The team at Defending History has witnessed quite a lot in Eastern Europe over the last decade when it comes to Holocaust obfuscation and its related ills, including glorification of actual Holocaust collaborators, defamation of Holocaust survivors who joined the resistance, and a progressive chipping away at Western norms of free speech and tolerance. It is almost as if the Western powers don’t care whether folks in the “Eastern EU” have the same rights of expression as others.
During these last few weeks, an unusually intensive convergence of events has been noticed here in Vilnius. To bring our loyal readers up to speed we thought it might be useful to summarize what’s been happening on the Lithuanian Holocaust obfuscation and history rewriting front. Links to articles are included for those interested in reading more.
Posted in Antisemitism & Bias, Christian-Jewish Issues, Collaborators Glorified, Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory
Tagged Adolfas Ramanauskas, Connecticut, Defending History (Vilnius), Dovid Katz, Efraim Zuroff, Erin E. Stewart, Holocaust Denial, Holocaust Obfuscation, New Britain, Prof. Aram Ayalon
VILNIUS—Yet again, the “Vilnius Jewish Public Library,” housed in exquisite city-center premises in a courtyard off the capital’s central Gedimino Boulevard, has been the base for a Holocaust-obfuscating event featuring stars of the state’s “Red-Brown Commission” who are dispatched far and wide to deny the existence of the state-sponsored “Double Genocide” campaign, to mitigate the campaign against Holocaust survivors, the efforts to glorify local collaborators, and to obscure entirely the Second Opinion expressed in the Seventy Years Declaration. Incredibly, the roster of invited speakers did not include Ms. Rūta Vanagaitė, author of Mūsiškiai, the new best-selling book on the Holocaust that has in effect revolutionized the country’s coming to terms with its Holocaust-era past. What is the “Jewish” Library afraid of?
Posted in "Red-Brown Commission", "Vilnius Jewish Public Library", Identity Theft of Litvak Heritage, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory
Tagged Double Genocide, Holocaust Denial, Holocaust in Lithuania, Holocaust Obfuscation, Musiskai, Prof. Saulius Suziedelis, Ruta Vanagaite, Seventy Years Declaration, Vilnius Jewish Public Library
VILNIUS—An array of local observers, speaking as usual off the record here, declared themselves “in shock” over the official response to the Jewish Community released by Prosecutor General Rimvydas Valentukevičius yesterday, dealing with widespread requests that the state’s Genocide Center — with which his Prosecutor General’s office has closely cooperated on Holocaust issues for many years — release the list of around two thousand names of alleged Holocaust murderers that it recently announced it had compiled, drawing international press attention. Over the years, the Center has been critiqued by the Wiesenthal Center and by various authors in Defending History for its alleged history-distorting antics; Evaldas Balčiūnas and Andrius Kulikauskas are among the boldest challengers of the Center’s moral integrity. (See also DH’s page on the Genocide Center, and on the museum which it directs in central Vilnius.)
The Association of Lithuanian Jews in Israel has long maintained an estimate of 23,000 local perpetrators involved in the killing. Thousands were listed on the Association’s website until June 2009 when the Israeli Foreign Ministry, under pressure from Lithuanian counterparts, itself harshly pressured the Association’s then chairperson to remove the list from its website. But it continues to circulate widely both on the internet and its fuller form is preserved in Joseph Melamed’s 1999 book, Crime and Punishment (Tel Aviv 1999), where the lists of alleged killers are organized by region and town.
Posted in Antisemitism & Bias, Collaborators Glorified, Genocide Center (Vilnius), History, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Politics of Memory
Tagged Danny Ben-Moshe, Double Genocide industry, Efraim Zuroff, Evaldas Balciunas, Fania Brancovskaja, Fania Brantsovsky, Genocide Center Vilnius, Holocaust in Lithuania, Holocaust Obfuscation, Joseph Melamed, Rachel Margolis, Rewriting History (film), Rimvydas Valentukevicius, Shimon Alperovich, Simon Wiesenthal Center, Simonas Alperavicius, Tuvia Jafet, war crimes in Lithuania, Yitzhak Arad
“I am a former Lithuanian soldier myself and have a personal remark to make. Nobody will ever force me to wear the uniform of another country’s armed forces, because I am a Lithuanian patriot. I will not wear the uniform of Russia or of Mozambique.”
