VILNIUS—Jewish Community chairperson Faina Kukliansky, a prominent lawyer here in the Lithuanian capital, today released on the community’s official website the text of her letter to the mayor of Vilnius calling for the removal of a plaque honoring the notorious Holocaust collaborator Jonas Noreika. The letter follows her bold speech at the 23 September Ponár (Paneriai) memorial which likewise called on government officials to remove honors for Holocaust perpetrators, citing three prominent collaborators by name.
There was immediate speculation on which human rights, Jewish and Israeli organizations, here and internationally, would react with rapid public expressions of support for the chairperson’s letter. The charismatic young mayor of Vilnius has a colorful record on Jewish issues, which Defending History has been following for years, starting with his earlier stint as justice minister.
Posted in Antisemitism & Bias, Christian-Jewish Issues, Debates on the Postwar "Forest Brothers", EU, Lithuania, Lithuania's Jewish Community Issues, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory, State Glorification of Holocaust Collaborator J. Noreika, Vilnius Mayor Remigijus Šimašius
Tagged Antisemitism in Lithuania, Evaldas Balciunas, Faina Kukliansky, Holocaust Collaborators Honored, Holocaust in the Baltics, Jewish Community of Lithuania, Jonas Noreika, Noreika plaque, Remigijus Šimašius
The year 2016 marks the 75th anniversary of the genocide of the Jews of the Lithuanian shtetls, the smaller towns, villages and countryside, in fact, a solid majority of Lithuanian Jewry (with a smaller component being kept alive in four cities for slave labor and rolling annihilation over the remaining years of the Holocaust). Marking the anniversary, at the end of August and beginning of September this year (a period in 1941 when a number of the local massacres were concentrated), there have been commemorative events in (Yiddish names first) Birzh (now: Biržai), Dusát (Dusetos), Malát (Molėtai), Shádov (Šeduva), Vílkomir (Ukmergė) and more. By far the largest event took place at Malát on the 29th of August. The project, leading to establishment of a new foundation, was initiated by Tzvi Kritzer. The speakers included high representatives from the Lithuanian government, its official Jewish community, and various public and cultural representatives.
Posted in Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Christian-Jewish Issues, Commemorations for Destroyed Communities, Events, Julius Norwilla, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Malát (Molėtai), News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory
Tagged Efraim Zuroff, Holocaust in Malat, Holocaust in the Baltics, Jonas Zvinys, Julius Norvila, Julius Norwilla, Leon Kaplan, Lithuania, Malat (Moletai), Musiskiai, Ruta Vanagaite, Stasys Zvinys, Viktorija Kazlienė, white armbanders (1941), Zuroff and Vanagaite
VILNIUS—For the tiny and dwindling group of Holocaust survivors in this part of the world, the indelibly cursed day the genocide began was June 23rd 1941, when hordes of young local “nationalists,” some affiliated with the fascist Lithuanian Activist Front (LAF) — which had put in writing its intentions for Jewish fellow-citizens beforehand — began to murder, plunder and rape their neighbors in at least forty locations before the first German soldiers even got there, as confirmed by numerous historians and eyewitnesses. Within a few days, most would don white-armbands.
Posted in Celebrations of Fascism, Collaborators Glorified, Human Rights, Legacy of 23 June 1941, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Media Watch, News & Views, Politics of Memory
Tagged Holocaust in Lithuania, Holocaust in the Baltics, LAF (Lithuanian Activist Front), Vytautas Magnus University
During World War II, numerous proofs of the systematic massacre of the Jews on a large scale had made known to the allied leaders. As the British had very early in the course of the war cracked the Enigma code, their Intelligence Service could read nearly all military dispatches sent by the German units to their headquarters, including those daily reports sent by the Einsatzgruppen leaders who duly sent the daily figures of the Jews and other “enemies” they had killed. One of these reports told of some 30,000 Jews having been killed.
by Monica Lowenberg
In 2011, I made my first journey to Riga, the capital city of Latvia.
A few months before, I had been tracked down by two distant cousins on a genealogy site, quite out of the blue. I remember the strange feeling I had when one of them asked me if I felt “Latvian.” Latvian? German Christian, German Jewish, British, yes — but Latvian Jewish? No.
Posted in Latvia, Memoirs, Monica Lowenberg, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory, Riga's Waffen SS Marches, United Kingdom
Tagged Holocaust in Latvia, Holocaust in the Baltics, Monica Lowenberg, Paul Lovenbergs, Riga Ghetto
O P I N I O N
by Efraim Zuroff
From today’s Times of Israel.
The visit to Israel of a foreign prime minister used to be a big deal. That’s why there were so many photos of Burmese head of state U Nu’s visit in the early sixties. Those days, however, are long gone and today when most prime ministers visit us it’s usually of little or no interest to anybody and they get almost no coverage unless they are major world figures.
That would help explain why I only found out Tuesday morning that Estonian Prime Minister Andrus Ansip was to be touring Yad Vashem that day.
Ostensibly, that is no occasion of any particular significance, and the visit is more or less a pro forma requirement for any head of state coming to Israel in that capacity, especially if he or she has never been here before. But that is not true in the case of the Estonian leader, who heads a country that is suffering from a severe Baltic variant of post-Communist Eastern European Holocaust amnesia. This is an intellectual disease whose four main characteristics are a systematic minimization of crimes by local Nazi collaborators, a distinct lack of political will to prosecute and punish such individuals, a tendency to glorify locals who fought alongside the Nazis – in Estonia’s case in Waffen-SS units – and a determination to promote the historical canard of supposed equivalency between Nazi and Communist crimes.
Posted in Double Genocide, Efraim Zuroff, Estonia, Israel, News & Views, Opinion
Tagged Andrus Ansip, Efraim Zuroff, Holocaust and Israel, Holocaust in Estonia, Holocaust in the Baltics, Jaanika Kressa
E Y E W I T N E S S R E P O R T / O P I N I O N
by Roland Binet (Braine-l’Alleud, Belgium)
RIGA—The day is a festive one despite the gray and low sky. Young pretty girls have bunches of roses which they soon distribute to elderly and solemn gentlemen arriving, row upon row in an interminable procession. Numerous national flags are held in a heraldic and staid way by young men forming a kind of double guard of honor.
Posted in Antisemitism & Bias, Celebrations of Fascism, Collaborators Glorified, Events, Human Rights, Latvia, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory, Riga's Waffen SS Marches, Roland Binet
Tagged Holocaust in Latvia, Holocaust in the Baltics
E Y E W I T N E S S R E P O R T / O P I N I O N
by Dovid Katz
RIGA—According to most estimates, there were around 1500 participants today in the city-center ceremony honoring the Waffen SS, about 1000 police, and about one hundred protesters who turned out in opposition to the event.
The ongoing campaign by some East European governments to repackage far-right ultranationalist politics and policies (with concomitant antisemitic, racist and Nazi-glorifying undertones) as a wholesome British-conservative-style “center right” has suffered a major blow. The battleground of ideas has in recent weeks shifted to the annual Waffen SS commemoration ceremony held at Liberty Monument, the symbolic heart of the capital of Latvia, with the blessing of some of the nation’s top leaders.
Posted in Antisemitism & Bias, Celebrations of Fascism, Collaborators Glorified, Dovid Katz, Events, Human Rights, Latvia, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory, Racism, Riga's Waffen SS Marches, Symbology
Tagged Holocaust in Latvia, Holocaust in the Baltics
Professor Mikhail Iossel, director of Summer Literary Seminars (SLS) and the newly established Litvak Studies Institute (LSI) released this statement today on the LSI website.
Litvak Studies Institute Protests Lithuanian Government’s “Fake Litvak” Forum, Calls on State to Halt PR Gimmickry and Reverse Anti-Jewish Policies
Posted in Press — 20 July 2010
For the dwindling number of aged Litvak survivors who grew up in the East European Jewish civilization decimated by the Holocaust, the anti-Jewish and Holocaust-distorting policies of the Lithuanian government in recent years are deeply painful.
Posted in "Jewish" Events as Cover?, Antisemitism & Bias, Double Games, Identity Theft of Litvak Heritage, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Mikhail Iossel, News & Views, The Great SLS About-Face
Tagged Andrius Kubilius, Deividas Matulionis, Dovid Katz, Fake Litvak Forum, Holocaust in the Baltics, Jewish partisans in Lithuania, Lithuanian-Jewish relations, Litvak Studies Institute (LSI), Mikhail Iossel, Mikhail Iossel + Vilnius, Summer Literary Seminars (SLS Lithuania)
Professor Meir Shub
Holocaust in the Baltics, established on 6 September 2009, is dedicated to the memory of Professor Meir Shub (1924—2009), pictured at right teaching a class at Vilnius University in the early 2000s.
A historian and philosopher, he dedicated the last decades of his life to rebuilding Jewish studies in Vilnius, despite severe health issues deriving from his World War II wounds sustained as a Red Army soldier during the struggle against Nazism.
He was determined to inspire and train students of all backgrounds who would freely research Judaic topics, including the Holocaust. He was convinced that the success of these studies depended on the retention of a robust and intellectually free-feeling Jewish community component in such projects in Eastern Europe.
Meir Shub’s booming voice (which grew louder as his deafness worsened), straight talk, and high Litvak expectations of his students were trademarks. He is sorely missed. He played a pivotal role in achieving the first Oxford-Vilnius agreement in Judaic studies, and, in 1991-1992, was a visiting fellow at the Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies at Oxford University. His works include a study of the Gaon of Vilna.