Author Archives: Defending History

Is Walking Down a Street Named for a Murderer Now Considered ‘Holocaust Remembrance’?



Opinion  |  Collaborators Glorified  | Antanas Baltūsis-Žvejas  |  Politics of Memory  | Lithuania  |  History

by Evaldas Balčiūnas

Just another street name in a pleasant part of Kaunas, this year’s Capital of European Culture? Author thinks that “Kaunas and its people deserve better”…

Antanas Baltūsis-Žvejas (1915–1948) is remembered by the Republic of Lithuania for his anti-Soviet guerilla activities after the war but without regard for the three separate periods of his activity in service to Nazi activities to exterminate the Jewish people. He did indeed join the anti-Soviet partisan resistance movement in the spring of 1945. And, before his death, he did become the head of its Tauras County unit. Those who heroize this period of his activities emphasize his efforts in establishing military discipline and order in the county. His critics, in turn, are more likely to make reference to his order to the Žalgiris Detachment, subordinate to the Tauras County, to annihilate Russian (Soviet) civilian settlers (“colonists”) in Opšrūtai, who had been transferred to Lithuania according to the Soviet-Nazi repatriation agreement (often with little or no input from these folks themselves). Thirty-one persons perished in Opšrūtai, including fourteen children. In the partisans’ descriptions of the battle, it is easy to notice that their task was to eradicate all colonists, including children. Those who justify the atrocity against civilians, including children, say that it was necessary to thwart the russification of Lithuania.

Lithuania’s policy of historical memory was quite straightforward on this issue: it built a monument to the partisans of the Žalgiris Detachment in Opšrūtai. Ethnic cleansing of Jews, if done by “our own nationalist heroes” in Lithuania, is still seen, it seems, as acceptable.

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Posted in Antanas Baltūsis-Žvejas, Antisemitism & Bias, Christian-Jewish Issues, Collaborators Glorified, Evaldas Balčiūnas, Genocide Center (Vilnius), Kaunas, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on Is Walking Down a Street Named for a Murderer Now Considered ‘Holocaust Remembrance’?

Updates on Kaunas’s ‘Capital of European Culture 2022’ Year Without (So Far) Removing a Single Shrine to Local Holocaust Collaborators


[latest update]

OPINION  |  LITVAK AFFAIRS  |  COLLABORATORS GLORIFIED  | THE 2022 LEVINAS AFFAIR OF 2022

Congratulations to the city of Kaunas, Lithuania, once known also as Kovno (in Yiddish forever: Kóvne) on its selection as Europe’s “Capital of European Culture” in 2022, sharing the title with Esch-sur-Alzette in Luxembourg. But as  the midpoint of the city’s co-reign rapidly approaches, it is necessary, albeit sad, to have to note that not a single public-space glorification of local Holocaust collaborators had been removed. Zero. No city on the planet has as many monuments to local partners in the genocide of that city’s Jews. The 30,000 Litvaks (Lithuanian Jews) of Kaunas were brutally murdered, and the city played the primary role in the launch of the Lithuanian genocide on 23 June 1941, before the arrival of the first German forces. Thousands were murdered before the Germans arrived and/or set up their administration.

Lithuanian government authorities have  reportedly invested large sums to lure “Useful Jewish Idiots” from the UK, US, Israel, and further afield to participate in “cultural events” intended to obfuscate and deflect from the primary issue: Why are the enablers of the slaughter of Kovno Jewry still honored by street names, plaques and university lecture halls and statues in the city? Local Jewish leaders who have dared to speak up have rapidly been smeared as “Putinists” for daring to criticize the far right’s hold over national history policy (and indeed, the need for such a policy to start with).

But in the waning days of 2021, a “waterfall of truth” began to cascade from an unanticipated quarter. Michael Levinas, son of the celebrated Lithuanian-Jewish born French philosopher Emanuel Levinas, forbade authorities to name a fancy new institute after his father. This was kept under wraps until his 21 Dec.  Le Figaro opinion piece broke the story, and it was duly reported in Lithuania by LRT.lt. See Defending History’s media tracker page for background and updates.

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Posted in 'Levinas Center' in Kaunas, Antanas Baltūsis-Žvejas, Collaborators Glorified, Human Rights, Jonas Žemaitis, Kaunas, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Neo-Nazi & Fascist Marches, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory | Tagged , , | Comments Off on Updates on Kaunas’s ‘Capital of European Culture 2022’ Year Without (So Far) Removing a Single Shrine to Local Holocaust Collaborators

Subtle Art of State Antisemitism ― East European Style (with ubiquitous nod to glorification of Holocaust collaborators)



OPINION  |  LITVAK AFFAIRS  |  (AB)USE OF JEWISH STUDIES FOR HISTORICAL REVISIONISM  |  YIDDISH AFFAIRS  | YIVO IN LITHUANIA  | MEDIA WATCH  | FOREIGN MINISTRIES AND JUDAIC STUDIES  |  COLLABORATORS GLORIFIED  | NOREIKA GLORIFIED

by Julius Norwilla (Vilnius)

On the 4th of April 2022, the website of our Ministry of Foreign Affairs published a news item titled (in Lithuanian, here translated) “Lithuania will expand cooperation with Yivo Jewish Research Institute, preserving and publicizing Lithuanian Jewish history” (as PDF). The site’s English language section uses the headline wording “Lithuania to expand cooperation with Yivo Institute for Jewish Research to protect and promote the history and heritage of Lithuanian Jews” (as PDF).

The news article contains information about the visit of the esteemed American scholar, Dr. Jonathan Brent, the executive director and CEO of the Yivo Institute for Jewish Research in New York, also a famed educator and academic publisher, with his colleagues, and their meeting with the deputy foreign minister. The news item appears intent on communicating to the world how much our country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs cares about its Jewish and Yiddish legacy and how sensitive it is to the history of Lithuanian Jewry.

Both the Lithuanian and English versions are illustrated with a three-photo gallery portraying three scenes of the meeting: shaking hands at the welcome, a moment at the meeting table and the final with those at the meeting posing for the official photo-op.

Everything seems to be done according to the usual protocols of such meetings, at which the professional photographer takes numerous photos from start to finish, culminating with the final photo-op. Then the few dozen shots are whittled down to the most informative and appropriate handful for publication. The ones that make the point best. Elementary.

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Posted in "Jewish" Events as Cover?, Antisemitism & Bias, Bold Citizens Speak Out, Christian-Jewish Issues, Collaborators Glorified, Foreign Ministries: Holocaust Politics Abuse?, Julius Norwilla, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Media Watch, ministries, News & Views, State Glorification of Holocaust Collaborator J. Noreika, Yiddish Affairs, Yivo Manipulated? | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off on Subtle Art of State Antisemitism ― East European Style (with ubiquitous nod to glorification of Holocaust collaborators)

Books in the Debate 2022 — With Latest on Silvia Foti’s “Nazi’s Granddaughter”


[updated]

see also: BOOKS SECTION


Evaldas Balčiūnas reviews Vilnius Genocide Center chief’s new book on the Lithuanian Holocaust; in German translation


Silvia Foti: The Nazi’s Granddaughter: How I Discovered My Grandfather was a War Criminal

UPDATE OF MAY 2022:

Sylvia Foti’s major new book is widely available in English and Lithuanian, among other languages. QUESTION: Why is the center of Vilnius still blighted by an upgraded plaque & bas-relief  (right) and a central boulevard marble slab glorifying Hitler collaborator Jonas Noreika, who masterminded the death of thousands of Jews, and touted his unadulterated hate for Jewish fellow citizens in a prewar book? Why do  Western diplomats, and most visiting American, British and Israeli Jewish dignitaries feel obliged to avoid even the most polite critique of these prominent carbuncles on the face of the European Union? Surely, a true friend of Lithuania would want the best for Lithuania and its international stature, even if a small far-right “history rewriting elite” might feel offended.

Kitos Knygos Books published Lithuanian edition of Silvia Foti’s book; she appeared in Vilnius to launch it at the Feb. 2022 Vilnius Book Fair

See the author’s major op-eds in the New York Times (27 Jan. 2021 [as PDF]), Wall Street Journal (26 Aug. 2021 [as PDF] & Lou Gerber’s 7 Sept.WSJ letter [as PDF]; EU Today (2 Sept. 2021 [as PDF]); author’s BBC Hard Talk interview with Stephen Sackur (15 April 2021); 17 Sept. 2021 report in Spiegel;

Events include: Seminar at Harvard University’s Davis Center; Jewish Federation of Greater Houston (23 Jan. 2022); Palos Heights (Ill.) Public Library (10 May 2022)

Related reports in Algemeiner.com; Andrew Higgins in The New York Times; Gil Skorwid and Patrick Smith on NBC NewsGrant Arthur Gochin in Jewish JournalRichard S. Hirschhaut at American Jewish Committee

Reviews of Foti’s The Nazi’s Granddaughter: Bettina Berch in Jewish Book Council; Liz Mineo in the Harvard Gazette; in the National Book Review.

Background on author’s website.   Spanish edition

When you visit Vilnius, Kaunas and other Lithuanian citizens, be sure to ask the powers that be to remove city-center shrines to brutal Holocaust collaborators that mar this beautiful European country.

See also a selection of street names and public-space shrines across Lithuania and DH’s Collaborators Glorified section. Also: Noreika section.

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Posted in Books, History, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Rūta Vanagaitė | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Books in the Debate 2022 — With Latest on Silvia Foti’s “Nazi’s Granddaughter”

Dr. Bubnys’s New Book on the Lithuanian Holocaust: More Obfuscation and Far-Right History-Spin to Minimize Local Participation?



Opinion | Books | Dr. Bubnys & Official State Holocaust Research in Lithuania | Red-Brown Commission | Genocide Center | Politics of Memory | Lithuania | History

by Evaldas Balčiūnas

Prolific historian, director of the state’s Genocide Center, and far-right activist. On 23 June 2020, Dr. Arūnas Bubnys addressed an ultranationalist rally celebrating the 79th anniversary of Hitler’s invasion (and onset of the Lithuanian Holocaust), flanked by large posters of Jonas Noreika and Kazys Škirpa, two major collaborators in various phases of the genocide of Lithuanian Jewry (96.4% were killed). In his speech he taunted the (silent) DH observers on hand. See reports here and here, and DH’s section on Dr. Bubnys’s work and positions over the years.

Arūnas Bubnys’s book The Holocaust in the Lithuanian Provinces (Holokaustas Lietuvos provincijoje, Margi raštai, Vilnius, 2021) is another publication of the International Commission for the Evaluation of the Crimes of the Nazi and Soviet Occupation Regimes in Lithuania (ICECNSORL). Up until now, books published by the Commission were academically written and appreciated by a sophisticated readership. Moreover, they were always published in both Lithuanian and English. This book is different. It is available only in Lithuanian. Previously published monographs would also include Commission-approved conclusions; this book has no such thing. As far as I have been able to ascertain, the Commission’s academics did not discuss the book among themselves before its publication. But let’s start at the beginning.

The book is geographically quite extensive: 23 counties and 140 towns are cited. This is really a lot, but it is also quite obvious that the coverage of towns in different counties is unequal. When it comes to Šilutė county in western Lithuania, for example, several camps and fates of individual Jews are mentioned in passing, but no single town is described. For the Marijampolė county, only the fate of the Jews of Marijampolė itself is presented.  Šiauliai xounty (15 towns) and Alytus County (12 towns) are the most extensively covered.

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Posted in "Red-Brown Commission", Books, Dr. Arūnas Bubnys and State Holocaust Revisionism in Lithuania, Evaldas Balčiūnas, Genocide Center (Vilnius), History, Legacy of 23 June 1941, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on Dr. Bubnys’s New Book on the Lithuanian Holocaust: More Obfuscation and Far-Right History-Spin to Minimize Local Participation?

New York Jewish Museum: Latest to be Duped into “Legitimizing” Lithuanian Far-Right Holocaust Revisionism?



MUSEUMS | JEWISH EVENTS ABUSED TO MAKE “KOSHER” HOLOCAUST REVISIONISM | POLITICS OF MEMORY | COLLABORATORS WHITEWASHED

Is New York City’s Jewish Museum the Latest Western Jewish Institution to be Duped into “Legitimizing” Lithuanian Nationalists’ Far-Right Holocaust Revisionism?

See Michael Casper’s new exposé in Jewish Currents

Are “useful Jewish idiots” addicted to photo-ops, funding and junkets being duped into joining “Kaunas Capital of European Culture 2022” year? (without Kaunas removing a single public monument to Holocaust perps)

For background see Defending History’s coverage of the revisionists’ “Jewish cover-it-up  investments” over more than a dozen years

Andrius Kulikauskas on the Greimas exhibit at Lithuania’s National Mažvydas Library (2017); on the Library’s setting up of the Adolfas Damušis Center glorifying a Nazi collaborator (2017)

Dovid Katz on the (ab)use of East European museums to “legitimize” Double Genocide and far-right Holocaust revisionism; Defending History’s Museums section

Posted in "Jewish" Events as Cover?, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Museums, News & Views, Politics of Memory, United States | Tagged , , | Comments Off on New York Jewish Museum: Latest to be Duped into “Legitimizing” Lithuanian Far-Right Holocaust Revisionism?

27 Months Later: Lithuania’s Defense Ministry Still Flaunts Website Homage to Hitlerist Theoretician of Ethnic Cleansing of Jews


[UPDATED / ORIGINAL REPORT 3 MARCH 2020]

COLLABORATORS GLORIFIED  |   KAUNAS MARCHES EU  |  OPINION 

Believe it or not, the Defense Ministry still flaunts its magazine cover glorifying Lithuania’s major  1941 “Holocaust advocate” on its website with no editorial comment or disclaimer from the defense minister (as PDF). Who was K. Škirpa?

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Posted in Collaborators Glorified, Foreign Ministries: Holocaust Politics Abuse?, History, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Media Watch, News & Views, Politics of Memory, Yitzhak Arad | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on 27 Months Later: Lithuania’s Defense Ministry Still Flaunts Website Homage to Hitlerist Theoretician of Ethnic Cleansing of Jews

Ottawa Citizen & N.Y. Times Break Media Silence on Self-Damage of Eastern NATO/EU Democracies by Public-Space Adoration of Holocaust Collaborators



OPINION  |  MEDIA WATCH  |  GLORIFICATION OF COLLABORATORS  |  LATVIA  |  UKRAINE  |  RIGA MARCHES

by Dovid Katz

Mainstream Western media has, it seems, finally begun to “notice a detail” that has been rather inscrutable to the wider public. Ukraine is a country where in 2019, 73.22% of voters chose a Jewish president, Volodymyr Zelensky in the second and final round of voting, a result verily impossible in any of today’s great Western democracies, including the United States and Britain. Indeed a Jewish president whose family boasts proud World War II veterans of the Holocaust-era Red Army’s and the Allies’ struggle against Hitler. That is no “pro-fascist” country. Period, full stop. Having been a regular visitor to Ukraine for a period spanning more than a decade (for Yiddish expeditions and sometimes delightful conferences), I can attest to the open, welcoming, multiethnic and multicultural tolerance and grand humor of this great country’s people.

What is the upshot? That just as elsewhere in pro-Western Eastern Europe, a small but disproportionately powerful coterie of far-right pseudo-patriotic history rewriters, among them highly educated and sophisticated historians, politicians and state apparatchiks, all Holocaust revisionists in their passion to have as national heroes Hitler collaborators, have done so much harm to their own countries. It’s enough to peruse Defending History’s sections on Croatia, EstoniaHungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Ukraine, and more (see Countries). Incidentally, the motivation of these small, overly influential elites is (mis)guided by two forms of racism: inability to concede their nations’ leaders acted wrongfully during the Holocaust (what country’s history has no dark spots?), and the demented desire for a (supposedly) ethnically pure country (in other words, quiet satisfaction with the results of accomplished ethnic purification).

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Posted in Collaborators Glorified, Dovid Katz, Latvia, Lithuania, Media Watch, News & Views, Ukraine | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on Ottawa Citizen & N.Y. Times Break Media Silence on Self-Damage of Eastern NATO/EU Democracies by Public-Space Adoration of Holocaust Collaborators

Today’s Far-Right March 11th Parade in Vilnius



VILNIUS MARCHES  |  KAUNAS MARCHES  |  FAR-RIGHT MARCHES  |  COLLABORATORS GLORIFIED

by Julius Norwilla

VILNIUS—On our National Independence Day today, the 11th of March, approximately two hundred far-right nationalists and their sympathizers marched in the center of Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, with permission of the city’s and national authorities. The march, following a route of many years’ standing, started at Cathedral Square and ended up in Lukiškės Square. But this year’s gathering was unusually short, taking up less than one hour. The main outlets of the Lithuanian media covered the event, generally obfuscating its far-right character.

What else makes this year’s march different from the marches of the previous years and from the march on February 16th? First, naturally, support for Ukraine, now under a vicious military campaign by Russian military forces, dominated the event. The rally was opened and closed by playing melodies and singing two national anthems: of Lithuania in Lithuanian and of Ukraine in Ukrainian.

Julius Norwilla’s photos at the event

Second, the provocative far-right slogan “Lietuva Lietuviams!” (Lithuania for Lithuanians!) was today used explicitly, featuring beforehand on the Facebook page banner preceding the event, thereby emphasizing the group’s fear of citizens, residents or refugees who are not pure ethnic Lithuanian (perhaps a contradiction to the professed support of Ukraine?). During the march, it was screamed out repeatedly. Defending History’s  monitoring and reporting of the far-right marches starting back in 2008. Sometimes the far-right slogan, implying illegitimacy or no human rights for non-ethnic-Lithuanians in Lithuania, is at times reduced to a single chant word: “Lithuania! Lithuania! Lithuania!”

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Posted in Collaborators Glorified, Events, Julius Norwilla, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Neo-Nazi & Fascist Marches, News & Views, Vilnius Neo-Nazi Marches | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on Today’s Far-Right March 11th Parade in Vilnius

Exotic Antisemitism? Declaring a Soviet Ruin to be a National Treasure — to Keep an Old City-Center Jewish Cemetery Verily Underground?



OPINION  |  ANTISEMITISM  |  OLD VILNA JEWISH CEMETERY  |  CEMETERIES  | HUMAN RIGHTS  |  LITVAK AFFAIRS

by Dovid Katz

Antisemitism takes many forms in the twenty-first century. It includes the religion-based, the anti-Israel-based, the globalization-based, the envy-based, and the drunk-violence based — all the way to sophisticated and elegant forms that are so sublimated that it is hard to discern what’s what. In Eastern Europe, some rather exotic forms flourish: hatred of remnant local Jewish communities (who know the truth about the Holocaust-relevant roles played by local nationalists vs. the Soviet army during the Holocaust years of 1941-1944/45) alongside love of rich, distant foreign Jews (who can be charmed right to the high heavens with medals, junkets and photo-ops to help underpin Double Genocide revisionism — and sometimes cover for glorification of local collaborators — as part, naturally, of “Holocaust remembrance”).

Then there is the occasionally encountered East European love of substantial Jewish sacred sites that are suitably far from the center of town (“best place is the forest, you know!”) and provide a fine niche in-season tourism without upsetting the ethnic-purity concocted versions of town-center history that want it to be say pure Ukrainian (Lviv/Lvov/Lemberg), pure Latvian (Riga), or pure Lithuanian (Vilnius/Vilna/Wilno/Vílne).

The hard fought battle to keep the convention center out of the old Vilna Jewish cemetery was won last summer (report in the AJ). It will go down in history as a victory for Lithuania and all the country’s true friends. Now comes Part II.

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Posted in Antisemitism & Bias, Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Human Rights, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Opinion, Politics of Memory | Tagged , , , , , | Comments Off on Exotic Antisemitism? Declaring a Soviet Ruin to be a National Treasure — to Keep an Old City-Center Jewish Cemetery Verily Underground?

A Jewish Museum Without a Single Jewish Staff Member? (in a country with 3,000 Jewish citizens)


[UPDATE / original publication 1 Feb. 2022]

Opinion  |  Sheduva, Lithuania  |  Museums  |  Litvak Affairs

2022 is “Can you imagine?” year…

Can you imagine a museum in South Africa dedicated to the history of Apartheid without a single African member of staff on site?

Can you imagine a museum in Mississippi on Confederate state slavery without a single African American member of staff on site?

Can you imagine a museum of Lithuanian shtetl history in Lithuania without a single Jewish member of staff on site?

Yes.

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Posted in Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Museums, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory, Šeduva (Sheduva, Shádeve, Shádov) and its Secretly-Financed, Free-of-Jewish-Staff "Museum of the Lost Shtetl", South Africa | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on A Jewish Museum Without a Single Jewish Staff Member? (in a country with 3,000 Jewish citizens)

News and Views on a ‘Levinas Center’ in Kaunas that May Serve PR Interests of Deflecting from City’s Shrines to its Holocaust Perpetrators


[UPDATED]

  LEVINAS CENTER IN KAUNAS  |  FRANCE  |  KAUNAS  | GLORIFICATION OF COLLABORATORS  |  BALTIC JEWISH INVESTMENTS THAT DEFLECT FROM HOLOCAUST REVISIONISM

Tracking media coverage.

Composer and pianist Michael Levinas, the son (and heir and exclusive legal holder of the moral rights to his father’s works) of French philosopher Emmanuel Levinas, has publicly protested Lithuania’s naming an institute in Kaunas for his father. See his op-ed in Le Figaro (21 Dec. 2021) [in English]) and his interview in Actualité Juive (13 Jan. 2022) [in English]). Initial coverage by JTA (19 Jan.) does not mention Michael Levinas’s protest, but unusually, the protest has been covered in some detail by Lithuanian mainstream media’s Lrt.lt (9 Jan., updated 17 Jan. 2022) which reported on the refusal of the French Embassy in Vilnius to send any representation to the center’s opening ceremony in Dec. 2021. A report also appeared on the website of the official Lithuanian Jewish Community (10 Jan.). However, a second local Kaunas community posting on 12 Jan. was alone cited by the European Jewish Congress website  as an uncontroversial news item.

“Question on everybody’s mind”:

Will the Levinas Center leaders, staff, sponsors and visitors politely ask, with dignity, that the city of Kaunas now, in its year as “Capital of European Culture” rapidly remove state-sponsored shrines to the local murderers of Levinas’s family and the other 30,000 Jewish citizens of Kaunas? Or will the Levinas Center become one of the “Useful Jewish Idiot (UJI) addresses” that are used to cover for current Kaunas policies of glorification of Nazi perpetrators, while providing handsome photo-ops, lavish hospitality and generous amenities to visiting foreign Jewish dignitaries who maintain studious silence on current policies of honoring Holocaust collaborators in the public space (in some cases, a very short walk from the new “Levinas Center”).

Levinas for veterinarians?

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Posted in 'Levinas Center' in Kaunas, "Jewish" Events as Cover?, Collaborators Glorified, France, Kaunas, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on News and Views on a ‘Levinas Center’ in Kaunas that May Serve PR Interests of Deflecting from City’s Shrines to its Holocaust Perpetrators

Authorized Translation of French Composer Michael Levinas’s Interview with Actualité Juive on Illicit New ‘Levinas Center’ in Kaunas, as City Continues to Glorify Local Holocaust Perpetrators



Defending History’s Belgian correspondent Roland Binet has translated the 13 Jan. 2021 interview with Michael Levinas published on 13 Jan. 2021 in Actualite Juive.  Michaël Levinas, who has approved the translation, is a French pianist and composer of renown. He has this year been appointed Vice-President of the French Academy of Fine Arts, has taught at the Paris National Superior Conservatory of Music and Dance and has been made Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur.  

For context see the Levinas Center Media Tracker page.


Son of the philosopher Emmanuel Levinas, pianist and composer, honorary professor at the CNSMDP [National Superior Conservatory of Dance and Music], member of the French Institute and the Academy of Fine Arts, Michaël Levinas has expressed his opposition to the inauguration last month of the Emmanuel Levinas Center in Lithuania. He explains why.

Actualité Juive: The city of Kaunas in Lithuania in December inaugurated a center that bears the name of your father, the philosopher Emmanuel Levinas. Why do you oppose that initiative?

Michaël Levinas: During a visit in Paris by the philosopher Viktoras Bachmetjevas, I learned that he wished to create an Emmanuel Levinas Center in Kaunas. I immediately told him of my reservations to the use of his name at the very place where all our family had been murdered during the Holocaust by bullets with the proven complicity of the Lithuanian people. It is an employee of  mygrandfather (who was a bookseller) who denounced the family and led the Lithuanian members of the militia to his home. I pointed out the fact that it was common knowledge that my father had on many occasions expressed the solemn vow never again to return to Lithuania and never again to have any contact with that country anymore. On the other hand, I told him that I was not opposed to the fact that, within the setting of a structure dedicated to  contemporary philosophy, a section might be created dedicated to the study of Emmanuel Levinas’s work. One year later, I was contacted by the French ambassador in Lithuania, Mrs. Lignières-Counathe, who informed me of the progress of a project of setting up of an Emmanuel Levinas Center. Again, I expressed my reservations, reminding her of my father’s very firm stance and of my moral and intellectual responsibility as exclusive holder of the moral rights pertaining to his work, which are of course correlated with the respect of his name and its use.

Actualité Juive: What happened next?

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Authorized Translation of Michael Levinas’s Dec. 2021 ‘Le Figaro’ Op-ed on Kaunas’s ‘Levinas Center’



Defending History’s Belgian correspondent Roland Binet has translated the 21 Dec. 2021 op-ed published in Le Figaro by Michael Levinas entitled “Pourquoi je suis opposé à l’inauguration, à Kaunas, en Lituanie, d’un centre qui porte le nom d’Emmanuel Levinas”.  Michael Levinas has agreed to allow Defending History to publish his Le Figaro opinion piece in full, in English, and has approved Roland Binet’s translation, which follows.  Michaël Levinas is a French pianist and composer of renown. He has this year been appointed Vice-President of the French Academy of Fine Arts, has taught at the Paris National Superior Conservatory of Music and Dance and has been made Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur.  

 ◊

Why am I Opposed to the Inauguration in Kaunas, Lithuania, of a Center that Bears the Name of Emmanuel Levinas

By Michaël Levinas

Following the publication on FigaroVox of Salomon Malka’s text entitled “Lithuania celebrates the philosopher Emmanuel Levinas”  Michael Levinas asked us to publish his reaction to this information. Michaël Levinas, a pianist, is honorary professor at the National Superior Conservatory of Music and Dance in Paris, as well as a member of the Academy of Fine Arts. He is the son of the philosopher Emmanuel Levinas.

It was through an article signed by Salomon Malka in FigaroVox that I was informed of the inauguration of an Emmanuel Levinas center in Kaunas, which took place on December 6 within the setting of the Lithuanian University of Health Sciences. Thus, it is through the press alone that I, as the exclusive holder of the moral rights, and responsible for the use of my father’s name when it concerns his work, learned of this ceremony which honored a major French personality. A noteworthy fact: it was held only in the presence of the Embassy of Israel, and in the absence of the Embassy of France in Lithuania and the Embassy of Lithuania in France, and this, in defiance of the reservations that I had publicly expressed as a son regarding the use of my father’s name, Emmanuel Levinas, in a historically tragic context.

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Posted in 'Levinas Center' in Kaunas, "Jewish" Events as Cover?, France, Kaunas, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Michael Levinas, News & Views | Tagged , , | Comments Off on Authorized Translation of Michael Levinas’s Dec. 2021 ‘Le Figaro’ Op-ed on Kaunas’s ‘Levinas Center’

Thanks to Danutė Selčinskaja and Stanislovas Stasiulis, We found Families who Saved My Parents During the Lithuanian Holocaust



Lithuania  |  History  |  Persons of the Year  |  Litvak Affairs

 

By Miriam Kagan (Kahn) Lieber (New York)

 ◊

My family was delighted to learn that Defending History 2022 Persons of the Year are the inspirationally courageous Lithuanians who risked all to save my parents and a small group of their friends from certain death in Kovno by hiding them in the forests near their rural homes.  This is our amazing tale of discovery, in brief.

In the summer of 2019, my cousin traveled to Lithuania to visit the country where much of our family originated, home to my parents, Berl and Raya Kagan, and aunt, Nechama Ilman Himmel. It was our good fortune that he met Stanislovas Stasiulis of the Vilna Gaon Museum of Jewish History, who introduced us to his colleague Danutė Selčinskaja, long time head of the museum‘s department for discovering, recording and acknowledging Rescuers of Holocaust-era Lithuania.

Danutė knew the story of six heroic Lithuanian peasants from the hamlet of Karalgiris who rescued eight Jews from the Kovno Ghetto. She was very familiar with the story that had been published in post-war newspapers in Lithuania and in the book, Unarmed Fighters (Ir be ginklo kariai), but despite several attempts, lacked the documentation to confirm the accuracy of the story.

She was not yet familiar with my father’s diary, published in 1955 in Yiddish in New York by the Congress for Jewish Culture, entitled A yid in vald (A Jew in the Woods). The entries in the diary would confirm what was written in several post-war publications about this rescue, including the first names of each of the rescuers. She, along with Stanislovas, quickly grasped the historical value of the published Yiddish diary as it provided an in-depth picture of the rescuers of the Holocaust period in Lithuania. And due to Danutė‘s hard work and dedication she brought to fruition the long overdue recognition of these righteous Lithuanians this past September.

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DH Editor on Simple Ethics of ‘Kaunas Capital of European Culture 2022’ Year



OPINION  |  GLORIFICATION OF HOLOCAUST COLLABORATORS  |  KAUNAS

by Dovid Katz

This comment is adapted from the author’s Facebook post of 3 Dec. 2021.
As someone who has enjoyed many visits to Kaunas, and enjoyed meeting its wonderful, warm, tolerant people for three decades now, I’m the first not to ever blame them for the city’s (and national) authorities having made it the city with the most public-space monuments to local Holocaust participants/partners/collaborators of any in the world, including street names, plaques, busts, bas-reliefs and more for the likes of Holocaust perpetrator J. Noreika, Holocaust-era ethnic cleansing theoretician K. Škirpa, and the head of Hitler’s Nazi puppet government J. Ambrazevičius-Brazaitis (even the “liberal” Vytautas Magnus university has a lecture hall and bas-relief glorifying him!).

It all strikes outsiders as a kind of bizarre circus macabre of a celebration of those whose first order of business was the butchering of the city’s 30,000 citizens who were Jewish, a celebration of Nazism and the Holocaust. It is a true friend of Kaunas who would now publicly call for the removal of these shameful street names and monuments. And, when folks accept lavish invites, ego-trips and honors in “Capital of European Culture” programs, we only ask that they speak out publicly, with dignity, calling for the removal of public-space state-sponsored shrines to the local “white-armbander” Hitlerists who launched the Lithuanian Holocaust in Kaunas on 23 June 1941, before the first German soldiers arrived. If they do, they acquit themselves with honor. If they don’t and allow their use as “foreign Jews” to further betray the victims of the Holocaust and the simple historic truth, for a mess of lentils, they shall duly go done in the darkest alleys of Jewish and European history as Useful Jewish Idiots (so-called “UJIs”) — at best.

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French Composer and Pianist Michael Levinas, Son of Philosopher Emmanuel Levinas, Explains Opposition to Wanton Use of Father’s Name in Kaunas’s New ‘Levinas Center’



 OPINION  |  USE OF ‘JEWISH PROJECTS’ TO DEFLECT FROM HOLOCAUST OBFUSCATION  |  ‘LEVINAS CENTER’  |  LITVAK AFFAIRS  |   KAUNAS  |  FRANCE

PARIS—The French Jewish journal Actualité Juive  published in its print edition a full-page interview (as PDF) with the eminent French composer and pianist Michaël Levinas, concerning his protest at a new center in Lithuania’s second city, Kaunas (once Kovno, Yiddish Kóvne), being named for his late father, the great French philosopher Emmanuel Levinas (1906-1995). An authorized translation is available. Coinciding with the European Union’s naming of Kaunas as “Capital of European Culture” for 2022 and the city’s refusal to remove even one of the many street names, shrines, plaques and monuments to local Nazi collaborators who helped ensure the massacre of nearly all the city’s Jewish residents in 1941, and who participated in the unleashing of the Holocaust in Lithuania even before the arrival of the first German soldiers in late late 1941, the composer’s powerful moral protest represents a singular voice of justice, reason and moral courage to date.

See also op-ed in Le Figaro

&

Levinas Center Media Tracker

The composer’s stance stands in marked  contrast with many others, including artists, assorted academics and a wide range of Western wannabees, who are accepting funding, honors, junkets, invites, and photo-ops with “important people” in return for an unspoken assurance of silence in face of the city’s refusal to take down a single shrine to the local perpetrators of the Holocaust.

The following is a PDF of Michaël Levinas’s interview in the print edition of Actualité Juive of 13 January 2022:

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Editor’s Comments on Defending History Persons of the Year 2022


[UPDATE]


OPINION  |  LITVAK AFFAIRS  |  LITHUANIA

by Dovid Katz

Note: An earlier version of this comment appeared on Dovid Katz’s personal Facebook page on 31 Dec. 

Each year on New Year’s Eve, when the clock strikes midnight (Vilnius time), our Defending History community publishes its Person(s) of the Year, in most years, and this year once again, chosen from among the most inspirational and eternal of Lithuania’s 20th century heroes: the amazing people who risked everything, starting with themselves and their children and families, to just save a Jewish neighbor and fellow citizen who was targeted for death by the Nazis and their local collaborationists and lackeys. Most years, and this year again, we are fortunate to have an authoritative summary of the achievements of the folks we are honoring prepared for the Persons of the Year series by Danutė Selčinskaja, longtime director of the Project for Commemoration of Rescuers of Jews at the Vilna Gaon Museum of Jewish History in Vilnius. With brevity, authority and humanity, Danutė tells the tale of our 2022 Persons of the Year: Tadas Pocius and Barbora Urbonavičiūtė-Pocienė; Antanas Volskis and Stanislava Volskienė;Leonas Vaidotas and  Stanislava Vaidotienė — all of the tiny speck of a village Karalgiris… All simple people of the land whose heart and soul stood entire heavens and firmaments above so many with education, jobs, money, authority, and all the rest.

See Defending History’s Persons of the Year

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The Holocaust in Šeduva, a Town in Northern Lithuania



ŠEDUVA  |  HISTORY  |  MUSEUMS  |  POLITICS OF MEMORY  |  SHTETL COMMEMORATIONS

by Evaldas Balčiūnas

Just like each and every other town in Lithuania, Šeduva (Sheduva) has as the most barbarous episode of it history the Lithuanian Holocaust. It is not easy to tell this story. There are many narratives that contradict each other, with many omitted or unclear episodes. The omissions can be partly explained by the current policy of historical memory in Lithuania, as well as by the authority of some organizations that thsemlves took active part in these horrible events. Narratives that are unfavorable to them are denied, downplayed, or classified as “information warfare” (in other words: “Russia”). I have previously written about the difficulty in asssessing assorted narratives here.

The summary version of of the Šeduva Jews’ massacre that I recounted includes these critical dates:

June 25, 1941: The Nazis occupy Šeduva.

July 22, 1941: Šeduva’s Jews are driven into the town’s ghetto established to incarcerate its Jewish citizens.

August 25t, 1941: The city’s 665 Jews are  murdered in Liaudiškiai forest. But a few of the Jewish families of volunteers (veterans) of Lithuania’s War of Independence in 1918 are “allowed” to live, under the condition that they abandon their Jewishness and get baptized. The residents of Šeduva and its vicinity observe the public baptism at the church. A couple of weeks later those baptized are driven to Panevėžys and also shot dead, like all their unbaptized brethren who were not “saved by baptism” for having volunteered over two decades earlier to fight in the nation’s War of Independence. The only one who survived was Ms. S. Nolienė, who was hidden by the priest M. Karosas.

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Posted in Evaldas Balčiūnas, History, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Museums, News & Views, Šeduva (Sheduva, Shádeve, Shádov) and its Secretly-Financed, Free-of-Jewish-Staff "Museum of the Lost Shtetl" | Tagged , , , , , | Comments Off on The Holocaust in Šeduva, a Town in Northern Lithuania

2022 Persons of the Year: Tadas Pocius & Barbora Urbonavičiūtė-Pocienė; Antanas Volskis & Stanislava Volskienė; Leonas Vaidotas & Stanislava Vaidotienė — in a village called Karalgiris



PERSON OF THE YEAR SERIES  |  LITHUANIA  |  LITVAK AFFAIRS  |  HISTORY

by Danutė Selčinskaja

Berl Kagan (Kahan)

Eminent scholar, author, and Holocaust survivor Berl Kagan, often known as Berl Kahn (1908-1993)  renowned in his pre-war Lithuania youth as a scholar, lecturer and editor  (of the newspaper Dos Vort), worked after the war in New York at the Yivo (Yiddish Scientific Institute, later Yivo Institute for Jewish Research) from 1954, is widely known for his concise encyclopedia of Jewish towns in prewar independent Lithuania, the final volume of the encyclopedia of Yiddish literature plus a volume of addenda, and numerous other works that are regularly consulted in our second decade of the twenty-first century. Fewer people, perhaps, are aware of his much more deeply personal work, A Yid in Vald (A Jew in the Forest), his Holocaust memoir.

While hiding from the Nazis and their local henchmen in the Lithuanian forests, he felt the need to record what he, his wife Raya, and his wife’s sister Nechama had to endure in the Kovno Ghetto and, from 1943, hiding in the barn of the inspirationally courageous peasant Tadas Pocius (known to friends as Tadeush) in Karalgiris village and, later, in the woods outside the Pocius family’s farm. Since there was no paper to write on, Kagan would write in between the lines of a paperback that he carried with him. In 1955, based on these clandestine records, Kagan published A Yid in Vald. After his death, his daughters Ada Kagan and Miriam Kagan Lieber ensured that the book would appear in English translation A Jew in the Woods.

Defending History’s Person of the Year series

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Posted in Danutė Selčinskaja, Defending History's Person of the Year, History, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Opinion | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on 2022 Persons of the Year: Tadas Pocius & Barbora Urbonavičiūtė-Pocienė; Antanas Volskis & Stanislava Volskienė; Leonas Vaidotas & Stanislava Vaidotienė — in a village called Karalgiris