Report in the Forward by Michael Casper on the annual public portrayal of Jews and Roma during the Uzgavenes carnival in central Vilnius. (Image courtesy of Michael Casper.) The report notes the attitudes of the state sponsored Center for Ethnic Activity and the Vilnius City Municipality.
Algirdas Brazauskas (1932-2010), visionary first elected president and later prime minister of free Lithuania died today in Vilnius. In each of his land’s highest offices he proved himself a leader in the grand spirit of the multicultural Grand Duchy of Lithuania who will be properly appreciated long after our time.
From the start of Lithuania’s new history as a proud democratic nation, Algirdas Brazauskas understood that it did no good for his country that war criminals had been rehabilitated by ultranationalist officials.
He paid tribute to Jewish partisan veterans for helping to free Lithuania from Nazi tyranny. As president, he honored Prof Dov Levin. As prime minister, he issued a certificate of recognition to Dr Rachel Margolis.
President Brazauskas’s historic speech to the Israeli Knesset in Jerusalem on 1 March 1995 will never be forgotten (full text here). But in modern Litvak collective memory, there is perhaps one incident, that took place one day before, that will be remembered even more. The Lithuanian delegation was met by a picket line of Holocaust survivors near Yad Vashem. One elderly survivor, Y. Brosh, whose entire family was murdered at Ponar, made his feelings known robustly. Like the other survivors who protested, he was wearing a yellow star on his jacket. President Brazauskas went over to to the man, hugged him and kissed him.
On 29 June 2010, the Lithuanian Parliament criminalized the view that Soviet crimes in Lithuania do not rise to Genocide, in effect making belief in red-brown equivalence a matter of law.
The move followed adoption of a similar statute by Hungary’s new right-wing government.
The Lithuanian law’s framers explained earlier that establishing red-brown equality was the motive. Punishment maxes out at 2 Years in jail (original draft law was for 3 years). There is a new widespread reluctance to speak up freely in eastern EU democracies, even if nobody is charged or punished. Work of serious historians is crippled as dissenters lose their jobs.
There was no comment from the US embassy in Vilnius.
Holocaust Revisionists Successfully Manipulate Borns Jewish Studies Program (Indiana U, Bloomington); Vilnius Yiddish Institute is Purged with ‘a little help from Bloomington’
After authoring the book on Litvak culture for the Lithuanian section at the February 2009 Jerusalem Book Fair, the editor of this website who is the founding professor of Yiddish at the Vilnius Yiddish Institute, declined to attend to chair the Yiddish culture session, when he was told not to bring to the fair Dr. Rachel Margolis, resident in Rechovot. Dr. Margolis is one of the heroic Jewish partisans defamed by the Double Genocide industry.
The Lithuanian government unit running these affairs rapidly replaced him with Dov-Ber Kerler, the Alice Field Cohen professor at the Borns Jewish Studies program at Indiana University (Bloomington), who did not have time to keep a promise to visit with Dr. Rachel Margolis in Rechovot, as a symbol of moral support for the accused Holocaust Survivors. The complete program of events paid for by the Lithuanian government is here (but note that contrary to the published-for-PR schedule, Yitzhak Arad did not — as a matter of principle — appear at the event).
Lithuanian Holocaust Survivors ask U.S. Embassy in Vilnius to Clarify 64,000 Euro Holocaust Education Grant
The Tel-Aviv based Association of Lithuanian Jews, the world’s most active association of Holocaust Survivors from Lithuania and their progeny, today released to the media the letter which its chairman, Joseph A. Melamed, sent on 16 September 2010 to Anne E. Derse, America’s ambassador to Lithuania. Mr Melamed, a Tel Aviv attorney and former Israeli diplomat, told DefendingHistory.com that his office hopes to receive a reply “in the nearest future”. The full text of Mr Melamed’s 16 September letter:
Ambassadors of Britain, Estonia, Finland, France, Netherlands, Norway and Sweden protest Antisemitism in Lithuania; Red-Equals-Brown Movement is Noted
BNS reported today that the Vilnius-based ambassadors of Britain, Estonia, France, Finland, Netherlands, Norway and Sweden have written in no uncertain terms to the president and other major officials of Lithuania to express concern over the growing manifestations of antisemitism.
Two of the signatories confirmed privately to Defending History that the initiative had come from British ambassador HE Simon Butt, who also drafted the letter. Ambassador Butt had in 2008 organized a letter in moral support of Dr. Rachel Margolis, a walk through the Vilna Ghetto with Ms. Fania Brantsovsky, and had, together with other senior Western diplomats stationed in Vilnius, visited the decaying Jewish partisan fort in the forest.
“Spurious attempts are made to equate the uniquely evil genocide of the Jews with Soviet crimes against Lithuania, which, though great in magnitude, cannot be regarded as equivalent in either their intention or result.”
Excerpt from a letter to the president of Lithuania from the ambassadors of Britain, Estonia, Finland, France, Netherlands, Norway and Sweden, 25 November 2010
The Survivor community and its supporters, Holocaust studies and commemoration circles, and numerous members of the Lithuanian Jewish community felt betrayed by the largely secret Holocaust education conference organized by the US embassy in Vilnius from 29 November to 3 December 2010, in close cooperation with local state-sponsored ‘Double Genocide’ proponents. The event included excellent individual scholars and educators, both from Lithuania and abroad, alongside notoriously obfuscationist local institutions, including the ‘Red-Brown Commission’ and the Genocide Research Center.
Christine Beresniova, a doctoral scholar at Indiana University (Bloomington) has exposed the disturbingly racist images in a popular Lithuanian language manual that have disturbed foreign Lithuanian language students for many years. The public disclosure is reported today in an article in the main daily newspaper in Vilnius, Lietuvos rytas.
The most infamous image features two pairs of stereotypes. There is the Lithuanian woman in national folk costume and a crown on her head, and as foreign counterpart, a bare-breasted black woman in Africa with weird headgear. The caption to the illustration translates ‘This woman is a Lithuanian, and that one is an African’, as if Africa is a country, one-to-one comparable to ‘Lithuania’.
Et tu, Yivo? Holocaust Survivors Jolted by Plan for Lithuanian Foreign Minister to be ‘Guest of Honor’ at Vilna Ghetto Commemoration
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by Dovid Katz
When you have loved an institution all your life — and written over decades about its impact on the history of ideas — it becomes a responsibility, even when painful, to try to dissuade it from making a serious error that would put in jeopardy its integrity.
The Lithuanian foreign minister, who has to date not apologized publicly for his widely reported antisemitic outburst in October 2010, has been named by the Yivo Institute for Jewish Research as its ‘guest of honor’ at a concert on 22 September 2011. The remnant Jewish community of Lithuania is small and fragile. Nevertheless it responded robustly, less than a year ago, to the foreign minister’s comments and proceeded to publish its response in English, Lithuanian, Russian and Yiddish.
Yivo’s website enumerates the joint sponsorship for the 22 September 2011 event by ‘the Embassy Series in cooperation with the Lithuanian Consulate and the Lithuanian Delegation to the United Nations’. The event is being held to commemorate the anniversary of the liquidation of the Vilna Ghetto on 23 September 1943.
In 2011 — to mark the 70th anniversary of Hitler’s invasion, and to the chagrin of Holocaust survivors internationally — the Lithuanian government has invested in a series of events honoring the local perpetrators who began to kill Jewish neighbors in dozens of towns before the Germans even arrived (a reading list on the history is available here). The ‘logic’ has been that they were actually rebelling against Soviet rule, though it is not disputed by historians that the Soviets were obviously fleeing the Nazi invasion.
Holocaust Survivors from Lithuania Protest Yivo’s Decision to Honor the Foreign Minister of Lithuania at Vilna Ghetto Commemoration
The Association of Lithuanian Jews in Israel, one of the world’s last active organizations of Holocaust survivors from Lithuania, today released to the media (by fax) its letter of protest to the executive director of the Yivo Institute for Jewish Research concerning Yivo’s recent decision to have the Lithuanian foreign minister as ‘guest of honor’ at its 22 September event to commemorate the Vilna Ghetto. The association’s letter notes that its members are ‘nearly all Holocaust survivors ourselves’.
Director of Yivo Sends Circular to Staff, Taking on the Role of Manhattan Office of Lithuanian Government’s PR Department; Calls Holocaust Survivors ‘Helpless’ and ‘Ageing’
The executive director of the Yivo Institute for Jewish Research in New York circulated the following set of documents in an email sent to the entire staff of Yivo today. This circular statement has come after Paul Berger’s 7 September article in the Forward, the public letter from the last association of Lithuanian Holocaust survivors in Israel, and a public letter to Yivo’s academic advisory council from a French human rights association. The ‘attack on Yivo by Dovid Katz’, as it is acrimoniously called here, is the op-ed in DefendingHistory.com on the subject. More information and links on the various issues on the front page of DefendingHistory.com. This journal has made a series of proposals for genuine resolution of Lithuanian-Jewish issues.
