VILNIUS—Defending History today inaugurated a new section, in the Lithuanian language, on the international efforts calling for restoration of the old Vilna Jewish cemetery at Piramónt and for the Jewish heritage of Vilna and Lithuania to not be defiled by a convention center surrounded by a half millennium of Litvak graves. The convention center project can easily be moved to another appropriate venue. The section aims to provide content stemming from various communities within Lithuania as well as translations of the international outcry over the convention center project.
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
INCLUDING REDEFINITION OF GENOCIDE; GLORIFICATION OF HOLOCAUST PERPETRATORS AS “FREEDOM FIGHTERS”; AND CAMPAIGN OF REPUTATION DESTRUCTION AGAINST HOLOCAUST SURVIVORS WHO JOINED THE ANTI-NAZI RESISTANCE
Left to right: Evaldas Balčiūnas, Milan Chersonski and Darius Pocevičius on Monday 30 Nov. 2015 after another “totally time-wasting” hearing in the case against Balčiūnas and Pocevičius for their articles condemning fascism and the adulation of Holocaust collaborators. A more substantial hearing is now promised for Thursday 10 December, 3:30 PM (15:30), as ever at Vilnius District Court at Laisves prospektas 79a. Hopefully at long last human rights and free speech advocates, and opponents of Holocaust falsification will come to monitor. They are still looking for a pro bono human rights lawyer. For background (for English readers) please see Evaldas’s articles (and the legal harassment he has been enduring) by scrolling to the end and surveying chronologically (upwards) his articles exposing the glorification of Holocaust collaborators.
Conference press release invokes summaries of views of major foreign heritage specialists who took part in the conference. But their own statements awaited. Click here for a directory of opponents, including Holocaust survivors, heritage specialists and others in Vilnius whom delegates would have enjoyed hearing out.
One of the keynote morning speakers (amateur video) at the 30 Sept. conference, known for his documentary films that ignore the alleged Holocaust atrocities of “heroes” as well as for his incessant Israel-baiting (and of late association with far-right antisemitic Ukrainian nationalists), proposes solving Mideast issues and local antisemitism at once by “bringing the Palestinians to Vilnius, Jerusalem of the North” [!]. Israeli ambassador boldly calls him out (see from timecode 13:17) for “rewriting history” of Israel’s struggles. The organizer, the “Human Rights Monitoring Institute” has record of ignoring antisemitism and failing to even mildly protest neo-Nazi marches in city centers on independence days or the abuse of prosecutorial power to harass Lithuanian truth-tellers about the Holocaust and local antisemitism.
CONFERENCE FEATURED EXCELLENT PRESENTATIONS ON HISTORY OF THE HOLOCAUST IN GENERAL, ANTISEMITISM IN GENERAL, AND ISSUES OF ISLAMIST RADICALIZATION IN WESTERN EUROPE. DANGERS OF THE FAR RIGHT DISCUSSED BY SPEAKERS FROM HUNGARY AND NORWAY, IGNORED OR PLASTERED OVER FOR LITHUANIA.
Ponár (Paneriai) Commemoration on Lithuania’s Annual Holocaust Day is Dejudaicized Even More in “Nationalist Takeover of Litvak Heritage”: No Rabbi, No Cantor, No Kaddish
But ethnic Lithuanian costume and song are featured at the mass grave of Vilna Jewry. Honor guard with bayoneted rifles was a questionable touch.
There were well-received speeches by (among others) Jewish community chairperson Faina Kukliansky; MP Emanuelis Zingeris; survivor and partisan hero Fania Yocheles Brantsovsky; and president of Beit Vilna in Tel Aviv, Mickey Kantor. There was a well-organized laying of stones by schoolchildren at the main monument.
The Israeli ambassador’s speech was considered a disappointment by some survivors in attendance. There was no mention of the recent death of Dr. Rachel Margolis (1921-2015), an Israeli-Lithuanian citizen, and Vilna Ghetto and anti-Nazi partisan hero. She discovered and published Kazimierz Sakowicz’s long lost eyewitness diary revealing the gruesome truth about Ponár. She dreamt of one last trip to her native Vilna but was intimidated by the prosecutors’ campaign of defamation against her and other Jewish partisan heroes. It was a sharp and painful contrast with the stirring and unforgettable words of the late Israeli ambassador to the Baltics, Chen Ivri Apter. Margolis’s life was considered worthy of note by, among many others, Lithuania’s late president, Algirdas Brazauskas, former UK prime minister Gordon Brown, the ADL’s Abraham Foxman, the late Sir Martin Gilbert, a British House of Lords member, and five members of the US Congress.
IS THE COMMITTEE CHOOSING THE NEW CHIEF RABBI REALLY BOUND TO ENSURE HE WILL BE “GOVERNMENT MAN” AND SUPPORT A $25,000,000 CONVENTION CENTER IN THE MIDDLE OF THE CITY’S OLD JEWISH CEMETERY? DE-LEGITIMIZED FROM DAY ONE?
At the meeting with Vilnius Mayor Remigijus Šimašius (right to left): Rabbi David Niederman (Central Rabbinical Congress of the USA and Canada); Rabbi Osher Kalmanowitz (dean of Mir Yeshiva, Brooklyn, N.Y.); Rabbi Avrohom Yaffe Schlesinger (chief rabbi of the Orthodox community in Geneva, Switzlerand); Rabbi Malkiel Kotler (dean of Beth Medrash Govoha, Lakewood, N.J.).
At the old Soviet Sports Palace on the old cemetery (left to right): Rabbi Osher Kalmanowitz, Rabbi Schlesinger, Dr. Schaps, Rabbi David Niederman, Rabbi Chizki Kalmanowitz (Asra Kadisha, Jerusalem).
Above: Prime Minister of Lithuania Algirdas Butkevičius welcomes London-based rabbis from CPJCE who “permitted” a $25,000,000 convention center project for the middle of the old Vilna Jewish cemetery. Below: Government’s top Jewish affairs maestro Lina Saulėnaitė entertains the delegation. PM is 3rd from left. A 2009 document refers to these rabbis being paid $100,000 for “supervising” some “beautification” and “exploratory digging” but what are they being paid this time, for “supervising” construction of the convention and entertainment center?
Escaped to join the partisans and fought valiantly against the Nazis in the forests of Lithuania. The only one in her family to survive the Holocaust.
Volunteered for the short-lived Jewish museum after the war.
Dedicated half a century to Biology, as PhD and professor, at Vilnius University.
Helped establish the Green House Holocaust museum in Vilnius. Rediscovered, deciphered and published Kazimierz Sakowicz’s diary of Ponár. Author of a remarkable memoir. Beloved guide, lecturer and teacher on Jewish Vilna and the Holocaust. A beloved lecturer at the Vilnius Summer Program in Yiddish untl prosecutors’ threats prevented her coming in 2008 and beyond. Will there be a session honoring her at this summer’s program? Will students be told about her accomplishments?
At 90, she was afraid to return to her beloved Vilna for one last visit she yearned for. The Lithuanian government refused to reach out to her, its ambassadors in Israel would not acknowledge her, while prosecutors repeated threats of kangaroo “war crimes investigation” (most recently for the record in the 2012 documentary “Rewriting History“).
Rachel Margolis (second from right) honored at Tel Aviv’s Leivick House in June 2009. From left to right: Dalia and Ambassador Chen Ivri Apter; Prof. Dov Levin; Prof. Israel Bartal; Prof. Dovid Katz; Leivick House director Daniel Galay.
June 23rd 2016 will mark the 75th anniversary of the outbreak of the Holocaust in dozens of Lithuanian towns. The Soviet army was fleeing Hitler’s invasion of 22 June 1941 (the largest invasion in human history), not the LAF murderers, but some nationalists, antisemites, Double Genociders and far-right revisionists want to turn Holocaust perpetrators into “anti-Soviet rebels.” See details from the last time around, the 70th anniversary of 2011. Defending History was there to cover it all: The events, the LAF’s intentions, the Jewish Community’s response, the government attempts to play double games. See also Brandišauskas’s classic critique of an earlier attempt by Liekis to turn the reign of Hitlerist terror into a glorious chapter of modern history.
“Equally” at Monuments for Jewish, Lithuanian and Polish Victims, but Skipping the Stone Commemorating the 7,514 Red Army Prisoners of Various Nationalities Starved and Murdered at the Site.
NO WREATHS HERE. Presidential wreaths for all but this one: modest plaque in memory of 7,514 Red Army prisoners-of-war, of various nationalities, starved and murdered.
The Lithuanian monument bewreathed on May 8th is not for Lithuanian civilians or anti-Nazis, but for a group of volunteers for pro-Nazi service who were then shot for alleged desertion. The one Jewish MP paid tribute there as well.
May 8th (Western Europe) and May 9th (Eastern Europe) Commemorate the Allied Victory over Hitler in Europe. But the government’s commemoration activities offered zero mention of the sacrifices of the forces that defeated Hitler and brought an end to the genocide at Ponár.
ANOTHER SHOCK FOR VETERANS AND SURVIVORS, AND FOR OBSERVERS OF THE CAMPAIGN TO USURP THE MASS MURDER SITE OF VILNA JEWRY — AND THE HOLOCAUST — FOR CURRENT POLITICAL ENDS
But no government officials turned up at the later event commemorating Jewish partisans and war veterans at the Jewish cemetery
Free thought in East European academia: Dissenters to “Double Genocide” dismissed, then accused of being non-academics? Coming soon: Prof. Michael Shafir’s “Deflection and Obfuscation.” Also: Times of Israel report.
16 March 2015
In the East of EU-NATO-Land: Again, Latvian Authorities Grant Riga Old Town and its “Liberty Monument” on March 16th to 1500 Worshippers of Hitler’s Waffen SS Latvian Divisions
All Waffen SS members swore an oath to Adolf Hitler, some were recycled Holocaust killers. Lithuania’s far-right leaders J. Panka and R. Čekutis, fresh from neo-Nazi march in Vilnius, were on hand as honored guests; British neo-Nazis came for the event. For the second year in a row, the prime minister forbade ministers from attending. The antisemite who went around seeking Jewish observers to “enlighten” them (video).
Top left: Sea of flowers placed at Liberty Monument to honor Waffen SS. Top right: throng marches through historic old town. Bottom from left: heavy police presence; an antisemitic poster distributed by one of the event’s supporters.
Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Dr. Efraim Zuroff leads a silent, peaceful protest of Just 2 (SWC and Defending History)
Top: Dr. Efraim Zuroff is besieged by a throng of media. Bottom: He and Dovid Katz made for an on-site protest of just 2; Famous Latvian Jewish tour guide and genealogist Alex Feigmanis makes an appearance too.
Separate protest by “Latvia Without Nazism” was allowed after event’s conclusion, with members carrying symbolic fumigation gear to Liberty Monument after Waffen SS admirers’ departure.Monica Lowenberg’s international petition reaches 6700 mark.
Once the main event was over and the “Waffen SSers” had left, a small contingent from “Latvia Without Nazism” (affiliated with the controversial “World Without Nazism”) was allowed to protest. Led by the ever colorful Joe Koren (top), the group dressed as fumigation & disinfection specialists, with full gear and uniforms, to symbolically clear away the pro-Nazi residue of the marchers.
“Lithuania for Everyone. But where, then, is the country of the Lithuanians?” The signs read “I am Lithuania” with symbols interpolated, based on the actual sign (center) carried by head of the Union of Jewish Students at last Wednesday’s neo-Nazi march in central Vilnius.
The poster’s theme, mocking the inclusivist “Lithuania for Everybody [visiems]” (the common reply to the neo-Nazis’ “Lithuania for Lithuanians” [Lietuviams]) is taken from the courageous anti-Nazi demonstration by the head of the Union of Jewish Students in Lithuania at the city-center neo-Nazi event allowed by authorities on the nation’s independence day. See next story.
11 March 2015
1,500 Neo-Nazis and Far-Right Extremists Again Given Vilnius’s Main Boulevard on Nation’s March 11th Independence Day; They Parade from Cathedral Square to Nation’s Parliament with Fascist Symbols and Chants of “Lietuva Lietuviams” (Lithuania for [Pure] Lithuanians)
Section of the march gets underway at Vilnius’s Cathedral Square on the March 11th independence day event organized by neo-Nazi and far-right elements with state acquiescence.
Flag with Swastika Hoisted Outside Nation’s Parliament for Over an Hour
Photo: Geoff Vasil
For First Time, Leaders of Jewish Community, Including Chairperson Faina Kukliansky, and Jewish Student Union Come Out to Monitor and Protest the Vilnius March; Community Issues Statement; But No Sign of “Human Rights Monitoring Institute” or Bagels.
Amit Belaitė, president of Jewish Students’ Union boldly approaches far-right figure Ričardas Čekutis with sign that reads (in Lithuanian): “I am [star-of-david] Lithuania”. For years, Mr. Čekutis was a high official of the Genocide Center. Photo: DefendingHistory.com.
Continuing to flank the fascist spokesman (right), Ms. Belaitė is supported by Simas Levinas (left), head of the Jewish Religious Community of Lithuania. Photo: DefendingHistory.com.
Left to right: Julius Norwilla, Markus Pollak, Dovid Katz, Simas Levinas, Pinchos Fridberg, Efraim Zuroff, Milan Chersonski. For a dozen years (1999-2011), Mr. Chersonski edited the Jewish community’s quadrilingual newspaper, Jerusalem of Lithuania. Photo: DefendingHistory.com.
Once again, thousands of fascists march past the “Jewish Public Library” and once again, not one member of staff came out to politely protest the glorification of fascism in a city whose 60,000 Jews were massacred. Photo: DefendingHistory.com.
Right-wing party politician Emanuelis Zingeris unexpectedly bumps into the SWC / Defending History crowd near the march. He was warm and chatty, but when invited to be photographed together with our team, says “Bye” and heads down Gedimino Boulevard via express. Photos: DefendingHistory.com. However, thanks to Julius Norwilla’s camera, the image of a cetain threesome was captured. SEE ALSO: Geoff Vasil’s take on the encounter.
Scenes from the day….
Photomontage by DefendingHistory.com
From the monitors…
Photomontage by DefendingHistory.com
16 February 2015
Wiesenthal Center – Defending History Team of 12 Monitors & Protests Kaunas Independence Day Neo-Nazi March
Dozen protesters (vs. a march of up to 500) included five members of Lithuanian Jewish community (in private capacity), but no sign of any Bagels or other funded antisemitism (or human rights) monitors.
New Book Poses Question for US and EU Foreign Policy. Should the West not demand, as matter of ethics, values and history, the abandonment of allies’ state glorification of major Holocaust collaborators?
22 November 2014
A Historic Low for US (and Canadian) Foreign Policy?
The Real Question: Should the US, UK, Canada, the EU and the rest of the free world not sponsor their own resolution combating the glorification of Nazism which is a real problem in the eastern EU and Ukraine?
Seventy Years Declaration (SYD) Relaunched for 2015
PROF. DANNY BEN-MOSHE LAUNCHES DECLARATION’S NEW WEBSITE ◊ RELAUNCH FOR JANUARY 2015 HOLOCAUST MEMORIAL DAY ON 70th ANNIVERSARY OF LIBERATION OF AUSCHWITZ ◊ NEED UNDERLINED BY THE BALTIC-NATIONALIST INSPIRED RESOLUTION SLIPPED INTO THE US CONGRESS LAST JUNE
HOPES RISE FOR LITHUANIAN GOVERNMENT PUBLIC APOLOGY TO DR. YITZHAK ARAD, HOLOCAUST SURVIVOR, HERO OF THE ANTI-NAZI RESISTANCE AND ISRAEL’S WAR OF INDEPENDENCE, MAJOR HOLOCAUST SCHOLAR AND FORMER DIRECTOR OF YAD VASHEM
The Defending History Community Celebrates the 77th Birthday of
Vilnius author (in Russian), editor (in English, Lithuanian, Russian, Yiddish), historian (European), theatre director (Yiddish) and tireless, fearless (global) intellectual champion in the struggle against the far right’s Holocaust revisionism, racism and antisemitism
A pillar of strength in the Jewish Community of Lithuania and far beyond
In his final months, London Holocaust survivor Ernst Lowenberg, a native of Halle am Saale in Germany, wrote to UK prime minister David Cameron asking the government to take a stand on East European Holocaust revisionism.
Ukrainian Government’s Use of Neo-Nazi Paramilitaries is Reported by London’s Daily Telegraph
“But Kiev’s use of volunteer paramilitaries […] should send a shiver down Europe’s spine. Recently formed battalions such as Donbas, Dnipro and Azov, with several thousand men under their command, are officially under the control of the interior ministry but their financing is murky, their training inadequate and their ideology often alarming. The Azov men use the neo-Nazi Wolfsangel (Wolf’s Hook) symbol on their banner and members of the battalion are openly white supremacists, or antisemites.”— Tom Parfitt in the Daily Telegraph.
Azov Unit fighting for Ukraine’s government. Photo: Tom Parfitt (Telegraph)
BUT USE OF PRO-HITLER ELEMENTS BY WASHINGTON’S ALLY GETS ONE SENTENCE AT END OF NEW YORK TIMES REPORT
Bunk’s massive wooden sculpture at the forest hill spot (Plungyán/Plungė, western Lithuania), where 74 teenage Jewish girls (from the local high school) were murdered by locals who knew them. Photo: DefendingHistory.com.
Are we back to Springtime for Hitler, just focused on celebrating a local mass murderer of Latvian Jewry? Will the hosting venues, including the City Cultural Centers in Jelgava and Valmiera, and prestigious halls in Riga, Liepāja, Rēzekne and Ventspils also be holding memorials for their citizens murdered in the Latvian Holocaust in which HerbertsCukurs, known as the “Hangman of Riga,” took such a personal and violent part?
QUESTION: Does the new musicalSugar Herbert Sugar perhaps violate the new law which bans (with punishment up to five years jailtime) “glorification, denial, justification or gross derogation of genocide, crimes against humanity, crimes against peace or war crimes against Latvia perpetrated by the Soviet Union or Nazi Germany.” Or is the law null and void when it comes to the Holocaust in Latvia?
EvaldasBalčiūnas (left) joined Dr. EfraimZuroff, director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center Israel office, last February in Kaunas, Lithuania, for a small, silent, peaceful protest against the state-approved neo-Nazi march in the city’s center on the nation’s independence day.
Did Someone Sneak Some Holocaust Revisionism into the US Congress?
Under the Radar: Did East European nationalists — trying to insinuate the “Two Holocausts Theory” into the West — slip a resolution right onto Capitol Hill?
Ernst Lowenberg, 91, pictured at the May 2014 UK consultation with Holocaust survivors, has written to David Cameron calling for rejection of the “Double Genocide” revisionism emanating from Eastern Europe. In 2012, he handed a petition to the Lithuanian embassy in London.
Putin’s indefensible actions are robustly exposed. But there is reluctance to look critically at “pro-Western” forces that glorify (as “national heroes”) Nazi collaborators and Holocaust mass murderers…
What’s Western about that?
HISTORY FOR SALE? AS EVENTS UNFOLD, ARE WESTERN GOVERNMENTS TACITLY HELPING TO “FIX” THE HOLOCAUST BARBARITY OF BANDERA, THE UPA AND THE OUN? THESE GROUPS MURDERED TENS OF THOUSANDS OF CIVILIANS (UKRAINIAN CITIZENS) ON AN ETHNIC BASIS IN THE CAUSE OF HITLERIST RACIAL ELIMINATION.
WESTERN VALUES?IS IT MORAL FOR THE US, NATO AND THE EU TO COVER FOR THE ELEVATION OF HOLOCAUST PERPETRATORS TO NATIONAL HERO STATUS? CAN STATE-SANCTIONED NAZI-WORSHIP REALLY BE IRRELEVANT TO TODAY’S RACISM, ANTISEMITISM & HOMOPHOBIA?
HISTORIANS FOR HIRE?ARE BIG (AND SMALL) GUN HISTORIANS ALREADY BEING MOBILIZED TO OBFUSCATE THE ISSUES AND SANITIZE THE MASS MURDERERS OF UKRAINIAN JEWRY? TO PROMOTE MORE “DOUBLE GENOCIDE” REVISIONISM? ALLIES’ DEFEAT OF HITLER AT HUGE SACRIFICE IS INCREASINGLY MARGINALIZED BY THE REVISIONISTS.
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.
Defending History, in harmony with the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Israel office, monitored the three 2014 Nazi-ally glorifying marches in the Baltics. Authorities invested shrewdly this year in downplaying all three, but failed to simply move them away from prestigious city centers (which would have offended the far right and ultranationalist base). Visible fascist symbols were reduced from previous years, local opposition sometimes neutralized, and media interest discouraged.
But the noxious worship, in 2014’s EU, of Hitler’s allies in Holocaust-era Europe (now being cast as implicitly “acceptable”) remains a shameful constant, one that calls out for urgent scrutiny in the West. Yet again, Defending History is defense of today’s — and tomorrow’s — human rights and EU/NATO values. The adulaters of wartime Hitlerism are its moral heirs: today’s propagaters of racism, ultranationalism, antisemitism, homophobia and Aryanist theories of national purity.
Honoring a Hero of the Anti-Nazi Resistance in Rechovot
Dr. Rachel Margolis, 92, Honored on Holocaust Remembrance Day
Rachel Margolis, 92, is honored at her home in Rechovot on 27 January by Brig. Gen. Zvi Kan-Tor (center), head of the task force establishing Museum of the Jewish Soldier of World War II and Abraham Grinzaid, head of Israel’s association of Soviet army veterans who fought against the Nazis.
VILNIUS—Ruta Bloshtein, a native and resident of the Lithuanian capital, and stalwart of its small Orthodox community, has launched an international petition via Change.org asking the leaders of Lithuania to move the project for a national convention center away from the old Jewish cemetery at Piramónt where many thousands of the city’s Jewish citizens were buried from the 15th to the 19th centuries. It is one of East European Jewry’s most sacred sites. Many of its gravestones were lovingly preserved or renewed right up to the Holocaust, in which around 99% of Vilna’s Jewish community perished.
The following English version of the Lithuanian government’s announcement of its new state commission on Jewish heritage was released today. A PDF of the entire document is available here. An excerpt containing the mission statement is available here.
Update of 22 July 2015: Evidence mounts that the “Heritage Commission” was set up by the Lithuanian government, in part, to cover for the decision, at the same time, to proceed with a twenty-five million dollar convention center in the heart of the old Vilna Jewish cemetery at Piramónt. One or more members of the commmision are also members of the state’s “red-brown commission” that promotes Double Genocide revisionism of Holocaust history; of the U.S. Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad; of a London rabbinic group that profits from “selling rights” to build on cemeteries under its expensive supervision. See the narrative and the paper trail (where color-coding marks the heritage commission’s adventures in purple).
Fania Yocheles Brantsovsky, born in 1922, who lost her entire family in the Holocaust, escaped the Vilna Ghetto several moments before it was encircled by police preparing for its final liquidation on 23 September 1943. Together with Dobke Develtov (who passed away in 2012 in Los Angeles), she made it to this underground anti-Nazi partisan fort that was home to fighters aligned with the Soviet partisans. The precise number of inhabitants varied with newcomers and deaths in battle. Fania remembers at one time 99 of 101 were Jewish Vilna Ghetto escapees, at another 101 of 107. An underground bunker like this was home until the fall of Nazi rule in July 1944.
Along with other Holocaust Survivors who resisted — including Yitzhak Arad and Rachel Margolis — Ms Brantsovsky, librarian of the Vilnius Yiddish Institute, has in recent years been the object of a campaign of defamation and harassment in Lithuania.
The antisemitic press has targeted her (January 2008). Armed police came to search for her (May 2008). Prosecutors told the press she could not be found (May 2008). The editor of Lithuania’s main news portal called for her to be tried (May 2009). The mainstream media, citing ruling-party members of Lithuania’s parliament, branded her a war criminal (Oct 2009). And one of the country’s leading associations for human rights (!) demanded that she and other Jewish partisan veterans be ‘sentenced’ for committing ‘a massive slaughter’ (Dec. 2010).
All in the absence of any charge or iota of evidence.
In the opinion of this journal, the entire charade is a ruse of the red-brown movement and its local and powerful Double Genocide Industry. This is the part of the effort to rewrite history that specializes in generating bogus paper trails of ‘equal investigation’ of perpetrators and victims in order to obfuscate the Holocaust; the ‘equality of investigation’ is then triumphantly trumpeted by diplomats and politicians in service to the red-equals-brown movement. To many in the international community it is quite outrageous, bearing in mind the dismal record of Lithuanian prosecutors in bringing to justice Nazi war criminals, not a single one of whom was ever punished, howsoever slightly, in modern, independent Lithuania.
In the meantime, representatives of the free world, from western ambassadors to Lithuania to the president of Germany have honored Ms Brantsovsky as a hero of the Jewish resistance against Nazism (see: Responses). It is verily the first occasion in the country since Soviet times that western powers have seen fit to honor individuals trashed by prosecutors and politicians.
While relics of the anti-Soviet struggle are (rightly) preserved in the Baltics, historic monuments celebrating the inspiring courage and heroism of the anti-Nazi resistance are being allowed (and ‘encouraged’) to rot into the earth. One of them is this fort, where Fania and some hundred Vilna Ghetto survivors lived, and which they used as their base during the fight against the awesome power of the Nazi army and its multitudinous local partners. Images (by Adalbert Wagner) available here.
In the summer of 2008, a group of NATO ambassadors arranged to visit the fort formally, but the plan was thwarted by a protest from the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry. Groups of Western ambassadors simply proceeded to organize private visits to the fort, led by Fania, starting in November 2008, and proceeding uninterrupted to the present day.
The potent symbolism of the Jewish Partisan Fort has been noted in connection with the international effort to honor and defend from defamation the Jewish resistance heroes who fought the Nazis in the forests of Lithuania. In an early public reaction (3 April 2008), the unanimous resolution of the Friends of the Vilnius Yiddish Institute concluded with the words: ‘including the underground forest fort outside today’s Vilnius, which, it is hoped, will be preserved for posterity as a monument to the indomitable human striving for freedom from oppression’. Over the years, Fania Yocheles Brantsovsky and other Holocaust educators have guided visitors and students to the site, which has enormous educational potential.
Please contact your elected officials, anywhere in the world, asking them to encourage authorities in Lithuania responsible for historic sites to secure, preserve and protect the site as a vital monument to the noble universal human struggle for freedom from tyranny and genocide.
Another famous veteran of this forest fort is Vilna native Avreml Zeleznikow (Zheléznikov; born 1924), a resident of Melbourne, Australia whose life was immortalized in Arnold Zable’s Café Scheherazade (2001).
When you visit the region, do be sure to view this unique site, some 25 miles southwest of Vilnius, in the Rudninkai Forest (famous in Holocaust memoirs and lore by its Yiddish name, der Rudnitsker vald). A number of Holocaust Survivors refer to the fort as der Rudnitsker fort. In English, the phrase ‘Jewish partisan fort’ has become a shibboleth of competence. If your guide in Lithuania knows his or her stuff, you’ll be taken there without delay. If you get the ‘It’s only woods, nothing there’ spiel, you’ll know where that is coming from…
Please contact Samuel Gruber for more information on how to participate in the international campaign to save Lithuania’s last Jewish fort.
Fania Yocheles during her time incarcerated, for being a Jew, in her own city, in the Vilna Ghetto, along with tens of thousands of other Jewish residents (Sept 1941 — Sept 1943). She was one of the very few survivors. This photo was prepared by the Jewish partisans in the hope of arranging for Fania a new passport under a Polish name. The plan did not materialize. Fania fled the ghetto on its last day, 23 September 1943, just moments, it turned out, before its encirclement by police in preparation for its final liquidation.
With her family at their shop and residence, 1932 or 1933
In happier times, outside her parents’ shop on Zavalna (now Pylimo) in 1932 or 1933. From left: Fania; younger sister Rivele; their parents: Benyomen Yocheles, a teacher at Vilna’s Jewish Technical College and owner of the electrical workshop in the background; Rokhl Galunsky-Yocheles. Using a time-delay device, the photographer (far right, name unknown) jumped into the picture. Fania is the only one in the image to have survived the Holocaust. She fled the ghetto just before its destruction and joined a unit of Jewish partisans in the forest. She frequently takes visitors and students to the site of the Jewish partisan fort where she lived and fought from September 1943 until July 1944. The remnants of the fort are in danger of imminent disappearance.
Celebrating Purim 1933
Celebrating Purim 1933 with fellow pupils at the fabled Sofia Gurevich Yiddish school on Makova (now Aguono gatve). Fania (marked by arrow) is dressed as a Chinese woman with a fan.
28 April 2010. The U.S. president’s Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism, Hannah S. Rosenthal, visited the Jewish Partisan Fort, guided by its one surviving veteran in Lithuania, Fania Yocheles Brantsovsky, librarian of the Vilnius Yiddish Institute. The visit was coordinated by the U.S. Embassy’s Timothy O’Connor, and included this website’s editor, who provided translation for Ms Brantsovsky. During the excursion, Ms Rosenthal expressed the hope that the Lithuanian government would take action to preserve the site as one that is vital to Holocaust education and the honoring of Jewish resistance against Nazi tyranny.
22 May 2010. Fania celebrates her 88th birthday in Vilnius with family, friends and admirers. Tributes on Facebook.
12 October 2010. Fania does a nighttime interview with the BBC World Service at the partisan fort. She was interviewed by radio and television presenter Wendy Robbins (left); sound engineer Yaba Badoe is at right. The program, broadcast in December 2010, is available here.
8 May 2011. Fania with fellow Vilna Ghetto survivor and Jewish partisan veteran Chasia Langbord Shpanerflig, preparing to sing together the Jewish partisan hymn, Zog nit kéynmol az du géyst dem létstn vég at the annual memorial for veterans held at the Jewish cemetery in Vilnius on the eve of May 9th, near the monument to the F.P.O. (Faréynikte Partizáner Organizátsye — United Partisans Organization). Video here.