The British Embassy in Vilnius today released a letter, organized by the British ambassador, HE Simon Butt, signed by nine ambassadors to Lithuania, to Dr. Rachel Margolis, now resident in Rehovot, Israel. The initiative comes in response to Lithuanian prosecutors’ campaign of defamation, harassment and attempted prosecution of Dr. Margolis and other heroes of the Jewish resistance against Nazi forces and their allies during the Holocaust.
The nine participating embassies are those of Austria, Canada, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Ireland, Sweden the United Kingdom, and the United States of America.
The letter is available as PDF and follows below.
At the initiative of the UK’s ambassador to Lithuania, HE Simon Butt, Fania Yocheles Brantsovsky, one of the Jewish partisan veterans being subjected to “war crimes investigations” by Lithuanian prosecutors, was asked to give a talk and lead a walk through the streets of what had been the Vilna Ghetto during the Holocaust in Lithuania. Fania was incarcerated in the ghetto from its first day, 6 September 1941, through to its last, 23 September 1943, when she and Dobke Develtov (now of Los Angeles) escaped through a hole in the wall to join up with the Jewish veterans in the forests where both women fought heroically against the Nazis and their collaborators.
The participants in today’s event to honor Fania Brantsovky and, by extension, the Jewish partisans generally, were:
The British ambassador to Lithuania, HE Simon Butt, today visited Professor Dovid Katz’s Vilna Yiddish Reading Circle, an advanced Yiddish- in-Yiddish institution that Prof. Katz initiated in September 1999. As guest of honor, Ambassador Butt, who listened to participants reading from the works of Yiddish authors with interest, was invited to say a few words. He told the assembled hat he deeply understands their concerns over resurgent antisemitism, ultranationalism, Holocaust revisionism and the attempted defamation of Jewish partisan heroes. He made it clear that “he is on the case” and gave reasons for hope and optimism.
Front row, from left: Prof. Dovid Katz (standing); Dr. Shimon Alperovich, chairman of the Jewish Community of Lithuania,, Ambassador Simon Butt, and Prof. Izaraelis Lempertas (Israel Lempert). Standing at right at the back if Carole Lemee, a university lecturer from France visiting in Lithuania.
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
Posted in A 21st Century Campaign Against Lithuanian Holocaust Survivors?, Ambassador Simon Butt, Double Genocide, Estonia, EU, France, News & Views, Norway, Poland, Politics of Memory, Sweden, Symbology, United Kingdom, United States
The following exchange between human rights advocate MP Denis MacShane and the government’s Minister for Europe, David Lidington, was reported today in the House of Commons:
Mr MacShane:To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will publish the letter of 25 November 2010 sent by the UK and other ambassadors in Lithuania concerning the growing manifestations of anti-Semitism in Lithuania. 
Mr Lidington:It has not been the practice of successive Governments to publish letters sent by diplomats in a confidential capacity. It is important for the effective conduct of international relations for diplomacy to be able to take place on a confidential basis where necessary.
The letter referred to was reported in this journal on 25 November 2010.
LONDON—At the initiative of Monica Lowenberg, Defending History’s London correspondent, UK member of parliament Gareth Thomas (Labour) tabled a question in the House of Commons (no. 14144) on 29 October 2015 on the planned desecration of the old Jewish cemetery at Piramónt (in the Šnipiškės district of Vilnius, Lithuania) by construction of a twenty-five million dollar national convention center. His question, and the reply by the current Minister for Europe, David Lidington, of 3 November 2015, are reproduced below (and available online).
Posted in Ambassador Simon Butt, Cemeteries and Mass Graves, CPJCE (London), Documents, EU, Foreign Ministries: Holocaust Politics Abuse?, Gareth Thomas, Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), United Kingdom
A selection from tributes received. More on Facebook
See also: Defending History’s Rachel Kostanian section
Sepp Brudermann (Austrian film maker, former volunteer at the Green House):
“Dear Rachel, 20 years have passed, but believe it or not, I often think of you and the Green House, I tell people about you, and all the wonderful people I met – and I hope to be able to see you again my dear Rachel. Today, celebrate your birthday, celebrate LIFE! HAPPY BIRTHDAY my dear! Rachel! Lots of love and a big hug Sepp.” See also Sepp Brudermann’s video tribute.
Ambassador Simon Butt (Ambassador of the United Kingdom to Lithuania, 2008-2011):
“Dear Rachel: on your 91st birthday I would like to congratulate you on a life well lived and for the huge contribution you have made to the cause of maintaining the history of Lithuanian Jewry. The Green House, in its intimacy, scope and historical erudition celebrates a vibrant pre-war culture as well as commemorating its tragic eradication. Its modest appearance disguises the riches it contains — a portrait of an entire civilisation. Through your dedication and scholarship, you have shared those riches with many visitors, including the descendants of the community immortalised in the museum’s displays. That their memory lives on is thanks in no small part to the work you have done; and all who have enjoyed your company honour you for it. With all good wishes, Simon Butt, UK Ambassador, 2008-11.”
Ambassador Dónal Denham (Ambassador of Ireland to Lithuania, 2006-2010):
Posted in Ambassador Simon Butt, Ambassador Steinar Gil, Ireland, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Museums, News & Views, Rachel Kostanian
Tagged Ambassador Donal Denham, Holocaust museum in Vilnius, Holocaust museums, Jeremy Leigh, Myra Sklarew, Prof. Amelia M. Glaser, Rachel Kostanian, Sepp Brudermann, Shivaun Woolfson