participation of “non-Catholic & non-ethnic Lithuanians” in the war of independence leading to the rise of the democratic interwar Lithuanian Republic on 16 Feb. 1918.
Vilnius Authorities Again Gifting Capital’s Storied Old Town for Far-Right March on Cherished Independence Day
Are they celebrating the Holocaust and the massacre of Lithuanian Jewry?
All of interwar Lithuania’s 239 Jewish communities (massacred in 1941) cherished and celebrated February 16th with heart and soul. They were proud Lithuanian citizens. It was also their Independence Day. See the 2013 letter from the late Joe Melamed, longtime elected leader of the Association of Lithuanian Jews in Israel, and any of countless records and pictures. Here, a photo (with bilingual Hebrew and Lithuanian handwritten captions) of the Jews of Dorbyán (Darbėnai) celebrating February 16th 1928, the tenth anniversary of independence:
“The rights of minority cemeteries to be left in peace are human rights”
Two Visualizations of a Convention Center in the Middle of Vilna’s Old Jewish Cemetery
I: Lithuania’s State Bank (“Turto Bankas”) triumphantly issues its latest visualization for a national convention center in the heart of the old Vilna Jewish cemetery, surrounded by thousands of Jewish graves. The huge new annex is “artfully” obscured (at the back).
2: Defending History issues its reply visualization. The people of Vilnius deserve a sparkling new convention center that will be a pride to all peoples everywhere, where they will be greeted by leaders of the arts, culture, music, politics, not by the tens of thousands of ghosts of the Jews of Vilna whose families purchased their burial plots in perpetuity. Join the 45,000 people who have signed Ruta Bloshtein’s international petition.
Almost 7 years after Evaldas Balčiūnas brought the case of Jonas Noreika to the English speaking world. Balčiūnas, for whom the Noreika saga but was one of many instances of his country glorifying Holocaust collaborators, wrote a series of articles that led to years of prosecution and police harassment (see his DH section, scroll down to May 2014 for the saga of the legal proceedings against him). Evaldas, who contributed research to the current trial, will be on hand at the January 15th event in central Vilnius. Come and meet Evaldas.
Don’t Lithuanian citizens deserve a sparkling new convention center where they will be welcomed by leaders of the arts, entertainment, industry and statecraft, not by the ghosts of the thousands of Vilna Jewish citizens who lie buried on all four sides, in the city’s Old Jewish Cemetery, where their families purchased their burial plots in perpetuity?
by VULOVAK for Defending History
Or, you can try the English version, but with the classic Litvak Yiddish ironic intonation:
This is what you call a convention center ?!?
◊5 December 2018
to our readers who celebrate Hanukkah
Everyone welcome at a lecture by DH editor Prof. Dovid Katz on
“USCPAHA”, funded by US taxpayers to preserve and protect threatened cemeteries abroad, has for years allegedly colluded with those seeking to site a national convention center complex in the heart of the old Vilna Jewish cemetery. Now they are being taken to court. Updates. International petition.
Topics covered in the interview include East European glorification of Holocaust collaborators, criminalization and delegitimization of dissent, investment in the rise and export of “Double Genocide” Holocaust revisionism and the failure of the US and its allies to stand up for Western values in the current geopolitical context.
26 September 2018
Ukraine’s State-Sponsored “Azov Battalion” Posts Fascist Inspired Images on Its Own Website
Will NATO, US and Ukraine’s Genuine Friends Publicly Comment?
IMAGE OF THE DAY: Elected chairperson of the Vilnius Jewish Community, Simon Gurevich, was not allowed past the security barrier, barring him from the Pope’s event to commemorate the Vilna Ghetto. At the earlier event at Ponár, he was not allowed to deliver his prepared remarks.
A plot line familiar across Eastern Europe: State investment in Holocaust commemoration, education, research (plus Jewish, Judaic and Yiddish PR toys), all in the spirit of far-right nationalist history revisionism bent on “equalizing” Nazi and Soviet crimes (and glorifying Nazi collaborators as “anti-Soviet heroes” in the process). For background see: on Holocaust museums in the region; on recent history of Holocaust studies in Lithuania.
