Antisemitism & Bias
Painful Setback for Vilnius’s Standing in the West: Square is Named for a Brutal 1941 LAF Holocaust Collaborator
Chronicle of the Lithuanian Government’s Campaign to Blame Holocaust Survivors who Joined the Resistance
UPDATED MARCH 2017. See also (older, not updated) Responses page.
The campaign of defamation by Lithuanian state prosecutors and allied elites (particularly in the Genocide Center and the antisemitic right-wing press) has resulted in a number of cherished Holocaust Survivors being smeared as “war criminals” without a single charge ever having been leveled against anybody. Launched in 2006, the campaign, abusing tools such as “pre-trial investigations” and leaks to the media, have sought to brand as “war criminals” the heroes of the war against Hitler. It grew in 2011 with the addition of equally perverse “libel charges,” launched with fanfare when Interpol (!) was sent to disturb in Tel Aviv the elected head of the last active group of Litvak Holocaust survivors in the world. Then, in 2013, the state’s “red-brown commission” defamed one of Vilnius’s last survivors on equally perverse grounds, all the while putting on “Holocaust events” for naive Western audiences, usually funded by the (unknowing) Lithuanian taxpayer, in venues including London, New York, Toronto, and Vilnius.
A single public letter from the president could fix it all. Instantly.
The campaign of defamation results in permanent calumny in historians’ works, Wikipedia, and elsewhere (see below) that is more than a grave injustice to the Holocaust survivors targeted (and their families). It is a deliberate ultranationalist falsification of history in the spirit of the wider campaign to find fault with the victims and make heroes of the perpetrators. These are components of the movement to obfuscate the issues, and downgrade the Holocaust in the spirit of the Double Genocide movement and its central document, the 2008 Prague Declaration.
All but one of the accused survivors — most in their late eighties or nineties — are still alive (as of February 2016). Dr. Rachel Margolis passed away on 6 July 2015, having failed to fulfill her final wish of one last trip to her native Vilna.
A single public letter of apology from the president or prime minister of Lithuania, accompanied by an apology from the state prosecutors, would be the minimal gesture of good will needed to repair the damage. Public defamation can only be (partly) repaired by public apology. Moreover, the state has a splendid last chance to end its relationship with its own Holocaust survivors, after a 700 year history in Lithuania, on a rather higher note than police coming to look for aged women veterans of the heroic Jewish resistance in the forests of Lithuania.
During his own tenure before these events, Lithuania’s eminent late president (later prime minister) Algirdas Brazauskas, a champion of confronting historical truth with courage and dignity, awarded certificates of honor to the selfsame Jewish partisan veterans for the selfsame service in helping to liberate Lithuania from Nazism. . .
22 April 2006. Article in Respublika accuses Dr. Yitzhak Arad, Holocaust survivor, resistance hero, veteran of the Israeli war of independence and long-time director of Yad Vashem, of being a war criminal on the basis of misquoted, decontextualized passages in his own 1979 book, The Partisan. [ADDENDUM of April 2014: One of the chief stone-throwers (final section) is A. Anušauskas, who is today a member of the state’s commission on Nazi and Soviet crimes. In 2006 he was “scientific editor” at the Genocide Center. Since 2008 he has been a member of parliament where he was for some years chair of the Committee on National Security and Defense.]
10 September 2007. Prosecutors in Lithuania confirm that their investigation of Holocaust survivor, anti-Nazi resistance hero and former director of Yad Vashem Dr. Yitzhak Arad, on suspicion of “crimes against humanity” had been initiated in May 2006. The “investigation” was based on an article in the antisemitic daily Respublika (22 April 2006), in which the special prosecutor and head of the Genocide Center are extensively quoted. In June 2006 the daily triumphantly proclaimed that prosecutors were acting on its earlier article. English summary. See below at 25 September 2008 for “conclusion” of the investigation and the 2010 report of the “Lithuanian Human Rights Association” . . . In 2014, ongoing defamation evident from Wikipedia entry.
