Exotic Jewish Tourism


See also:
LITVAK TOURISM at: https://defendinghistory.com/litvak-tourism
DARK TOURISM at: https://defendinghistory.com/memorials-to-holocaust-collaborators-in-public-spaces-and-state-sponsored-institutions-in-lithuania
LITVAK STUDIES at: https://defendinghistory.com/litvak-studies
JEWISH LITHUANIA PAGE at: https://defendinghistory.com/jewish-lithuania

Vylius-Vėlavičius: Patriot or Another “Tuskulėnai Peace Park” Holocaust Perpetrator?



O P I N I O N

by Evaldas Balčiūnas

 

In my recent article about the war criminals buried at Tuskulėnai Memoral Park in Vilnius I provided a list of Nazi collaborators convicted by the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union on April 19, 1943, and May 24, 1944 of murdering civilians during the Holocaust. This does not mean, however, that those convicted under other laws are guiltless.

SEE ALSO:

Milan Chersonski on Tuskulėnai Park in Vilnius

According to criminal case materials and archival material examined by Lithuanian historians, there are rabid Nazi collaborators buried at Tuskulėnai Memoral Park. Despite the facts, today falsified, but very “patriotic,” biographies for these people are being crafted and disseminated, according to which they are portrayed as fearless warriors who battled for a free Lithuania.

I have written about one of them, Jonas Noreika, nicknamed General Vėtra, convicted under sections 1a and 2 of article 58 of the criminal code of the RSFSR, but who was recently decorated posthumously by Lithuanian president Valdas Adamkus, so I won’t repeat that here.

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Posted in Bold Citizens Speak Out, Collaborators Glorified, Debates on the Postwar "Forest Brothers", Evaldas Balčiūnas, Exotic Jewish Tourism, Genocide Center (Vilnius), History, Lithuania, Museums, Opinion, Politics of Memory | Tagged , , | Comments Off on Vylius-Vėlavičius: Patriot or Another “Tuskulėnai Peace Park” Holocaust Perpetrator?

It’s Not Just About the New Tuskulėnai “Peace Park” in Vilnius



O P I N I O N

by Milan Chersonski

Milan Chersonski (Chersonskij), longtime editor (1999-2011) of Jerusalem of Lithuania, quadrilingual (English-Lithuanian-Russian-Yiddish) newspaper of the Jewish Community of Lithuania, was previously (1979-1999) director of the Yiddish Folk Theater of Lithuania, which in Soviet times was the USSR’s only Yiddish amateur theater company. The views he expresses in DefendingHistory are his own. This is an authorized translation from the Russian original.

Photo: Milan Chersonski at this desk at the Jewish Community of Lithuania (image © 2012 Jurgita Kunigiškytė). Milan Chersonski section.


Can you imagine a European Union / NATO government investing millions in setting up a “Peace Park” in its beautiful capital city, in memory of people buried at the site of the park, when hundreds of them were Nazi collaborators who eagerly supported the annihilation of the Jewish population of their country?

Earlier this month, VilNews.com prominently published an article by Vincas Karnila, presented as the Introduction to a series called “The Mass Graves in Tuskulėnai.” It is a panegyric to the employees of the Museum of Genocide in Vilnius and the Center for the Study of Genocide and Resistance for their tireless efforts to establish the Tuskulėnai Peace Park. Readers are informed that six articles will follow. [Update: Subsequent articles in Karnila’s series can be found in www.VilNews.com.]

Tuskulenai Peace Park

We know from official sources that Soviet KGB victims were buried at Tuskulėnai from 1944 to 1947.

Karnila tells us:

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Posted in Arts, Bold Citizens Speak Out, Collaborators Glorified, Double Genocide, Exotic Jewish Tourism, Genocide Center (Vilnius), History, Lithuania, Milan Chersonski, Museums, Opinion, Politics of Memory, VilNews.com | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on It’s Not Just About the New Tuskulėnai “Peace Park” in Vilnius

Trilingual Memorial Plaque Unveiled on Zhager Town Square



O N – S I T E  R E P O R T / O P I N I O N

by Dovid Katz

ZHAGER, northern Lithuania. Over a hundred people gathered here today on the historic town square to unveil a trilingual plaque memorializing the erstwhile Jewish population of thousands in the town, today Žagarė. The event was incorporated into the annual Cherry Festival and suitably entitled “You can’t fudge the history.”

SEE ALSO THE REPORTS BY ROD FREEDMAN AND SARA MANOBLA

THE QUESTION: IS IT THE ONLY TOWN-CENTER IN ALL THE LAND WITH CLEAR AND TRUE WORDS ON THE TRUE FATE OF THE JEWISH POPULATION?

The text — in English, Lithuanian and Yiddish — summarizes the unvarnished history, with prominent reference to local Lithuanian collaboration (though historians will quibble with the use of “some” in place of “many” among other points). It is placed right in the center of town, rather than at a mass grave site deep in the forest; that might well be a first in modern Lithuanian history.

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Posted in "Vilnius Jewish Public Library", Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Commemorations for Destroyed Communities, Dovid Katz, Events, Exotic Jewish Tourism, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory, South Africa, The Great SLS About-Face, Zháger (Žagarė) | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Trilingual Memorial Plaque Unveiled on Zhager Town Square

The Posthumous Remaking of a Holocaust Perpetrator in Lithuania: Why is Jonas Noreika a National Hero?



O P I N I O N

by Evaldas Balčiūnas

 

Who was Jonas Noreika?

Jonas Noreika (1910-1947), also known by his nom de guerre, General Vėtra, has been named by the current Lithuanian government as “an important member of the resistance” and an object of every sort of heroic commemoration.

In 1997 he was posthumously awarded the Order of the Cross of Vytis, First Degree. The same year a memorial plaque was placed on the facade of the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences Library in Vilnius.

Library of the Academy of Sciences in Vilnius. The red arrow marks the Noreika plaque.

Noreika plaque in central Vilnius

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Posted in Collaborators Glorified, Debates on the Postwar "Forest Brothers", Evaldas Balčiūnas, Exotic Jewish Tourism, Genocide Center (Vilnius), History, Lithuania, News & Views, Opinion, Plungyán (Plungė), Politics of Memory, State Glorification of Holocaust Collaborator J. Noreika, Symbology | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on The Posthumous Remaking of a Holocaust Perpetrator in Lithuania: Why is Jonas Noreika a National Hero?

A Hidden Monument in Vilnius — Hopelessly Invisible?


In response to several requests from the United States, DefendingHistory.com this week asked three colleagues who found themselves in Vilnius, the Lithuanian capital, to try to see the “Flame of Hope” monument, by sculptor Leonardo Nierman, in memory of the victims of the Lithuanian Holocaust, located in the heart of the Old Town, in a yard that was in the Vilna Ghetto between September 1941 and the ghetto’s liquidation three years later.

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A Reconstructed Shtetl — Minus its Jewish Component



by Dovid Katz

Rúmshishok (informally: Rúmseshik), some twelve miles from Kaunas (Kovno), was a beloved Lithuanian shtetl where Lithuanians, Jews and others lived together for many centuries in peace (the town goes back to the fourteenth century). The massacre of the town’s Jews during the Holocaust was close to complete (outlines of the history here and here). According to the new Lithuanian Holocaust Atlas, the perpetrators were comprised of “white armbanders” from the town plus “Lithuanian self-defense unit troops” from Kaunas.

Now Rumšiškės in modern Lithuania, the town is internationally known for its neighboring extensive open air museum of the Lithuanian provinces, including town, hamlet and rural settings, all meticulously reconstructed.

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Posted in Antisemitism & Bias, Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Chaim Bargman, Commemorations for Destroyed Communities, Double Games, Dovid Katz, Exotic Jewish Tourism, History, Human Rights, Litvak Affairs, Museums, News & Views, Politics of Memory, Yiddish Affairs | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments Off on A Reconstructed Shtetl — Minus its Jewish Component

Old Stones Speak to Young Pupils: Jewish Gravestones in the Walls of a Vilnius School Yard



O P I N I O N

by Dovid Katz

Photos by Richard Schofield (© R. Schofield)

 

The Lazdynai Middle School in Vilnius, built in the early 1970s, has an admirable reputation, inter alia for an excellent trilingual policy enabling Polish and Russian to flourish alongside the national language, Lithuanian, in a spirit of multicultural respect and harmony so fitting for the city’s history.

Updates to May 2013:

Return visit to the Stones of Lazdynai

Updates to 15 December 2011

Samuel Gruber’s Jewish Art and Monuments

Facebook discussion thread

Work in Progress: A Cultural Dictionary of Lithuanian Jewish Gravestones

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The Brand New HOLOCAUST Room in the BASEMENT of the City Center GENOCIDE Museum in Vilnius


Photos by Richard Schofield (© R. Schofield).  Text by Dovid Katz. From a visit on 18 November 2011.


Which is worse?

Genocide Museum on ground zero of the Holocaust in Eastern Europe that does not mention the Holocaust,

Or

One that, more than a year after being exposed in this journal in the summer of 2010, and a confluence of international pressures, has added, in October 2011, a single solitary cell in the basement, unannounced on the main floor, that distorts the Lithuanian Holocaust and actually glorifies (as ‘rebels’) the local killers who unleashed the Holocaust in the country, while failing to mention their Holocaust role in an exhibit on the Holocaust?

You decide. . .   

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Posted in Collaborators Glorified, Exotic Jewish Tourism, Genocide Center (Vilnius), History, Legacy of 23 June 1941, Museums, News & Views, Politics of Memory, Ponár (Ponary, Paneriai), Symbology | Comments Off on The Brand New HOLOCAUST Room in the BASEMENT of the City Center GENOCIDE Museum in Vilnius

A Speech Never Spoken at Plungyán (Plungė)



O P I N I O N

by Dovid Katz

An imaginary speech, not delivered by any of the high government officials who addressed the commemoration at the mass murder site of the Jews of Plungyán (Plungė) on 17 July 2011.


My dear friends, it is precisely because I am a proud official of the government of independent, democratic, Lithuania, and I love my country, that I am able to speak here today openly, on the seventieth anniversary of the murder of the Jews of Plungė  — Plungyán, as they proudly called it in the Yiddish that rang through its streets for so many centuries.

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Posted in "Jewish" Events as Cover?, Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Commemorations for Destroyed Communities, Dovid Katz, Events, Exotic Jewish Tourism, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Opinion, Plungyán (Plungė), Politics of Memory, South Africa | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on A Speech Never Spoken at Plungyán (Plungė)

Revolving Posters at Ponar?


Ponár (Polish Ponary, Lithuanian Paneriai) is the mass murder site outside Vilnius where around a hundred thousand civilians were murdered by the Nazi regime. Some 70,000 of them were the Jews of Vilna and its region.

Before the war the site was known as a bucolic holiday and picnic spot set in the forest. During the year-long Soviet rule in 1940-1941, large pits were dug for an oil storage facility. After the Nazi invasion the site was converted to a mass murder operation with the ready-dug pits serving as mass graves.

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Posted in "Jewish" Events as Cover?, Double Games, Exotic Jewish Tourism, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Politics of Memory, Ponár (Ponary, Paneriai) | Tagged , , | Comments Off on Revolving Posters at Ponar?

On the “Occupation Museum” in Riga


This page is contributed by Roland Binet (Belgium). © Roland Binet

See also his 10 November 2010 article in Le Monde.  English translation here.


Open Letter to the President of the European Commission

Mr JOSÉ MANUEL BARROSO, ON THE “OCCUPATION MUSEUM” OF RIGA IN LATVIA

Mr President,

Dear Mr Barroso,

I recently visited the “Occupation Museum in Riga/Latvia where I had the opportunity to see your picture — taken during your visit of that museum in 2008 — displayed on one wall of the entrance hall.

That museum prides itself on having thus welcomed a number of well-known symbolic personalities. Your persona grata is all the more important now that the EU has become an unavoidable partner in the world and, furthermore, now that Latvia has become a full member state of the European Union.

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Posted in Collaborators Glorified, Double Genocide, Exotic Jewish Tourism, Foreign Ministries: Holocaust Politics Abuse?, History, Latvia, Museums, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory, Roland Binet | Comments Off on On the “Occupation Museum” in Riga

Opening of the Museum of the Riga Ghetto


Elie Valk, chairman of the Association of Latvian and Estonian Jews in Israel, released a statement with links to news reports of the opening of the first part of the Museum of Riga Ghetto today.  The statement reports that ‘The idea of creating such a museum was circulating in the Jewish Community for three to four years. Finally Menachem Barkahan, head of the local religious congregation Shamir, picked it up and was successful in raising funds for it. He is the son of the late Rabbi Note Barkan, who served as the Chief Rabbi of Latvia’. The links provided to news of the event are:Continue reading

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Gruto Parkas, the Fun Park near Druskininkai



O P I N I O N

by Dovid Katz

Photos by Richard Schofield (© R. Schofield)

A ‘Lenin Statue Theme Park’ near the resort town of Druskininkai featuring: ‘Soviet Sculpture Exposition, Museum, Picture Gallery, Events, Cafes, Souvenirs, Lunapark, Zoo’ etc. Their website hereA summer 2010 visit.

 

Gruto Parkas (situated at Grutas, near Druskininkai and often popularly called ‘the Lenin Park’) is a private enterprise, but a large sign near the entrance boasts that the historical inscriptions were donated by the state-sponsored ‘Genocide and Resistance Research Centre of Lithuania’.


THE QUESTION: Can you imagine a major theme park dedicated to the history of the Soviet period, in a member state of the European Union and NATO, that tries its best to present Soviet Communism as a largely Jewish enterprise? With a presentation in the spirit of a most infamous brand of 20th century antisemitism? That singles out by nationality only Jews among the many rogues’ featured in its exhibits? That defames the memory of Holocaust Survivors who escaped Nazi ghettos to join the anti-Nazi partisans in the forests of Lithuania? And all this, without once mentioning the Holocaust . . .

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Posted in Antisemitism & Bias, Collaborators Glorified, Double Genocide, EU, Exotic Jewish Tourism, Identity Theft of Litvak Heritage, Museums, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory | Comments Off on Gruto Parkas, the Fun Park near Druskininkai

The Green House



Pamėnkalnio 12, Vilnius

Note: See also our report on the October 2010 re-opening of the Green House following extensive renovations. Black and white photos below are ©Richard Schofield.

Rachel Kostanian, the courageous director, valiantly keeps alive one of the rare local bastions of public integrity on the Holocaust in Lithuania, having constantly to fend off obstacles. Read Esther Goldberg Gilbert’s portrait in the special Jewish New Year’s supplement on great Jewish women of the ages in the Canadian Jewish News (8 Sept 2010).  A follow-up article on Rachel Kostanian’s epic struggle for truth in Holocaust history appeared a month later (7 Oct 2010).

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The Genocide Museum



‘The Museum of Genocide Victims’

Gedimino Boulevard 42, Vilnius

A summer 2010 visit to a major Baltic tourist attraction. 

by Dovid Katz

Images by Richard Schofield  (© R. Schofield)


 


THE QUESTION: Can you imagine a Museum of Genocide Victims — in the capital of a country with the highest proportion in Europe of Holocaust genocide of its Jewish population — that does not mention the word Holocaust or the name of the nearby infamous mass-killing site, where 100,000 civilians were murdered? That avoids any reference to the actual genocide that occurred in the country? That includes antisemitic exhibits with no commentary? That is state-sponsored in the capital of a European Union member state?

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Posted in EU, Exotic Jewish Tourism, Genocide Center (Vilnius), Legacy of 23 June 1941, Lithuania, Museums, News & Views, Politics of Memory | Comments Off on The Genocide Museum

Genocide Museum in the Center of Vilnius Features Antisemitic Exhibits; Plus: Temporary Exhibit Trivializes Auschwitz


Exhibition panel at the state sponsored Genocide Museum, exemplifying the nexus of Holocaust trivialization and antisemitism: ‘In Auschwitz we were given some spinach and a little bread’. Zoom-in of the text (2008 exhibit).

The permanent exhibit includes a post-Holocaust caricature of a Soviet jeep being driven by Lenin, Stalin and ‘the Jew Yankel’  (with no comment on the antisemitic portrayal). Sample of another antisemitic exhibit; & another. Such is sometimes the local face of the ‘Soviet-Nazi equivalence’ that is disseminated at the European Parliament via the Prague Declaration and other resolutions.

Posted in Antisemitism & Bias, Double Genocide, Exotic Jewish Tourism, Genocide Center (Vilnius), Human Rights, Museums, News & Views, Politics of Memory | Comments Off on Genocide Museum in the Center of Vilnius Features Antisemitic Exhibits; Plus: Temporary Exhibit Trivializes Auschwitz