Christian-Jewish Issues

Commemorating the Holocaust and Healing Wounds in our Molėtai (Malát) District



MEMORIALS FOR JEWISH COMMUNITIES  |  MOLĖTAI (MALAT)  |  MUSEUMS

by Viktorija Kazlienė

Viktorija Kazlienė

Almost five years ago, an exceptional March of Jewish Remembrance took place in Molėtai, on 29 August 2016. On that occasion, an impressive monument was erected at the site of the mass murder of the Jewish citizens of Molėtai (known in Yiddish as Malát). For that, we are grateful to Tzvi Kritzer, a descendant of Molėtai Jews now living in Israel. Leonas Kaplanas, another son of survivors from the town, now living in Vilnius, also contributed significantly to organizing the March.

The Molėtai (Malát) March of Jewish Remembrance, 29 August 2016. Photo: Alvydas Balanda

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Posted in Christian-Jewish Issues, Commemorations for Destroyed Communities, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Malát (Molėtai), News & Views | Comments Off on Commemorating the Holocaust and Healing Wounds in our Molėtai (Malát) District

Dramatic Developments in the Life of Lithuania’s Liveliest Cemetery


[last update]


JUMP TO INTERNATIONAL OPPOSITION; TO DH SECTION ON HISTORY OF THE SAGA; TO SECTIONS ON CPJCE; USCPAHA


February 2021:

Defending History’s views on plunder and humiliation of the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery are cited in Aliide Naylor’s essay “Soviet Modernism’s Enduring Baltic Legacy” in Jacobin.

Meanwhile, Mr. Paul Packer, chair of the US taxpayer supported “Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad” (USCPAHA), who has failed throughout his tenure to publicly ask, even once, howsoever mildly and politely, for the Lithuanian government to relocate its convention center project away from the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery (ignoring pleas from every part of the world and the international petition), released a self-heroizing press release condemning an obscure Lithuanian parliamentarian who blamed the Jews for the Holocaust (after the American ambassador and many others had condemned the parliamentarian). It is high time for the full record of Washington’s most corrupt federal agency (whose members are honored by the cemetery-selling sub-branch of Satmars when coming to bow before “the rebba”) to be investigated. (For the record: the opposing branch of Satmar Hasidism’s grand rabbi has joined the civilized world in condemning the humiliation of tens of thousands of graves of Jewish citizens of Vilna.)  Defending History is proud to have documented the most recent years of this lamentable history. Various capers of the scandal-ridden agency have been reported over the years in the New York Times (e.g. here, here, and here).  In November 2020, the USCPAHA reached a new low when a newly appointed member was reported in a Times article by White House correspondent Maggie Haberman to have a white-supremacist antisemitic background, adding weirdly to the recent history of (ostensibly) ultraorthodox Jews in hock to the corrupt Satmar affiliated London-based CPJCE. Hopefully, President Biden will abolish this agency soon; it has only ever existed to repay “religious” supporters of political campaigns (of either party) and is inherently a recipe for high corruption resulting in moral sale for money, under “US gov. cover” of the very cemeteries in Holocaust-area Europe that are meant to be the prime object of its protection. Surely, religious donors can be repaid with “harmless honors”…

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Posted in Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Christian-Jewish Issues, Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Politics of Memory | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Dramatic Developments in the Life of Lithuania’s Liveliest Cemetery

Saving the Vilna Jewish Cemetery (and Removing the Noreika Plaques): Time for a Strong Cup of Coffee



OPINION  |  OLD VILNA JEWISH CEMETERY  |  OPPOSITION TO CONVENTION CENTER PROJECT  |  INTERNATIONAL PETITION  |  HUMAN RIGHTS

by Julius Norwilla

The author’s silent and peaceful Protest of Snow of Feb. 2021. View from across the river reminds Vilna that this is the Lithuanian capital’s Old Jewish Cemetery. Photo: Bartosz Frątczak.

The Lithuanian state budget for 2021 is torn between the need to increase spending on vital areas during a time of significantly less income. For the pandemic year of 2021, the postponement of some half a million euros toward initial stages of the (shameful) convention center project in the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery has not, in fact, been a big issue. Nor is it the great “victory” for our movement to save the cemetery that it has been trumped up to be. Half a million euros is about one percent of the total real budget. First, the convention center (Sports Palace restoration) project has been classified as of national significance. Second, there has been no decision of any kind to move the convention center to a new morally clean venue, away from the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery, as per the call of some 54,000 people in Ruta Bloshtein’s petition.

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Posted in Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Christian-Jewish Issues, Human Rights, Julius Norwilla, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Politics of Memory | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on Saving the Vilna Jewish Cemetery (and Removing the Noreika Plaques): Time for a Strong Cup of Coffee

Suddenly, Strong Statements from the Long-Silent: Holocaust Posturing or Sincere Outrage?



OPINION  |  POLITICS OF MEMORY  |  LITHUANIA

by Dovid Katz

The decision announced by leaders of the three major universities in Lithuania, and of its History Institute, to belatedly break off ties with the antisemitic, ultranationalist, far-right, history-revisionist “Genocide Center,” a state-sponsored institution, is both “better than nothing” and “better late than never.” For over a dozen years now, Defending History has documented the Center’s role in spewing antisemitism, while underpinning ultraright Nazi-sympathetic nationalism and Holocaust obfuscation and denial wrapped up in pseudo-historical research; a similar record has been kept of its obedient showcase of fake history to the outside world, the “Genocide Museum”). The shocking wall of skittish silence on the part of professors, diplomats, and political leaders has been apparent not only within Lithuania, but also from some Holocaust, history and international (particularly American-based) Jewish organizations whose leaders covet the local medals, honors, photo-ops and junkets that give them that certain godlike ego-boost that is only to be had, it seems, east of the former Iron Curtain.

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Posted in Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Christian-Jewish Issues, Collaborators Glorified, History, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on Suddenly, Strong Statements from the Long-Silent: Holocaust Posturing or Sincere Outrage?

Lithuania Hears Pleas and (For Now?) Cancels Funding for Convention Center Project in Old Jewish Cemetery



OPINION  | HUMAN RIGHTS | CHRISTIAN-JEWISH ISSUES  |  CEMETERIES & MASS GRAVES  |  OLD VILNA JEWISH CEMETERY AT PIRAMÓNT | OPPOSITION TO ‘CONVENTION CENTER  IN THE CEMETERY’ PROJECT |INTERNATIONAL PETITION

by Andrius Kulikauskas

A Victory for Hanukkah, Christmas and New Year’s

On December 16, 2020, the sixth day of Hanukkah, defenders of the oldest Jewish cemetery in Vilnius (at Piramont-Šnipiškės) won a major, decisive, surprising, timeless victory. Lithuania’s government, acting on our campaign’s and Seimas member Kęstutis Masiulis’s proposals to the Seimas (parliament) Budget and Finance Committee, struck from the 2021 budget all funding for the reconstruction of the Vilnius Sports Palace into a Vilnius Congress Center. This building, which the Soviets had erected in the middle of the Cemetery, had fallen into disuse. The Lithuanian government acquired the building in 2015 with plans to remake it as a center for international conferences, further desecrating the Cemetery for untold years to come. Thankfully, the newly elected Government has eliminated funding.

The Government’s website includes a page for that afternoon’s meeting. The third item of the meeting is Finance Minister Gintarė Skaistė’s report on the revised budget. She spoke for twenty minutes and made no mention of the Congress Center. However, if you look through the documents (here and here), you will see that the allocation of 515,000 euros (around $631,000) as installment toward the multi-million euro reconstruction of the Sports Palace has been expressly eliminated.

