Events

Latvian Gov. Again Gifts Central Riga for Glorification of Nation’s Wartime Waffen SS



RIGA MARCHES  |  VILNIUS MARCHES  |  KAUNAS MARCHES  |  PRO-NAZI MARCHES IN EASTERN EUROPE  |  GLORIFICATION OF COLLABORATORS  |  ANTISEMITISM

AROUND 1000 TAKE PART IN 16 MARCH CENTRAL RIGA PARADE GLORIFYING LATVIA’S WARTIME NAZI WAFFEN SS

UPDATE OF 20 MARCH: CANADA CONDEMNS EVENT

Media coverage: Delfi.lvDPA;  HaaretzJerusaem Post;  Jüdisches Forum (video)LSM.lv;  Times of IsraelToronto Sun

Detail from the day

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Posted in Antisemitism & Bias, Celebrations of Fascism, Collaborators Glorified, EU, Events, Human Rights, Latvia, Litvak Affairs, Neo-Nazi & Fascist Marches, News & Views, Riga's Waffen SS Marches | Comments Off on Latvian Gov. Again Gifts Central Riga for Glorification of Nation’s Wartime Waffen SS

Swastikas are Back for Far-Right’s Independence Day March in Central Vilnius on March 11th



NEO-NAZI MARCHES  |  VILNIUS MARCHES  |  HUMAN RIGHTS  |  EVENTS

EYEWITNESS REPORT

VILNIUS—Today’s neo-Nazi march in central Vilnius had fewer participants than in earlier years, with most estimates putting a cap of 500 on the number. Many were supporters of far-right presidential candidate Arvydas Juozaitis, and made use of his associated symbol and slogan translating “Lithuania is here.” But the black skull-and-crossbones flag with the “Lithuanian swastika” (with added lines) at the top corner was at the front or center of the proceedings from their start at Cathedral Square to their conclusion with some speeches at Lukiskes Square. Former Genocide Center official Ricardas Cekutis was on hand.  There were some organized shouts of “Lietuva Lietuviams” (‘Lithuania for Lithuanians’). The following are some images of the event, which was monitored by Defending History’s correspondent Julius Norwilla and editor Dovid Katz. See Mr. Norwilla’s photo gallery for more photos.

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The Strange Holocaust Trial in the Lithuanian Capital



OPINION  |  GLORIFICATION OF COLLABORATORS  |  POLITICS OF MEMORY

by Evaldas Balčiūnas

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.

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After ‘Hearing Both Sides’ at Trial of March  5th, Vilnius Court Sets Verdict for 27th



EVENTS  |  GLORIFICATION OF COLLABORATORS  |  POLITICS OF MEMORY

 

Dr. Andrius Kulikauskas, moments before his historic address before the Vilnius court on state-funded Genocide Center’s policy of glorifying Holocaust collaborators. The center’s “decisions” are cited by high officials as “justification” for street names, university hall plaques and other public-space state-funded glorifications of Holocaust collaborators. Around 96% of Lithuanian Jewry was massacred in the Holocaust.

Defending History was there. Evaldas Balčiūnas’s report here. Editor’s take:

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February 16th March in Vilnius Avoids Swastikas and Fascist Symbols


NEO-NAZI MARCHES  |  VILNIUS MARCHES  |  HUMAN RIGHTS  |  EVENTS

EYEWITNESS REPORT

VILNIUS—DH’s on-site monitors here, observing the event for a decade, report on “significant progress”: For the first time in many years, the far-right February 16 march, though at times noxious (e.g. when a group reveled in a “Noreika plaque photo-op”), had no visible banners glorifying local Holocaust collaborators and no visible swastikas on flags, and no organized chants of “Lietuva Lietuviams” (Lithuania for Lithuanians). By contrast, a few Latvian visitors wore jackets emblazoned with “Waffen SS”. At its conclusion, two of the march’s organizers approached our team for a civil discussion which turned to the participation of “non-Catholic & non-ethnic Lithuanians” in the war of independence leading to the rise of the democratic interwar Lithuanian Republic on 16 Feb. 1918.

Posted in Antisemitism & Bias, Events, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Neo-Nazi & Fascist Marches, News & Views, Vilnius Neo-Nazi Marches | Comments Off on February 16th March in Vilnius Avoids Swastikas and Fascist Symbols

Europe’s (and ODIHR’s and the OSCE’s) So-Called “Fight Against Antisemitism”



by Vilhjálmur Örn Vilhjálmsson


Saturday February 16, 2019 will celebrated as Independence Day in Lithuania (marking the 1918 rise of the state; a second independence day, March 11th, marks its 1990 reestablishment). The far-right-nationalists of Lithuania have once again been permitted to march through the central Old Town streets of the country’s capital to praise their so-called heroes. These views on “heroes” held by the Vilnius marchers are pretty much shared by much of the present and past government establishments, as evidenced, for example, by street names and  public plaques and many episodes of glorification of collaborators, including the infamous 2012 reburial with full honors of the 1941 Nazi puppet prime minister.

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Posted in Antisemitism & Bias, Celebrations of Fascism, Collaborators Glorified, Events, Foreign Ministries: Holocaust Politics Abuse?, Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Neo-Nazi & Fascist Marches, News & Views, Opinion, The OSCE, Vilhjálmur Vilhjálmsson, Vilnius Neo-Nazi Marches | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Europe’s (and ODIHR’s and the OSCE’s) So-Called “Fight Against Antisemitism”

Yiddish Author Aaron Garon’s New Book to Feature at 20 Feb. Yiddish Reading Circle



BOOKS  |  EVENTS  |  YIDDISH AFFAIRS  |  VILNIUS JEWISH COMMUNITY

by Dovid Katz

The Vilna Yiddish Reading Circle, now in its twentieth year and open to all, announced today that its weekly session on Wednesday evening 20 February (as usual, from 6 PM sharp at the Vilnius Jewish Community at Mesiniu 3 in Vilnius Old Town) would be dedicated to the just-published handsome book of essays, articles and memoirs by the beloved Yiddish (and Lithuanian language) journalist Aaron Garon (1919−2009). The book, Di yídishe velt fun Vílne (The Jewish World of Vilna) is a collection of some of his Yiddish prose (essays and memoirs) with full Lithuanian translation, published in avant-garde vertical format, designed by the prominent young book-design maestro Greg Zundelovitch. It was brought out by the author’s children, longtime Israeli residents Tamara and Evgeni Garon, thanks to support from the Lithuanian government’s Good Will Foundation.

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Is Yiddish ‘Lingua non grata’ at National Library’s Exhibition on Prewar Lithuanian Jewish Life?



OPINION  |  MUSEUMS & EXHIBITIONS  |  THE ARTS  |  LITVAK AFFAIRS  |  YIDDISH AFFAIRS

by Dovid Katz

Lead banner for National Library’s exhibition on prewar Lithuanian Jewish culture

For many centuries, the Jews of Vilna (Yiddish Vílne, formal Ashkenazic Hebrew Vílno, modern Hebrew Vílna), and indeed, those from a huge radius of towns and villages in all four directions that looked to the then “Jerusalem of Lithuania” as their spiritual capital, the streets of the oldest Jewish settlement in the town were lovingly known as Di yidishe gas. The narrow dictionary definition is indeed “the Jewish street” but in the Yiddish of Vilna, as in other cities with highly developed Yiddish culture, the phrase came to signify the entire neighborhood in the sense that could perhaps best be captured by something like “our Jewish part of town.” When in 1920, the then Polish authorities offered the Jewish community the opportunity to name a few streets in town, Yídishe gas (Polish Żydowska) became one of them, for the neighborhood’s primary street. When the democratic Lithuanian independence movement of the late 1980s reached the stage of ridding the city of hated Soviet-imposed names, the old name was rapidly and boldly, restored, in its translative Lithuanian form, Žydų gatvė.

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Three Issues for Yad Vashem Conference that Legitimizes “Genocide Center”



OPINION  |  YAD VASHEM MANIPULATED  |  GENOCIDE CENTER

by Gershon Taitz  (Vilnius)

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.

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Is Yad Vashem Legitimizing Vilnius “Genocide Center”?



OPINION  |  YAD VASHEM MANIPULATED  |  GENOCIDE CENTER

 Under Pressure of Israeli Foreign Ministry?

Vilnius Genocide Center: “Legitimized” by 19 Nov. Yad Vashem Conference in Jerusalem?

Its chief historian Dr. A. Bubnys is a major speaker; See DH review of his book on the Vilna Ghetto and report on Jewish community’s response to his publication on the Shavl (Šiauliai) Ghetto. Are pliant “Jewish academics” being flown in and wheeled out to provide cover for the newest chapters in Holocaust revisionism? These include East European state glorification of collaborators and denial of the outbreak of mass violence by the LAF and other “nationalist heroes” against Jewish neighbors before the onset of German administration in the last week of June 1941.

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Posted in Collaborators Glorified, Dr. Arūnas Bubnys and State Holocaust Revisionism in Lithuania, Dr. Rokhl (Rachel) Margolis (1921-2015), Events, Genocide Center (Vilnius), History, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory, Yad Vashem Manipulated? | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Is Yad Vashem Legitimizing Vilnius “Genocide Center”?

Sept. 23rd Ponár Memorial and Pope Francis’s Visit to Vilna Ghetto Memorial



OPINION  |  EVENTS  |  CHRISTIAN-JEWISH RELATIONS  |  HOLOCAUST MEMORIALS  |  VILNIUS JEWISH LIFE

IMAGE OF THE DAY: Elected chairperson of the Vilnius Jewish Community, Simon Gurevich, was not allowed past the security barrier, barring him from the Pope’s event to commemorate the Vilna Ghetto. At the earlier event at Ponár, he was not allowed to deliver his prepared remarks.

VILNIUS—The two major “September 23rd” events today in Vilnius were the annual commemoration ceremony at the mass murder site Ponár in the forest outside the city, and, later in the afternoon, Pope Francis’s visit to the small monument, its 1990s Yiddish letters faded beyond legibility, commemorating the Vilna Ghetto in an Old Town square opposite the city’s beloved Jewish Cultural and Information Center (JCIC). [See also Andrius Kulikauskas’s appeal to the Pope on the eve of his visit in connection with his visit to Lukiškės Square in central Vilnius.]

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Posted in Christian-Jewish Issues, Commemorations for Destroyed Communities, Events, Foreign Ministries: Holocaust Politics Abuse?, Israel, Lithuania, Lithuania's Jewish Community Issues, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Politics of Memory, Simon Gurevich (Simonas Gurevičius), Vilnius Mayor Remigijus Šimašius | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Sept. 23rd Ponár Memorial and Pope Francis’s Visit to Vilna Ghetto Memorial

Can Pope Francis, in Vilnius, Heal the Blind at Lukiškės Square?



OPINION  | CHRISTIAN-JEWISH AFFAIRS   |  HISTORY  |  COLLABORATORS HONORED  |  BLAMING THE VICTIMS

 

by Andrius Kulikauskas

Pope Francis’s two-day visit to Lithuania this weekend includes a symbolic stop at the Vilna Ghetto on his second day, September 23, at roughly 4 PM at Rūdininkai Square. On that day, 75 years ago, Nazi Germans liquidated the Vilna Ghetto, murdering some of its Jews in Paneriai Forest (Ponár), and moving the rest to concentration camps in Latvia, Estonia and Germany. Since 1994, it has been the National Day of Commemoration of the Genocide of Lithuania’s Jews. Now it will surely be linked in the Lithuanian psyche with this visit by Pope Francis, and perhaps some day, Saint Francis.

Pope Francis in the Lithuanian capital

However, his visit is also a chance for him to make plain to the children of God our lack of empathy for Lithuania’s Jews. A very short detour to the “Vilnius Sports Palace” — and a heavenly nod by the Pope — would let us tear down that “Soviet temple”, resurrect the holy Jewish cemetery beneath it, and enjoy a symbol of Litvak and Lithuanian friendship forever. This brings to mind the detour Jesus made in Jericho, when two blind men called out, “Lord, have mercy on us, you son of David!” And Jesus halted the crowd.

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Posted in A 21st Century Campaign Against Lithuanian Holocaust Survivors?, Andrius Kulikauskas, Bold Citizens Speak Out, Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Collaborators Glorified, Debates on the Postwar "Forest Brothers", Events, Genocide Center (Vilnius), History, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Opinion, Politics of Memory, State Glorification of Holocaust Collaborator J. Noreika | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Can Pope Francis, in Vilnius, Heal the Blind at Lukiškės Square?

Landsbergis and Pavilionis Address June 23rd Rally in Central Vilnius



  JUNE 23rd MEMORIALS  |  EVENTS  |  OPINION  |  COLLABORATORS GLORIFIED  |  ANTISEMITISM

by Julius Norwilla

Today’s central Vilnius event celebrated the 77th anniversary of the 23 June 1941 “uprising.” Between fifty and sixty people took part. Half of them are members of the motorbike  club. The event was organized by the Lithuanian Seimas (parliament). The Seimas was represented by three MPs – Žygimantas Pavilionis, former ambassador to USA; Audronius Ažubalis, former foreign minister; and Laurynas Kasčiūnas. One of the speakers was the Roman Catholic priest and motorbiker Egidijus Kazlauskas who spoke about the suffering and the perseverance of Lithuanians when persecuted by deportations to the eastern Soviet Union. Vilnius city Mayor Remigijus Šimašius was not present, but he has sent his greetings via advisor Mindaugas Kubilius.

A guest of honor was Vytautas Landsbergis, the elder statesman who was modern democratic Lithuania’s founding head of state. In the new century he became a European parliamentarian dedicated to revision of World War II history, most famously via the Prague Declaration which he signed. The event was co-organized by the Lithuanian Freedom Fighters Union (Lietuvos laisvės kovotojų sąjunga).

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Posted in Antisemitism & Bias, Bold Citizens Speak Out, Celebrations of Fascism, Christian-Jewish Issues, Collaborators Glorified, Double Genocide, Events, History, Julius Norwilla, Legacy of 23 June 1941, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory | Tagged , | Comments Off on Landsbergis and Pavilionis Address June 23rd Rally in Central Vilnius

Vilnius Municipality Endorses Old Town Motorcycle Gala to Celebrate June 23rd



  JUNE 23rd MEMORIALS  |  EVENTS  |  OPINION  |  COLLABORATORS GLORIFIED  |  ANTISEMITISM

With “extraordinary insensitivity” Vilnius Municipality again endorses Old Town motorcycle gala to celebrate June 23rd, day the Lithuanian Holocaust broke out (initiated by the LAF “heroes” being celebrated)

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Milan Chersonski’s 80th Birthday Celebrated in Vilnius



EVENTS  |  VILNIUS JEWISH LIFE

Milan Chersonski at his storied editor’s desk in the Jerusalem of Lithuania office at the Jewish Community of Lithuania at Pylimo 4 in Vilnius, c. 2011. Photo: Jurgita Kunigiškytė.

Milan Chersonski (Chersonskij), was for a dozen years (1999-2011) editor of Jerusalem of Lithuania, the Lithuanian Jewish Community’s world famous (former) quadrilingual (English-Lithuanian-Russian-Yiddish) newspaper (with each issue produced in four separate hard-copy editions, each with its own worldwide constituency, appropriate to the role the community has played for the large and variegated Litvak Jewish diaspora since the collapse of the Soviet Union and the rise of independent democratic Lithuania). Before that he was for twenty years director the Vilnius Yiddish Folk Theater, which in Soviet times was the USSR’s only Yiddish folk theater company.

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An Opportunity for Leaders of Israel’s “March of the Living” in Vilnius



OPINION  |  ISRAEL ISSUES  |  PONÁR  |  POLITICS OF MEMORY

VILNIUS—This week, Wednesday the 23rd of May, as for a number of years, Vilnius and its Jewish community will be welcoming a group of truly inspiring Israelis who have made the bold decision to visit the land of their forefathers, to honor the memory of the victims of the Holocaust and to work to increase awareness about the historic truth of history’s worst genocide while establishing relations with the delightful citizens —of all backgrounds — of modern democratic Lithuania. The blossoming of Lithuanian-Jewish and Lithuanian-Israeli relations is a blessing to be nurtured. But not to be abused.

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Some Baltic Events in the Week of 11 March 2018



EVENTS

SUNDAY 11 MARCH: Celebrating Lithuania’s independence and success and also, as each year, monitoring the neo-Nazi march for which the center of Vilnius is gifted (on this of all days). See our eyewitness report.


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Defending History Invites Volunteers to Help Monitor March 11 Neo-Nazis’ Event in Central Vilnius



EVENTS  | VILNIUS MARCHES  | KAUNAS MARCHES | PRO-NAZI MARCHES IN EASTERN EUROPE

SUNDAY 11 MARCH: Celebrating Lithuania’s independence and success and also, as each year, monitoring the neo-Nazi march for which the center of Vilnius is gifted (on this of all days). Monitoring group meets at 15:30 (3:30 PM) sharp at the Bell Tower on Cathedral Square. Our monitors are quiet, peaceful, courteous, carry no placards and chant no replies. We are there to monitor, record, and report, and silently remember the annihilated Jews of Lithuania in the face of marchers’ practice in recent years of flaunting banners with images of actual collaborators of the Lithuanian Holocaust (a thinly-veiled way of expressing glee at the genocide). Hopefully human rights organizations will finally do their jobs. See Defending History’s annual eyewitness reports for previous Vilnius marches (Kaunas marches here).

Posted in Antisemitism & Bias, Events, Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Neo-Nazi & Fascist Marches, News & Views, Vilnius Neo-Nazi Marches | Comments Off on Defending History Invites Volunteers to Help Monitor March 11 Neo-Nazis’ Event in Central Vilnius

“Nationalist” March in Central Vilnius on Lithuania’s 100th Birthday Ends Up in Usual Neo-Nazi Spirit



VILNIUS MARCHES  |  KAUNAS  MARCHES  |  REGIONAL PRO-NAZI MARCHES  |  COLLABORATORS GLORIFIED  |  ANTISEMITISM  |  EVENTS  |  OPINION

Eyewitness Report by Defending History Staff with photos by Julius Norwilla. His photo gallery available here.

 

Lead banner reads: “WE KNOW WHO OUR NATION’S HEROES ARE. This year’s “sanitized” event in central Vilnius featured a lead banner glorifying six Nazi collaborators, five of them deeply implicated in the Lithuanian Holocaust. The torchlit march, the day’s final event, made its way from Vilnius’s most sacred Catholic shrine down through the Old City, culminating at a street named for one of the collaborators who had advocated “only” ethnic cleansing of the country’s Jewish minority in 1941.

For more on the six figures depicted on the lead banner, follow the links for (from left):  Adolfas Ramanauskas-Vanagas,  Jonas Noreika,  Povilas Plechavičius,  Kazys Škirpa,  Antanas Baltūsis-Žvejas, and  Juozas Ambrazevičius-Brazaitis.

It started off as a sanitized version of neo-Nazi culture made to look like just “mainstream nationalist.” But by the time the event reached its peak, it featured hundreds of people carrying torches through some of the oldest streets of Vilnius Old Town, while worshiping a banner featuring six alleged Nazi collaborators, five of them deeply implicated in the Holocaust per se, thereby symbolically expressing some kind of glee at the successful ethnic cleansing which these “heroes” supported. The Catholic Church gave the events a de facto  blessing. The two open voices of morally clear protest were of the Jewish activist Daniel Lupshitz and the Catholic professor Dr. Andrius Kulikauskas. Defending History’s Julius Norwilla and Dovid Katz monitored the event.

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Posted in Antisemitism & Bias, Celebrations of Fascism, Collaborators Glorified, Debates on Adolfas Ramanauskas (Vanagas), Dovid Katz, Events, Julius Norwilla, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Neo-Nazi & Fascist Marches, News & Views, Politics of Memory, State Glorification of Holocaust Collaborator J. Noreika, Vilnius Neo-Nazi Marches | Comments Off on “Nationalist” March in Central Vilnius on Lithuania’s 100th Birthday Ends Up in Usual Neo-Nazi Spirit

Defending History Celebrates Lithuania’s 100th Anniversary



OPINION  |  EVENTS  |  BALTIC HEROES  |  LITVAK AFFAIRS

Ninety years ago today: Jewish community of Darbėnai (Yiddish: Dorbyán) celebrating the 10th anniversary of Lithuania’s independence on 16 February 1928. Photo: DOV LEVIN COLLECTION.

The DefendingHistory.com community, based in Vilnius, but with a diverse (and perhaps eclectic) group of authors, covering events in a number of countries in the nine years of the journal’s history, are resolutely united in celebrating with joy, respect and affection the centenary of the declaration of the new, democratic Republic of Lithuania in 1918. That event  launched an interwar record on human rights, generous support for minority culture, and harmonious coexistence of all citizens that was demonstrably on a higher level than nearly all its neighbors. And that, in turn, itself harkened back to the grand heritage of multicultural tolerance of the old (and geographically much larger) Grand Duchy of Lithuania, whose many component peoples felt so proud to be Lithuanian. In the Yiddish language, for example, the words Litvish, Litvishkayt, and Litvak say it all.

Lithuania’s Minister Dr. Shimshon Rosenbaum and Seimas member Leib Garfunkel visiting Alytus (Alíte) in 1924. Photo: DOV LEVIN COLLECTION.

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