PALM BEACH GARDENS, FLORIDA—Richard Bloom, director of Richard Bloom Productions, has just announced the release of the updated version of Defending Holocaust History, a documentary film originally released in 2013. The film focuses in on the campaign by elements of the Lithuanian government and the country’s nationalist elite to rewrite the history of the Holocaust, by attempting to delegitimize the Holocaust as a unique historical event through various actions designed to diminish the Holocaust and “upgrade local Soviet crimes” to the status of genocide, along the way harassing Holocaust survivors who joined the resistance while glorifying local Holocaust perpetrators who were also “anti-Soviet” (the entire complex has become known as “Double Genocide”). As readers of DH will know, these continue to be burning and current issues, every bit as timely as in the year of the original film’s production.
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LONDON—British author Peter Jukes, best known for his screenplays, literary criticism and political journalism, tweeted last week on the release in the United States of a new documentary film that heroizes certain postwar anti-Soviet “forest brothers” in Lithuania. The film, “The Invisible Front,” that premiered in Greenwich Village’s prestigious Cinema Village theater on 7 November, fails to even mention the view that various of the specific figures it glorifies for their post 1944 activities were in fact alleged recycled Nazi collaborators of 1941. That was the year when, in the days following the Nazi invasion launched on 22 June, the Lithuanian Activist Front (LAF) started butchering local civilian Jews, often elderly rabbis or young women, before the first German forces had arrived. Premeditation becomes evident from perusal of the LAF’s prewar leaflets.
Posted in Arts, Collaborators Glorified, Debates on Juozas Lukša, Film, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Media Watch, News & Views, Peter Jukes, Politics of Memory
Tagged Belarusian Humanities University, Cinema Village theater (NY), Darius Udrys, European Humanities University (EHU) in Vilnius, Forest Brothers Lithuania, Holocaust collaborators in Forest Brothers, Holocaust in Lithuania, Jonas Öhman, Juozas Luksa, Lithuanian Activist Front (LAF), New York Times + Holocaust, Peter Jukes, The Invisible Front, Vincas Sruoginis
Dear Dr. Rogatchi,
Warm congratulations on your excellent film, The Lessons of Survival. Conversations with Simon Wiesenthal. We encourage all our readers to see the film, and those who live in or near Vilnius to attend the screening this Tuesday 28 October 2014 at 5 PM at the Vilnius Jewish Public Library, followed by a distinguished panel discussion.
Posted in "Jewish" Events as Cover?, "Vilnius Jewish Public Library", Double Games, Film, Foreign Ministries: Holocaust Politics Abuse?, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory
Tagged Darius Degutis, Efraim Zuroff, Holocaust in Eastern Europe, Holocaust in Lithuania, Inna Rogatchi, Israeli Embassy in Tel Aviv, Simon Wiesenthal, Vilnius Jewish Public Library, Wyman Brent
On Sunday 29 June 2014, I had the privilege of participating in the Berlin screening of Juergen Holbrecht’s new documentary film Wir haben es doch erlebt — das Ghetto von Riga. I had translated the English version and done its narration. I was invited to the event by Professor Peter Alexis Albrecht (Frankfurt University) who is also director of the Cajewitz Stiftung and the association for a former Jewish orphanage, today a school, where my father Ernest Lowenberg and his brother, my uncle Paul Lowenberg were given shelter when it was no longer possible for their parents as Jews to work in Nazi Germany.
Posted in Arts, Events, Film, Germany, History, Latvia, Monica Lowenberg, News & Views
Tagged Holocaust in Latvia, Juergen Holbrecht, Paul Levenbergs, Riga Ghetto, Wir haben es doch erlebt
VILNIUS—Defending History confirmed today that renowned documentary film maker and Holocaust researcher Saulius Beržinis, founding director of the Independent Holocaust Archive of Lithuania (IHAL), has been the latest recipient of a letter from police on account of his work documenting the alleged Nazi collaboration of various Lithuanian “1941 freedom fighters” who allegedly collaborated with the Nazi regime and in the murder of their civilian Jewish-citizen neighbors in the days, weeks and months following 22 June 1941. The letter demands he turn over a “list” of criminals which it was never his, nor the Archives’ intention, to produce or comment upon. Over the years, the Holocaust specialist has won the confidence of groups worldwide for his willingness to seek out and tell the unvarnished truth, among them the Wiesenthal Center’s Israel office.
The March 19th letter to IHAL’s director, letterheaded “Vilnius District Senior Police Commission, Vilnius City First Police Commission, Police Criminal Division” is reproduced below (followed by translation into English).
