Cemeteries and Mass Graves

On the Piramónt / Šnipiškės cemetery debate, please see:
DH SECTION: https://defendinghistory.com/category/jewish-cemetery-piramont-snipiskes-shnipishok
BACKGROUND: https://defendinghistory.com/?p=74456
PAPER TRAIL: https://defendinghistory.com/?p=73510
OPPOSITION TO CONVENTION CENTER: https://defendinghistory.com/?p=75558


An early draft of
CULTURAL DICTIONARY OF LITHUANIAN JEWISH GRAVESTONES is posted at:
https://defendinghistory.com/the-language-of-litvak-gravestones-a-dictionary-by-dovid-katz

See the JOSEPH LEVINSON website at:
www.JosephLevinson.com

Alan Dershowitz Calls Plans for Convention Center in Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery a Violation of Lithuania’s Constitution



OLD VILNA JEWISH CEMETERY  |  OPPOSITION TO CONVENTION CENTER PROJECT  |  INTERNATIONAL PETITION  |  HUMAN RIGHTS

VILNIUS—Alan Dershowitz, often deemed to be America’s leading constitutional lawyer, confirmed to Defending History this morning that the following statement, that has been circulating in emails and social media, is wholly accurate. The Harvard professor’s statement on the fate of the old Vilna Jewish cemetery at Piramont (in the Shnípishok/Šnipiškės section of Vilnius) reads:

“The 2015 Seimas resolution green-lighting the conference center on the Shnipishok cemetery in Vilna, Lithuania, undermines the provisions of the Lithuanian Constitution, Articles 22 and 26. These respective provisions in the Constitution protect religious freedom and religious institutions.

“Beyond raising a compelling constitutional issue, this resolution is wrong as a matter of justice, historical preservation, basic decency and the dignity of the dead.”


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Posted in Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Politics of Memory | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on Alan Dershowitz Calls Plans for Convention Center in Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery a Violation of Lithuania’s Constitution

Lithuanian Artist’s Cartoons Illustrate Two Possible Fates for Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery



OPINION  | HUMAN RIGHTS | CHRISTIAN-JEWISH ISSUES  |  CEMETERIES & MASS GRAVES  |  OLD VILNA JEWISH CEMETERY AT PIRAMÓNT | OPPOSITION TO ‘CONVENTION CENTER  IN THE CEMETERY’ PROJECT |INTERNATIONAL PETITION

I: City in Love with Its Grand Duchy Heritage, Multicultural Values and Harmony of its Peoples

OR

II: City Intent on Obliterating and Humiliating its Jewish Heritage for Benefit of Some Greedy Business Interests

UPDATES


I


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Posted in Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Christian-Jewish Issues, Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Opinion, Politics of Memory | Tagged , | Comments Off on Lithuanian Artist’s Cartoons Illustrate Two Possible Fates for Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery

83 Descendants of People Buried in Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery File Appeal; London’s CPJCE Cited Extensively



VILNIUS—The following are excerpts in English translation (from the original Lithuanian text) of the 9 June 2021 Appeal filed by 83 plaintiffs still recognized by the court as having proper standing, out of the original 157 claimants, all descendants of persons buried in the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (Shnípishok, in today’s Šnipiškės district). These people, whose ancestors paid for their burial plots in freehold perpetuity, do not understand how an EU/NATO member country could plan to cite a national convention center on land surrounded by these graves on all four sides. These excerpts from the translation are limited to paragraphs explicitly citing the London-based “Committee for the Preservation of Jewish Cemeteries in Europe” (CPJCE) which is alleged to accept secret large payments in return for their “permissions and supervisions” of the wanton business-and-profit-led destruction of major Jewish cemeteries in Eastern Europe.

As detailed in Defending History’s report last week concerning the 10 May 2021 court verdict, the CPJCE’s role has been roundly rejected and condemned by virtually all leading Litvak (Lithuanian tradition) Jewish rabbinic authorities and institutions internationally. The CPJCE has moreover been banned explicitly from further involvement in the Vilnius fiasco by decree of the Conference of European Rabbis duly reported to the former Lithuanian minister of culture, making it clear that the London group has no standing to be representing anyone in the saga.

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Posted in Cemeteries and Mass Graves, CPJCE (London), Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Politics of Memory | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on 83 Descendants of People Buried in Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery File Appeal; London’s CPJCE Cited Extensively

Local and International Opposition to Plans for Convention Center at Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery


[updated]


INTERNATIONAL PETITION AT 53,500 SIGNATURES

SUMMARY OF RECENT NEWS

DEFENDING HISTORY’S SECTION; ROLE OF THE US TAXPAYER FUNDED USCPAHA; OF LONDON’S CPJCE ‘GRAVE-SELLING RABBIS’ 


(I) Groups of leading Litvak (and other) rabbis

(II) Institutions

(III) Individuals

(IV) Lithuania’s Jewish community

(V) US Congress & Israel’s Knesset

(VI) Background

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Posted in Appeals to the European Commission on Piramónt, Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Dovid Katz, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Opinion, Rothschild Foundation Europe (Hanadiv): Lithuanian Issues | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Local and International Opposition to Plans for Convention Center at Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery

Vilnius Court’s May 10th Verdict Illustrates “Insidious and Tragic” Destruction of East European Cemeteries via London’s CPJCE



VILNIUS—Readers are familiar with an English summary of the Vilnius District Court’s 10 May decision paving the way for a massive national convention center and annex to rise in the heart of the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (Shnípishok, in today’s Šnipiškės district), surrounded by thousands of extant graves on all four sides. Moreover, the entire text of the Lithuanian original is posted for inspection.

Jump to verdict’s excerpts referencing the CPJCE (and AJC)

What may be lost from the summary, and to those unable to read Lithuanian or to access a translation, is the “insidious and tragic” — and in any case central — role played by London’s “CPJCE” (the Orwellian name is “Committee for the Preservation of Jewish Cemeteries in Europe), whose “Aaronite-Satmar” rabbis have been caught on Wikileaks demanding large sums for their “supervisions” (and in effect, permissions) for effectively selling rights to old Jewish cemeteries on ground zero of the Holocaust. The effects of the genocide include the dearth of viable communities of descendants of the buried who would in the course of things guard the dignity of their ancestors’ burial places (see: 2009 Wikileaks cable confirming secret payments; 2015 reports by JTA and the Jerusalem Post; the “Serious Incident Report” to UK’s Charities Commission. See also last December’s “Day of Shame”). Incidentally, the opposing (“Zalmanite”) branch of Satmar hasidism has boldly condemned the desecration of the old Vilna cemetery in a statement signed by the grandrabbi himself.

From the infamous 2015 video to the present court decision, Defending History has been providing a detailed record of at least the publicly knowable aspects of the group’s shameful role in the Vilna scandal, scoffing and belittling the voices of virtually all Litvak (Lithuanian tradition) rabbis internationally (see DH’s section on the CPJCE (plus the classic video) on the broader Vilna cemetery dispute, and summary pages of the international opposition and more recent developments).

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Posted in Cemeteries and Mass Graves, CPJCE (London), Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Politics of Memory | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Vilnius Court’s May 10th Verdict Illustrates “Insidious and Tragic” Destruction of East European Cemeteries via London’s CPJCE

Summary in English of Vilnius District Court’s Decision of 10 May 2021



VILNIUS—In the interest of public information, Defending History has posted the original Lithuanian text of the verdict of the District Court of Vilnius City of 10 May 2021  For the benefit of English readers interested in the main points of the verdict, DH has commissioned an English language summary of the decision, that went against the petition filed by 157 plaintiffs, all of whom are descendants of persons buried in the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt in the Šnipiškės district of the modern city. The state property bank (Turto bankas) and its partners plan to situate a national convention center in the heart of the site, based on the ruin of the old Soviet sports palace, At the new convention center, thousands would revel each night surrounded by many more thousands of Jewish graves on all four sides. Human rights advocates have pointed out that this would never be the fate of a medieval Christian Lithuanian cemetery,, nor would authorities accept “permissions” from groups proven to take secret payments. For background see, DH’s section chronicling events from 2015 onward, its summary of recent years’ events, and its page slinking to the opposition to the cemetery’s desecration from around the world. Note that the verdict gives the plaintiffs thirty days to appeal. An appeal was duly filed by the plaintiffs within the time allotted

The English summary prepared by Lithuanian legal language experts follows. Note that the reference to the “Committee for the Preservation of Jewish Cemeteries in Europe” (CPJCE) is to the  discredited group of Aaronite-Satmar rabbis in London who have accepted large secret payments coinciding with their “permissions” to desecrate cemeteries on the Eastern European ground zero of the Holocaust. Follow the sad history here. Their profitable involvement has been condemned by genuine rabbinic authorities, including the Conference of European Rabbis, as well by virtually all major Litvak (Lithuanian tradition) rabbis internationally.

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Dramatic Developments in the Life of Lithuania’s Liveliest Cemetery


[last update]


JUMP TO INTERNATIONAL OPPOSITION; TO DH SECTION ON HISTORY OF THE SAGA; TO SECTIONS ON CPJCE; USCPAHA


June 2021

The plaintiffs in the court case, descendants of people buried in the old Vilna Jewish cemetery, employ a new law firm in Vilnius which files the appeal in June 2021 in accordance with the thirty-day deadline imposed by the court that handed down the May 2021 decision. Meanwhile, on 16 June, officials of the US taxpayer funded “USCPAHA” revel in tweets of lavish photo-ops with high officials in Vilnius, without even meeting Ruta Bloshtein, author of the petition whose number of signatories on this date was 53,486. DH reports.

May 2021

Vilnius Court issues a ruling on May 10 supporting Turto Bankas and the builders in their project to cite a new national convention center in the heart of the Old Vilna Jewish cemetery. Text of the decision, which rejects the legal action brought  by descendants of the people buried in the cemetery. English summary.

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Posted in Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Christian-Jewish Issues, Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Politics of Memory | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Dramatic Developments in the Life of Lithuania’s Liveliest Cemetery

Saving the Vilna Jewish Cemetery (and Removing the Noreika Plaques): Time for a Strong Cup of Coffee



OPINION  |  OLD VILNA JEWISH CEMETERY  |  OPPOSITION TO CONVENTION CENTER PROJECT  |  INTERNATIONAL PETITION  |  HUMAN RIGHTS

by Julius Norwilla

The author’s silent and peaceful Protest of Snow of Feb. 2021. View from across the river reminds Vilna that this is the Lithuanian capital’s Old Jewish Cemetery. Photo: Bartosz Frątczak.

The Lithuanian state budget for 2021 is torn between the need to increase spending on vital areas during a time of significantly less income. For the pandemic year of 2021, the postponement of some half a million euros toward initial stages of the (shameful) convention center project in the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery has not, in fact, been a big issue. Nor is it the great “victory” for our movement to save the cemetery that it has been trumped up to be. Half a million euros is about one percent of the total real budget. First, the convention center (Sports Palace restoration) project has been classified as of national significance. Second, there has been no decision of any kind to move the convention center to a new morally clean venue, away from the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery, as per the call of some 54,000 people in Ruta Bloshtein’s petition.

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Posted in Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Christian-Jewish Issues, Human Rights, Julius Norwilla, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Politics of Memory | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on Saving the Vilna Jewish Cemetery (and Removing the Noreika Plaques): Time for a Strong Cup of Coffee

Suddenly, Strong Statements from the Long-Silent: Holocaust Posturing or Sincere Outrage?



OPINION  |  POLITICS OF MEMORY  |  LITHUANIA

by Dovid Katz

The decision announced by leaders of the three major universities in Lithuania, and of its History Institute, to belatedly break off ties with the antisemitic, ultranationalist, far-right, history-revisionist “Genocide Center,” a state-sponsored institution, is both “better than nothing” and “better late than never.” For over a dozen years now, Defending History has documented the Center’s role in spewing antisemitism, while underpinning ultraright Nazi-sympathetic nationalism and Holocaust obfuscation and denial wrapped up in pseudo-historical research; a similar record has been kept of its obedient showcase of fake history to the outside world, the “Genocide Museum”). The shocking wall of skittish silence on the part of professors, diplomats, and political leaders has been apparent not only within Lithuania, but also from some Holocaust, history and international (particularly American-based) Jewish organizations whose leaders covet the local medals, honors, photo-ops and junkets that give them that certain godlike ego-boost that is only to be had, it seems, east of the former Iron Curtain.

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Posted in Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Christian-Jewish Issues, Collaborators Glorified, History, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory, Yitzhak Arad | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on Suddenly, Strong Statements from the Long-Silent: Holocaust Posturing or Sincere Outrage?

Lithuania Hears Pleas and (For Now?) Cancels Funding for Convention Center Project in Old Jewish Cemetery



OPINION  | HUMAN RIGHTS | CHRISTIAN-JEWISH ISSUES  |  CEMETERIES & MASS GRAVES  |  OLD VILNA JEWISH CEMETERY AT PIRAMÓNT | OPPOSITION TO ‘CONVENTION CENTER  IN THE CEMETERY’ PROJECT |INTERNATIONAL PETITION

by Andrius Kulikauskas

A Victory for Hanukkah, Christmas and New Year’s

On December 16, 2020, the sixth day of Hanukkah, defenders of the oldest Jewish cemetery in Vilnius (at Piramont-Šnipiškės) won a major, decisive, surprising, timeless victory. Lithuania’s government, acting on our campaign’s and Seimas member Kęstutis Masiulis’s proposals to the Seimas (parliament) Budget and Finance Committee, struck from the 2021 budget all funding for the reconstruction of the Vilnius Sports Palace into a Vilnius Congress Center. This building, which the Soviets had erected in the middle of the Cemetery, had fallen into disuse. The Lithuanian government acquired the building in 2015 with plans to remake it as a center for international conferences, further desecrating the Cemetery for untold years to come. Thankfully, the newly elected Government has eliminated funding.

The Government’s website includes a page for that afternoon’s meeting. The third item of the meeting is Finance Minister Gintarė Skaistė’s report on the revised budget. She spoke for twenty minutes and made no mention of the Congress Center. However, if you look through the documents (here and here), you will see that the allocation of 515,000 euros (around $631,000) as installment toward the multi-million euro reconstruction of the Sports Palace has been expressly eliminated.

The highlighted sentence in the parliament’s revised budget explicitly eliminates the 515,000 euro allocation for phase 1 of the “convention center in the cemetery” project…

Seimas Budget and Finance Committee Bureau Chief Alina Brazdilienė sent me an email so that I would be sure to notice. She had been responsive to my concerns that the 54 letters and many more received by the Committee from us in November were not visible to the Government. On December 15th she had told me that the day before she had emailed the Ministry to ask if they would like to see our emails. The Ministry had replied that they would not because they had not yet come to their own position. Understandably, I was not happy that the Ministry was not interested to see all of our arguments. I did not expect us to win. I was wrong!

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Posted in Andrius Kulikauskas, Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Christian-Jewish Issues, Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Opinion, Politics of Memory | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Lithuania Hears Pleas and (For Now?) Cancels Funding for Convention Center Project in Old Jewish Cemetery

New York’s Mirrer Yeshiva Appeals to Lithuania’s Leaders on Fate of Old Vilna Cemetery



HUMAN RIGHTS |  CHRISTIAN-JEWISH ISSUES  |  CEMETERIES & MASS GRAVES  |  OLD VILNA JEWISH CEMETERY AT PIRAMÓNT  |  OPPOSITION TO ‘CONVENTION CENTER  IN THE CEMETERY’ PROJECT  |  INTERNATIONAL PETITION

BROOKLYN, NEW YORK—Rabbi Pinchos Hecht, director of New York’s famed Mirrer Yeshiva, issued a two-page letter today expressing an impassioned appeal to Lithuania’s president, prime minister, finance minister, and the Seimas (parliament) budget review team, imploring them to halt the misguided project to erect the nation’s central convention center in the heart of the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery, where thousands still lie buried on all four sides of a Soviet eyesore slated for reconstruction. Protests have been lodged by virtually all the leading Lithuanian tradition (Litvak) rabbis internationally, as well as over 53,000 people who have signed a petition. The saga has been dragging on for years.

“Human rights and dignity do not end with one’s death. The individuals buried in the Snipisek cemetery are the most helpless type of individuals, as they are unable to speak for themselves. The Holocaust wiped out the very community in whose care the preservation of the cemetery would have been entrusted.”

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Posted in Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Christian-Jewish Issues, CPJCE (London), Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok) | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on New York’s Mirrer Yeshiva Appeals to Lithuania’s Leaders on Fate of Old Vilna Cemetery

Please Email by December 17 to Urge Lithuania’s Finance Ministry to Respect the Old Jewish Cemetery in Vilnius



OPINION  | HUMAN RIGHTS | CHRISTIAN-JEWISH ISSUES  |  CEMETERIES & MASS GRAVES  |  OLD VILNA JEWISH CEMETERY AT PIRAMÓNT | OPPOSITION TO ‘CONVENTION CENTER  IN THE CEMETERY’ PROJECT |INTERNATIONAL PETITION

by Andrius Kulikauskas

Thank you once again to all who wrote emails to Lithuania’s Parliament (Seimas) to oppose the financing of the reconstruction of the Vilnius Concert and Sports Building Complex which the Soviets built in the heart of the oldest Jewish Cemetery in Vilnius at Piramont-Šnipiškės. As things stand, the budget for 2021 includes 515,000 euros to organize the contests to select the operator and the contractor for the complex, and further foresees 16,685,000 euros in 2022 and 10,173,000 euros in 2023 for the building works involved.

We now need to write letters to Lithuania’s Finance Ministry and even the President of Lithuania. Today, December 11, 2020, the new Government has been sworn in, including the Finance Minister. This new Government will have just a few days to revise the budget for 2021 before it returns it to Seimas on December 17 for the second review.

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Posted in Andrius Kulikauskas, Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Christian-Jewish Issues, Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Opinion, Politics of Memory | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on Please Email by December 17 to Urge Lithuania’s Finance Ministry to Respect the Old Jewish Cemetery in Vilnius

New Lithuanian Parliament Deadline Looms (Nov. 24), Email Campaign Ramping Up



OPINION  |  HUMAN RIGHTS  |  CHRISTIAN-JEWISH ISSUES  |  CEMETERIES & MASS GRAVES  |  OLD VILNA JEWISH CEMETERY AT PIRAMÓNT  |  OPPOSITION TO ‘CONVENTION CENTER IN THE CEMETERY’ PROJECT  | INTERNATIONAL PETITION

by Andrius Kulikauskas

A heartfelt thank you for all who responded to our urgent call to write the Budget and Finance Committee of Lithuania’s Seimas (Parliament), which met on November 11, 2020. The Committee acknowledged that it received recommendations from 54 groups and individuals to not finance the reconstruction of the Vilnius Concert and Sports Palace Building Complex, which the Soviets built in the center of the historic Jewish cemetery at Piramónt-Šnipiškės. The Committee neither approved nor rejected this proposal but simply passed it on to the Lithuanian government.

At this stage in the budget process, we urge concerned readers to send a second email to the Seimas leadership, as described below, before the Seimas’s crucial session on November 24, 2020.

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Posted in Andrius Kulikauskas, Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Christian-Jewish Issues, Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Opinion, Politics of Memory | Comments Off on New Lithuanian Parliament Deadline Looms (Nov. 24), Email Campaign Ramping Up

Is the Vilnius Concert and Sports Palace on the Old Jewish Cemetery?



OPINION  |  HUMAN RIGHTS  |  CHRISTIAN-JEWISH ISSUES  |  CEMETERIES & MASS GRAVES  |  OLD VILNA JEWISH CEMETERY AT PIRAMÓNT  |  OPPOSITION TO ‘CONVENTION CENTER IN THE CEMETERY’ PROJECT  | INTERNATIONAL PETITION

by Josifas Parasonis

Iconic roof of the dereleict Soviet sports palace in the heart of the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery. Graphic by  D. Umbrasas / Lrt.lt. In the original publication.

Vilnius’s historical and literary sources confirm that there are a number of burial sites in the city, mostly near Christian and Orthodox churches. Larger cemeteries, including Rasos, Antakalnis (soldiers), Bernardines, Orthodox (Liepkalnis), Jewish cemeteries (Piramont / Snipiskes and Zarétshe / Olandų), Evangelicals (Kalinauskas) and others. The legal regulation of Vilnius city cemeteries started only in the second half of the eighteenth century, when cemeteries near Christian and Orthodox churches were full to capacity (burials ceased in 1865) and separate parishes began burials outside the city.

1487-1830

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Posted in Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Christian-Jewish Issues, Josifas Parasonis, Lithuania's Jewish Community Issues, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Politics of Memory | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on Is the Vilnius Concert and Sports Palace on the Old Jewish Cemetery?

Email Lithuania’s Seimas (Parliament) to Respect the Old Vilnius Jewish Cemetery



OPINION  |  HUMAN RIGHTS  |  CHRISTIAN-JEWISH ISSUES  |  CEMETERIES & MASS GRAVES  |  OLD VILNA JEWISH CEMETERY AT PIRAMÓNT  |  OPPOSITION TO ‘CONVENTION CENTER IN THE CEMETERY’ PROJECT  | INTERNATIONAL PETITION

by Andrius Kulikauskas

As readers of Defending History know from Julius Norwilla’s recent article, this week is the rare and perfect opportunity for our concerns about the fate of the Vilnius Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt to be heard by Lithuania‘s Seimas.

The Seimas (Lithuanian parliament) is approving a package of investments that it will be making in 2021-2023 to pump Lithuania‘s economy as it battles the pandemic. Among the 49 billion euros of expenditures is a line item of 27 million euros for reconstruction of the Vilnius Sports and Congress Building Complex Project. (See page 3 here and page 84 here). In other words, this is money that will fund the endless desecration of the oldest Jewish Cemetery in Vilnius.

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Posted in Andrius Kulikauskas, Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Christian-Jewish Issues, Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Opinion, Politics of Memory | Tagged , , | Comments Off on Email Lithuania’s Seimas (Parliament) to Respect the Old Vilnius Jewish Cemetery

Lithuania’s 2021 National Budget has Over Ten Million Euros Earmarked for ‘Convention Center in the Jewish Cemetery’. November 10th is Last Day for Public Comments on Budget



OLD VILNA JEWISH CEMETERY  |  OPPOSITION TO CONVENTION CENTER PROJECT  |  INTERNATIONAL PETITION  |  HUMAN RIGHTS

by Julius Norwilla

VILNIUS—Lithuania’s parliament (the Seimas) has published the provisional state budget for 2021, along with a timetable specifying that the final date for protests, submissions, and comments from outside organizations (non-governmental and presumably including religious and human rights groups) is the 10th of November.

The budget links to the Ministry of Finance page where the project to erect the new national convention center (not mentioned: in the heart of the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery), is explicitly cited in a list of other projects that do in fact enhance our nation’s economy:

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Posted in Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Julius Norwilla, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Politics of Memory | Comments Off on Lithuania’s 2021 National Budget has Over Ten Million Euros Earmarked for ‘Convention Center in the Jewish Cemetery’. November 10th is Last Day for Public Comments on Budget

Eyewitness Report of 6 Oct. 2020 Vilnius District Court Hearing on Old Jewish Cemetery



OLD VILNA JEWISH CEMETERY  |  OPPOSITION TO CONVENTION CENTER PROJECT  |  INTERNATIONAL PETITION  |  HUMAN RIGHTS

VILNIUS—There were three observers present at this morning’s Vilnius County Court hearing in the case over the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in the Shnípeshok / Šnipiškės district): Ruta Bloshtein (author of the international petition that has garnered 52,000 signatures), Edmundas Kulikauskas who has appeared at a number of “Gerbkime kapines” (Respect Cemeteries) events supporting the cemetery’s preservation, and Arkady Kurliandchik, elected board member of the Vilnius Jewish Community.

“Defending History was there”

The attorneys for Turto Bankas expressed their impatience and dissatisfaction with the case’s continuation, which they pointed out further postpones the onset of building works on site. The judge, for her part, was concerned about the apostillary status of the affidavits received as well as an original of the classic prewar map of the cemetery appended by scholar Joseph Klausner to his 1935 book on the subject. At last week’s hearing, reported on in DH and the Algemeiner Journal, star witness Prof. Josif Parasonis, one of Lithuania’s major specialists in building sciences and a cofounder of the current Vilnius Jewish Community, pointed out that the Historical Institute in Vilnius had, in its report, carelessly superimposed the Klausner map on modern maps, falsely leaving the Sports Palace building outside the cemetery, and, Prof. Parasonis pointed out to the judge, serving to place many of the historic graves, ridiculously, right in the middle of the nearby river (the Neris, known also as the Viliya).

The judge, who also called for the plaintiffs to present proof of their descendance from persons buried in the cemetery, adjourned the hearing to 24 November.

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Posted in Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Events, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Politics of Memory | Tagged , , , , , | Comments Off on Eyewitness Report of 6 Oct. 2020 Vilnius District Court Hearing on Old Jewish Cemetery

Eyewitness Report of 1 Oct. 2020 Vilnius District Court Hearing on Fate of Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery



OLD VILNA JEWISH CEMETERY  |  OPPOSITION TO CONVENTION CENTER PROJECT  |  INTERNATIONAL PETITION  |  HUMAN RIGHTS

by Julius Norwilla

The author is chairperson of the Vilnius Committee for Preservation of Piramónt (Šnipiškės) Cemetery. A selection of his English articles is available here.

Coronavirus-era court hearings are necessarily small in attendance, but that doesn’t take away from their potential historic import. Our small Defending History team, as usual, monitored today’s hearing at Vilnius District Court in the case brought by over a hundred descendants of people buried in the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (Shnípeshok, today’s Šnipiškės district in modern Vilnius, capital of Lithuania). They are asking for their family’s burial grounds, purchased in freehold perpetuity, to be defiled and humiliated by erection of a new national convention center based in the current Soviet ruin of Sporto Rumai (“The Sports Palace”) with construction of a large annex from the start. The case if part of a wider movement, local and international, calling on the Lithuanian government to move the convention center project away from the Old Jewish Cemetery to a new and morally clean venue. Issues of human and equal eights have arisen. This would never be the fate of a Lithuanian or Christian cemetery, as pointed out by the European Foundation for Human Rights which has taken an on-the-record interest in the case.

Turning to today’s hearing, the legal question under consideration was the request by the plaintiffs (the 100+ descendants) for the court to stop the planned imminent construction work on the site, or, in legal terminology, “termination of activities which creates a real threat of damage in the future” (Lith. “dėl uždraudimo atlikti veiksmus, sukeliančius realią grėsmę žalos padarymo ateityje galimybę”). It is case no. e2-625-918/2020.

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Posted in Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Events, Human Rights, Julius Norwilla, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok) | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Eyewitness Report of 1 Oct. 2020 Vilnius District Court Hearing on Fate of Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery

Conference of European Rabbis Formalizes Ban on London CPJCE Meddling in Vilna Jewish Cemetery Issue



HUMAN RIGHTS | CHRISTIAN-JEWISH ISSUES  |  CEMETERIES & MASS GRAVES  |  OLD VILNA JEWISH CEMETERY AT PIRAMÓNT | OPPOSITION TO ‘CONVENTION CENTER  IN THE CEMETERY’ PROJECT |INTERNATIONAL PETITION

The head of the Conference of European Rabbis (CER), chief rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, wrote today to Lithuania’s culture minister, Mindaugas Kvietkauskas, who is often deployed by Lithuanian government agencies to placate Jewish groups with his “love of Yiddish”. The letter forcefully strips the London-based “CPJCE” of any further involvement in the Vilna cemetery saga.

The issue at hand is the fate of the old Vilna Jewish Cemetery, that Lithuania’s state-owned Property Bank (Turto bankas) is determined, in alliance with politicians, builders and other partners for profit, to use for a new national convention center, where thousands would each night cheer and clap, drink at bars and flush toilets, surrounded by a multitude of graves of Vilna Jewish citizens going back to the fifteenth century, if not earlier, including many famous rabbinic scholars and close family of the Gaon of Vilna. There has been massive international opposition to the project.

Hopefully, the Yiddish-loving culture minister will raise his voice for the cultural preservation of Vilna’s holiest Jewish site, where so many generations of Yiddish speaking Vilna Jews lie buried. The cemetery lovingly known to generations of Jews in the Lithuanian capital as Der alter feld (‘the old [burial] field’), or simply as Piramónt.

Besides its being addressed to the culture minister, the text of Rabbi Goldschmidt’s letter is especially significant for its issuing an actual edict concerning the “permission” for the “convention center in the cemetery” by the allegedly corrupt London-based CPJCE (“Committee for the Preservation of Jewish Cemeteries in Europe“) who were caught years ago on Wikileaks cables demanding secret payments for their “supervision” of works at the same cemetery.

In his letter, the chief rabbi makes clear the stance of the Conference of European rabbis:

“The Committee for the Preservation of Jewish Cemeteries in Europe does not have the authority to, God forbid, approve the continued desecration of the cemetery […]. On behalf of the Conference of European Rabbis, I want to clarify that the CPJCE lost the authority to liaise with the Lithuanian government on this vital issue, because they did not respond to a summons of the Rabbinical Court, and subsequently do not represent the voice of European Jewry. Let me also be clear that the Conference of European Rabbis no longer maintains an official affiliation with the group. We therefore urge the Lithuanian government to cease all communications with the CPJCE […].”

A facsimile of Rabbi Goldsmith’s letter follows (also available as PDF).  Observers eagerly look forward to the response of Minister Kvietkauskas.

CONFERENCE OF EUROPEAN RABBIS
Posted in Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Christian-Jewish Issues, CPJCE (London), Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok) | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off on Conference of European Rabbis Formalizes Ban on London CPJCE Meddling in Vilna Jewish Cemetery Issue

Conference of European Rabbis (CER) Strips London Grave-Trading “CPJCE” of Rights to Meddle Further in Fate of Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery



 OLD VILNA JEWISH CEMETERY AT PIRAMÓNT  |  OPPOSITION TO ‘CONVENTION CENTER IN THE CEMETERY’ PROJECT | LONDON’S “CPJCE”  |  INTERNATIONAL PETITION  |  CEMETERIES & MASS GRAVES  |  HUMAN RIGHTS | CHRISTIAN-JEWISH ISSUES  |  MEDIA WATCH

VILNIUS—As Jewish communities worldwide continue to prepare during the pandemic for the Jewish New Year (and roughly three weeks of high holidays) that gets underway on Friday evening, the action on the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery has been revving up to a high pitch on a number of fronts. The question revolves around the vast pain caused by government plans to site a national convention center and annex in the heart of the old Vilna cemetery at Piramónt (in the Shnipishok / Šnipiškės section of modern Vilnius).

Conference of European Rabbis Takes Action

In a tweet today, Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, for close to a decade president of the Conference of European Rabbis (CER), confirmed that the body today formally banned the controversial London-based, Satmar-hasidic (“Aaronite sect” branch) from further involvement in the fate of the Old Vilna Cemetery.

Orthodox Jewish media earlier reported on the background to this development, the London CPJCE’s refusal to honor a formal invitation to come before a rabbinical court to explain their bizarre Vilnius activities in near-rapturous fervent favor of the cemetery’s utter desecration.

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Posted in Cemeteries and Mass Graves, CPJCE (London), Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Politics of Memory | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Conference of European Rabbis (CER) Strips London Grave-Trading “CPJCE” of Rights to Meddle Further in Fate of Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery