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VILNIUS–Genocide Center historian Dr. Arūnas Bubnys has posted on Facebook the following comment about this journal’s editor.
VILNIUS–Genocide Center historian Dr. Arūnas Bubnys has posted on Facebook the following comment about this journal’s editor.
The national Lithuanian television channel Lietuvos rytas TV recently (on May 4) broadcast a show by veteran talk-show host Rūta Grinevičiūtė (surname recently changed to Janutienė) called Nuoga Tiesa, “Naked Truth,” which posed the question, “Do you want the Jews to return again [sic] to Lithuania?” Viewers were invited to call in and/or vote by special telephone lines for Yes and No with a one euro toll per call. For that and a number of other reasons the entire program had something of the macabre about it, and although some of the guests made some important points, all of them seemed to miss certain glaring details which would have been the center of attention in the West.
In the midst of this past summer’s heatwave here in Lithuania, Delfi.lt, one of the most popular news portals in the land, exploded with discussions on commemorations and memorials for Nazi collaborators in our country. Rimvydas Valatka, a columnist for the portal and signatory of the Declaration of Independence, started it all with his article of 26 July. The “current events background” was the recent removal of the controversial Soviet-era statues of soldiers on Vilnius’s Green Bridge. Valatka, a veteran of Lithuanian journalism with the rarefied street-cred of a Declaration of Independence signatory, appealed for removal of the memorial plaque for Nazi collaborator Jonas Noreika (“Generolas Vėtra”) from a central Vilnius library building, and wrote about a petition for its removal signed by a group of intellectuals and public figures, and addressed to the mayor of Vilnius as well as to the director of the relevant library (Library of the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences), where the plaque hangs prominently in the heart of Lithuania’s capital.
2023 update: Readers experiencing difficulty accessing sources linked are referred to the archived version where original links are operative.
As of October 28, 2015, the home page of the Genocide and Resistance Research Center of Lithuania has a link to an authorative statement by General Director Birutė Teresė Burauskaitė about Kazys Škirpa. She responds to a request for information by the City of Kaunas, which has a street in Škirpa’s name. Škirpa was Lithuania’s representative in Berlin, the leader of the Lithuanian Activist Front, organizer of Lithuania’s anti-Soviet rebellion and Prime Minister of Lithuania’s Provisional Government in 1941. In bold letters she emphasizes:
Renowned Lithuanian-French thinker Algirdas Julius Greimas (1917-1992) was more forthcoming than most about his dubious, or frankly, criminal behavior as a young man.
From his interviews we know that in 1940, he gave public speeches in support of Soviet annexation of Lithuania. And in 1941, he served as an editor for the newspaper Tėvynė in Šiauliai, which repeatedly called for ethnic cleansing of Jews from Lithuania.
The national scandal unleashed by the Lithuanian Rūta Vanagaitė and the Jewish Efraim Zuroff via their statements about Adolfas Ramanauskas-Vanagas, is gradually losing momentum. The Seimas (parliament) went right ahead and declared the incoming year, 2018, to be The Year of Ramanauskas-Vanagas. That is sad. Three years ago, I wrote about this person’s activities in Druskininkai in 1941. Society back then was silent about it. It was only the desire of some politicians to glorify this personage that led to the aforementioned Lithuanian and Jewish commentators to talk about him. They spoke loudly and an antisemitic bubble burst. Vanagaitė’s statement had some inaccuracies. The very statement was taken as an insult by the mainstream. Public details about Zuroff’s statement were scarce. My 2014 article was among those details.
Lithuania’s Mažvydas National Library is curiously fostering two parallel cultures which have yet to engage each other. Up on the fifth floor, on the West side, an eminent Judaic studies scholar leads the Judaica Research Center (cosponsored by the Yivo institute in New York), and on the East side, journalist Vidmantas Valiušaitis leads the Adolfas Damušis Democracy Studies Center.
More on Mažvydas National Library; on Yivo’s history in Vilnius since 2011
I would like to invite the participants of today’s Yad Vashem Conference in Jerusalem, “Jewish Leadership in Lithuanian Ghettos” to consider a number of issues concerning this conference. First, please be aware that Dr. A. Bubnys is the chief historian at the “Genocide and Resistance Research Center of Lithuania.” His center of activity promotes inaccurate and hostile memory of the Holocaust in Lithuania.
We all recall the controversies ignited by A. Bubnys in his book on the Šiauliai Ghetto (Shávler géto). The book was written in such a way as to give the impression that Jews perished principally because of the Jewish leadership in the ghetto, and not because of the German and Lithuanian forces who were the voluntary and enthusiastic perpetrators (a classic case of trying to blame the victims). This makes the Genocide Center’s participation in a Yad Vashem conference on the topic of forced Jewish “leadership” of the ghettos problematic, not least because of the conference’s topic being precisely that nominal Jewish leadership. Indeed, it happens here that blame for the Holocaust is deflected as far as possible on the forced Jewish “leadership” of the ghettos and the “Jewish police” in the ghettos.
Last Tuesday, 5 March 2019, a Vilnius court sat in judgment over an appeal to the state-sponsored “Genocide Center” by Grant Arthur Gochin, a financial advisor in California who is of Litvak heritage and was himself born in South Africa (he did not come in for the trial but was represented by attorney Rokas Rudzinskas and academic specialist Dr. Andrius Kulikauskas). The request in effect asked the Genocide Center (formally “The Genocide and Resistance Research Center of Lithuania” or LGGRTC) to revisit their refusal to re-examine the historical certificate they issued whitewashing Holocaust collaborator Jonas Noreika. In support, the plaintiff submitted a big stack of documents from Lithuania’s own archives, and claimed that the Center’s conclusions ignore or misinterpret a whole series of documents and that they are biased in their justification of Noreika and taking into account only “positive aspects” of his activities. The Center explained away some documents signed by Noreika by using other documents that were signed by the German administration much later, but failed to properly name the criteria according to which some witnesses and documents are deemed important and others are rejected. Gochin’s lawyer noted that responsibility for crimes to humanity is not canceled out by the fact that the perpetrator held office and was following orders.
VILNIUS—At 1 PM on Wed. March 27th, a Vilnius Administrative Court judge read out the court’s ruling dismissing the query of US resident Grant Gochin over Lithuania’s state glorification of Nazi collaborator Jonas Noreika, active during the Holocaust in the region where Gochin lost around 100 relatives. The court said Mr. Gochin had no material interest, ruled that the state-sponsored Genocide Center had answered his query completely, without bias, and without abuse of power, in effect further enshrining in law an EU/NATO state’s glorification of Holocaust collaborators and perpetrato
rs via the financing of ultranationalist and far-right history centers and departments determined to preserve the national hero status of Holocaust collaborators. Whenever government or municipal officials are asked about the numerous street names and plaques honoring collaborators, the invariable answer is that it is all in fact a matter for the experts at the Genocide Center.
Does the ruling reflect a new East European Holocaust sensibility that holds that participation in the destruction of a country’s Jewish citizens during the Holocaust was some minute detail that must not interfere with making heroes out of the local perpetrators and collaborators?
Mr. Gochin’s academic specialist, Dr. Andrius Kulikauskas was on hand along with attorney Rokas Rudzinskas. Of the Genocide Center’s staff, only historian Dr. Arūnas Bubnys turned up, sitting nervously in the small gallery surrounded in part by first and second generation Holocaust survivors who turned out to hear the verdict that the Western embassies, human rights organization and official (state-sponsored) Jewish community thought not worth sending an official representative to hear. By contrast the local Vilnius Jewish Community had two observers on hand.
VILNIUS—LRT state television reported that an American religious Jewish school would held a polite protest outside the Lithuanian consulate in New York on Yom Hashoah, 2 May, to protest the Lithuanian government’s continued state-sponsored glorification of Holocaust collaborator Jonas Noreika and others. The protest was carried out by students of the Rambam Mesivta High School, under the guidance of its renowned principal, Rabbi Zev Meir Friedman. See Defending History’s report on the event.
Lithuanian Public Television’s Special Investigation of the controversy over Holocaust perpetrator Jonas Noreika was supposed to air on Thursday May 2 at 7:30 PM (19:30), including an interview with Dr. Andrius Kulikauskas. But the program did not air. Instead, the LRT website posted an “Open Letter Regarding the Increase of Tension in Society” signed by four leaders of Lithuanian (ultra)nationalist organizations. The letter specifically attacks Chicago resident Silvia Foti, Noreika’s granddaughter, California resident Grant Gochin, and other critics of the glorification of Holocaust collaborators, while claiming that Noreika, Škirpa, Brazaitis, Krikštaponis and Kraujelis are national heroes. LRT.lt added a remark clarifying that, according to the Genocide Center, Krikštaponis participated in the mass murder of Jews. The article claims that criticism of glorification of Holocaust collaborators is the work of “Moscow.”
VILNIUS—The good news is that the press conference at the Seimas (Lithuanian parliament) this morning featuring two members of parliament was in the end a small fringe event by the far right, including a renewed attack on Holocaust survivor and resistance hero Dr. Yitzhak Arad, one of the Jewish partisan veterans defamed and harassed by local prosecutors for some years. The evening event in central Vilnius had a dismal turnout of a few dozen people. Both events were dedicated to the glorification of June 23rd, the day the mass murder, injury, plunder and humiliation of Lithuanian Jewry by local Hitler supporters, most prominently the LAF (“Lithuanian Activist Front”) got underway, in a multitude of locations, most lethally Kaunas, before the arrival of the first German forces. Although it is universally accepted by serious historians that the Soviet Army was fleeing Hitler’s onslaught (Operation Barbarossa, the largest invasion in human history), the local far right continues to spew the narrative that this was actually a “rebellion” that “drove out” the Soviet army. (See Defending History’s coverage of previous years’ events and debates, an introductory reading list on the history, and the new English translation of extensive survivor testimonies.)
VILNIUS—The official website of the President of Lithuania, Gitanas Nausėda, features a report and picture gallery of his speech on 20 September at the unveiling of a major monument, in the northwestern Lithuanian village Kryžkalnis, to postwar Lithuanian partisans who fought against the Soviet occupation of the country after World War II. As with other such events, the inclusion in the proceedings of honors for those who were recycled 1941 Holocaust collaborators turns what would be a uniting event celebrating freedom into an event that doubles as glorification also of the perpetrators and collaborators in the Lithuanian Holocaust, all of whom were in some sense ipso facto “anti-Soviet” (working for a Nazi victory).
22 APRIL: BUBNYS NOMINATION CONFIRMED BY SEIMAS
Secret ballot: 76 for, 34 against,8 abstentions, 2 spoiled ballots
Update of 21 April 2021: “No, Sir. This is No Photoshop”
Algemeiner Journal reports of 15 April and of 22 April
SEE DH SECTION ON DR. BUBNYS AND STATE HOLOCAUST REVISIONISM IN LITHUANIA
EYEWITNESS REPORT: DR. BYBNYS’S PUBLIC 2020 ADULATION OF COLLABORATORS
SECTION ON THE GENOCIDE CENTER
VILNIUS—Shortly after Defending History published the news yesterday that Dr. Arūnas Bubnys, longtime chief historian at Lithuania’s state sponsored far-right Genocide Center had been nominated by the speaker of parliament as the center’s new director, news published also by New York’s Algemeiner Journal, a social media campaign began to try to spread a rumor that the DH photo of Dr. Bubnys proudly speaking less than a year ago under banner images of Holocaust collaborators Jonas Noreika and Kazys Škirpa was “photoshopped.” Two of DH’s Vilnius-based team, Julius Norwilla and Dovid Katz, monitored the event from start to finish. Their report appeared the same day, 23 June 2020, the 79th anniversary of the outbreak of the Lithuanian Holocaust. Instead of honoring the victims — defenseless Jewish citizens, often older rabbis and younger women brutalized and murdered by the “White Armbander” fascists — the event, like many legitimized by Lithuanian government institutions, glorified the killers, who are invariably described as “heroic anti-Soviet rebels.” This is of course a patent historic nonsense. The USSR’s forces were fleeing Hitler’s invasion, Operation Barbarossa, the largest invasion in human history, not the local white-armbanded Jew-killers. While the Soviets were in power, the Hitler-backers and murderers of civilian neighbors now adulated as “anti-Soviet rebels” did not fire a single shot. Not even at a local rabbit.
See DH’s sections on Dr. Bubnys, the Genocide Center, and commemorations of 23 June 1941, as well as reviews of his books on the Vilna Ghetto and on the Kovno (Kaunas) Ghetto.
VILNIUS—Not for the first time, the annual Jewish High Holiday period encompassing Rosh Hashonna and Yom Kippur have provided “optimal timing” for state-sponsored activities glorifying Holocaust collaborators and perpetrators. Lithuania’s Seimas (parliament) had declared that the year per se, 2021, would be dedicated to the memory of Juozas Lukša, identified by eyewitnesses as one of the barbaric butchers of Jews in the Lietukis Garage Massacre in Kaunas in June 1941, during the week when fascist “LAF” (Lithuanian Activist Front) Hitlerist thugs murdered thousands of Jewish neighbors before the Nazis had even taken control. In 2011 a motion in the British Parliament referred to testimony that Lukša was also involved in the beheading of Rabbi Zalmen Osovsky the same week.
“The hard-working people of Lithuania deserve much better than for their tax euros to be squandered by ultranationalist leaders on state glorification of Hitler accomplices.”
This week’s festivities included, on 4 September 2021, a speech by the president of Lithuania to honor Lukša, a brand new Lukša monument unveiled to in a village where he operated, with participation by the director general of the Genocide Center, Dr. Arūnas Bubnys. The monument was “consecrated” by a major bishop who holds the title “president of the Commission on the External Relations of the EU”.
Arūnas Bubnys’s book The Holocaust in the Lithuanian Provinces (Holokaustas Lietuvos provincijoje, Margi raštai, Vilnius, 2021) is another publication of the International Commission for the Evaluation of the Crimes of the Nazi and Soviet Occupation Regimes in Lithuania (ICECNSORL). Up until now, books published by the Commission were academically written and appreciated by a sophisticated readership. Moreover, they were always published in both Lithuanian and English. This book is different. It is available only in Lithuanian. Previously published monographs would also include Commission-approved conclusions; this book has no such thing. As far as I have been able to ascertain, the Commission’s academics did not discuss the book among themselves before its publication. But let’s start at the beginning.
The book is geographically quite extensive: 23 counties and 140 towns are cited. This is really a lot, but it is also quite obvious that the coverage of towns in different counties is unequal. When it comes to Šilutė county in western Lithuania, for example, several camps and fates of individual Jews are mentioned in passing, but no single town is described. For the Marijampolė county, only the fate of the Jews of Marijampolė itself is presented. Šiauliai xounty (15 towns) and Alytus County (12 towns) are the most extensively covered.