Kristina Apanavičiūtė Sulikienė
One of the main Lithuanian dailies Lietuvos žinios (Lithuanian News) reported in an article on 24 November 2015 that the council of the celebrated Sajūdis organization (famed for its role in resisting the USSR and helping to achieve Lithuanian independence), had now, in 2015, decided to apply to prosecutors to take legal action over an article that had appeared in the 13 October 2015 edition of Laisvas laikraštis (Free Newspaper).
Sajūdis “decided” that the author had violated the law because he mentioned that Lithuanian postwar militants Vytautas Žemaitis, Jonas Noreika (Vėtra), Antanas Baltūsis-Žvejas and others might have been personally involved in Holocaust atrocities. [Editor’s note: See articles by Evaldas Balčiūnas on the alleged Holocaust involvement of Žemaitis, Noreika, and Baltūsis -Žvejas.]
Posted in A 21st Century Campaign Against Lithuanian Holocaust Survivors?, Collaborators Glorified, Debates on the Postwar "Forest Brothers", Free Speech & Democracy, Genocide Center (Vilnius), History, Human Rights, Kristina Apanavičiūtė Sulikienė, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Media Watch, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory, Sweden
Tagged Antanas Baltūsis-Žvejas, Birute Burauskaite, Genocide Center Vilnius, Holocaust in Lithuania, Holocaust Obfuscation, Jonas Noreika, Jonas Öhman, Kristina Apanavičiūtė Sulikienė, Vytautas Žemaitis
ive years have elapsed since this journal was founded as Holocaust in the Baltics on 6 Sept. 2009, in memory of Professor Meir Shub (1924-2009). Outside coverage includes David Hirsch in Engage and Jonathan Freedland in the Guardian (2009); Avi Friedman in Mishpacha, Ricky Ben-David in the Jerusalem Post, Mark Ames in The Nation, and Wendy Robbins on BBC World Service (2010); Cindy Mindell in the Jewish Ledger and Peter Jukes in Motley Moose (2011); Danny Ben-Moshe in his film Rewriting History (2012); Bernard Dichek in Jerusalem Report (2013); Richard Bloom in his film Defending Holocaust History (2014).
The unfortunate and wasteful campaign of Holocaust obfuscation waged by certain East European state institutions continues apace. The level of investment continues to strike outsiders as puzzling, given current economic and cultural issues and the younger population’s clear focus on the future and a better life for all in the new and multicultural European Union. Here in Lithuania, the first victims of the government’s (rather Soviet-style) “genocide industry” are the hard-working people of the country who deserve more judicious disbursement of their nation’s resources. The state-sponsored Genocide Center has just released three simultaneous editions (English, Lithuanian and Russian) of a new book on the Vilna Ghetto by historian Arūnas Bubnys, its own “director of the Genocide and Resistance Research Department.”
Dr. Bubnys is also a member of the state-sponsored “International Commission for the Evaluation of the Crimes of the Nazi and Soviet Occupation Regimes in Lithuania” (known for short as the “red-brown commission”). He was one of a minority of members of the Commission who refused to sign the (in the opinion of some, inadequate) letter of 14 October 2013 to Dr. Yitzhak Arad.
Posted in "Red-Brown Commission", Books, Double Games, Double Genocide, Dovid Katz, EU, Genocide Center (Vilnius), History, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Opinion, Poland, Politics of Memory, Ponár (Ponary, Paneriai)
Tagged Arunas Bubnys, Genocide Center Vilnius, Holocaust Obfuscation, International Commission for the Evaluation of the Crimes of the Nazi and Soviet Occupation Regimes in Lithuania, Lithuania, Vilna Ghetto, Vilnius, Yitzhak Arad
O P I N I O N
by Michael Shafir (Cluj-Napoca, Romania)
1. Approximately when did the drive to equate the Holocaust and the sufferings endured by people under Communist regimes start?