On linkage of the specific East European brand of antisemitism to the Double Genocide movement, see new papers by Michael Shafir and Dovid Katz.
The Rights of Minority Cemeteries to be Left in Peace are Human Rights
All the more so in post-Holocaust era Eastern Europe where there are no descendants to stand up
But, in “a story for George Orwell,” greedy commercial buildings are going up in one cemetery after another, with the blessings (and boasts of “success”) from wheeler-dealer rabbis and community leaders who “negotiate a memorial to the cemetery” and some ersatz stamp of “Jewish approval” (sometimes complete with sham “reburial-of-bones” ceremonies and PR declaration of “success”). Often this takes place with collusion from London’s CPJCE and the US taxpayer fundedUSCPAHA whose members sometimes claim to be “pressured by the State Department’s policy of Our East European Allies Never Make Mistakes”. The scandal-ridden agency is sometimes called Washington’s most corrupt federal entity.
This month’s state of affairs at the famous Gwarna Jewish Cemetery in Wroclaw, in western Poland, where the new Best Western hotel nears completion. The last on-site issue is the land adjacent to the hotel: restored cemetery or still more exhumations with sham blessings? (parent chain and local operators). Who’d choose to stay in this hotel? And where in all this is Poland’s National Heritage Law?
This is what they call “saving Jewish Cemeteries in Europe”?
Wroclaw, Poland: Is this how American-born rabbis, London’s CPJCE and the US taxpayer funded USCPAHA “save Jewish cemeteries” in Eastern Europe?
It is important to investigate whether or not the Poland issues over the years are related to the allegedly corrupt London based “CPJCE” who were caught red-handed in a Wikileaks cable demanding secret payments for “supervision” in Vilnius, Lithuania, resulting in building and commercialization (Wikileaks, 2015 reports in JTA, JP, ToI, DH). They are now under investigation by the UK Charity Commission. International petition on the old Vilna Jewish cemetery (44,000 signatures), worldwide opposition, recently discovered video.
Meantime, Prague Declaration efforts are being revived in the European Parliament in 2018. In 2012, Defending History was proud to co-author the Seventy Years Declaration, boldly signed by eight Lithuanian parliamentarians.
Sources in London: Solicitors instructed by international group whose ancestors are buried in the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery to take legal action against the CPJCE with “court action to be announced by the end of July 2018”
Major documents include essays by a leading Lithuanian ethicist, Evaldas Balčiūnas (2014 and 2017) on the alleged 1941 perpetrator for whom a massive monument was slated for a “separate square” right near New Britain’s beloved Museum of American Art. Most council members were not even aware of the secretive plan, while proposed Lithuanian government financing was guaranteed, even as inquirers were told it was a local church that was the sponsor. The project was managed by the Lithuanian Consulate in New York.
The Defending History community protests the annual “Baltic Marching Season” in which states and major cities gift their most prestigious city centers for pro-Nazi marches that brim with racism and ethnic hatred, sometimes on cherished national holidays. Where are the local voices of dissent? The lavishly financed human rights monitoring organizations? Western voices? A media that reports?
Head of the Committee on the Old Vilnius Jewish Cemetery for the US government’s Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad (USCPAHA), Herbert Block (left) with Defending History editor Dovid Katz after two Vilnius meetings in mid December 2017 resulted in full agreement on the need for the national convention center project to be moved away from the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (Šnipiškės). See report. Meanwhile, international consensus comes into focus with growing support within Lithuania, including its Jewish community.
Vilnius screening of The Last Sunday in August, major new documentary film on the Holocaust in Lithuania, focused on Malát (Molėtai) in eastern Lithuania, is so far ignored by mainstream media and the “Double Genocide Industry”. To date: not one media outlet has published a review. The film documents the murder of all 2,000 Jews of the shtetl in one day (29 August 1941), entirely by enthusiastic, volunteer local murderers working for the German Nazi occupiers of their own country, who killed all of their own neighbors who were Jewish. There was not a single rescuer in the town (but there were incredibly brave Righteous in the surrounding countryside). It also documents those inspiringly courageous Lithuanian citizens today who are determined to tell the simple truth. Defending History calls on the film’s producers to make it very rapidly widely available. The film’s historic narrative and moral message are a precise opposite of the state-sponsored “International Commission for the Evaluation of the Crimes of the Nazi and Soviet Occupation Regimes of Lithuania” (“red-brown commission”) that specializes in spewing moral confusion and doubletalk.
Defending History’s comment: “Instead of simply highlighting the legitimate need to recognize, condemn, study and memorialize Communist crimes, as a distinct issue, the injection of “equality” by eight (only East European!) countries, once again underscores the far-right ultranationalist drive to obfuscate and downgrade the Holocaust by way of “Prague Declaration” style ruses to invoke a bogus equivalence between Nazism and Communism. One of the prime motives is to write the massive local collaboration (and in some countries active participation) in the Holocaust out of history, while finding cunning ways to glorify local Holocaust collaborators as “heroes”. It is high time for the West, once again, to Just Say No.”
Our take? Putin’s shameful “Zapad 17” military exercise demo, in regions bordering the eastern democratic lands of NATO and the EU, intended to intimidate their peaceful populations, needs to be exposed for what it is and countered with stalwart determination. That makes it all the more critical for NATO (and the EU) not to succumb to regional far-right, ultranationalist, chauvinist, Holocaust-revisionist, and antisemitic forces in the course of the proceedings. Indeed, when NATO has a lapse in upholding Western ideals, principles and causes, especially those for which the Allies fought during World War II and the Holocaust, it is incumbent upon genuine friends of NATO to point it out sharp and clear. This latest episode also impacts the principle that citizens of Eastern NATO countries deserve the same standards of freedom of speech and democracy as all others. It is, moreover, incumbent on US embassies in the Baltics, particularly in Vilnius, to stop defaming (as “Russian lackeys”) those (including US citizens these embassies exist to represent!) who stand up to far-right Holocaust revisionism and work for human rights in the region.
Non-Jewish Lithuanian citizens are starting to take the lead in the campaign to save the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery from plans to plonk a convention center in its center, where people would revel, cheer, drink at bars and flush toilets surrounded by thousands of Vilna Jews buried there from the 15th to the 19th centuries (a fate that would never befall a Christian cemetery in today’s EU). This poster, produced in July 2017 by Julius Norwilla, includes a quote from philosopher Dr. Andrius Kulikauskas, and the visualization created by a young Vilnius artist.
“The common denominator here is state-sponsored inversion of history for the purposes of today’s ultra-nationalist, far-right politics: Glorify the Holocaust’s collaborators, defame the victims, survivors and heroes, and you’re heading for the bogus Double Genocide (with its attendant yearned-for obfuscation of the Holocaust)” — Dovid Katz
Does the National Library’s inclusion and celebration of a center named for an “ethnic cleansing advocate” (during the Lithuanian Holocaust) derive “legitimacy” from its neighbor, the Judaic Studies Center opened less then one month ago to universal acclaim, on the same floor, by New York’s Yivo and the National Library’s leadership?
Yivo has won back a lot of credibility by now building Jewish studies in Lithuania in cooperation with the National Library and other academic institutions instead of the Red-Brown Commission and Holocaust revisionist agencies as in past years (see Yivo section, scroll to bottom to review chronologically; the 2015 letter from Vilna born Holocaust survivor Prof. Pinchos Fridberg, 2012 participation in a conference set up to camouflage the concurrent reburial with full honors of the 1941 Nazi puppet prime minister). Has the Holocaust revisionist establishment nevertheless found a way yet again to abuse the Yivo board’s good will and enlist the Yivo brand in attempts to kosherize “by juxtaposition” the glorification of Holocaust collaborators and cheerleaders? Hopefully Yivo’s leaders will this time speak out rapidly with moral clarity and ensure the new center does not remain under the same roof as its neighbor that exists to sanitize the Holocaust’s local supporters. What would Chaikel Lunski, Zelig-Hirsh Kalmanovitsh, Zalmen Reyzen, Tsemakh Shabad, and Max Weinreich have said?
Trending in Defending
A Vilnius Visualization Artist Offers Starting Point for Restoration of City’s Old Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės)
Among the 17 is Sąjūdis (Vilnius & Kaunas), whose honorary national chairman is Prof. V. Landsbergis, and whose national council includes MP Emanuelis Zingeris. Will Vilnius Mayor Remigijus Šimašius in his reply stand up for what’s right?
Annual Bandera Birthday March in Center of Kiev, Ukraine’s Capital, Now Includes “JUDEN RAUS”
Will the West maintain its silence on Ukraine’s ongoing glorification of major Holocaust collaborators? What about Western values? Will media coverage again be limited to “Jewish” and “Russian” publications? Background from 2014. Last July, a Kiev street was officially renamed for Stepan Bandera.
As 2017 gets underway, Defending History is proud to honor three Vilnius personalities, all from its Orthodox Jewish community this year, who have stood up for cherished principles against powerful forces. In all cases, the principles defended pertain not only to Jewish affairs but to human rights more generally. Their courage and determination can serve as an example to all who defend human rights and history, even when it is inconvenient and draws the ire of power-invested (often state-related) institutions. The three are Rabbi Sholom Ber Krinsky, Ms. Ruta Bloshtein, and Rabbi Kalev Krelin. More here. See from previous years the Prophet Amos Human Rights Awards and the 2014 Person of the Year.
In 2000, Dov Levin’s Trumpa žydų istorija Lietuvoje (A Short History of the Jews of Lithuania) appeared in Vilnius in the translation of Jonas Morkus, published with the assistance of the Israeli Embassy in the Baltics (then in Riga). But today’s Israeli Embassy in Lithuania (in Vilnius) has yet to release a statement on the death of the last great historian of Lithuanian Jewry of the Holocaust survivor generation. Levin was a citizen of Israel from the day of its establishment. He was a veteran of both the Jewish partisans in the forests of Lithuania and the Israeli War of Independence in 1948. After the war, he lived all his life in Jerusalem where he was professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Related: section on Israel related issues.
Reports on Vilnius Jewish Public Library panel & views of Marius Ivaškevičius, Tomas Kajokas, Rūta Vanagaitė, Jurgita Verbickienė, Irena Veisaitė, Efraim Zuroff and others: Library’s Facebook page; Lzinios.lt. Comments to Lzinios.lt article refer to Jewish partisans who have still not received an apology for defamation from state agencies, resulting in ongoing abuse for Holocaust Obfuscation in de facto public discourse (as well as permanent historical defamation). Announced panel included no member of Lithuania’s living Jewish community. Also: Vanagaitė exposes a Vilnius-region Holocaust mass grave now for sale. In 15min.lt
VILNA YIDDISH LITERARY CIRCLE TO READ FROM CHAIM GRADE (1910-1982)
EVERYONE WELCOME! Next Session Wednesday 30 November 2016, 6 PM at the Jewish Cultural and Information Center, Mėsinių Street 3 in the Old Town. Always with a sharp lens for Lithuanian Yiddish language and culture.
Holocaust Obfuscation (and deflection of blame from the actual perpetrators) not far from the surface? Law follows years of criminalization of dissent to aspects of Double Genocide, maxing out at two years of imprisonment in Lithuania, three in Hungary, five in Latvia, and ten in Ukraine. The explanation for such laws…
EARLIER REPORT (WHEN COMPETITION WAS ANNOUNCED). Winners and celebration banquet now seem to be flaunted on website of Prague Platform but suppressed on the website of the “Shoah Legacy Institute” . . .
(3) New wave of publicity on Jewish gravestones found all over Vilnius (following mayor’s “Yiddish sign” campaign), a diversion when accompanied by utter failure to condemn (or even mention) plans for new National Congress Center on top of thousands of Jewish graves where thousands will clap, cheer and urinate over remains of Vilnius citizens buried there for over half a millennium.
(4) Lithuanian Foreign Ministry source tells DH that “our Israeli ambassador” [i.e. in Vilnius] helped organize Benjamin Netanyahu’s alleged Nov. 2015 blessing for desecration of the cemetery where his own ancestors lie buried. More background to the tale of power, antisemitism (Christian cemeteries don’t get this treatment), greed, photo-op glory, and collusion against the moral force of the thousands of graves honorably purchased over 500 years by Jewish citizens of Vilnius. Israeli embassy invited to clarify its involvement (if any), and above all, to clarify PM Netanyahu’s position. See Israel issues.
GOOD WILL SOLUTION:
Preserve the old Jewish cemetery as a cemetery cum memorial park to which pilfered Jewish gravestones from all over town can be brought to stand in dignity. See essays by Julius Norwilla and Sid Leiman. Move the congress center project to a venue where it will be a pride to all the peoples of Lithuania and Europe.
In late August 2015, world’s leading Litvak rabbis came to beg the mayor of Vilnius to oppose placing the new National Congress Center atop thousands of Vilnius citizens’ graves in the old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Pitramónt.
Official Jewish community’s lay leader, Faina Kukliansky, standing in front of key government officials, valiantly challenged the sincerity of Holocaust commemoration when there are streets and squares named for major Holocaust collaborators and perpetrators. One participant said: “Her courageous remarks and invoking of specific names made for the moral highlight of the day.”
But Western media has largely ignored the deterioration of free speech on Holocaust issues in much of Eastern Europe. See Free Speechsection; the long saga of police and prosecutorial harassment of Evaldas Balčiūnas in Lithuania; and the introduction of “Double Genocide” laws criminalizing, in effect, the Western narrative of World War II, with punishments of up to 2 years imprisonment in Lithuania (2010), 3 years in Hungary (2010), 5 years in Latvia (2014), 10 years in Ukraine (2015); but no specific prison sentences mentioned in Estonia’s “Valentine’s Day Law” (2012) …
Will there finally be discussion on why so many Western and Israeli scholars don’t speak up on vastly more state-sponsored Holocaust obfuscation, history fixing, and actual glorification of collaborators in the Baltics and Ukraine? Do free speech and frank discussion end at Poland’s eastern borders?
FOR MORE BACKGROUND ON KAZYS ŠKIRPA (CENTER) SEE DH ARTICLES BY ANDRIUS KULIKAUSKAS, EVALDAS BALČIŪNAS, AND MILAN CHERSONSKI. PROF. T. SNYDER’S BLOODLANDS: “Škirpa used this suffering in his radio broadcasts to spur mobs to murder. Some 2,500 Jews […]” … (p. 192)
One of the Škirpa signs is right on the Museum of Applied Arts building. But is this what the museum wants to be known for? Could its directors join efforts to replace the name with one that brings pride and inclusiveness to modern Vilnius?
VERDICT IN: EVALDAS BALČIŪNASNOT GUILTY (AFTER 4 YEARS OF HARASSMENT AND A DOZEN 450 KM ROUND TRIPS FROM HOME — BUT COURT ALLOWS FAR RIGHT “PLAINTIFF” 20 DAYS TO APPEAL)
After years of legal harassment, Evaldas Balčiūnas is found “not guilty” of — telling the truth. He has protested his country’s government continuing to use state funds to honor Nazi collaborators and Holocaust perpetrators. Photo: Julius Norwilla for DH.
Five years ago in 2011, on the 70th anniversary of the outbreak of the Lithuanian Holocaust on 23 June 1941 and the following days — nationalist murderers killed thousands of Jewish neighbors before the first German forces arrived or assumed control — the state sponsored an array of activities honoring the “rebels” (an historic nonsense, the Soviet occupying forces were fleeing Hitler’s invasion, the largest in human history, not the local Jew-killers). That sham was followed a year later by the reburial with full honors of the Nazi puppet prime minister. This year, celebrations have been limited to fringe ultranationalist groups with the government maintaining its distance (there was a regrettable parliamentary document last Nov. proposed by some right-wing MPs, but it was largely ignored). Congratulations to Lithuania’s leaders on this progress toward historic truth during this week’s 75th anniversary of the outbreak of the Lithuanian Holocaust that left 96.4% of its Jewish residents dead. See our proposed seven solutions to the issues remaining.
Event in Paris on the Lithuanian Holocaust on Tuesday 3 May at 5 PM at 9 rue Mahler (Room 107). Organized by Yahad-in-Unum with unspecified Lithuanian partners and including a video link with a team in Lithuania…
READERS IN CALIFORNIA: We are lecturing at UCLA 17-20 April 2016. To book lectures, seminars, meetings in the days just before or after, please contact us at: info<at>defendinghistory.com. LIST OF TOPICS.
This year’s theme was a front-of-march We Know Our Nation’s Heroes banner featuring six figures who share the following unsettling common denominator: all were alleged Nazi collaborators and/or Holocaust perpetrators (from left): Adolfas Ramanauskas-Vanagas, Jonas Noreika, Povilas Plechavičius, Kazys Škirpa, Antanas Baltūsis-Žvejas, and Juozas Ambrazevičius-Brazaitis. It is as if the marchers are celebrating the murder of the 30,000 Jewish citizens of Kaunas, the more than 95% of the over 200,000 strong Lithuanian Jewish population on the eve of the Holocaust, and the resulting “cleansing” of Lithuania’s Jewish minority.
“We, (Jews) will turn Europe into mixture of Asian people — Negroes, ruled by Jews…” — R. Coudenhove-Kalergi, “Father” of European Union. NO TO THE ISLAMIZATION OF LITHUANIA!
MAJOR NEW BOOK ON THE LITHUANIAN HOLOCAUST AND ITS CURRENT LEGACIES LAUNCHED IN VILNIUS
For the first time, a Lithuanian author teams up with an Israeli Holocaust scholar in search for the truth about widespread local enthusiasm, seventy-five years ago, for mass murder of civilian neighbors, and today’s failures in coming to grips with that history, in a land of hundreds of Jedwabnes. A genuine historic advance in Lithuanian-Jewish relations is seen in the startling partnership of Rūta Vanagaitė and Dr. Efraim Zuroff in Vanagaitė’s Mūsiškiai: Kelionė su priešu (“Our People: Journey with an Enemy”). A selection of the vast media coverage is available here. The book was launched in Vilnius on 26 January 2016.
Cover-Up Attempts Crumbled Back in 2015: Adulation of Holocaust Perpetrators was Confirmed as Poroshenko and Parliament Enacted Laws “Codifying” Fascist-Leaning History and Criminalizing Other Points of View
Dr. Kulikauskas will be speaking in Lithuanian on “How to Forego, Through Dialogue, Monumental Images of Those Who Voiced the Will of the Lithuanian Nation in 1941 But Committed Crimes Against Humanity”.
His talk will be followed by an hour of open dialogue on two questions:
VILNIUS—Author Silvia Foti, the American granddaughter of the notorious Lithuanian Holocaust collaborator, Jonas Noreika, has been described as “exceptionally courageous” for publicly telling the truth about her grandfather, whom far-right elements in the Lithuanian government and its “history fixing agencies” continue to revere with street names, plaques and state-contrived history. That rewriting of history has a “higher purpose” — to downgrade the Holocaust and beyond whitewashing, to recast the local perpetrators as “heroes” (because they were “anti-Soviet,” a description that could match close to 100% of the East European Holocaust murderers). He is only one of a series of collaborators in the destruction of around 96% of Lithuanian Jewry (among the highest proportions in Holocaust-era Europe) who are regarded as “national heroes” in tandem with the vast, and lavishly state-financed, campaign to rewrite World War II as “two equal genocides,” thereby, according to some, seeking to write the Holocaust out of history as unique event here — without denying a single death.
This week, Ms. Foti launched an international petition boldly entitled “Remove all honors awarded to my grandfather Jonas Noreika.” In some ways, it is a follow-up to an earlier petition, launched some years ago by London-based Monica Lowenberg.
The twentieth century was drenched in upheavals, blood and tears. New states were founded, others were destroyed and above all, it cost so many people a huge price: to suffer broken lives and fates or to be senselessly killed. If not for the world wars, how much more would humankind have reached in science, art, literature, technology, economy and more.
Over seventy years have passed since the end of the Holocaust, and, as in the legend of Till Eulenspiegel the ashes of our people‘s annihilation during the Holocaust is still in our hearts. We do not forget them, every year we come to Ponár (Paneriai), to the fortresses of Kaunas. In my case, also to the Pivonijos forest where in the period from July to September of 1941 so many of my relatives, all simple peaceful civilians, perished, they of the Reitenbort and Kahan families. We also visit other places of mass killings.
VILNIUS—On March 27, Wednesday, at 1 PM here in Vilnius, the Vilnius Regional Administrative Court will be reading its verdict on the case filed by California resident Grant Gochin calling on the state-sponsored Lithuanian Genocide and Resistance Research Center, widely known as the Genocide Center, to revise its evaluation of Holocaust perpetrator Jonas Noreika as a hero who is worthy of state honors. Hundreds of documents have been produced demonstrating beyond all doubt his participation in the Lithuanian Holocaust (see sample document). One of the case’s sensations was the powerful and historic statement condemning Noreik’a crimes produced by his granddaughter, the American educator and author Silvia Foti.
The public and the press are welcome to attend the conclusion of this historic trial at Žygimantų Street 2 in central Vilnius.
On February 14, BBC World Service Outlook presented a 23 minute conversation with Silvia Foti and Grant Gochin about Lithuanian Holocaust perpetrator Jonas Noreika. Silvia Foti, born in Chicago, is the granddaughter of Noreika, and Grant Gochin, born in South Africa, and resident in California, is related to a hundred of his victims in the Šiauliai region. The radio show, “The truth about my ‘hero’ grandfather”, reached about 75 million listeners, a well-informed 1% of humanity.
Global interest is growing as Lithuania’s Genocide Center chooses to defend in court its refusal to reconsider its estimation of Jonas Noreika. In a similar spirit, on February 5, the State Security Department together with the Defense Ministry’s Intelligence and Counterintelligence Department warned in their 2019 National Threat Assessment Report to the Seimas: “Russian officials and subordinate propagandists seek to shape the attitude that only Nazi collaborators and Holocaust-complicit criminals supported the resistance against the Soviet occupation. To compromise the Lithuanian resistance the Kremlin cynically manipulates the Holocaust tragedy to achieve the goals of its history policy.”
VILNIUS—As the long-awaited trial opened this morning, the Genocide Center’s official and two lawyers explained to the three-judge panel that they need a lot of time to study so many documents, including some less-than-perfect printouts, hence an adjournment would be required. The next hearing was set for 5 March. In fact, the Genocide Center has for many years been familiar with the documents demonstrating Jonas Noreika’s brutal Holocaust collaboration (and has for years tried to say that they prove “only” ethnic cleansing, expulsion, isolation and ghettoization, humiliation, and plunder of all the region’s citizens who were Jewish).
Just seven people came to observe (three of them from DH’s team, nobody from abroad). There was no local media coverage as of now. US, UK, Israeli embassies sent no observers. Efforts to “muzzle the whole thing” seem to have been effective.
Update of 19 Jan: media blackout at the national and local level here has continued unbroken as of today (except for “Putin-propagandist” pseudo-media)
As trials of alleged criminals come to an end, is the era of ‘history on trial’ getting underway?
Holocaust perpetrator: glorified in marble on the central boulevard of an EU capital?
