Vulovak’s Latest Caricature in His Series on ‘The Convention Center in the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery’
PALM BEACH GARDENS, FLORIDA—Richard Bloom, director of Richard Bloom Productions, has just announced the release of the updated version of Defending Holocaust History, a documentary film originally released in 2013. The film focuses in on the campaign by elements of the Lithuanian government and the country’s nationalist elite to rewrite the history of the Holocaust, by attempting to delegitimize the Holocaust as a unique historical event through various actions designed to diminish the Holocaust and “upgrade local Soviet crimes” to the status of genocide, along the way harassing Holocaust survivors who joined the resistance while glorifying local Holocaust perpetrators who were also “anti-Soviet” (the entire complex has become known as “Double Genocide”). As readers of DH will know, these continue to be burning and current issues, every bit as timely as in the year of the original film’s production.
by Dovid Katz
For many centuries, the Jews of Vilna (Yiddish Vílne, formal Ashkenazic Hebrew Vílno, modern Hebrew Vílna), and indeed, those from a huge radius of towns and villages in all four directions that looked to the then “Jerusalem of Lithuania” as their spiritual capital, the streets of the oldest Jewish settlement in the town were lovingly known as Di yidishe gas. The narrow dictionary definition is indeed “the Jewish street” but in the Yiddish of Vilna, as in other cities with highly developed Yiddish culture, the phrase came to signify the entire neighborhood in the sense that could perhaps best be captured by something like “our Jewish part of town.” When in 1920, the then Polish authorities offered the Jewish community the opportunity to name a few streets in town, Yídishe gas (Polish Żydowska) became one of them, for the neighborhood’s primary street. When the democratic Lithuanian independence movement of the late 1980s reached the stage of ridding the city of hated Soviet-imposed names, the old name was rapidly and boldly, restored, in its translative Lithuanian form, Žydų gatvė.
Brussels (& Some Fine London Architects) Duped into “Double Genocide” Program of “Equalizing” Nazi and Soviet Crimes?
Today’s edition of The Architects’ Journal (AJ) gracefully announces that Tszwai So, director of Spheron Architects, has been declared the winner of the “international competition to design a pan-European Memorial for the Victims of Totalitarianism.” Mr. So, named a rising star in British Architecture in 2016, is widely acclaimed as one of the most illustrious younger talents of European architecture in our time. Our team feels certain that he would be the first to wish to be apprised of an ulterior political program behind a seemingly neutral architectural project which will now be exploiting his reputation, and his firm’s, as well as his actual design, in promoting a political project that is vastly more controversial than meets the eye at first acquaintance.
Mr. So and Spheron Architects, like the other contestants, were most likely unaware that the sponsor of the competition, the Prague-based Platform of European Memory and Conscience, known for short in Eurocircles as the Prague Platform, is the prime European engine for the far-right movement of World War II history revisionism that is increasingly becoming known as Double Genocide. That phenomenon was recently among the main points of a New York Times article by Pulitzer Prize winning correspondent Rod Nordland concerning the “Genocide Museum” here in Vilnius, which has close ties with the “Prague Platform” in the pursuit of Double Genocide politics in the European Union.
by Linas Vildžiūnas
The following English translation, by Laurynas Vaičiūnas, of Linas Vildžiūnas’s review of Rūta Vanagaitė’s Mūsiškiai appeared today in New Eastern Europe (as PDF).
A book review of Mūsiškiai (Ours). By: Rūta Vanagaitė. Publisher: Alma littera, Vilnius, 2016.
What makes Rūta Vanagaitė’s Ours (Mūsiškiai) very different from all other Lithuanian books on the Holocaust is that it was from the start written as a bestseller. Written by an experienced public relations professional as an appeal to the Lithuanian public, the book raises the painful issue of historical responsibility. The author does not refrain from giving a personal twist to the story (it would be impossible otherwise, as the Holocaust is an issue of individual position and individual responsibility). The author is piercingly direct and uses black comedy. She approaches the topic with composure and a sense of supremacy. These two features may irritate the reader. However, she is entitled to it as she aims to confront the reader, which she so eloquently achieves.
by Dovid Katz (Vilnius)
VILNIUS—The Litvak world, internationally fragmented and weak, yet so vibrant and creative, has been cheered by news reports of the new shtetl museum to rise in the near future in Shádev, a Lithuanian town of many centuries of Jewish heritage where a great rabbinic personality, Reb Móyshe Ha-Góyle (“Moses the Exile”, Méyshe Ha-Géyle in deep Litvish pronunciation, Moshé Ha-Golé in Israeli Hebrew) thrived in the fifteenth century.
A good shtetl museum here will be a blessing to the Litvak, European Jewish, Yiddish and shtetl heritage internationally. It will be a blessing to modern, democratic Lithuania. To this day, the basket of idols of the contemporary Jewish market downplays the magnitude of Yiddish language, literature, and culture, shtetl culture and heritage, and the magnificent East European Jewish legacy more generally. News media have gone with reports by AFP and by JTA, and there is more on the project’s website.
Topics Include: Double Genocide, Holocaust Revisionism, the Lithuanian Holocaust, the Prague Declaration, the Seventy Years Declaration and the Campaign against Jewish Partisan Veterans
P H O T O G R A P H Y
by Julius Norwilla
Вянваре прошлого, 2014-го года из печати вышла новая книга стихов литовского поэта, публициста, члена Международной ассоциации «Литва без нацизма» Александраса Босаса под названием «IŠ TEN SUGRĮŽTANTIEMS. Apie ŠOA RIMTAI IR SU IRONIJA» («ТЕМ, КТО ВОЗВРАЩАЕТСЯ ОТТУДА. О ШОА СЕРЬЁЗНО И С ИРОНИЕЙ». Далее «Тем, кто возвращается оттуда» – М.Х.). А.Босас стал первым в истории литовской литературы поэтом, который не только обратился к самой болезненной и негласно табуированной теме в истории Литвы – к теме Шоа, – но и посвятил ей не одно и не несколько стихотворений, а всю третью, к сожалению, последнюю книгу. В ней поэт не шопотом и не намёками, а «во весь голос» открыто и откровенно заявил о своём отношении к трагедии Шоа и так называемого «окончательного решения еврейского вопроса».
В годы нацистской оккупации германские нацисты при активной добровольной помощи весьма значительного количества организованных и вооружённых местных гражданских лиц, вступивших в военизированные подразделения полиции, уничтожили почти всю еврейскую общину, которая до Второй мировой войны была самой знаменитой и высокоразвитой общиной всемирной еврейской диаспоры в первой половине ХХ века. Евреи представляли в Литве самое многочисленное национальное меньшинство населения. Еврейская община жила в мире и согласии с местным литовским, польским, русским населением, с другими национальными группами.
VILNIUS—Defending History today announced its launch of a modest poetry section which will aim to harness the inspire the work of East European poets whose work includes verse in defense of history and human rights and exposing racism and antisemitism.
The section starts with the work of two poets in Lithuania: Ken Slade’s My Dream of When the Witch is Found; and Nine Poems by the late Aleksandras Bosas (1951-2014), a posthumous awardee of Defending History’s inaugural series of Prophet Amos Awards for Human Rights for 2014-2015.
O P I N I O N
LONDON—British author Peter Jukes, best known for his screenplays, literary criticism and political journalism, tweeted last week on the release in the United States of a new documentary film that heroizes certain postwar anti-Soviet “forest brothers” in Lithuania. The film, “The Invisible Front,” that premiered in Greenwich Village’s prestigious Cinema Village theater on 7 November, fails to even mention the view that various of the specific figures it glorifies for their post 1944 activities were in fact alleged recycled Nazi collaborators of 1941. That was the year when, in the days following the Nazi invasion launched on 22 June, the Lithuanian Activist Front (LAF) started butchering local civilian Jews, often elderly rabbis or young women, before the first German forces had arrived. Premeditation becomes evident from perusal of the LAF’s prewar leaflets.
New Musical, “Sugar Herbert Sugar” Glorifies Herberts Cukurs
REACTIONS & REPORTS:
From Jerusalem: EFRAIM ZUROFF IN I24; IN THE JERUSALEM POST; IN THE LONDON JEWISH CHRONICLE
From Riga: ALEKSANDRS FEIGMANIS IN DEFENDING HISTORY
From Liepaja: MIKE COLLIER REVIEWS PREMIERE IN LSM.LV
Tickets sold online for performances around the country. About the show. Signature tune released on YouTube (Would they have done better with the old Archies version of “Sugar Sugar” or Just “Springtime for Hitler”?)
JERUSALEM—The Simon Wiesenthal Center today expressed outrage at the announcement of an online beauty pageant for “Miss Hitler 2014” as publicized by a neo-Nazi group on VKontakte, Russia’s largest social networking service. Contestants who are supporters of Nazism and sufficiently antisemitic may submit a Nazi-themed selfie to compete for this dubious prize.
by Roland Binet (Braine-l’Alleud, Belgium)
I know persons within my circle of acquaintances who refuse to look at the terrible pictures that this video exhibits. Photographs of Jewish victims of beatings, slayings. Pictures of dead Jewish victims. Pictures of local collaborators in the process of helping the Nazis in killing Jews.
These persons find those historical pictures too offensive, too terrible, too awful, for their taste. They are not able too look at them, they are far too sensitive to put up with such awful scenes.
by Roland Binet (Braine-l’Alleud, Belgium)
The Nazis tried to hide their crimes against humankind during World War II. They had tried to hide the fact that in the former territories of the USSR they were killing Jews on a colossal scale starting in July 1941. And not only Jews, also anyone suspected of being a communist.
Although many soldiers in the Wehrmacht or the Waffen SS took pictures of Aktionen against the Jews, even kept pictures of massacres or dead Jewish bodies in their wallets, most of these photographic proofs of the Nazi crimes against humanity were destroyed, stolen from their corpses after their deaths, kept at home in Germany by descendants of these heinous and barbarous extermination soldiers, or, sometimes, recuperated by allied nations which kept them and not solely kept them, but displayed them as a testimony to these barbaric events.
by Roland Binet (Braine-l’Alleud, Belgium)
This composition, Rumbula and Ponár, memorializes the victims of the two most infamous mass murder sites of Latvia and Lithuania, Rumbula outside Riga, and Ponár (Polish Ponary, Lithuanian Paneriai) outside Vilnius. More than 130,000 people were killed in total at these two sites. The majority were Jews but there were many others of diverse ethnic and social background at Ponár.
O P I N I O N / H I S T O R Y
by Aleksandrs Feigmanis (Riga)
Herberts Cukurs (1900-1965) had been an officer and a famous aviator during the years of the interwar Latvian Republic (1918-1940). After Nazi Germany’s 1941 occupation of Latvia, he became a significant figure in the infamous Arājs Kommando (or Sonderkommando Arajs), a notorious killing unit during the Latvian Holocaust. The Arājs group consisted of about 1,200 people, mostly local Latvians. It was established at the beginning of July 1941 within the German security services.
The Arājs Kommando carried out the killing of at least 30,000 Jews in numerous cities and towns in Latvia. The toll included the family of my grandfather in Vilani (in Yiddish Vilon), which occurred at dawn on August 4, 1941. The victims were his parents, and his sisters and their husbands and young children.