M U S I C
by Roland Binet (Braine-l’Alleud, Belgium)
THE AUTHOR’S MUSICAL COMPOSITIONS:
III The Killing Pits
THE AUTHOR’S MUSICAL COMPOSITIONS:
III The Killing Pits
Jonas Öhman is a Swede who has been coming to Lithuania and living here on and off from almost the beginning of modern independence in the 1990-1991 period. During that time he has produced a number of films, only one of which appears to his credit on the internet film database imdb.com, but all of which deal more or less with a mythologized version of the history of Lithuanian anti-Soviet partisans.
VILNIUS—Three Vilnius-based members of the Defending History team visited the Pylimo Street section of the Vilna Gaon Jewish State Museum of Lithuania this week, and asked to be shown the famous and widely admired exhibit honoring the Jewish veterans of the war against Hitler in Lithuania. The exhibit, titled Lithuania’s Jews in the Struggle Against Nazism, was opened in a spirit of unity, reconciliation and mutual respect, some fourteen years ago (PDF of the report in the Spring 2000 English edition of the Jewish community’s then quadrilingual newspaper, Jerusalem of Lithuania, which was edited by Milan Chersonski from 1999 until 2011; JPEG; reduced image below). Its primary author was Joseph Levinson.
Starting in 2009, after my first visit in Riga, I became interested in the fate of the Jews in the Baltic States during the war. I returned several times to Latvia and also visited Estonia and Lithuania. In 2013 while in Riga, I went to see the Rumbula Memorial to see for myself what that well-known and fateful place looked like. That year in Vilnius, I visited the Ponár (Paneriai) memorial site, another of those well-known fateful places.
On Sunday 29 June 2014, I had the privilege of participating in the Berlin screening of Juergen Holbrecht’s new documentary film Wir haben es doch erlebt — das Ghetto von Riga. I had translated the English version and done its narration. I was invited to the event by Professor Peter Alexis Albrecht (Frankfurt University) who is also director of the Cajewitz Stiftung and the association for a former Jewish orphanage, today a school, where my father Ernest Lowenberg and his brother, my uncle Paul Lowenberg were given shelter when it was no longer possible for their parents as Jews to work in Nazi Germany.
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.
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.
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.
MUSICAL AND PHOTOGRAPHIC COMPOSITION HERE
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.
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.
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
ASSOCIATED PRESS REPORTS
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.
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.
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—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.