It is very difficult to pinpoint an exact date. In the West, a number of Sovietologists have long driven attention to the fact that the horrible crimes perpetuated by Stalin and his henchmen in East Central Europe deserved the attention and the opprobrium that Nazism met with after the Second World War. Due to Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s famous book Gulag, these crimes soon began to be referred to under the synthetic name of that book. The collapse of the Communist regimes in the region in 1989 and the implosion of the Soviet Union in 1991 intensified that drive, which also found an impulse in the once popular (but later criticized) “totalitarian model.” That model was now revived, finding support particularly in the eastern part of Europe that had suffered under Soviet domination. Western historians were (and still are) quite divided over this issue. For example, Robert Conquest, who produced several important books on Stalinist crimes, was reluctant to place the Holocaust and the Gulag on the same footing. On the other hand, Stéphane Courtois, who edited and contributed to the Black Book of Communism, not only embraced the comparison, but insisted on
Posted in Croatia, Double Genocide, History, Michael Shafir, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory, United Nations
Tagged Double Genocide, Holocaust Denial, Holocaust Obfuscation, Michael Shafir, Nazi and Soviet crimes, Prague Declaration (2008)
O P I N I O N
by Dovid Katz
Colleagues at the prestigious European Humanities University in Vilnius (EHU, also known as the Belarusian Humanities University, in exile here in Vilnius) have passed on the public poster for this year’s series of seminars under the title Colloquium vilnense 2013, running from May to November 2013. The A3 size poster is reproduced (much reduced) at the bottom of this page in two halves.
Posted in "Jewish" Events as Cover?, Documents, Double Games, Dovid Katz, EU, Events, Free Speech & Democracy, Germany, Lithuania, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory, Vilnius Yiddish Institute, Yiddish Affairs
Tagged Belarusian Humanities University (Vilnius), Colloquium vilnense, Colloquium vilnense + Jewish issues, Colloquium vilnense + Yiddish, EHU (European Humanities University), EHU Center for German Studies (Vilnius), European Humanities University + Yiddish, Holocaust Denial and Obfuscation, Holocaust in Lithuania, Holocaust Obfuscation, Vilnius Yiddish Institute
O P I N I O N
by Geoff Vasil
I’ve never met Christine Beresniova, but I’ve followed her career, so to speak, through the media and mutual acquaintances, and wish her only the best. She first came to my attention after apparently making some very limited and not very public criticisms of Lithuanian Holocaust education, which sufficiently pissed off the Holocaust Obfuscation establishment ensconced within the corridors of state power for them to label her some kind of Russian agent in informal conversations.
Posted in "Red-Brown Commission", Double Games, Geoff Vasil, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory, US State Dept Manipulated?
Tagged Anne E. Derse, Christine Beresniova, Efraim Zuroff, Geoff Vasil (Vasiliauskas), Holocaust Education, Holocaust Obfuscation
The Lithuanian government sponsored “International Commission for the Evaluation of the Crimes of the Nazi and Soviet Occupational Regimes of Lithuania,” known for short as the “Red-Brown Commission” has recently added a new layer of obfuscation and opacity to its activities.
Its website has deleted the names of the “Members of the Commission” thereby rendering it a kind of “secret society.”
Posted in "Red-Brown Commission", Double Games, Double Genocide, EU, Free Speech & Democracy, Media Watch, News & Views, Politics of Memory, US State Dept Manipulated?
Tagged Double Genocide, Holocaust Denial, Holocaust Obfuscation, International Commission for the Evaluation of the Crimes of the Nazi and Soviet Occupation Regimes of Lithuania, Lithuania, Red-Brown Commission Vilnius, US Embassy in Vilnius
London observers were wondering whether the medal Professor Antony Polonsky received earlier this year from the president of Lithuania for his PR work for the Lithuanian government may have something to do with his denial of Monica Lowenberg’s request, asking for five minutes for her father, a Holocaust survivor, to read out at next week’s conference her petition to the Lithuanian government, proposing constructive solutions to the issues at hand. The petition has to date garnered over 250 signatories from two dozen countries. The following is the correspondence, which started with Ms. Lowenberg’s appeal to Professor Ada Rapoport-Albert and Dr. Francois Guesnet. Dr. Guesnet, the Corob Reader in Jewish History at UCL is one of the conference coordinators on behalf of the Lithuanian government funded institutions financing the conference. Holocaust survivors consulted cannot understand why safe and secure academics who hold high posts at Western institutions should so fear “even to give five minutes for somebody else to come and disagree” with the conference’s pay-masters in the freedom of the British capital.
Posted in Documents, Double Games, Events, Foreign Ministries: Holocaust Politics Abuse?, Free Speech & Democracy, Monica Lowenberg, News & Views, Politics of Memory, UCL Manipulated?, United Kingdom
Tagged Antisemitism Lithuania, Antony Polonsky, Dept of Hebrew & Jewish Studies, Francois Guesnet (Corob Fellow), Holocaust in Lithuania, Holocaust Obfuscation, Michael Berkowitz + Lithuania, Michael Berkowitz UCL, Monica Lowenberg, UCL
B O O K S
by Olga Zabludoff
Review of We Are Here: Memories of the Lithuanian Holocaust by Ellen Cassedy. University of Nebraska Press, 2012.
Had this title been billed as a simple memoir of Cassedy’s trip to Lithuania in the summer of 2004, my criticism of her book would be tempered. She had gone to the land of her ancestors to study Yiddish at the Vilnius Yiddish Institute and to connect with her Jewish roots. The professors and mentors she encounters at the Yiddish Institute come alive, as do the various Lithuanians and Jews with whom she connects. Cassedy is a good writer who captures physical details well. But even at that, this reviewer found the memoir to be superficial.
The major problem is that Cassedy’s book is being promoted as the Bible of the Lithuanian Holocaust by advocates for the current Lithuanian government and elite establishment which aspire to paint for the outside world a distorted version of the Holocaust. A version defined in shades of gray and the confusion they generate. A version that incorporates the mythology of equivalency between crimes committed by the Nazi and Soviet occupation regimes.
SEE ALSO THE REVIEWS BY
Posted in "Jewish" Events as Cover?, Books, Double Games, Double Genocide, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Olga Zabludoff, Opinion, Politics of Memory, United States, VilNews.com
Tagged Double Genocide theory, Ellen Cassedy, Holocaust in Lithuania, Holocaust Obfuscation, Olga Zabludoff, We are Here. Memories of the Lithuanian Holocaust
O P I N I O N
by Dovid Katz
Can history be bought up by even a small state’s nationalist government that has talked itself into the idea that revision of history and wide acceptance of that revision is somehow a national cause? It becomes a serious issue when that state is willing to invest heavily in the enterprise, at a time when the targeted influential foreigners are far from the issues at hand and easily manipulated.
Posted in Double Games, Double Genocide, Dovid Katz, Foreign Ministries: Holocaust Politics Abuse?, Identity Theft of Litvak Heritage, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory, United States
Tagged Adrienne Oleck, American Jewish Committee, Antisemitism in Lithuania, Double Genocide, Harley Felstein, Holocaust in Lithuania, Holocaust Obfuscation, Mervyn Danker
O P I N I O N
by Evaldas Balčiūnas
Who was Jonas Noreika?
Jonas Noreika (1910-1947), also known by his nom de guerre, General Vėtra, has been named by the current Lithuanian government as “an important member of the resistance” and an object of every sort of heroic commemoration.
In 1997 he was posthumously awarded the Order of the Cross of Vytis, First Degree. The same year a memorial plaque was placed on the facade of the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences Library in Vilnius.
Library of the Academy of Sciences in Vilnius. The red arrow marks the Noreika plaque.
