ANTISEMITISM | 700 YEARS OF VILNIUS CELEBRATIONS | POLITICS OF MEMORY | DOUBLE GENOCIDE
VILNIUS—This commemorative envelope was purchased this morning, on Easter Sunday, on Pilies gatve, Vilnius’s historic Castle Street that has become the city’s center for souvenir stalls and shops. It is an older antisemitic envelope design seen many times before, picturing the Jews of Kaunas allegedly welcoming the Soviet army into town during World War II (i.e. blaming the Jews for the 1940 Soviet occupation as excuse for the genocide — the Lithuanian Holocaust — that followed a year later, wiping out some 96.4% of Lithuanian Jewry, with thousands murdered in late June 1941 before the Germans even took over).
Indeed, the central-boulevard Genocide Museum continues to feature a large hall extolling the Lithuanian Activist Front (LAF) white-armbanded butchers of Litvak Jewry as “freedom fighters who led the uprising against the Soviets” (an abject nonsense — they didn’t shoot a rabbit whilst the Soviets were in power and initiated the Holocaust when the Soviet army fled, not from them, but from Hitler’s invasion, Barbarossa, the largest invasion in human history).
In the unique East European brand of antisemitism, Holocaust history issues, down to personalities among the victims and the perpetrators, remain at at the heart of discourse, rather than at is periphery. The “commemorative envelope” genre has been around here for decades (samples from 2012).
Calls for removal of public-space shrines to Holocaust collaborators in central Vilnius on the occasion of the city’s 700 year anniversary celebrations
But this new version comes with a novel twist for 2023: The “blaming of the Jews for the Soviet occupation” is here linked to celebrations of the 700th anniversary of Vilnius, a city sacred in Jewish history as Yerusholáyim d’Líto (Jerusalem of Lithuania), thereby polluting and undermining a cause for unity, harmony, reconciliation and celebration into a new chapter of ultranationalist history revisionism and ethnic hate as the preferred genre of the cherished anniversary.
The antisemitic canard about Kaunas 1940 is in Lithuanian. But the happy 700th anniversary message about Vilnius is in English. Are tourists being deceived by the envelope’s proud publishers, www.filop.org? Does the “.org” signify recognized charitable status for antisemitic invective prominent in the Lithuanian Holocaust? See Defending History’s 2012 coverage of a series of these envelopes, including a fine Delfi.lt exposé by an intrepid young Lithuanian journalist, Eglė Samoškaitė, and a bold pubic protest staged by nine young Lithuanian human rights champions at an exhibition of the “art” of the envelope maker).
The sale of such items to tourists verily illustrates results of the decision to pursue the 700th anniversary of Vilnius while failing to remove from the capital’s public space state-sponsored plaques, memorials and street names glorifying local Holocaust collaborators.
An inset of the envelope’s design area, followed by enlargement of the insignia of the proud organization claiming responsibility from the back of the envelope.
NOTE: Defending History has been covering the “commemorative envelope” genre of Baltic antisemitism for many years now. See:
Defending History’s report of the forthcoming exhibition at Vilnius University (21 Sept. 2012);
Eglė Samoškaitė’s article in Delfi.lt following from the Defending History report (25 Sept. 2012);
Revelation of an additional “humanistic” envelope by the same designer (27 Sept. 2012);
Nine young Lithuanians protest exhibit by antisemitic “envelope artist” (27 Sept. 2012);
Defending History publishes a “sample collection” of this envelope designer’s work (6 Oct. 2012).