On January 15th, 2019, at 10 AM, a momentous historic court case will unfold in Vilnius, Lithuania, scheduled to start at the Vilnius Regional Administrative Court at Žygimantų 2 in the heart of the capital. Challenged by a call for removal of Holocaust collaborator Jonas Noreika from the pantheon of national heroes (including street names, memorials and an inscribed stone block on the capital’s central boulevard), the state-sponsored “Genocide Center”, a bastion of far-right extremism that, in the opinion of many, does grave damage to the image of modern democratic Lithuania, will be defending Noreika using the hard-earned tax euros of the nation’s noble citizens. See the remarkable 2018 Salon magazine essay by Noreika’s granddaughter, American author and educator Silvia Foti; DH report by Dr. Andrius Kulikauskas on the action brought by Grant Gochin. Documents include the original query (15 June), Genocide Center’s response (19 July), Mr. Gochin’s legal complaint (10 August) and the Genocide Center’s response (1 Oct.).
Editor’s note: Seven years ago, journalist, researcher and ethicist Evaldas Balčiūnas, who was born, raised and continues to live in Lithuania, began his remarkable series of articles on state “heroes” who were alleged Holocaust collaborators (or perpetrators) with his 2012 essay on Jonas Noreika (“General Storm”), published in Lithuanian and the same year, in English in Defending History. As a result, Mr. Balčiūnas (bal-CHOO-nass) was subjected to years of legal harassment and persecution by prosecutors, police, and assorted far-right “plaintiffs” (please scroll down to 22 May 2014 in the Balčiūnas section to follow the saga). The Defending History community is proud to have stood by Evaldas at each of the kangaroo trial hearings in Vilnius, and is delighted that all these years later, talented American campaigners with wherewithal have taken up the cause to major good effect, and have now brought the Noreika matter to the Vilnius courts (see report on 15th January hearing). We hope that our American friends and colleagues will see their way clear to fully crediting Evaldas Balčiūnas’s work (and noting its consequences for him) on the various new websites and blogs established, including, for starters, the excellent online Captain Jonas Noreika Museum.
The first time I heard of Jonas Noreika was back in 1993. I was chatting with Petras Dargis in the editorial room of the newspaper where I worked, here in Šiauliai, northwestern Lithuania, when a man of short stature came in. He started to scold one of the reporters for his article on Jonas Noreika. These were the times — right after the Soviet system’s collapse — when various colleagues and friends were going through the deepest corners of their memory, looking for all sorts of bits and pieces of their past struggles and sufferings.
This was particularly the case when that which was perceived by some as “their battles” or perhaps even their “glorious episodes” amounted to extraordinary suffering for others. First, Noreika’s comrades came to the editorial office and told of glorious episodes of the (so-called) Uprising of June 1941, incarceration in Stutthof, and the post-war legend of General Vėtra (Noreika’s famous nom-de-guerre which translates: General Storm). The journalist published the story, referring to respectable historical sources.
VILNIUS—Dr. Andrius Kulikauskas today released an appeal, in the Lithuanian language, that calls on fellow Lithuanian citizens to come together in opposing the ongoing national glorification of Holocaust collaborator J. Noreika in a spirit of historic integrity that would also lead to the inevitable conclusion that the controversial historical personage was in effect a Holocaust criminal. For some background on recent developments in the Noreika saga, set to culminate in a historic trial here in the Lithuanian capital on 15 January, see recent articles in DH’s Collaborators Glorified section.
The Noreika case was first brought to the attention of the English speaking world by DH’s correspondent Evaldas Balčiūnas in 2012, as part of his series on “national heroes” who were Holocaust collaborators. As a result of those articles, Mr. Balčiūnas was subjected to years of prosecutorial harassment (scroll down to 2014 in his DH section). More recently, the 2018 bold article by Noreika’s granddaughter, American author and educator Silvia Foti in Salon resulted in New York Times coverage last September, that itself followed up on the paper’s March 2018 article on Holocaust related issues in Lithuania.