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Tag Archives: Lithuania
VILNIUS—In her ruling issued earlier today, Vilnius District Court Judge Rima Bražinskienė, following up on her crucial 29 May 2017 judgment, confirmed the illegality of last April’s mid-campaign rule change by the board of the “Lithuanian Jewish (Litvak) Community” which effectively disenfranchised the 2,200 members of the Vilnius Jewish community (as well as the Jewish people in the other. smaller communities) by replacing the long-standing proportional voting system with an oligarchic system giving one vote to each board member (most of whom have allegedly received professional, promotional or financial benefits from the funds of the “Good Will Foundation” that finances the community). As a result, the capacity of the Holocaust-remnant Jewish community of Lithuania to democratically choose its leadership was in one tragic fell swoop annulled in favor of a system that gave that authority to a roomful of wannabe-oligarchs, some of whom hold two or three votes each. The large corpus of protests include last summer’s letter from twenty of the elected members of the Vilnius Jewish Community’s council and a more recent article by Professor Josifas Parasonis.
The court action asking for relief was brought by the Vilnius Jewish Community as plaintiff. Its 21 member council was elected last May 24th in the largest Jewish electoral assembly in Lithuania this century with meticulous voting open to all community members. Today’s ruling includes the text:
VILNIUS—“There is nothing new under the sun,” as the Good Book says (Ecclesiastes 1:9). Sure, on occasion, Irish communities will feud in Boston, Italians in New York, Chinese in LA and Lithuanians in Chicago. It is part of the professional training, posture, and policy of diplomats to negotiate such inevitabilities by way of common sense, wisdom, and fairness. For years now, the widely admired German ambassador to Lithuania, HE Jutta Schmitz has kept her embassy’s diplomatic table open to people and organizations, governmental and non-governmental, from across the colorfully diverse spectrum of opinion in Lithuania. It is not known whether the recent completion of her Vilnius ambassadorship and departure from Lithuania, and the temporary vacancy, had anything to do with the embassy’s recent, and quite innocent, faux-pas.
London Beth Din (Rabbinical Court) Issues Summons to Two Leaders of Lithuania’s Official Jewish Community
LONDON—Defending History has learned from reliable sources that The Judicial Division of the London Beth Din (Court of the Chief Rabbi) issued a summons on 27 February 2017 (1 Adar 5777 by the Hebrew calendar) calling upon Simas Levinas, chairperson of the Vilna Jewish Religious Community, and Faina Kukliansky, chairperson of the Lithuanian Jewish Community, to “agree to attend a hearing and sign a binding Arbitration Agreement, on receipt of which we will fix a hearing date for the mutual convenience of all parties.”
by Dovid Katz (Vilnius)
Full credit to the Forward’s Paul Berger, who has, as ever, sought to be meticulously fair in his new article on some aspects of contemporary Lithuanian Jewish life. This “addendum” goes in a sense more to the wider issues encountered when Western journalists cover stories in the “slightly exotic east,” here in Eastern Europe, on ground zero of the Holocaust, where Jewish communities are ipso facto remnant communities, and where certain larger trends can at times be in play.
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.
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.
I24’s 14 July 2016 report. Background in DH on British-born city council member, Mark Harold Splinter, who proposed the change (his statement in English). Samples from elsewhere in Lithuania. Wider issue in Eastern Europe. Within “Double Genocide” theory. Related 24 July 2016 report by JTA.
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)
Appeal to the conscience of the members of the renewed state-financed “International Commission for the Evaluation of the Crimes of the Nazi and Soviet Occupation Regimes in Lithuania”
I would like to make an observation concerning the use of Jewish cemeteries for building projects, as this has come to be a major issue of controversy in Lithuania, and in other nations as well.
I would like to pose a question: Would these building projects be pursued if the cemeteries in question were the resting places of Catholics, Protestant Christians, or other non-Jewish people?
VILNIUS—The website of the Reformed Evangelical Church services this weekend advertised today’s Sunday service with a previously-made photo of pastors and worshippers posing for a photograph with their shoes pressing into the pilfered Jewish gravestones, some of which still have visible writing, of which the steps to the church are made. The church has still issued no public statement on its retention of the Soviet-era made-of-pilfered-Jewish-gravestones steps even after its much-celebrated reconstruction and restoration less than a decade ago.
The recently launched website JosephLevinson.com provides renewed opportunities for acquiring his two major books that are available in English. One, The Shoah in Lithuania, includes documents of the Lithuanian Activist Front detailing their intentions for Jewish citizens, issued before the outbreak of war on 22 June 1941. It is also rich in resources on understanding how, where and why the far right’s “Double Genocide” revisionism arose in the first place. These are just two of the many areas covered by the book.
O P I N I O N
Note: For our readers’ interest, we provide an English translation (by Geoff Vasil) of Giedrius Grabauskas’s article, “Kodel paminama žodžio laisvė?” that appeared on 6 January 2014 in Akcentai.info at: http://www.akcentai.info/271-kodel-paminama-zodzio-laisve.html.
As in all signed articles, the opinions are those of the author.
The final part of the opinion piece, starting here, deals with issues that Defending History focuses in on, including the glorification of Holocaust collaborators, campaigns from high places against those who dissent, and the related implications for human rights and democracy in NATO and the EU.
O P I N I O N
by Geoff Vasil
And the Lord God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat. Genesis 3:13
And he said, What hast thou done? the voice of thy brother’s blood crieth unto me from the ground. Genesis 4:10
Driving east out of Rokiškis, fields give way to forest, and the lake country leads on to strange and wild hills in an abandoned quarter of the country bordering Latvia. The lake country is beautiful, almost alpine in its effect, and spotted with small settlements and villages of varying sizes, some even boasting gas stations and schools.
Films on DH.com topics:
• Defending Holocaust History by Richard Bloom (2013). Now on Youtube.
• Rewriting History by Marc Radomsky and Danny Ben-Moshe (2012). Reviews; 2013 USA screening tour; Facebook page; SYD site. Background of Prague Declaration.
• When Double Genocide means Single Genocide by Gerit Ziegler, Frank Brendle, Arndt Beck (2012).
• CNN documentary featuring Efraim Zuroff in Lithuania: completed but (for unknown reasons) never aired. Can it be rescued by a non-profit organization? See also: The Last Nazi Hunter, by Nitza Gonen, aired on Israeli television in 2012 [in Hebrew].
• 2014 montage by Monica Lowenberg featuring interviews with Dr. Efraim Zuroff on all three Baltic ultranationalist / neo-Nazi marches.
• LOST: Zoon Politikon of European Union by Audrius Lelkaitis. Interview with Defending History editor (in three short segments) shortly after the one hour mark (1:00) on the time code.
• Liza ruft! by Christian Carlsenet et al. The film contains the sensational clip exposing “Holocaust education” that is constructed in the framework of East European Double Genocide revisionism, via an interview with Ronaldas Racinskas, executive director of the state-sponsored commission on Nazi and Soviet crimes.
On Lithuanian Holocaust Rescuers:
• The Pit of Life and Torment, by Lilija Kopač, Danutė Selčinskaja, Algis Liutkevičius and Anatolijus Tetiušinas, based on the life story of Moyshe Kukliansky and his family.
On the Lithuanian Holocaust:
• An Elegy for Honey and Tar by Alicija Žukauskaitė [documentary].
• Saulius Beržinis and Ona Biveinienė on the Holocaust in Jurbarkas [documentary].
• Lithuanians. Jews. Neighbors by Jonas Morkus and Vaidotas Reivytis [documentary].
On the Latvian Holocaust:
On Women’s Rights and East European Neo-Nazis:
by Dovid Katz
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.
Three Baltic Governments Sponsor “Round Table” at London U on 5 November: Will Nazi Collaborators be Glorified?
O P I N I O N
by Dovid Katz
It is both right and laudable that University College London, the School of Slavonic and East European Studies and other partners are organizing a “Round Table Discussion: Anti-Soviet Resistance in the Baltic States” in central London, scheduled for 5 November 2013, 2 to 6:30 PM, with free admission for all (free tickets here; Facebook page here).
by Dovid Katz
The following are translated (and edited) excerpts from a longer letter in Yiddish received from a survivor who has asked to remain anonymous, about the Jewish gravestones that form the steps going up to the Reformed Evangelical Church at Pylimo 18 in Vilnius.
Opinion: R. BRODSKY; LATVIA’S UK AMBASSADOR; MONICA LOWENBERG
Reports: AP; Delfi; Fox; J. Kaža; Jewish News — JNS.org; Reuters; RIA; RT (video; 2); Times of Israel; Washington Post; YNet; Video of wreath laying; Yahoo. Gallery of images. More media. WWN media list.
City Mounted Wholesome Family Event on Main Boulevard, but it was Followed by a Massive Neo-Nazi March; There were Few Protesters
EYEWITNESS REPORTS: ANNA SHEPHERD AND GEOFF VASIL
“MORAL CAPITULATION” FROM PRESIDENT, PRIME MINISTER AND THE MAYOR ON NEO-NAZIS’ ANNUAL TAKEOVER OF CAPITAL’S CENTER ON NATION’S INDEPENDENCE DAY; NO COMMENT ON LEGALIZED SWASTIKAS
President says: “You call them nationalists, I would speak of nationally conscious youth” but Lithuanian Social Democratic Party (LSDP) issues statement opposing the marches (the statement)
After winning in court, city informed of fascists’ call for “unsanctioned march” starting Monday 3 PM at Vilnius Cathedral Square. Some media try to spin a win for mayor’s office; PM speaks out; Extra police promised; Police warn marchers; Poll shows most Lithuanians oppose far right’s marches; Efraim Zuroff comments in the Jerusalem Post.
Court on 4 March had accepted the city’s arguments for shifting neo-Nazis from central boulevard (Gedimino) to across the river (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok). Nationalist group then demanded the (once Jewish) Old Town instead but city refused. In the end, police caved in to neo-Nazis’ illegal takeover of Gedimino.
Neo-Nazi movement dominates the capital’s center on March 11th Independence Day since 2008 when ‘Juden raus’ and anti-Russian, anti-Polish chants inaugurated the takeover. Eyewitness reports of 2011 and 2012. Protest petitions: Washington & London. One of the annual organizers, at right (with “White Power” scarf this year), was long-time “chief public relations specialist” (!) at the Genocide Research Center. . .
Celebrating the Holocaust? Lead banner glorified 1941 Nazi puppet PM in the city whose 30,000 Jewish citizens were massacred. Genocide started on his watch…
Eyewitness reports by: Evaldas Balčiūnas; Dovid Katz, (2); Geoff Vasil; Efraim Zuroff. Statement by Holocaust survivors in Israel. Writer in Balsas.lt calls for Zuroff and Katz to “be given up to be torn apart” while another in Atgimimas/Delfi.lt/Lithuania Tribune says the Jews want antisemitism as part of their financial trickery…
LEAD KAUNAS BANNER FEATURED PICTURE OF THE 1941 NAZI PUPPET PRIME MINISTER JUOZAS AMBRAZEVIČIUS (BRAZAITIS) WHO PERSONALLY SIGNED ORDERS FOR A CONCENTRATION/MASS MURDER CAMP AND REMOVAL TO A GHETTO OF THE ENTIRE JEWISH POPULATION OF KAUNAS.
IN MAY 2012, HE WAS REBURIED WITH FULL HONORS AND GLORIFIED BY STATE INSTITUTIONS, CAUSING MAJOR EMBARRASSMENT IN THE EU AND NATO. VYTAUTAS MAGNUS UNIVERSITY IN KAUNAS CONTINUES TO HONOR THE COLLABORATOR.
But on their websites, the march’s advocates feel rather less inhibited about expressing their further thoughts and fantasies (supposedly mitigated by the lower caption: “Kaunas, February 16th 2013 — If to believe the tales of anti-fascists and Jewish activists”)
More from the neo-Nazi imagination in Lithuania: their websites featured this photoshopped image of Defending History’s editor on a motorcycle (he has not yet been on one….) in early 2013. Our reader Dr. J. Breeze, UK, found the apparent source in a Hagrid image.
Efraim Zuroff’s Vilnius Press Conference on the Eve of State-Sanctioned City-Center Neo-Nazi Marches
on 3 pro-Nazi events: Kaunas 16 Feb; Vilnius 11 March; Riga 16 March
Nazi marches condemned at Feb 15th news conference in Vilnius, but new Prime Minister praised for speaking out against racist manifestations before the event; Now calls are upon the PM and president to cancel the next (March 11th) Neo-Nazi parade in the capital on the nation’s second (1990-based) Independence Day.
MEDIA COVERAGE (part): 15min.lt; Balsas.lt; Bernardinai.lt; BNS; Delfi.ee; Delfi.lt; Diena.lt; Faktai.lt; Infodiena.lt; Info.lt; Kaunodiena.lt; Lankeliene.eu; Lietuvoszynios.lt; Lrt.lt; Lrytas.lt; Lrytas.lt (2); Lzinios.lt; Ru.delfi.lt; SWC; Tv.lrytas.lt.
MEANTIME, HEAD OF BALTIC NEWS SERVICE (BNS) ATTACKS DR. ZUROFF & HOLOCAUST SURVIVOR & LITHUANIAN JEWISH COMMUNITY MEMBER PROF. PINCHOS FRIDBERG, WHO HAS RESPONDED.
Prof. Fridberg (at right) with Dr. Zuroff at the BNS press conference:
Dr. Zuroff at right, at end of press conference, with Milan Chersonski, editor (1998-2011) of the Jewish community’s quadrilingual newspaper Jerusalem of Lithaunia…
and — Efraim Zuroff (right) and Dovid Katz monitoring the march the next day in icy Kaunas (Kovno)…
First Anniversary: Seventy Years Declaration (SYD) Goes Multilingual, amid Mounting Success in Exposing Revisionist “Double Genocide” Campaign; First Reviews of the New Documentary Film “Rewriting History”
HISTORY DEFENDED! Never again will Prague-Declaration Double-Genocide politics, projects, Genocide Center double-talk, and “Judaic/Yiddish/Holocaust” stunts successfully cover for supposed consensus “unified history” of the new Europe. Reports on most recent red-brown fiasco in Vilnius.
HOLOCAUST SURVIVORS SPEAK OUT:
From the ‘photoshop art’ of 2013: image of the editor of DefendingHistory.com that appeared in 2013 on a number of far-right websites in Lithuania. Are they really so afraid of a former Yiddish teacher?
2013: Call on US State Dept to Reject Politics of Holocaust Denial and Appeasement of Eastern Europe’s New Far Right
Shock of 2012: When a NATO-EU Ally Reburied and Glorified its 1941 Nazi Puppet Prime Minister who Signed Orders for Kovno Ghetto
Instead of politely protesting, the US Embassy in Vilnius financed a camouflage symposium on Holocaust issues to deflect attention from the week’s event. Framed to honor T. Snyder’s book Bloodlands, it also featured the head of YIVO.
One of the invited speakers later told the press that glorifying the Nazi puppet PM shows the world the “drama of Lithuanian history” and said that people are afraid of “the Jews” clobbering them with “a club”… His university (Vytautas Magnus in Kaunas) continues to honor the 1941 Nazi puppet PM. International petition is underway.
US CITIZENS: PLEASE WRITE TO ELECTED REPRESENTATIVES
ISSUES INCLUDE PLANNED NAZI MARCHES IN CENTER OF KAUNAS (16 FEB 2013), VILNIUS (11 MAR 2013) AND RIGA (16 MAR 2013); PUBLIC MEMORIALS FOR NAZI MURDERERS AND COLLABORATORS; APOLOGIES TO ACCUSED HOLOCAUST SURVIVORS; SEVENTY YEARS DECLARATION; DEMOCRACY AND FREE SPEECH
THESE ARE AMERICAN & WESTERN VALUES:
Honoring the struggle against Hitler led by the UK, the US and their allies (including Jewish partisans in the forests of Eastern Europe)
Objecting to attempts to conflate perpetrators and victims into the mush of obfuscation
Rejecting attempts to glorify the Nazis and their local collaborators
Speaking out robustly against neo-Nazism, racism, antisemitism, homophobia
Refusing to collaborate in bogus “Jewish” projects (and sham “Holocaust symposiums”) intended to cover for Double Genocide policies
Standing up for free speech and the right to dissent
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.”
A Tale of Two Marches? LGBT Equality Releases Statement on Authorities’ Response to Baltic Pride 2013
LGBT Equality (the LGL — Lithuanian Gay League) today issued a statement on its website concerning the progress of the application to the Vilnius municipality to hold the Baltic Pride 2013 March for Equality on Gedimino Boulevard, the capital’s central avenue, on 27 July 2013.
In the meantime, the municipality, though it has requested that the neo-Nazi march planned for the nation’s March 11th independence day be moved from Gedimino Boulevard (where it has regularly been held since 2008 with participation of right-wing members of parliament and with few or no objections from Western embassies), seems not to be pursuing that request with any verve.
VILNIUS YEARS GONE BY:
Video of the first (2008) neo-Nazi march in the city center
Eyewitness account of 2010 Baltic Pride March across the river
Eyewitness account of 2011 Neo-Nazi March in the city center
- April 2010: The Wiesenthal Center’s Dr. Efraim Zuroff comments (in the Guardian) on the American ambassador’s assurance that “The United States and Lithuania are partners in the fight against antisemitism and in efforts to address the legacy of the Holocaust” bereft of any mention of the “slight problems,” e.g. state-sanctioned neo-Nazi marches on independence day, attempted prosecution of Holocaust survivors, glorification of Nazi perpetrators, disturbing comments by top officials and a general decline into the acceptability of antisemitism.
- Continue reading
March 11th: A Grand Opportunity for the Lithuanian Human Rights Community — and the People of Vilnius
O P I N I O N
by Dovid Katz
When three of us from the DefendingHistory.com community headed out from Vilnius on February 16th to confront the neo-Nazi march in central Kaunas, we were sure we would be joined by dozens, or more, true lovers of Lithuania — folks who cannot remain silent that perverted political leadership allows today’s neo-Nazis to achieve free reign in the center of a great city in the middle of the nation’s cherished independence day. Folks who cannot let the glorification of stylized swastikas (including the “Lithuanian swastika“), and white armbands (celebrating the LAF Holocaust perpetrators of 1941) go unchallenged in the country with the largest rate of murder of its civilian Jewish population in all Holocaust-era Europe. Folks who want to send at least some modicum of support to today’s minorities. And a message to the world that the neo-Nazis do not represent Lithuanian society.
It was a shock to find in Kaunas on February 16th, that the somewhat quixotic DefendingHistory.com threesome would find itself the only visible anti-Nazi presence during the march and the rally that followed.
Was the OSCE’s (ODIHR) ‘High Level Meeting on Confronting Antisemitism’ another East European Whitewash?
The OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe) today released its report on the ‘OSCE High Level Meeting on Confronting Antisemitism in Public Discourse’ that was held in Prague on 23 and 24 March 2011 under the auspices of its ODIHR department (Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights). The full report is available here (alternate link here).