Tag Archives: Julius Norvila

A Vilnius Building for Danse Macabre?



OLD VILNA JEWISH CEMETERY  |  OPPOSITION TO CONVENTION CENTER PROJECT  |  INTERNATIONAL PETITION  |  HUMAN RIGHTS

by Julius Norwilla

The author is chairperson of the Vilnius Committee for Preservation of Piramont (Šnipiškės) Cemetery. A selection of his English articles is available here.

We return to the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramont (Šnipiškės). Back on December 19, 2019, the Lithuanian State Property Bank (Turto Bankas) announced an agreement with a tiny number of non-representative self-interested Jewish organizations for the development of the Vilnius Congress Center in the old Palace of Sports building surrounded by thousands of still extant Jewish graves going back to the 15th century (remember, graves and tombstones are two different things; the Soviets stole all the stones, and they keep turning up all around town). See Defending History’s report on the Dec. 2019 events here in Vilnius.

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Posted in Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Human Rights, Julius Norwilla, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Opinion | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments Off on A Vilnius Building for Danse Macabre?

Lithuania’s Gov. “Property Bank” is Using “Weak and Divided” Jewish Reaction to Proceed with “Convention Center in the Jewish Cemetery” Project



OPINION  |  VILNIUS JEWISH LIFE  |  CHRISTIAN-JEWISH RELATIONS  |  HUMAN RIGHTS  |  CEMETERIES  |  OLD VILNA JEWISH CEMETERY  |  OPPOSITION TO CONVENTION CENTER PROJECT  |  PETITION

by Julius Norwilla

As “the day of the bulldozers” nears, Lithuania’s state “Property Bank” (Turto Bankas, often translated “Asset Bank”) is coming close to announcing the final contracts for the planned Convention Center in the heart of the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt, in today’s Šnipiškės district of modern Vilnius. The derelict Soviet building slated for conversion (alongside construction of a large annex) is surrounded on all four sides by many thousands of Jewish graves left untouched by the Soviet authorities who pilfered all the stones for building works and ballast. There has been massive international opposition, including Lithuanian-origin rabbinical authorities worldwide, in addition to a petition started by Vilnius resident Ruta Bloshtein that is close to 46,000 signatures at the time of writing.

Julius Norwilla’s impressions after a meeting with the leaders of Lithuania’s state Property Bank now managing the convention center project in the heart of Piramónt cemetery? They are willing to talk, but they are not convinced  that “the Jews themselves” really care so much. In fact, a future “talking point” for a permanently controversial and damaging “convention center” will be that “Well, they found enough Jews they could manipulate to go along with it so what do you want from us?”

The takeaway? The time for major international pressure is now. The petition has attracted more than 45,000 signatures.

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Posted in Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Christian-Jewish Issues, Julius Norwilla, Lithuania, Lithuania's Jewish Community Issues, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Opinion | Tagged , , , , , | Comments Off on Lithuania’s Gov. “Property Bank” is Using “Weak and Divided” Jewish Reaction to Proceed with “Convention Center in the Jewish Cemetery” Project

Mound of Gravel Appears at the old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt



  CEMETERIES  |  OLD VILNA JEWISH CEMETERY  |  OPPOSITION TO CONVENTION CENTER PROJECT  |  PETITION  |  HUMAN RIGHTS  |  LITHUANIAN-JEWISH RELATIONS

Photo: Julius Norwilla / Defending History

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Posted in Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Human Rights, Julius Norwilla, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok) | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Mound of Gravel Appears at the old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt

Meeting with Vilnius City Officials on Fate of Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery



OLD VILNA JEWISH CEMETERY  |  OPPOSITION TO CONVENTION CENTER PROJECT  |  PETITION   |  CHRISTIAN-JEWISH RELATIONS  |  CEMETERIES

by Julius Norwilla

Earlier today, I had the honor to be one of three individuals from very different backgrounds who partnered to visit with the highest city authorities we could reach to plead for the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery. In the current situation, that means, pleading with authorities to move the national convention center projects away from the thousands of Jewish graves going back to the fifteenth century, so as to enable this amazing site in modern Vilnius to be restored to the city’s great benefit and reputation.

The meeting was initiated by Ruta Bloshtein, author of the international petition asking the Lithuanian government to move the convention center project (it has achieved around 44,000 signatures to date). The third participant was Rabbi Samuel Jacob Feffer, a major scholar of the Gaon of Vilna, who has been based in Vilnius for over a quarter of a century. He is co-editor of dozens of books of the works of the Gaon of Vilna.

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Posted in Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Christian-Jewish Issues, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Politics of Memory | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Meeting with Vilnius City Officials on Fate of Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery

Old Jewish Gravestones Transported to Piramónt — to Divert Attention from Convention Center Travesty?



OPINION  |  OLD VILNA JEWISH CEMETERY  |  OPPOSITION TO CONVENTION CENTER PROJECT  |  PETITION   |  CHRISTIAN-JEWISH RELATIONS  |  CEMETERIES

by Julius Norwilla

Delfi.lt, the major Lithuanian news portal, yesterday published an article by its correspondent Rūta Pukenė about the latest “activities” on the site of the five-century old Vilna Jewish cemetery at Piramónt, which houses the ruin of the old Soviet Sports Palace, surrounded by thousands of still extant graves, amid controversial plans to construct a national convention center using the Soviet building as its core. Many friends of Vilnius have argued forcefully that the city’s interests lie in preserving and restoring Lithuania’s oldest Jewish cemetery, where many rabbinic luminaries still lie buried, and for the convention center project to be moved to another venue in town.

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Posted in Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Christian-Jewish Issues, Julius Norwilla, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Opinion, Politics of Memory | Tagged , , , , , | Comments Off on Old Jewish Gravestones Transported to Piramónt — to Divert Attention from Convention Center Travesty?

Juliaus Norvilos pranešimas, skaitytas Lietuvos ambasadoje Tel Avive



VILNIAUS SENOSIOS ŽYDŲ (PIRAMONTO) KAPINĖS  |  OLD VILNA JEWISH CEMETERY  |  OPPOSITION TO CONVENTION CENTER PROJECT  |  PETITION   |  CHRISTIAN-JEWISH RELATIONS  |  CEMETERIES

Julius Norvila (Bernardinai.lt)

Šis tekstas yra vertimas į lietuvių kalbą (nuoroda į pirminį tekstą anglų kalba yra čia) pranešimo, kurį Julius Norvila parengė ir perskaitė Lietuvos ambasadoje Tel Avive 2017 m. gegužės 24 d. Tekstas lietuvių kalba jau buvo publikuotas tinklapyje bernardinai.lt. Čia jis publikuojamas su autoriaus su sutikimu. Julius Norvila atvyko į susitikimą Tel Avive, kad prisijungtų prie vadovaujančių Izraelio ir Amerikos rabinų, prašančių Lietuvos Vyriausybės perkelti Vilniaus koncertų ir sporto rūmų projektą į kitą vietą bei atkurti senąsias žydų kapines. Žr. Juliaus Norvilos skyrių DH.

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Posted in Julius Norwilla, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Vilniaus senosios žydų (Piramonto) kapinės Šnipiškėse | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on Juliaus Norvilos pranešimas, skaitytas Lietuvos ambasadoje Tel Avive

Lithuanian Intellectual Joins Israeli Rabbis in Plea to Ambassador Bagdonas at Tel Aviv Embassy on Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery



OLD VILNA JEWISH CEMETERY  |  OPPOSITION TO CONVENTION CENTER PROJECT  |  PAPER  TRAIL   |  CHRISTIAN-JEWISH RELATIONS  |  CEMETERIES  |  VILNIUS JEWISH LIFE

VILNIUS—In recent weeks, Lithuania’s Jewish community has been shaken by a number of vicious attacks against various of its members, apparently written by operatives out to provoke “senseless interethnic strife and division” who have infiltrated to echelons of the official community’s power structures, and published personal invective replete with “demonstrable falsehoods” under the imprimatur not of any named author but of the “Lithuanian Jewish Community” per se (examples here, here, and here). Against that backdrop many Jews and Lithuanians alike, who enjoy some of the best daily relations of any two groups in Eastern Europe, have been finding it necessary to stress that Lithuanian-Jewish relations are excellent and will not be disturbed by such mischief makers (see also today’s JTA report, and a 2015 paper by this journal’s editor). The ongoing passionate debates about the Holocaust, “Double Genocide”, defamation of Jewish partisans, glorification of local Nazi collaborators, city-center neo-Nazi marches on independence days, plans to have a new national convention center in the heart of the old Jewish cemetery, and the fair allocation of restitution funds, are not disputes between “Jews and Lithuanians”: there are, at least locally, proponents from both groups on all sides of each of these debates and various others.

Julius Norwilla’s speech at the Lithuanian Embassy in Tel Aviv: in English, in Lithuanian

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Posted in Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Christian-Jewish Issues, Events, Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Politics of Memory | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Lithuanian Intellectual Joins Israeli Rabbis in Plea to Ambassador Bagdonas at Tel Aviv Embassy on Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery

Julius Norwilla’s Speech at the Lithuanian Embassy in Tel Aviv



OLD VILNA JEWISH CEMETERY  |  OPPOSITION TO CONVENTION CENTER PROJECT  |  PAPER  TRAIL   |  CHRISTIAN-JEWISH RELATIONS  |  CEMETERIES

TEL AVIV—The following is the text of the speech delivered by Julius Norwilla during the gathering earlier today at the Lithuanian Embassy in Tel Aviv where a delegation of major Litvak rabbis, joined at their request by Mr. Norwilla, who flew in from Vilnius for the event, was welcomed by Ambassador Edminas Bagdonas. Details of the event are here.

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Posted in Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Julius Norwilla, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Politics of Memory | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Julius Norwilla’s Speech at the Lithuanian Embassy in Tel Aviv

Lithuanian Jewish Community Marks International Holocaust Remembrance Day



   COMMEMORATIONS  |  EVENTS  | CEMETERIES AND MASS GRAVES 

by Julius Norwilla

This year’s annual events organized by the Lithuanian Jewish Community to mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day were held on the evening of Thursday, 26 January, on the eve of the officially designated day that falls on the 27th of each year. This year, the official Jewish Community organized two impressive public events to mark the occasion, which is important for every Jewish person in the country, where about 96% of the Jewish population was annihilated during the Holocaust.

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Posted in Commemorations for Destroyed Communities, Events, Julius Norwilla, Lithuania, Lithuania's Jewish Community Issues, Litvak Affairs, News & Views | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Lithuanian Jewish Community Marks International Holocaust Remembrance Day

My Take On Malát



OPINION  |  SHTETL COMMEMORATIONS  |  EVENTS  |  POLITICS OF MEMORY  |  COLLABORATOR GLORIFICATION

by Julius Norwilla

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.

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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 , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on My Take On Malát

Julius Norwilla to Speak on 12 Vilnius Mass Graves



THIS THURSDAY EVENING 4 AUGUST 2016 IN VILNIUS:

Defending History veteran writer-researcher Julius Norwilla will give an illustrated talk on

“A Dozen Holocaust Mass Graves in the Vilnius Area: What is the Actual State of Respect for the Victims?”

Thursday evening, 4 August, 6 PM (1800) at the Jewish Cultural and Information Center, Mėsinių  3 in Vilnius Old Town. Lecture in English, questions in any language. Admission free. Everyone welcome.

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Legacy of Rūta Vanagaitė’s 17 April 2015 Conference at Vilnius City Hall


[updated]


venclova speaks

Tomas Venclova addresses Ruta Vanagaite’s conference at Vilnius City Hall on April 17, 2015. Photo: Julius Norwilla.

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Posted in Events, History, Lithuania, News & Views, Rūta Vanagaitė, Views of Prof. Sarunas Liekis | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Legacy of Rūta Vanagaitė’s 17 April 2015 Conference at Vilnius City Hall

A Protestant Pastor in Vilnius Speaks Out About Church Steps Still Made of Pilfered Jewish Gravestones



O P I N I O N

by Julius Norvila

“And Rachel died and was buried on the road to Ephrath—the same is Beth-lehem. And Jacob set up a gravestone upon her grave, it is the Tomb of Rachel unto this very day.”

 (Genesis 35, 19-20)

Back in 1989 I had become a minister in our Reformed Evangelical Church here in Vilnius. The end of the 1980s in Lithuania had been a particularly pivotal period for church-state relations. The government changed its policy radically. There was a liberalization of religious activities and along with religious revivals came the idea of restitution of church properties that had been nationalized under the communist policies of the Soviet state. In order to bring to realization that idea, and to speed the process of restitution, we as reformed protestants organized a number of open air meetings and worship services on the street in front of historical church buildings in Vilnius and Kaunas, Lithuania’s two major cities.

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Posted in Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Julius Norwilla, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Opinion, Reformed Evangelical Church (Vilnius) | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on A Protestant Pastor in Vilnius Speaks Out About Church Steps Still Made of Pilfered Jewish Gravestones