[Update: On 15 September 2011 Yossi Melman released his direct reply to the attack on him in the circulated memo reproduced below.]
From: Jonathan Brent
Sent: Friday, September 09, 2011 10:05 AM
To: YIVO Staff
Subject: Melamed Issue in Lithuania
The Lithuanian Foreign Ministry’s Jewish PR campaign on Litvak culture and the Holocaust moves to Washington, DC this week, even as the government continues to invest in events glorifying the 1941 local Holocaust murderers, and to allow local antisemitism and neo-fascism to run rampant, often with the support of the state, or, one some occasions, open participation of officials of state-sponsored institutions.
What defies credulity this time around is that the series of events comes just as state prosecutors have used Interpol to harass yet another Holocaust survivor who joined the anti-Nazi resistance. This time the object of Lithuanian prosecutors’ interest is 86 year old Joe Melamed of Tel Aviv, elected chairman of one of the world’s last associations of Holocaust survivors from Lithuania (details in Haaretz and DefendingHistory.com; covered also in French, German and other Israeli publications).
One of the targeted Holocaust survivors is Dr. Rachel Margolis, an eminent Holocaust historian, resident in Rechovot, who feels unable to return to Vilnius for fear of prosecutors’ harassment. She is just over a month away from her 90th birthday.
by Lolita Židonytė
Which of two Brents will have for his institution the 200,000 euros from the Lithuanian government for a cherished Jewish project in Vilnius?
The surviving family members of the late Leyzer Ran, led by his wife Basheva Ran, today released a statement concerning Yivo’s decision to honor the Lithuanian foreign minister in New York in the absence of apologies for the accusations against Jewish partisan heroes, and in the absence of progress on widespread antisemitism including legalized swatikas and Holocaust distortionism. Details and a PDF of the letter are available here.
Lithuanian Foreign Ministry Triumphantly Announces Its Yivo Coup — A Capitulation on ‘(Looted) Books and (Hijacked) Brand’ Sought for Two Decades — on 23 September, Day of Commemoration for the Vilna Ghetto
But confusion reigns after Yivo director tells Jewish press in New York that surrender of books and brand is not yet final
[updated to May 2013]
“One of the most important statements in the article is that the swastika is banned by Lithuanian law, something that Katz and others have refused to acknowledge.”
“Fact: It is illegal to display the swastika in Lithuania today.”
— Jonathan Brent, Executive Director of the Yivo Institute for Jewish Research, in a 13 September 2o11 memo comprising the text of his proposed Public Yivo Statement, for which the support of Prof. Jeffrey Veidlinger (Bloomington) is claimed.
Chronology of events, including the United Nations Human Rights Committee statement of 2012, provided below…
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by Geoff Vasil
On Wednesday, November 16th 2011, the Tolerance Center in Vilnius hosted a conference called: Tolerance and Totalitarianism. Challenges to Freedom.
Antony Polonsky Returns to Brandeis ‘Knighted’ by Lithuanian President’s Cross of the Officer of the Order — for helping the Baltic State’s Holocaust PR Campaign
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VILNIUS—Professor Antony Polonsky of Brandeis University, one of the world’s most accomplished scholars of Polish-Jewish history and the long time editor of the seminal Polish Jewish history series Polin, was at the Lithuanian president’s palace today to receive from her excellency the prestigious Cross of the Officer of the Order for Merits to Lithuania. The award, pinned on his chest by President Dalia Grybauskaitė, was not for a lifetime of sterling work on Polish Jewish history, but it seemed, for several years’ staunch and perhaps somewhat naive loyalty to the public relations program of the current government of Lithuania, organized by the local Holocaust revisionism elite’s alleged top handler of “important foreign Jews,” Prof. S.arunas Liekis. The presidential press release, reported in English by Baltic News Service (BNS), put it this way:
C O M M E N T
In contrast to its potent and convincing public response to neo-Nazi events in the center of Vilnius in earlier years, the current leadership of the American embassy in the Lithuanian capital has followed a pattern disturbing to many Americans, of failing to even mention what America’s values are in commenting in official communications on both a neo-Nazi march and a pro-tolerance march, both scheduled for tomorrow, Lithuania’s independence day.
Lithuania’s Embassy in Washington Recruiting “Useful Academics” for Discredited “Red-Brown” Commission
The Baltic state-sponsored political infiltration into supposedly independent academic bodies concerned with Holocaust studies and education came into sharp focus in Washington this week with leakage to the media of a number of letters from Artūras Vazbys, Minister Counselor at the Lithuanian embassy in Washington DC. The identical letters read: