VILNIUS—Chaim Bargman, Jewish guide in Kaunas, asked today in Vilnius that DefendingHistory.com record a statement in Yiddish from him on an incident that occurred on 6 September (video here). Bargman, a beloved guide and genealogist for international Jewish-interest tourists in the Kaunas (Kovno) area for decades, was immortalized in the late Dan Jacobson’s Heshel’s Kingdom (1998). September 6th was the date of this year’s annual commemoration ceremony for the murdered Jews of Ukmergė (Yiddish: Vílkomir) held at the nearby mass grave, where, according to the Lithuanian Holocaust Atlas, between 6,358 and 10,000 Jews from the region were humiliated and murdered. There was massive local collaboration as well as large-scale local participation in the slaughter of one of Lithuania’s most famous Jewish communities over many centuries. Disturbingly, for many, a town square in the heart of Ukmergė has a monument dedicating it to the memory of a notorious Holocaust perpetrator.
Police Prevent Kaunas Jewish Guide Chaim Bargman from Attending Annual Memorial for the Annihilated Jews of Ukmergė (Vilkomir)
A Secret Revealed? On Destruction of the Jewish Community of Betygala, Lithuania
H I S T O R Y
by Aleksandras Vitkus and Chaim Bargman
Betygala (in Yiddish: Betigóle) is one of the oldest towns in Samogitia (Žemaitija), known since the time of Duke Mindaugas in the thirteenth century. The small town is located about 2 kilometers from the River Dubysa, near the little Vieversa stream. The surroundings of Betygala are very beautiful, especially the valley, shores and effluents of the River Dubysa. In Betygala we can find the monument of Vytautas the Great which remained standing even during the Soviet period.
Litvak Devastates Second Kaunas Conference on Nazi Collaborator Ambrazevičius-Brazaitis
O P I N I O N
by Geoff Vasil
last revision 26 May 2012, 23:55.
The second conference in Kaunas on the 1941 Nazi puppet prime minister and Holocaust collaborator Juozas Ambrazevičius cum Brazaitis, held Thursday, May 24, was treated to some harsh facts presented by a living Litvak, Kovno (Kaunas) historian and Jewish tour guide Chaim Bargman.
Although Vytautas Magnus University initially agreed to and then reneged on a deal with the Lithuanian government to host the earlier “academic conference” last Saturday May 19 purely to adulate the “prime minister” of 1941, they changed their minds yet again—possibly under influence from chairman of their board of directors, former president Valdas Adamkus, who in 2011 celebrated the seventieth anniversary of the LAF fascists—and provided university resources this week for a second event announced as an open discussion event. To their great credit, they did webcast the event and have posted the video (here).
A Reconstructed Shtetl — Minus its Jewish Component
by Dovid Katz
Rúmshishok (informally: Rúmseshik), some twelve miles from Kaunas (Kovno), was a beloved Lithuanian shtetl where Lithuanians, Jews and others lived together for many centuries in peace (the town goes back to the fourteenth century). The massacre of the town’s Jews during the Holocaust was close to complete (outlines of the history here and here). According to the new Lithuanian Holocaust Atlas, the perpetrators were comprised of “white armbanders” from the town plus “Lithuanian self-defense unit troops” from Kaunas.
Now Rumšiškės in modern Lithuania, the town is internationally known for its neighboring extensive open air museum of the Lithuanian provinces, including town, hamlet and rural settings, all meticulously reconstructed.