The highlighted sentence in the parliament’s revised budget explicitly eliminates the 515,000 euro allocation for phase 1 of the “convention center in the cemetery” project…

Seimas Budget and Finance Committee Bureau Chief Alina Brazdilienė sent me an email so that I would be sure to notice. She had been responsive to my concerns that the 54 letters and many more received by the Committee from us in November were not visible to the Government. On December 15th she had told me that the day before she had emailed the Ministry to ask if they would like to see our emails. The Ministry had replied that they would not because they had not yet come to their own position. Understandably, I was not happy that the Ministry was not interested to see all of our arguments. I did not expect us to win. I was wrong!

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Posted in Andrius Kulikauskas, Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Christian-Jewish Issues, Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Opinion, Politics of Memory | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Lithuania Hears Pleas and (For Now?) Cancels Funding for Convention Center Project in Old Jewish Cemetery

New York’s Mirrer Yeshiva Appeals to Lithuania’s Leaders on Fate of Old Vilna Cemetery



HUMAN RIGHTS |  CHRISTIAN-JEWISH ISSUES  |  CEMETERIES & MASS GRAVES  |  OLD VILNA JEWISH CEMETERY AT PIRAMÓNT  |  OPPOSITION TO ‘CONVENTION CENTER  IN THE CEMETERY’ PROJECT  |  INTERNATIONAL PETITION

BROOKLYN, NEW YORK—Rabbi Pinchos Hecht, director of New York’s famed Mirrer Yeshiva, issued a two-page letter today expressing an impassioned appeal to Lithuania’s president, prime minister, finance minister, and the Seimas (parliament) budget review team, imploring them to halt the misguided project to erect the nation’s central convention center in the heart of the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery, where thousands still lie buried on all four sides of a Soviet eyesore slated for reconstruction. Protests have been lodged by virtually all the leading Lithuanian tradition (Litvak) rabbis internationally, as well as over 53,000 people who have signed a petition. The saga has been dragging on for years.

“Human rights and dignity do not end with one’s death. The individuals buried in the Snipisek cemetery are the most helpless type of individuals, as they are unable to speak for themselves. The Holocaust wiped out the very community in whose care the preservation of the cemetery would have been entrusted.”

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Posted in Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Christian-Jewish Issues, CPJCE (London), Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok) | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on New York’s Mirrer Yeshiva Appeals to Lithuania’s Leaders on Fate of Old Vilna Cemetery

Please Email by December 17 to Urge Lithuania’s Finance Ministry to Respect the Old Jewish Cemetery in Vilnius



OPINION  | HUMAN RIGHTS | CHRISTIAN-JEWISH ISSUES  |  CEMETERIES & MASS GRAVES  |  OLD VILNA JEWISH CEMETERY AT PIRAMÓNT | OPPOSITION TO ‘CONVENTION CENTER  IN THE CEMETERY’ PROJECT |INTERNATIONAL PETITION

by Andrius Kulikauskas

Thank you once again to all who wrote emails to Lithuania’s Parliament (Seimas) to oppose the financing of the reconstruction of the Vilnius Concert and Sports Building Complex which the Soviets built in the heart of the oldest Jewish Cemetery in Vilnius at Piramont-Šnipiškės. As things stand, the budget for 2021 includes 515,000 euros to organize the contests to select the operator and the contractor for the complex, and further foresees 16,685,000 euros in 2022 and 10,173,000 euros in 2023 for the building works involved.

We now need to write letters to Lithuania’s Finance Ministry and even the President of Lithuania. Today, December 11, 2020, the new Government has been sworn in, including the Finance Minister. This new Government will have just a few days to revise the budget for 2021 before it returns it to Seimas on December 17 for the second review.

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Posted in Andrius Kulikauskas, Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Christian-Jewish Issues, Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Opinion, Politics of Memory | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on Please Email by December 17 to Urge Lithuania’s Finance Ministry to Respect the Old Jewish Cemetery in Vilnius

New Lithuanian Parliament Deadline Looms (Nov. 24), Email Campaign Ramping Up



OPINION  |  HUMAN RIGHTS  |  CHRISTIAN-JEWISH ISSUES  |  CEMETERIES & MASS GRAVES  |  OLD VILNA JEWISH CEMETERY AT PIRAMÓNT  |  OPPOSITION TO ‘CONVENTION CENTER IN THE CEMETERY’ PROJECT  | INTERNATIONAL PETITION

by Andrius Kulikauskas

A heartfelt thank you for all who responded to our urgent call to write the Budget and Finance Committee of Lithuania’s Seimas (Parliament), which met on November 11, 2020. The Committee acknowledged that it received recommendations from 54 groups and individuals to not finance the reconstruction of the Vilnius Concert and Sports Palace Building Complex, which the Soviets built in the center of the historic Jewish cemetery at Piramónt-Šnipiškės. The Committee neither approved nor rejected this proposal but simply passed it on to the Lithuanian government.

At this stage in the budget process, we urge concerned readers to send a second email to the Seimas leadership, as described below, before the Seimas’s crucial session on November 24, 2020.

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Posted in Andrius Kulikauskas, Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Christian-Jewish Issues, Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Opinion, Politics of Memory | Comments Off on New Lithuanian Parliament Deadline Looms (Nov. 24), Email Campaign Ramping Up

Is the Vilnius Concert and Sports Palace on the Old Jewish Cemetery?



OPINION  |  HUMAN RIGHTS  |  CHRISTIAN-JEWISH ISSUES  |  CEMETERIES & MASS GRAVES  |  OLD VILNA JEWISH CEMETERY AT PIRAMÓNT  |  OPPOSITION TO ‘CONVENTION CENTER IN THE CEMETERY’ PROJECT  | INTERNATIONAL PETITION

by Josifas Parasonis

Iconic roof of the dereleict Soviet sports palace in the heart of the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery. Graphic by  D. Umbrasas / Lrt.lt. In the original publication.

Vilnius’s historical and literary sources confirm that there are a number of burial sites in the city, mostly near Christian and Orthodox churches. Larger cemeteries, including Rasos, Antakalnis (soldiers), Bernardines, Orthodox (Liepkalnis), Jewish cemeteries (Piramont / Snipiskes and Zarétshe / Olandų), Evangelicals (Kalinauskas) and others. The legal regulation of Vilnius city cemeteries started only in the second half of the eighteenth century, when cemeteries near Christian and Orthodox churches were full to capacity (burials ceased in 1865) and separate parishes began burials outside the city.

1487-1830

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Posted in Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Christian-Jewish Issues, Josifas Parasonis, Lithuania's Jewish Community Issues, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Politics of Memory | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on Is the Vilnius Concert and Sports Palace on the Old Jewish Cemetery?

Email Lithuania’s Seimas (Parliament) to Respect the Old Vilnius Jewish Cemetery



OPINION  |  HUMAN RIGHTS  |  CHRISTIAN-JEWISH ISSUES  |  CEMETERIES & MASS GRAVES  |  OLD VILNA JEWISH CEMETERY AT PIRAMÓNT  |  OPPOSITION TO ‘CONVENTION CENTER IN THE CEMETERY’ PROJECT  | INTERNATIONAL PETITION

by Andrius Kulikauskas

As readers of Defending History know from Julius Norwilla’s recent article, this week is the rare and perfect opportunity for our concerns about the fate of the Vilnius Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt to be heard by Lithuania‘s Seimas.

The Seimas (Lithuanian parliament) is approving a package of investments that it will be making in 2021-2023 to pump Lithuania‘s economy as it battles the pandemic. Among the 49 billion euros of expenditures is a line item of 27 million euros for reconstruction of the Vilnius Sports and Congress Building Complex Project. (See page 3 here and page 84 here). In other words, this is money that will fund the endless desecration of the oldest Jewish Cemetery in Vilnius.

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Posted in Andrius Kulikauskas, Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Christian-Jewish Issues, Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Opinion, Politics of Memory | Tagged , , | Comments Off on Email Lithuania’s Seimas (Parliament) to Respect the Old Vilnius Jewish Cemetery

Is Latvia Really Trying to Shut Down Riga’s Famous Outdoor Holocaust Museum?



LATVIA  |  MUSEUMS 

RIGA—According to various media reports, including JTA and the Algemeiner, plans are afoot to force the closure of the Museum of the Riga Ghetto and the Latvian Holocaust, whose opening Defending History covered a decade ago. The beloved outdoor museum is one of the very few museums in Latvia to provide an accurate historic view of the Holocaust and large scale individualized commemoration of its victims in Latvia. The role of local collaborators and the antisemitic nationalist establishment in Latvia in 1941 is amply documented by facsimiles of newspapers and documents of the times, all with full translation. On the commemoration front, there is a permanent outdoor exhibit with virtually all c. 70,000 names of the Riga Ghetto’s victims inscribed. It is a unique institution, for the Baltics and far beyond.

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Posted in Christian-Jewish Issues, Latvia, Litvak Affairs, Museums, News & Views, Politics of Memory | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Is Latvia Really Trying to Shut Down Riga’s Famous Outdoor Holocaust Museum?

Conference of European Rabbis Formalizes Ban on London CPJCE Meddling in Vilna Jewish Cemetery Issue



HUMAN RIGHTS | CHRISTIAN-JEWISH ISSUES  |  CEMETERIES & MASS GRAVES  |  OLD VILNA JEWISH CEMETERY AT PIRAMÓNT | OPPOSITION TO ‘CONVENTION CENTER  IN THE CEMETERY’ PROJECT |INTERNATIONAL PETITION

The head of the Conference of European Rabbis (CER), chief rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, wrote today to Lithuania’s culture minister, Mindaugas Kvietkauskas, who is often deployed by Lithuanian government agencies to placate Jewish groups with his “love of Yiddish”. The letter forcefully strips the London-based “CPJCE” of any further involvement in the Vilna cemetery saga.

The issue at hand is the fate of the old Vilna Jewish Cemetery, that Lithuania’s state-owned Property Bank (Turto bankas) is determined, in alliance with politicians, builders and other partners for profit, to use for a new national convention center, where thousands would each night cheer and clap, drink at bars and flush toilets, surrounded by a multitude of graves of Vilna Jewish citizens going back to the fifteenth century, if not earlier, including many famous rabbinic scholars and close family of the Gaon of Vilna. There has been massive international opposition to the project.

Hopefully, the Yiddish-loving culture minister will raise his voice for the cultural preservation of Vilna’s holiest Jewish site, where so many generations of Yiddish speaking Vilna Jews lie buried. The cemetery lovingly known to generations of Jews in the Lithuanian capital as Der alter feld (‘the old [burial] field’), or simply as Piramónt.

Besides its being addressed to the culture minister, the text of Rabbi Goldschmidt’s letter is especially significant for its issuing an actual edict concerning the “permission” for the “convention center in the cemetery” by the allegedly corrupt London-based CPJCE (“Committee for the Preservation of Jewish Cemeteries in Europe“) who were caught years ago on Wikileaks cables demanding secret payments for their “supervision” of works at the same cemetery.

In his letter, the chief rabbi makes clear the stance of the Conference of European rabbis:

“The Committee for the Preservation of Jewish Cemeteries in Europe does not have the authority to, God forbid, approve the continued desecration of the cemetery […]. On behalf of the Conference of European Rabbis, I want to clarify that the CPJCE lost the authority to liaise with the Lithuanian government on this vital issue, because they did not respond to a summons of the Rabbinical Court, and subsequently do not represent the voice of European Jewry. Let me also be clear that the Conference of European Rabbis no longer maintains an official affiliation with the group. We therefore urge the Lithuanian government to cease all communications with the CPJCE […].”

A facsimile of Rabbi Goldsmith’s letter follows (also available as PDF).  Observers eagerly look forward to the response of Minister Kvietkauskas.

CONFERENCE OF EUROPEAN RABBIS
Posted in Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Christian-Jewish Issues, CPJCE (London), Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok) | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off on Conference of European Rabbis Formalizes Ban on London CPJCE Meddling in Vilna Jewish Cemetery Issue

Two Visions for the Future Status, Stature & Symbolism of Vilnius (Vilna, Vílne, Wilno)



OPINION  | HUMAN RIGHTS | CHRISTIAN-JEWISH ISSUES  |  CEMETERIES & MASS GRAVES  |  OLD VILNA JEWISH CEMETERY AT PIRAMÓNT | OPPOSITION TO ‘CONVENTION CENTER  IN THE CEMETERY’ PROJECT |INTERNATIONAL PETITION

I: City in Love with Its Grand Duchy Heritage, Multicultural Values and Harmony of its Peoples

OR

II: City Intent on Obliterating and Humiliating its Jewish Heritage for Benefit of Some Greedy Business Interests

UPDATES


I


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Posted in Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Christian-Jewish Issues, Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Opinion, Politics of Memory | Tagged , | Comments Off on Two Visions for the Future Status, Stature & Symbolism of Vilnius (Vilna, Vílne, Wilno)

Lithuanian Journalists Report the Costs of Desecrating the Vilnius Jewish Cemetery



OPINION  | HUMAN RIGHTS | CHRISTIAN-JEWISH ISSUES  |  MEDIA WATCH  | CEMETERIES & MASS GRAVES  |  OLD VILNA JEWISH CEMETERY AT PIRAMÓNT | OPPOSITION TO ‘CONVENTION CENTER  IN THE CEMETERY’ PROJECT |INTERNATIONAL PETITION

by Andrius Kulikauskas

Lithuanian journalists are raising questions that the Lithuanian government has yet to answer regarding its plans to repurpose as a modern convention center the Vilnius Sports Palace which the Soviets built on the oldest Jewish cemetery in Šnipiškės. These journalists are informing the Lithuanian public about spectacular increases in projected costs, the rabbinical court’s ruling which prohibits use of the building, the architects who propose reconsidering the future of the building, and the historical documents which show that the Soviets seized the Cemetery in 1940 from the Vilnius Jewish Community, whose rights have yet to be restored.

Skirmantas Malinauskas Publishes Expected Construction Costs of 64 Million Euros

Most dramatically, on September 12, 2020, independent journalist Skirmantas Malinauskas uploaded an hour-long You Tube video. “For the sake of the public interest”, he presented portions of a document leaked to him, namely the technical project submitted in March, 2020 by Karolis Maciulevičius of UAB “ArchiMenai” to Turto Bankas (the State Property Bank). Malinauskas’s investigative videos are supported by 4,000 Patreon subscribers (at about 3 euros per month) and typically viewed by more than 100,000 viewers, and this bombshell may reverberate across Lithuanian media. Skirmantas Malinauskas was until March, 2020 an advisor to Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis. Prior to that he worked as a journalist for 15min.lt, where he wrote detailed articles on September 20, 2016 and June 7, 2016 about problems in the bidding process for reconstruction of the Vilnius Sports Palace.

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Posted in A 21st Century Campaign Against Lithuanian Holocaust Survivors?, Andrius Kulikauskas, Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Christian-Jewish Issues, Human Rights, Lithuania's Jewish Community Issues, Litvak Affairs, Media Watch, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Opinion | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Lithuanian Journalists Report the Costs of Desecrating the Vilnius Jewish Cemetery

“Leave in Peace the Graves of Our Great Vilnius Jewish Ancestors”: Plea Leaps from Defending History to Lietuvos Aidas



OPINION  | MEDIA WATCH | HUMAN RIGHTS | CHRISTIAN-JEWISH ISSUES | CEMETERIES & MASS GRAVES  |  OLD VILNA JEWISH CEMETERY AT PIRAMÓNT | OPPOSITION TO CONVENTION CENTER PROJECT |INTERNATIONAL PETITION

by Andrius Kulikauskas

In 2015, Ruta Bloshtein first publicly spoke out against the Lithuanian government’s unseemly decision that Lithuania’s premiere convention center should be the Soviet Sports Palace, a monstrosity which desecrates the oldest Jewish cemetery in Vilnius. Her article  (that appeared (in Lithuanian and in English translation) in DefendingHistory.com included her plea, “Palikite ramybėje mūsų didžių protėvių Vilniaus žydų kapus” (Leave in Peace the Graves of Our Great Vilnius Jewish Ancestors).

On August 1, 2020, her words became the headline of the main article on the front page of Lithuania’s leading nationalist weekly, “Lietuvos Aidas”. The weekly was founded in 1917 by Antanas Smetona, who in 1918 became Lithuania’s first president. It was revived in 1990, controversially, as the state newspaper of newly independent Lithuania, and privatized a few years later. The weekly has grown in quality under editor Rasa Pilvelytė-Čemeškienė and claims a circulation of 7,000.

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Posted in Andrius Kulikauskas, Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Christian-Jewish Issues, Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Media Watch, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Opinion, Politics of Memory | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off on “Leave in Peace the Graves of Our Great Vilnius Jewish Ancestors”: Plea Leaps from Defending History to Lietuvos Aidas

On the Seimas Declaring 2021 to be Year in Honor of Alleged Participant in Lietukis Garage Massacre of 1941



OPINION  |  GLORIFICATION OF COLLABORATORS  |  POLITICS OF MEMORY

by Evaldas Balčiūnas

The resolution of the Seimas (Lithuanian parliament) to declare 2021 the “Year of Juozas Lukša” has resulted in heated discussions. They are attentively chronicled by Defending History.

Those who remember the Holocaust and its lessons for history and for life discuss the name Juozas Lukša in conjunction with the LAF (Lithuanian Activist Front) of June and July 1941, including the versions that link him to a barbaric massacre of Jews at the Lietukis Garage in central Kaunas where some seventy innocent Jewish people, caught in the streets, were brutally killed before cheering crowds.

Juozas Lukša looks very similar to one of the murderers in one of the photos (and he was identified by some from a photo of himself after the war). It links him to one of the versions noting that the Garage Massacre was committed largely by prisoners who had been released from a Kaunas jail (we know that Lukša was released from a Kaunas jail). Opponents to those versions claim that Juozas Lukša is innocent and level accusations of slander against those who implicate him. This discussion is not new and there have not really been any new proofs offered on either side since the flare-up of the argument over the last month.

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Posted in Christian-Jewish Issues, Collaborators Glorified, Evaldas Balčiūnas, History, Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Politics of Memory | Tagged , , , , , | Comments Off on On the Seimas Declaring 2021 to be Year in Honor of Alleged Participant in Lietukis Garage Massacre of 1941

Defending the Cemetery on Tíshebov in Vilnius and Beyond



OPINION  |  HUMAN RIGHTS  |  CHRISTIAN-JEWISH ISSUES  |  CEMETERIES & MASS GRAVES  |  OLD VILNA JEWISH CEMETERY AT PIRAMÓNT  |  OPPOSITION TO CONVENTION CENTER PROJECT  | INTERNATIONAL PETITION

by Andrius Kulikauskas

Where the old Soviet Sports Palace stands within the old Cemetery Wall. A group of Lithuanians and Litvaks are working together to ensure that the wall’s historic path will be clearly marked for future generations of visitors to Vilnius.

“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.

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Posted in Andrius Kulikauskas, Antisemitism & Bias, Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Christian-Jewish Issues, Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Politics of Memory | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on Defending the Cemetery on Tíshebov in Vilnius and Beyond

Websites Report that Lithuania’s Ambassador in Washington Assures Head of Senate Foreign Relations Committee: ‘There will be no conference center on the cemetery!’



HUMAN RIGHTS  |  MEDIA WATCH  |  CHRISTIAN-JEWISH ISSUES  |  CEMETERIES & MASS GRAVES  |  OLD VILNA JEWISH CEMETERY AT PIRAMÓNT  |  OPPOSITION TO CONVENTION CENTER PROJECT  | INTERNATIONAL PETITION

VILNIUS—According to a report by the website Save Vilna that also appeared in the Christian News Journal, the Lithuanian ambassador to the United States, HE Rolandas Kriščiūnas has personally assured the chairman of the U.S. Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee, Jim (James E.) Risch “that there will be no conference centre on the cemetery.” The meeting resulted from months-long diplomacy by Christian Evangelical journalist Dr. Matthew Anthony Harper of InterMountain Christian News, a prominent campaigner against the desecration of Jewish cemeteries. Over the past year, he has passionately represented the cause in Vilnius and Tel Aviv, in addition to his work as a White House correspondent representing Christian media. Together with a delegation of top Lithuanian tradition rabbis in Israel, he spoke eloquently at a videotaped meeting with the Lithuanian ambassador to Tel Aviv.

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Posted in Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Christian-Jewish Issues, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Media Watch, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok) | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off on Websites Report that Lithuania’s Ambassador in Washington Assures Head of Senate Foreign Relations Committee: ‘There will be no conference center on the cemetery!’

Respect Cemeteries in Siberia but also Vilnius



OPINION  |  HUMAN RIGHTS  |  CHRISTIAN-JEWISH ISSUES  |  CEMETERIES & MASS GRAVES  |  OLD VILNA JEWISH CEMETERY AT PIRAMÓNT  |  OPPOSITION TO CONVENTION CENTER PROJECT  | INTERNATIONAL PETITION

by Andrius Kulikauskas

Respect Cemeteries (Gerbkime kapines) is a group of individuals in Lithuania who are working together to keep our country from operating a convention center at the Vilnius Sports Palace on top of the oldest Jewish cemetery in Vilnius. We are focusing on this crisis as the most vital issue to address in fostering Lithuanian and Litvak friendship.

Our approach is to embrace and explore the value of respecting all cemeteries with special attention to Lithuanian points of view. Arkadij Kurliandchik, an elected member of the board of the Vilnius Jewish Community, advises that we won’t be heard in Lithuania if we portray the fate of the Vilnius Jewish Cemetery as a Jewish special interest issue. Instead, if we care about our general humanity, and if we appreciate Lithuanian issues, then we hope to discover the righteous Lithuanians who will argue with us against cynical Lithuanian politicians and developers, and against their ally, the official Lithuanian Jewish Community.

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Posted in Andrius Kulikauskas, Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Christian-Jewish Issues, Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Opinion | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on Respect Cemeteries in Siberia but also Vilnius

Historic Petition on Vilnius Cemetery Reaches 50,000 Mark



CEMETERIES & MASS GRAVES  |  OLD VILNA JEWISH CEMETERY AT PIRAMÓNT  |  OPPOSITION TO CONVENTION CENTER PROJECT  |  PETITION  |  HUMAN RIGHTS

VILNIUS—The international petition launched by Ruta Bloshtein, a native and resident of Vilnius, has today reached the 50,000 signature mark. People of diverse background and many countries are among the signatories. Opponents of the disturbing idea to site a convention center in the heart of the old Jewish cemetery  (with extant graves, albeit not stones, on all four sides), has been resolutely opposed by rabbis in Lithuania in recent years, including, in alphabetical order, chief rabbi of nine years’ standing Chaim Burshtein (who was  fired in 2015 for speaking out); Rabbi S. J. Feffer  (a Gaon of Vilna scholar who has been based in Vilnius for decades, and  issued edicts in Hebrew and English); Rabbi Kalev Krelin, now based in Riga, who was one of the first to sign Ms. Bloshtein’s petition, along with Chabad rabbi Sholom-Ber Krinsky, who has lived in the city for over a quarter century with his family and is now official rabbi of the one functioning synagogue. Only partly in jest, Vilnius residents say this is the first time these rabbis have agreed on much of anything.

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Posted in Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Christian-Jewish Issues, Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Politics of Memory | Tagged , , , , , | Comments Off on Historic Petition on Vilnius Cemetery Reaches 50,000 Mark