Events

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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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).

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“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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Vanagaitė’s PR Rollout in Vilnius of (1) Romance with Wiesenthal Center Nazi Hunter, (2) New Book, Dual (3) Holocaust & (4) Postwar KGB Based Critique of Nationalist Hero — A Mix-&-Match Making for Mass Media Melee


[UPDATED; ORIGINAL PUBLICATION 29 OCT. 2017]


BOOKS (/Mūsiškiai)  |  COLLABORATORS GLORIFIED?  |  MEDIA WATCH  |  CHRISTIAN-JEWISH RELATIONS

Jump to: English media section

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Lithuania’s Ambassador in Washington Tells Audience of Ruta Vanagaite’s “Russian Connection”



EVENTS  |  COLLABORATORS GLORIFIED  |  BOOKS    | PIRAMÓNT CEMETERY  |  LITHUANIA

by Josh Cohen (Washington DC)

As anyone who has been following events in Lithuania for the last several years surely knows by now, the country sports street names and monuments honoring locals who collaborated with the Nazis during World War Two. It was in this context that I attended an event in Washington, DC yesterday at the Wilson Center’s Kennan Institute discussing Ruta Vanagaite’s controversial book “Our People” (it appeared in Lithuanian in 2016) that blows open the door describing the true extent of Lithuanian collaboration in the Holocaust. Vanagaite and her co-author Efraim Zuroff , director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Israel Office, spoke at the event.

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Posted in Books, Collaborators Glorified, Events, Josh Cohen, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Opinion, Politics of Memory, Rūta Vanagaitė, United States | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Lithuania’s Ambassador in Washington Tells Audience of Ruta Vanagaite’s “Russian Connection”

Academic Studies Press Launches ‘Journal of Contemporary Antisemitism’ (JCA) Edited by Clemens Heni



EVENTS  |  BOOKS  |  MEDIA WATCH  |  ANTISEMITISM  |  CLEMENS HENI

BERLIN—As the first issue of Journal of Contemporary Antisemitism (JCA) rolled off the presses this week, there was widespread hope that the field of Antisemitism Studies, particularly in Europe, had achieved a notable and reinvigorating breakthrough. What with the entanglements of “larger politics,” both anti-Israel politics in Western Europe, and Holocaust-revisionist politics in Eastern Europe, and right in the midst of populist movement ascendancy and the new east-west Cold War with Putin’s dictatorial and dangerous Russia, the field has long been stymied in Europe. One major factor has been the unhelpful attitude of some of the major European institutions (and at times, even Western embassies in Eastern Europe and major Western organizations) that have covered for antisemitism by arranging “staged” events that cover up for the current issues rather than address them. Finally there is a journal whose inaugural issue’s message from the editor makes clear that it will break the lame taboos of recent years in the field.

Capture

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Real or Rigged ‘International Conference on Fascism and Antisemitism’ in Vilnius on 9 November?



OPINION  | HUMAN RIGHTS  |  ANTISEMITISM  |  VILNIUS JEWISH LIFE

VILNIUS—Yet again, a conference here in the Lithuanian capital dedicated to combating fascism and antisemitism is announced, without there having been a public call for papers, without a single speaker from among those who actually combat fascism and antisemitism in the country, with nobody from the democratically elected Vilnius Jewish community (not even the long-time editor of Jerusalem of Lithuania who has exposed and combated antisemitism for decades). No Holocaust survivors. None of the nationally relevant questions of the day can be found on the conference program. As ever, outstanding academic personalities from abroad are recruited to lend the gravitas and provide serious papers on an array of topics (which they admirably do), as long as these have little directly to do with the actual contemporary issues here in Lithuania (but the conference introduction by Prof. Dovilė Budrytė does indeed touch on some of the issues, which seem, however, to be largely absent from the actual conference program). The last such event, in 2015, resulted in the Norwegian Embassy withdrawing support and launching an inquiry on behalf of the EEA (European Economic Area) funders of that event.

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Vilnius Celebrating Milan Chersonski’s 80th Birthday on September 2nd 2017



EVENTS  |  VILNIUS JEWISH LIFE

אַ ליכטיקן געבאָרנטאָג, טײַערער מילאַן!

Happy Birthday, Milan!

Milan Chersonski

Holocaust flight survivor. Powerful essayist and masterful editor. For 20 years he directed the Vilnius Yiddish Folk Theater. Then, for a dozen years he edited Jerusalem of Lithuania, the Jewish community’s quadrilingual (English-Lithuanian-Russian-Yiddish) newspaper (with each issue produced in four separate editions!). Beloved writer at DefendingHistory.com. Champion of Yiddish culture, Jewish heritage, teaching the truth about the Holocaust, human rights and equality, honesty in journalism and intellectual discourse, freedom of speech, and a more just and fair society for all. 

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Historic Conference on Future of Vilna Great Synagogue Site is Open to All



EVENTS  |  VILNIUS JEWISH LIFE  |  LITVAK TIMES

VILNIUS—Excitement in Jewish-interest circles in Lithuania and its region is building in anticipation of next week’s open international conference on the future of the site of the historic Great Vilna Synagogue. Destroyed during and after the war, an unsightly Soviet era school was then plonked on top (somewhat analogously, morally and aesthetically, to the unsightly old Soviet “sports palace” atop the city’s old Jewish cemetery at Piramónt).

The conference, to be held in Vilnius next Monday and Tuesday, 4 and 5 September 2017, is free and open to the public. Everybody is welcome. But pre-registration is required at the website of the organizing NGO, Litvak World.

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