30 April 2008. The Embassy of the United States in Lithuania issues a certificate of appreciation, signed by Ambassador John A. Cloud, to Fania Yocheles Brantsovsky; presented by political officer Joseph Boski at a luncheon organized by the Vilnius Yiddish Institute.
In “Shameful” Decision Lithuanian Parliament Appoints Glorifier of Holocaust Collaborators as Director of State’s “Genocide Center”
Secret ballot: 76 for, 34 against,8 abstentions, 2 spoiled ballots
Local reports (generally lacking any inkling of the international uproar over adulation of Holocaust perpetrators): 15 min.lt; alfa.lt; alkas.lt; delfi.lt; lrt.lt; lzb.lt; respublika.lt
Algemeiner Journal is first foreign publication to cover the affair in reports of 15 April and of 22 April
see also: Arutz Sheva
Earlier: On the Bubnys nomination. In the Algemeiner Journal. On Dr. Bubnys’s record. The state-sponsored Genocide Center. On glorifying collaborators.
VILNIUS—This year the ultranationalist gathering on today’s February 16th national independence day took place in the Old Town, at the newly erected statute of Lithuanian author, scholar and patriot, Jonas Basanavičius, one of the signatories of the Declaration of Independence of 1918. Beside the national tricolors, I saw two more types of flags for “Pro Patria” and “Nacionalinis susivienijimas” (National Unity). Pro Patria is known as an ultranationalist movement targeting youth and an outlet of homophobic, Holocaust revisionist and xenophobic materials and initiatives. The National Unity seems to be mostly the same group of people, aspiring perhaps somewhat more to national politics.
Some Simple and Constructive Solutions to the Irksome “Jewish Issues” that Continue to Haunt the Lithuanian Government and Its Agencies
NOTE: The original (2009) version of this document was constructed in close cooperation with the late Dr. Shimon Alperovich (1928-2014), elected head of the Jewish Community of Lithuania for many years. Revisions were discussed with him in detail until several days before his death in 2014. Naturally, he does not bear responsibility for the document’s annual updates since that time but his intellectual imprint on its spirit should not go uncredited.
Abandonment of the state’s financing of the campaign to obfuscate the Holocaust by means of its Double Genocide campaign, including “cooked” international events, conferences, film screenings and panel discussions; withdrawal of formal state support for the Prague Declaration and similar projects, closing down of the “red-brown commission” and the inauguration of an atmosphere of full freedom for citizens and organizations to support alternatives including the Seventy Years Declaration. Holocaust history to be included in historically accurate proportionality in the Genocide Museum and all relevant tourist locations that deal with genocide. Abandonment of the extensive state sponsored program to glorify the local Holocaust perpetrators of 1941, including the “Lithuanian Activist Front” (LAF), whose leaflets indicated desire to murder the country’s Jewish citizens even before arrival of Nazi forces. Rapid correction of the mischaracterization of the early local perpetrators as supposedly heroic rebels in the new basement room on the Holocaust in the Genocide Museum.
OPINION | HUMAN RIGHTS | CHRISTIAN-JEWISH ISSUES | CEMETERIES & MASS GRAVES | OLD VILNA JEWISH CEMETERY AT PIRAMÓNT | OPPOSITION TO CONVENTION CENTER PROJECT | INTERNATIONAL PETITION
“Gerbkime kapines” (Respect Cemeteries) at www.kapines.com is our small team of Lithuanians and Litvaks who are working together locally to defend the honor of the oldest Vilnius Jewish Cemetery, known variously as the Piramont or Šnipiškės Cemetery. The Soviets desecrated the site by building a Sports Palace there. The Republic of Lithuania and the City of Vilnius are moving ahead with their plans to open a convention center there in 2023.
Our team is now reaching out internationally with a variety of activities to join or support. We need writers, translators, researcher, web page creators and maintainers, and we also need donations.