The Noreika plaque
Posted in Collaborators Glorified, Debates on the Postwar "Forest Brothers", Evaldas Balčiūnas, Exotic Jewish Tourism, Genocide Center (Vilnius), History, Lithuania, News & Views, Opinion, Plungyán (Plungė), Politics of Memory, State Glorification of Holocaust Collaborator J. Noreika, Symbology
Tagged Evaldas Balciunas, General Vetka, Generolo Vetro gatve, Genocide Center, Glorification of War Criminals in Eastern Europe, Holocaust in Lithuania, Holocaust Obfuscation, Jonas Noreika, LIETUVOS MOKSLU AKAKEMIJOS VRUBLEVSKIU BIBLIOTEKA, Lithuanian Academy of Sciences Library, streets named for Holocaust perpetrators, Vilnius
The Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Israel Office today released a statement in which its director, Holocaust historian Dr. Efraim Zuroff, calls for an apology from the European Union’s ambassador to Afghanistan, Vygaudas Ušackas, for insensitive and misleading remarks on the Lithuanian Holocaust in a 6 December 2011 Wall Street Journal article. A letter of protest by Jack Zwanziger of Chicago appeared in the WSJ on 14 December 2011.
Posted in Collaborators Glorified, Double Games, Double Genocide, EU, Lithuania, Media Watch, News & Views, Politics of Memory
Tagged Efraim Zuroff, Holocaust Obfuscation, Holocaust Trivialization, Lithuanian Foreign Minister + Holocaust, Lithuanian government + Holocaust, Simon Wiesenthal Center Israel Office, Vygaudas Ušackas
O P I N I O N
by Rachel Croucher (Melbourne)
Although not seeking to deny the Holocaust, the ultimate consequence of the movement to redefine genocide is the equalization of National Socialist and Soviet crimes. The characterization of Soviet crimes as genocide is a misrepresentation that hinders authentic remembrance of the Holocaust in Lithuania by helping to obscure the extent and nature of Lithuanian complicity in the killings of the local Jewish population.
The idea that the crimes of Hitler and successive Soviet regimes are in fact equal has been a growing force behind public discourse on the Holocaust since the formulation of the national Holocaust and Genocide Education Program at the sixth meeting of The International Commission for the Evaluation of the Crimes of the Nazi and Soviet Occupation Regimes in Lithuania in June 2002.
Posted in "Jewish" Events as Cover?, "Red-Brown Commission", Australia, Double Genocide, EU, Free Speech & Democracy, History, Opinion, Politics of Memory, Rachel Croucher, Views of Mr. Ronaldas Račinskas
Tagged Double Genocide, Emanuelis Zingeris, Holocaust Obfuscation, International Commission for the Evaluation of the Crimes of the Nazi and Soviet Regimes in Lithuania, Rachel Croucher, Red-Brown Commission, Red-Brown Equation, Ronaldas Racinskas
O P I N I O N
by Grzegorz Rossoliński-Liebe
Aleksander Gogun, a historian at Potsdam University and at Humboldt University
of Berlin, and Aleksander Vovk, are the joint authors of an article, originally published in 2005, that obfuscates the Holocaust and denies the anti-Jewish violence of the Ukrainian nationalists. The article, in Russian, Evrei v bor’be za nezavisimuiu Ukrainu (Jews in the Struggle for an Independent Ukraine), presented in academic format, continues to appear on the nationalist website titled OUN-UPA at http://oun-upa.org.ua.
The article, posted at http://lib.oun-upa.org.ua/gogun/pub07.html, gives the impression that Jews served and fought willingly and enthusiastically in the UPA (Ukrainian Insurgent Army, Ukraїns’ka Povstans’ka Armiia) for an independent Ukrainian state. From the very outset of their article the authors claim that there were no pogroms in Ukraine in 1941, that Ukrainian nationalists never had a negative attitude toward the Jews and that Ukrainians who served in the German police during World War II did not participate in the Holocaust. The authors call all these things “stereotypes of Soviet propaganda” and imply that they never existed or happened.