Saulius Beržinis

Saulius Beržinis’s ‘Censored Film’ on Lost Shtetl Sheduva: Lithuania’s ‘Satanic Verses’?



Defending History proudly supports modern Lithuania’s first major Holocaust truth teller, documentary film maker

Saulius Beržinis

What is it all about? Allegedly, a major gang-up is underway against Vilnius’s beloved documentarian Saulius Beržinis who was perhaps the first to tell the truth about the Holocaust in Lithuania (at great cost to his career). When his new film, commissioned by the Museum of the Lost Shtetl, included the last eyewitnesses to the slaughter of the Jews of Sheduva, where the museum is situated (they reveal: identity of the perpetrators, recycling of the Jews’ teeth, clothing, homes, and family gravestones, perpetrators honored on a church plaque today, and more), the film was not only rejected by the new museum. When Saulius refused for his work to be buried, instead of allowing him to release those interviews with the last witnesses separately on his own responsibility as a major international document morally owned by humanity, they initiated legal proceedings that have already closed down his beloved non-profit Kopa Studio, endangered its Holocaust archive, and made financial claims endangering his being able to continue owning his home and resulting in the freezing of his and 97 year old mother’s bank accounts. But who are they? The wider group includes the Brussels-based executive director of the museum (himself a major ink company director in Belgium), a Switzerland-resident South African billionaire donor, and a top Vilnius lawyer famous for his “love of the Jews” via a truly impressive Litvak art collection and a Litvak foundation (who has visited Defending History’s Mini Museum of Old Jewish Vilna on more than one occasion, and whom we helped locate a rare book he was looking for). All against — Saulius Beržinis and his film, now known informally here in Vilnius as The Satanic Verses of Sheduva. That which must be deleted. That which must remain unseeable. In the spirit not only of Rushdie’s book but of the fatwa against it.

“Like Salman Rushdie’s book, the Satanic Verses of Sheduva filmed by the master truth-telling camera of Saulius Beržinis will live forever.”

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Is the Vilnius Police Criminal Division Harassing a Veteran Holocaust Researcher?

VILNIUS—Defending History confirmed today that renowned documentary film maker and Holocaust researcher Saulius Beržinis, founding director of the Independent Holocaust Archive of Lithuania (IHAL), has been the latest recipient of a letter from police on account of his work documenting the alleged Nazi collaboration of various Lithuanian “1941 freedom fighters” who allegedly collaborated with the Nazi regime and in the murder of their civilian Jewish-citizen neighbors in the days, weeks and months following 22 June 1941. The letter demands he turn over a “list” of criminals which it was never his, nor the Archives’ intention, to produce or comment upon. Over the years, the Holocaust specialist has won the confidence of groups worldwide for his willingness to seek out and tell the unvarnished truth, among them the Wiesenthal Center’s Israel office.

The March 19th letter to IHAL’s director, letterheaded “Vilnius District Senior Police Commission, Vilnius City First Police Commission, Police Criminal Division” is reproduced below (followed by translation into English).

Saulius Beržinis has been collecting testimonies on the Holocaust for a quarter of a  century. He is known internationally for his singular achievement of  interviewing on camera actual admitted killers (some are in the film Lovely Faces of the Killers, 2002), and his extensive documentation work with survivors and witnesses. He has partnered over the years with BBC, The United States Holocaust Museum, the Vilna Gaon Jewish State Museum of Lithuania, Yad Vashem, and other international bodies, in addition to dozens of Holocaust survivors. His Holocaust documentaries include Farewell Jerusalem of Lithuania (1994), Yudel’s Unwritten Diary (2004), The Road to Treblinka (1997). Most recently, his film on the Holocaust in Jurbarkas (Yúrberik) became controversial for daring to name the killers of the town’s Jewish citizens in 1941 (see reviews by Milan Chersonski and Geoff Vasil).

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Posted in A 21st Century Campaign Against Lithuanian Holocaust Survivors?, Bold Citizens Speak Out, Collaborators Glorified, Debates on Juozas Lukša, EU, Film, Free Speech & Democracy, Human Rights, Lithuania, News & Views, Politics of Memory, Saulius Beržinis, State Glorification of Holocaust Collaborator J. Noreika | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on Is the Vilnius Police Criminal Division Harassing a Veteran Holocaust Researcher?

Explosive Reactions to Saulius Berzhinis’s New Film on the Holocaust in Jurbarkas (Yúrberik)

O P I N I O N  /  F I L M   R E V I E W

by Milan Chersonski


Vilnius film director Saulius Berzhinis

There has recently been extensive Lithuanian media coverage of a conflict between the authorities of the city Jurbarkas, Lithuania, and the film company Filmų Kopa, founded by film director Saulius Berzhinis (Beržinis) and managed by Ona Biveinienė.

To mark the seventieth anniversary of the beginning of World War II in Lithuania and the beginning of the total annihilation of its Jews, the Jurbarkas regional museum commissioned a documentary about Jews who lived in the town before World War II, paid for by the Ministry of Culture and the budget of the municipality. Filmų Kopa was awarded the commission and made a documentary called “When Yiddish was Heard in Jurbarkas.” The town’s name in Yiddish is Yúrberik or Yúrburg.

As the film has become a matter of sharp conflict, it is worthwhile in the first instance to take a good look at the actual product that Filmų Kopa delivered to the residents of Jurbarkas.

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Posted in Arts, Bold Citizens Speak Out, Commemorations for Destroyed Communities, Film, It Pays to Defend History: Success Over the Years..., Lithuania, Media Watch, Milan Chersonski (1937-2021), News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory, Saulius Beržinis | Comments Off on Explosive Reactions to Saulius Berzhinis’s New Film on the Holocaust in Jurbarkas (Yúrberik)

Light and Darkness Do Not Mix


by Geoff Vasil


Saulius Beržinis is an astounding filmmaker. Somehow the Lithuanian director of documentaries has a knack for drawing out frank admissions on camera, even from collaborators who recount how they murdered Jews.

Beržinis has a great reputation in Holocaust studies around the world, but, as the saying goes, a prophet is often unrecognized in his native land, and the cloak of invisibility around the Lithuanian Holocaust cast by the activists in the Double Genocide industry has marginalized the documentary maker at home, where his “The Happy Faces of the Murderers” is basically unknown.

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Sir Martin Gilbert Writes to State Jewish Museum in Lithuania, Asking for Halt to Campaign Against Kostanian

The following is the text of an email sent  by Sir Martin Gilbert to an official of Lithuania’s Jewish state museum in defense of Rachel Kostanian, the internationally acclaimed cofounder and longtime director of the Holocaust section of the state Jewish museum, long known as “The Green House” (it is housed in a green wooden house at Pamenkalnio 12, invisible from the street, and up a steep driveway). She is also an eminent author, creator of exhibits and catalogues, and Holocaust educator who has engated with thousands of loval and foreign visitors to the museum.  At Sir Martin’s request, the name of the recipient, and of others mentioned in the letter, have been redacted to maintain confidences and avert unnecessary embarrassments. The alleged “mistake” referred to in the final paragraph refers to a powerful new Holocaust documentary film directed by Saulius Beržinis, which Rachel Kostanian enabled, helped to research and complete, and obtained the funding for from a prominent Litvak family in the United Kingdom. The film was apparently deemed unacceptable for its “excessive truth telling,” as one (non-Jewish) museum worker, speaking off the record, put it with some irony. It  will presumably one day find its way to the public square one way or another.

Sir Martin Gilbert’s foreword to Rachel Kostanian’s book Spiritual Resistance in the Vilna Ghetto

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Posted in Free Speech & Democracy, Human Rights, Identity Theft of Litvak Heritage, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Museums, News & Views, Politics of Memory, Rachel Kostanian, Saulius Beržinis | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on Sir Martin Gilbert Writes to State Jewish Museum in Lithuania, Asking for Halt to Campaign Against Kostanian