Will Lithuania’s Parliament Really Name 2021 for Alleged Participant in LAF’s Kaunas Atrocities of June 1941?
by Dovid Katz
According to Lithuanian media reports, the nation’s parliament (Seimas) will be declaring the year 2021 to be dedicated to the memory of Juozas Lukša (Daumantas).
Let us assume for the sake of argument that the identification of Mr. Lukša (Luksha) as one of the brutal murderers of defenseless Jewish neighbors in an infamous photo of the Kaunas Garage Massacre of June 1941, best known from Joseph Melamed’s 1999 Crime and Punishment, published by the Association of Lithuanian Jews in Israel, is erroneous. Then, that the reference to Mr. Lukša in the text (p. 38) in a listing of perpetrators (known from a half century of testimonies from the survivor community), and a photo with other alleged collaborators (p. 105), are likewise mistaken. And that the information on the Association’s website, posted during Mr. Melamed’s lifetime, is also in error.
Let us even grant that there is no current courtroom-grade proof for the details of the following text from Holocaust survivor Alex (Alter) Faitelson, in his classic memoir The Truth and Nothing But the Truth: Jewish Resistance in Lithuania (Gefen Publishing House 2006, p. 34). It is a text that includes the author’s recollection from after the war: Lukša’s “photograph was found and shown to witnesses who were interrogated. They all confirmed his participation in the torture of Jews in the garage” (Lithuanian translation). Incidentally, in 1993, Mr. Faitelson was awarded a certificate of honor by Lithuanian president Algirdas Brazauskas. He was not some “enemy of Lithuania” who spent his time making up stories about people. He was a Holocaust survivor, heroic member of the resistance and escape, and renowned memoirist.
by Aleksandrs Feigmanis (Riga)
June 2020. I go to buy some food in the supermarket near where I live. Passing by the display-stand of the “Jānis Roze” bookstore featuring its proud new titles I was shocked to see My flight to Japan (Mans lidojums uz Japānu) by Herberts Cukurs (pronounced [tsú-kurs]). The book was just published, not by some private publisher, but by the Latvian Museum of Aviation in Spilve. Description of the new title on the website Janisroze.lv presents Herberts Cukurs as “the aviator, traveler and man of courage.” No mention of his involvement in the Holocaust.
Former Lithuanian Foreign Minister Calls on Present FM to Renounce View & Support State Glorification of Holocaust Collaborator J. Noreika
GLORIFICATION OF HOLOCAUST COLLABORATORS | JONAS NOREIKA | DOUBLE GENOCIDE | FOREIGN MINISTRIES MANIPULATING HISTORY? | ANTISEMITISM | HUMAN RIGHTS
VILNIUS—A former foreign minister and current MP, Audronius Ažubalis, today published, in partnership with a younger right-wing MP, a public appeal (on the main news portal Delfi.lt), to the current foreign minister to revoke his 2019 agreement with the Western consensus that Holocaust perpetrator Jonas Noreika should not be the object of state-sponsored glorification in a NATO or EU member state.
Mr. Ažubalis, a stalwart of the right-wing Homeland Union and Christian Democratic party, has a long history “with the Jews and the Holocaust.” In 2010, all 21 members of the board of the Jewish Community of Lithuania signed an official protest at the then foreign minister’s antisemitic remarks. Then, in 2012, when eight bold Lithuanian parliamentarians (six MPs and two MEPs) signed the Seventy Years Declaration (SYD), in opposition to the 2008 Prague Declaration that is the “constitution” of the Double Genocide movement, the then foreign minister issued his infamous remark about the only difference between Hitler and Stalin being the length of their moustaches. He rapidly accused the eight Lithuanian parliamentarians (all Social Democrats) of being Putinist lackeys.
Lithuania’s Supreme Administrative Court Reconfirms ‘National Hero’ Status of Holocaust Collaborator J. Noreika
VILNIUS—Coronavirus or not, Vilnius’s Supreme Administrative Court yesterday issued its dismissal of the appeal against an earlier court ruling that effectively codified in Lithuanian law the conclusion that Holocaust collaborator Jonas Noreika is indeed a national hero. The Noreika saga reached the English speaking world in 2012, when Evaldas Balčiūnas’s article appeared in Defending History. Mr. Balčiūnas followed up with articles on other perpetrators glorified by the state, and was harassed by years of kangaroo prosecutions (scroll down to May 2014, further articles following). Thereafter, challenges were mounted both here and abroad to state-sponsored glorification, in a NATO/EU state, of a proven Holocaust collaborator. These have included Californian-resident wealth adviser Grant Gochin, Vilnius-resident Lithuanian-American scholar Dr. Andrius Kulikauskas, who curates a website on the subject, and, most sensationally, Noreika’s own American-born grandsaughter, the Chicago-based author and educator Silvia Foti, whose 2018 article in Salon led to international media coverage and work on a feature film project.
ANTISEMITISM | BELGIUM | EU | OPINION
by Roland Binet (Braine-l’Alleud, Belgium)
Last month, on February 23, 2020, hundreds of individuals, associations and decorated wagons marched or rolled through the streets of the center of Aalst in what is known as their unique form of celebrating “Carnival,” mainly as a moment of self and free expression where and when king, royalties, clergy, politicians, film stars, VIPs, world events, are objects of satire, fun, criticism, be it with effigies, people dressed up or with placards of panels written in their nearly cryptic local dialect.
Aalst is a small, drab city in the Province of Eastern Flanders. The first time Aalst made world news was on the evening of November 9, 1985 when a mass killing by unknown semi-military killers ( “the Brabant Killers” in French and “de Bende van Nijvel” in Dutch) left eight people dead in the supermarket Delhaize, at the periphery of the city. It is a mass killing still under investigation nowadays by the Belgian Police authorities.
VILNIUS—The entire Defending History community celebrates Lithuania’s independence day this coming Wednesday March 11th. Lithuania’s independence and democracy, like those of of neighboring EU/NATO states, are splendid success stories in the annuals of the region. All the more reason to be vigilant — as genuine friends of the Baltics are — against those who would try to insert Nazist values of ethnic hatred and Holocaust revisionism into the mix. We sincerely hope that the “nationalist” march for which the beautiful center of Vilnius is gifted each year will this year not glorify local Holocaust and Nazi collaborators, will not heap scorn on the nation’s minorities and will not flaunt fascist symbols.
VILNIUS—Yet again, the far right organizations that choose to glorify their country’s Nazi and Holocaust collaborators, also choose to target the human rights monitors who come to document their events. Alas, the Vilnius-based human-rights organizations, like European and international Jewish organizations, again failed to monitor last week’s central-Vilnius event. The small Defending History team was the only one on hand last Sunday, February 16th, to monitor, and DH, as usual, reported on the march, after having reported on its planners’ vow to highlight three specific collaborators. Vilnius’s prestigious Old Town, from the Gates of Dawn to the foot of Castle Mount, was allocated by authorities to the marchers for their dusk-to-evening slot of the Independence Day public festivities.
Hundreds of Far-Right Marchers Chant “Škirpa and Noreika Are Our Heroes” in Vilnius Old Town on Independence Day
VILNIUS—While local and international human rights organizations ignored the gifting of Vilnius Old Town to far-right marchers glorifying Holocaust collaborators, Defending History’s small team, comprising Evaldas Balčiūnas, Dovid Katz and Julius Norwilla were on hand to monitor the event. The dusk-to-nighttime torchlit procession today started at the Gates of Dawn, with participation of Catholic officials, and made its way downhill through Castle Street, stopping to pay homage at the plaque to Holocaust collaborator Jonas Noreika, and continuing on to the final destination of the former Škirpa Street (renamed Tricolor Street, after a long campaign started a decade ago by Defending History). Kazys Škirpa, though in Berlin at the time of the Holocaust, was a theoretician of the ethnic cleansing of Lithuania’s Jewish population, and an effective inspirer and cheerleader of local participation in the genocide.
Far Right Again Granted Central Vilnius on Feb. 16 Independence Day; They Vow to Glorify Three Nazi Collaborators
[last updated: 6 Feb. 2020]
EFHR’s Press Statement in English, Lithuanian, and Polish
Meanwhile, “CPJCE” London “cemetery specialists” fail to release “the secret agreement” they (with “Haifa geotechnocrat” in tow) signed on December “Day of Shame”. The agreement was signed many months after the matter was placed before the Lithuanian courts, and while it remains in litigation. Where is the rule of law?
Defending History calls for document to be made public at once. Catch up on coverage from recent months. See the scope of international opposition to “the convention center in the cemetery”…
A TALE OF TWO VIDEOS
(Satmar Aaronites and — Litvaks)…
VIDEO of London CPJCE (Satmar “Aaronites”) with prime minister of Lithuania (2015) [note: opposing Satmar “Zalmanites” have condemned the convention center in the Jewish cemetery]
VIDEO of top Lithuanian-origin (Litvak) rabbis explaining Jewish and Litvak views to ambassador to Israel (2020)
When is a Hollowed-Out Jewish Menorah a Flowerpot for a Symbol Nowadays Brandished by Far-Right Antisemites?
by Dovid Katz
[UPDATE OF 27 NOV: See now the same author’s follow-up article of 22 Nov. including links to the known responses and debates up to that date. See now Ruta Bloshtein’s short essay in DH].
Many in the local Lithuanian Jewish and the international Litvak communities have responded with some shock to the news that the Lithuanian government’s official “Year of the Gaon of Vilna and Jewish Heritage” has been launched by a handsome, shiny 10 Euro Coin that plonks a symbol beloved in recent years of neo-Nazis (and prominently used in their new projects) onto a Jewish Menorah. The symbolism strikes some as evoking the idea that the largely vanished Lithuanian Jews and their language make for one of the “cute Jewish toys” for the ultranationalist camp to exploit in its PR outreach to unwitting foreigners.
I agree that the name of this piece is quite shocking. To see what I am talking about, it suffices to look through just one publication, published by the General Jonas Žemaitis Military Academy of Lithuania in cooperation with the “Versmė” publishing house. The academy is itself named for an alleged Holocaust collaborator (See my 2013 article), but that is not the topic of today’s piece, save that yet again it turns out that “state agencies just naming something” for a Holocaust collaborator is not seldom itself an ominous portent of institutional and state-sponsored racism. Indeed, the state Military Academy named for one alleged collaborator actually published an antisemitic tome by another, Jonas Noreika, who of course went on to active collaboration with the Holocaust.
Here are several excerpts from this 2016 publication brought out by the Academy that recently made it to foreign book purchasers, that would be universally recognized as antisemitic. The first refers to folks from the different regions of Lithuanians, naturally ignoring that they were for many centuries home to people of diverse origins, religions, nationalities (indeed, the Yiddish language has the term Zámeter for a person from the first named region):
Samogitians, Aukštaitians, Dzūkians, and Klaipėdians!
Your future is full of prosperity and wealth! We must know it well! Because it will depend only on us if we are going to benefit from this prosperity ourselves or give it away to Jews, Germans, and other foreigners that keep invading Lithuania! They see that the highest standard of living in the whole world is going to be here! Indeed! It will not be us migrating to other countries, but others coming to us to earn heaps of money!
Most of the auctioned off farms are bought by Jews! They feel and perhaps know that, in three years’ time or even sooner, that land will be worth tenfold! Indeed!”
VILNIUS—A prominent Vilnius academic known for Holocaust “fixing”, “proud” antisemitism, and a desire to make a national holiday of the day the anti-Jewish violence broke out in Lithuania in 1941, Dr. A. Liekis, returned this week to the fray with a mainstream media attack on the presence of “foreign Jewish” scholars in the state’s history commission, known formally as “The International Commission for the Evaluation of the Crimes of the Nazi and Soviet Occupational Regimes in Lithuania, and less formally, and for brevity, as the “Red-Brown Commission.”