Saulius Beržinis has been collecting testimonies on the Holocaust for a quarter of a century. He is known internationally for his singular achievement of interviewing on camera actual admitted killers (some are in the film Lovely Faces of the Killers, 2002), and his extensive documentation work with survivors and witnesses. He has partnered over the years with BBC, The United States Holocaust Museum, the Vilna Gaon Jewish State Museum of Lithuania, Yad Vashem, and other international bodies, in addition to dozens of Holocaust survivors. His Holocaust documentaries include Farewell Jerusalem of Lithuania (1994), Yudel’s Unwritten Diary (2004), The Road to Treblinka (1997). Most recently, his film on the Holocaust in Jurbarkas (Yúrberik) became controversial for daring to name the killers of the town’s Jewish citizens in 1941 (see reviews by Milan Chersonski and Geoff Vasil).
Posted in A 21st Century Campaign Against Lithuanian Holocaust Survivors?, Bold Citizens Speak Out, Collaborators Glorified, Debates on Juozas Lukša, EU, Film, Free Speech & Democracy, Human Rights, Lithuania, News & Views, Politics of Memory, Saulius Beržinis, State Glorification of Holocaust Collaborator J. Noreika
Tagged Democracy in Lithuania, Freedom of speech in the Baltics, human rights in Lithuania, Independent Holocaust Archive of Lithuania, Saulius Berzinis
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This comment, republished here with the author’s permission, first appeared in the Jerusalem Post on 22 February 2014.
My 2012 documentary film Rewriting History tracked the emergence of “Double Genocide” and the rewriting of the history of the Holocaust in Lithuania.
The film warned that what was occurring in Lithuania was a harbinger of something that could become more widespread and ultimately mainstream in Europe, particularly in Eastern Europe. Unfortunately recent events in Hungary bear this out.
Posted in 70 Years Declaration, Collaborators Glorified, Danny Ben-Moshe, Double Genocide, EU, Film, Hungary, Lithuania, News & Views, Opinion
Tagged Danny Ben-Moshe, Double Genocide (Hungary), Double Genocide + Lithuania, Genocide Museum Vilnius, Green House (Vilnius), Holocaust in Hungary, Holocaust in Lithuania, Rewriting History (film), Seventy Years Declaration
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Jonas Öhman is a Swede who has been coming to Lithuania and living here on and off from almost the beginning of modern independence in the 1990-1991 period. During that time he has produced a number of films, only one of which appears to his credit on the internet film database imdb.com, but all of which deal more or less with a mythologized version of the history of Lithuanian anti-Soviet partisans.
Posted in Arts, Film, Geoff Vasil, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Media Watch, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory, Sweden
Tagged Double Genocide, Geoff Vasil, Holocaust in Lithuania, Jonas Öhman
Protesters against ultranationalist groups must face police and prosecutors
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by Lina Žigelytė
A spectre is haunting Lithuania — the spectre of feminism. All the powers of far-right Lithuania (this includes also far-rightists who know how to present themselves as center-right) have entered into a holy alliance to exorcise this spectre: puritans and watchful police officers, bloggers and self-described patriots.
The word “feminist” has become the most recent label to define the enemy of the state. This is because grassroots strategies — theatrical protests, DIY media, art projects, and solidarity with social minorities — are rapidly changing the landscape of local feminism. What is important, these strategies also invigorate the broader fight against neo-Nazism.
Rewriting History: New Documentary Film on the Shocking New Holocaust Revisionism in Eastern Europe
Film’s website ◊ Sign the Seventy Years Declaration ◊ Donate HERE
April 28th 2013 in LA
Rachel Kostanian, the famed one-woman bastion holding off the state-sponsored hordes of ultranationalist Holocaust revisionism, continues to lead The Green House, as the Holocaust section of Lithuania’s state Jewish museum is known. It is a small wooden structure atop a hall hidden by a long driveway, invisible from the street, in contrast to the other sections of the Jewish museum. In contrast to all the others, The Green House’s exhibits and texts narrate the simple truth about June 1941 and the role of the “white armbander” Nazi militias in initiating the genocide of Lithuanian Jewry, as well as the later and massive collaboration with and participation in the killing throughout the genocide of Lithuanian Jewry. Like others who stand up, and especially those in prestigious academic or cultural positions in Lithuania, she is being subjected to extensive official harassment, degradation, demotion and a campaign of psychological warfare including defamation (see for example, Esther Goldberg Gilbert’s first and second articles in 2010).
It is against this backdrop that Ms. Kostanian’s prominent inclusion, at four separate points, in Professor Danny Ben-Moshe’s new documentary, Rewriting History, acquires special significance here in Vilnius.
The film is available online. Rachel Kostanian’s four appearances are at the following time c odes:
11:16 to 12:12
17:47 to 19:47
21:10 to 21:34
31:20 to 33:16
The American documentary film maker Richard Bloom, who has produced a number of documentaries on the Holocaust, today released for publication his recent correspondence with Yad Vashem. He said his decision was taken after he failed to receive substantive replies to his recent queries about Yad Vashem rejoining the Lithuanian government’s “red-brown commission.”
F I L M
by Graeme Blundell
NOTE: This review appeared in today’s Australian. The original publication is available here and here.
This is one of those documentaries that is so compelling and so confronting it leaves you stunned, a little breathless.
It’s both a kind of contemporary international political thriller and a rigorously researched investigation into a piece of the past and the way it is remembered in the present. Or not remembered, when the truth of that past becomes politically problematic.
The film follows two slightly eccentric professors, the Australian Danny Ben-Moshe from the Centre for Citizenship and Globalisation at Deakin University and Dovid Katz who taught Yiddish at Vilnius University, the oldest in Lithuania, as they confront the Lithuanian government.
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by Milan Chersonski
Vilnius film director Saulius Berzhinis
There has recently been extensive Lithuanian media coverage of a conflict between the authorities of the city Jurbarkas, Lithuania, and the film company Filmų Kopa, founded by film director Saulius Berzhinis (Beržinis) and managed by Ona Biveinienė.
To mark the seventieth anniversary of the beginning of World War II in Lithuania and the beginning of the total annihilation of its Jews, the Jurbarkas regional museum commissioned a documentary about Jews who lived in the town before World War II, paid for by the Ministry of Culture and the budget of the municipality. Filmų Kopa was awarded the commission and made a documentary called “When Yiddish was Heard in Jurbarkas.” The town’s name in Yiddish is Yúrberik or Yúrburg.
As the film has become a matter of sharp conflict, it is worthwhile in the first instance to take a good look at the actual product that Filmų Kopa delivered to the residents of Jurbarkas.
Posted in Arts, Bold Citizens Speak Out, Commemorations for Destroyed Communities, Film, Lithuania, Media Watch, Milan Chersonski (1937-2021), News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory, Saulius Beržinis
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by Geoff Vasil
Saulius Beržinis is an astounding filmmaker. Somehow the Lithuanian director of documentaries has a knack for drawing out frank admissions on camera, even from collaborators who recount how they murdered Jews.
Beržinis has a great reputation in Holocaust studies around the world, but, as the saying goes, a prophet is often unrecognized in his native land, and the cloak of invisibility around the Lithuanian Holocaust cast by the activists in the Double Genocide industry has marginalized the documentary maker at home, where his “The Happy Faces of the Murderers” is basically unknown.
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by Milan Chersonski
Milan Chersonski at the Lithuanian Parliament. From 1979 to 1999 Chersonski directed the Yiddish Amateur Theater in Vilnius, Lithuania. He worked in various capacities at the quadrilingual (English-Lithuanian-Russian-Yiddish) newspaper Jerusalem of Lithuania, publication of The Jewish Community of Lithuania, from its founding in 1989 until the paper was closed in 2011. He was its editor-in-chief from 1999 to 2011. He is now a senior analyst at DefendingHistory.com and contributes to various publications.
On September 28th 2010, the Parliament of Lithuania announced that 2011 would be the Year of Commemoration of Battles for Freedom and Great Losses. This mysterious name of some sort of anniversary appeared exactly a week after the same year, 2011, was declared the Year of Commemorating the Genocide of Lithuanian Jews. The Jewish Community of Lithuania reacted without delay to the ‘dual track’, apartheidized commemorations.
Now which “battles for freedom” are they talking about in the resolution? What sort of great losses? The resolution does not say specifically. Yes, Lithuanians valiantly rebelled for freedom in 1794, and in 1831, as well as in 1863, and then there were serious demonstrations on behalf of freedom in 1904-1905, and then there were the battles from 1918 to 1920 for the independence and borders of the newly founded state.
But it is impossible to understand exactly which events and which dates they now had in mind from the text of Lithuanian parliamentary resolution no. XI-1038 of September 28th 2010. And this is probably no accident, as shown by the subsequent actions of the Lithuanian government and leading organizations here.
Posted in Antisemitism & Bias, Arts, Collaborators Glorified, Events, Film, Genocide Center (Vilnius), History, Legacy of 23 June 1941, Lithuania, Milan Chersonski (1937-2021), News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory