Text of the Letter Delivered to the Lithuanian Ambassador in London on 7 February 2011




Text of the letter delivered to the Lithuanian ambassador in London Monday morning 7 February 2011 by the Right Honourable Denis MacShane MP. The letter was drafted by Danny Ben-Moshe and evolved with input from the other signatories. Signatories include Lord Janner of Braunstone, Rabbi Barry Marcus of Central Synagogue, and Professor Ada Rapoport-Albert, head of the Department of Hebrew and Jewish Studies at University College London which hosted the main conference. PDF here. Background and further links to press coverage here.


H.E. Dr Oskaras Jusys

Ambassador
Embassy of the Republic of Lithuania
84 Gloucester Place
London W1U 6AU

7 February 2011

Dear Ambassador

We the undersigned are writing to express our concern at the irony of your  hosting an exhibition about pre World War II Jewish life called “The Sounds of  Silence” in London, alongside an academic colloquium dedicated to Lithuanian-Jewish relations, without the participation of scholars who are critical of the  Lithuanian Government and its Holocaust policy.  For some years the Lithuanian Government has been engaged in an increasingly  energetic campaign to stop the full truth about the Holocaust and events of
World War II from being discussed in Lithuania, while at the same time  manipulating debate on these issues in the European Parliament. These  developments form part of a broader campaign against the tiny Lithuanian  Jewish community and against Lithuanians and non-Lithuanians alike, who do  not subscribe to the “Double Genocide” model inherent in the Prague  Declaration (2008) and other such documents. Debate about the Holocaust has  been silenced or wrongfully manipulated by:

  • ◊  The state prosecutors, since 2006, threatening Lithuanian Jewish
  • partisans with war crimes investigations ― a campaign of defamation
  • which has the support even of the Lithuanian Human Rights Association
  • ◊ The failure to punish a single Lithuanian Nazi war criminal since
  • Lithuania’s independence in 1991
  • ◊ Letting the Jewish partisan site at the Rudninkai Forest fall into
  • disrepair and ruin
  • ◊ A Lithuanian court ruling, in May 2010, that the swastika, which over
  • recent years has become a more common sight in rallies, is not a Nazi
  • symbol but forms part of the country’s historic legacy, and as such can be
  • publicly displayed
  • ◊ The amendment of the Criminal Code in June 2010, making it a criminal
  • offence to contest the Government’s “double genocide” policy, which
  • equates, and thus distorts, Soviet and Nazi crimes in Lithuania during
  • the War
  • ◊ Lithuania helping lead a European wide campaign, including the Prague
  • Declaration of June 2008, which “recognizes Communism and Nazism as
  • a common legacy”, proclaims “substantial similarities between Nazism
  • and Communism”, and demands the “overhaul” of all European textbooks
  • to reflect this revisionist history
  • ◊ The national Genocide Museum in central Vilnius excluding reference to
  • the Holocaust.

The undersigned also note the Lithuanian Government’s failure to condemn
and respond to rising anti-Semitism, which contributes to the perpetuation of
this ancient hatred. This includes:

  • ◊ The failure of Government officials to condemn and restrict explicit
  • anti-Semitism in mainstream media, such as a front page of a mass
  • circulation daily, in July 2009, which claimed that “the Jews” 3
  • are plotting to expropriate money from the country, showing the
  • elected head of the Jewish community with a photoshopped abacus
  • superimposed.
  • ◊ Statements invoking anti-Semitic language by Foreign Minister
  • Audronius Ažubalis in October 2010, such as his claim that “everyone
  • knows” who is pushing the dual citizenship bill, and ― in reference
  • to foreign Jews ― adding that “they are doing this in order to reap
  • financial benefits by way of property restitution”. The failure to
  • seriously investigate and locate the perpetrators of anti-Semitic acts,
  • such as the leaving of a pig’s head during Sabbath services at the
  • Kaunas Synagogue in August 2010, and the fire at the old synagogue
  • in Pokroy (Pakruojis) in Spring 2009.

We, the undersigned, welcome cultural events outside of Lithuania that
enhance understanding of both present and past Lithuanian Jewish life, and we
acknowledge that in their own right, the Sounds of Silence Exhibition, and all
the related events in London, are an important reflection of history, but we
regard it as duplicitous and unacceptable for the Lithuanian Government to
engage in activities around the world, which ingratiate it to the Jewish
community in the Diaspora and Israel, while in Lithuania the Jewish
community is continually humiliated, Lithuanian Jewish history is being
untruthfully rewritten, and anti-Semitism is espoused.

Embassy-sponsored events such as the Sounds of Silence Exhibition, and the
academic colloquium “No Simple Stories: Jewish-Lithuanian relations between
coexistence and violence”, may present the Lithuanian government in a tolerant
and respectable light, but they do not deceive those, such as the signatories to
this letter, who take the time to study the full spectrum of its activities both
overseas and in Lithuania. We find these events consistent with the
Government’s nationalistic rewriting of history, and with its efforts to limit the
freedom of debate on “Double Genocide” and the Prague Declaration by
excluding from these academic events Jewish scholars from Lithuania, and
members of the Lithuanian Jewish community who are critical of the
Government’s policies while being personally involved in “Jewish-Lithuanian
relations.”

We, the undersigned, hereby call on the Lithuanian Government to take the
following steps to correct the situation and help repair Jewish-Lithuanian
relations:

  • ◊ Publicly ending without delay pre-trial “war crimes” investigations
  • against Jewish partisan veterans
  • ◊ Recognising the role of the Lithuanian Activist Front (and the
  • Provisional Government) and all other Lithuanian institutions involved
  • in the mass murder of Lithuanian Jewry starting in June 1941, in many
  • locations prior to the arrival or establishment of the administration of
  • German Nazi forces
  • ◊ Restoring for posterity the remains of the one surviving Jewish anti-Nazi
  • fort, which was used as a base by 100 escapees from the Vilna Ghetto,
  • from which to combat the Nazis and their collaborators
  • ◊ Repealing the criminal law of June 2010, which allows for the imposition
  • of criminal penalties for supporting, denying or downgrading crimes
  • committed either by the Soviet Union or by Nazi Germany
  • ◊ Outlawing the swastika as a Nazi symbol
  • ◊Stopping the use of anti-Semitic rhetoric by Government ministers
  • ◊Refusing permission for neo-Nazis to march in the cities of Lithuania
  • where they espouse hate speech
  • ◊ Adopting laws that recognize and restrict the anti-Semitism which
  • incites against and vilifies the Jewish community in the Lithuanian media
  • ◊ Fully and accurately representing the Holocaust in the Genocide
  • Museum in central Vilnius and in any state sponsored exhibition on
  • Genocide
  • ◊ Including representatives of the Lithuanian Jewish Community and the
  • Green House Holocaust museum in forums sponsored by Lithuanian
  • embassies in the diaspora.

Several of the signatories below are Litvaks ― Lithuanian Jews or their
descendants, who remain committed to ensuring that the memory and legacy of 5
their ancestors, and those Jews who remain in Lithuania today, are treated with
respect and with regard to the historical truth.

 

Yours sincerely,

Associate Professor Danny Ben-Moshe, Victoria University, Australia

Zane Buzby, CEO, Co-Founder, The Survivor Mitzvah Project, USA

Uri Chanoch, Board Member, Claims Conference

Michael Freedland, broadcaster, London

Richard M. Golden, Professor of History, Director, Jewish Studies Program, University of North Texas

Dr. Clemens Heni, Director, The Berlin International Center for the Study of Antisemitism

Professor Mikhail Iossel, Concordia University, Canada; founding director, Summer Literary Seminars and the Litvak Studies Institute

Dr Saul Issroff, Litvak genealogist and author of The Holocaust in Lithuania: A Book of Remembrance 1939-1945, London

Lord Janner of Braunstone, Vice President of the World Jewish Congress, chair of the Holocaust Education Trust

Dr Dovid Katz, Editor of www.DefendingHistory.com

Professor Dov Levin, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, author of many workson Lithuanian Jewry and the Holocaust, including Encyclopedia of Jewish Communities from their Foundation until after the Holocaust: Lithuania (Jerusalem 1996)

Rt Hon Dr Denis MacShane MP, former Europe Minister UK

Dr Daniela Mantovan, Yiddish Studies, Hochschule für Jüdische Studien Heidelberg

Rabbi Barry Marcus, Central Synagogue, London; Trustee, Holocaust Memorial Day; Patron of Yad Vashem, UK

Joseph Melamed, Chairman, Association of Lithuanian Jews in Israel

Professor Faye Ran, Metropolitan College of New York

Professor Ada Rapoport-Albert, Head of Department of Hebrew and JewishStudies, University College London

Prof Milton Shain, Department of Historical Studies and Kaplan Centre for Jewish Studies, University of Cape Town

Dr Harold Shukman, Emeritus Fellow (former Lecturer in Modern Russian History), St Antony’s College, Oxford

Danny Stone, Director, Parliamentary Committee Against AntisemitismFoundation, London

Dr. Efraim Zuroff, Director, Simon Wiesenthal Center-Israel Office, and Coordinator, SWC Nazi War Crimes Research Worldwide

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