Report in the Forward by Michael Casper on the annual public portrayal of Jews and Roma during the Uzgavenes carnival in central Vilnius. (Image courtesy of Michael Casper.) The report notes the attitudes of the state sponsored Center for Ethnic Activity and the Vilnius City Municipality.
Bold Reporter, Lukas Pileckas, Releases Video of Neo-Nazi Downtown March on Lithuania’s Independence Day
Video clip of the neo-Nazi march on the capital’s central boulevard. The march featured chants of ‘Juden raus’ and a song including ‘Take a stick and kill that little Jew’. Marchers boasted the ‘Lithuanian swastika’ (with added lines). There were also anti-Russian and anti-Polish chants. Second clip comprising the somber, dignified response of the chairman of the Jewish Community of Lithuania plus more material from the march, including the apparent amusement of onlooking police.
These videos appear thanks to the bold Lietuvos rytas journalist Lukas Pileckas. Photo by Vidmantas Balkunas. Leading politicians failed to condemn the march for over a week, when foreign pressures forced statements.
[Update of 20 March 2008: The Jerusalem Post today published a report on the protest lodged by Dr. Efraim Zuroff, director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Israel office, with the Lithuanian ambassador in Israel. PDF here.]
An article in the prestigious mainstream daily Lieutvos rytas is headlined ‘The Jews Can’t Digest [or: ‘mouth’] all of their Property’. PDF.
‘Are God’s chosen people always right?’ by Juozas Ivanauskas in Laisvas laikrastis. English translation. And, in the same issue: ‘Globalism’ by former parliament member V. Petkevicius. English translation.
Image from the front page of Respublika, depicting the Jew and the Gay holding up the globe, under the headline ‘Kas valdo pasauli?’ (‘Who controls the world?’), followed on p. 3 by a racist, antisemitic and homophobic article by the editor. The cartoon first appeared on page 1 of the paper in 2004.
Parliamentarians Explain that Red-Brown Criminalization Law is Necessary to ‘equate the crimes of Soviet Genocide with the Nazi Genocide’
Delfi.lt reports that ‘in the Lithuanian legal system, acts regarding the the crimes of Soviet genocide, i.e. their denial or justification, are not criminalized, and, experts say, this is an obstacle in attempting to equate the crimes of Soviet genocide with the Nazi genocide’. Full English translation. BNS’s English summary.
Human Rights Advocate Andrius Navickas is ‘put inside the Jew and the Gay’ on Page 1 of Vakaro Zinios (Evening News)
After human rights advocate and journalist Andrius Navickas lodged a protest against the publication of the antisemitic and homophobic cartoon, a caricature of his face and body was inserted into the ‘Jews and Gays control the world’ cartoon and published on the front page of Vakaro zinios. It appeared along with the article ‘What is the Gay Manifesto?’ English translation.
After the intrepid journalist and human rights advocate Andrius Navickas (see Bold Citizens) protested to the press commission about the front page cartoon of the Jew and the Gay controlling the world, a caricature of his head and body was inserted in both figures on the front page of a mass circulation newspaper. This had the effect of deterring others in the public arena who might have wished to make their opinions known about the proliferation of 1930s style hate materials appearing on the front page of mass circulation newspapers.
Vilna Ghetto Victims Substituted for War Criminals List in the Baltic Times; VYI Chief calls the Association of Lithuanian Jews ‘Extreme Right-Wingers’
Part of a list of Jewish victims of the Vilna Ghetto (including fallen resistance hero Yechiel Sheinboim) appears in the Baltic Times instead of the captioned list of alleged Nazi-allied murderers (zoom-in).
The young foreign reporter was wholly innocent; a still unidentified source provided the wrong list. An obscure and ambiguous correction appeared the following week.
Moreover, director of the Vilnius Yiddish Institute Sarunas Liekis is quoted (misquoted?) in the article (column 2), as calling the last active group of Litvak Holocaust survivors in the world (the ALJ in Tel Aviv) ‘extreme right-wingers’, adding that ‘scholars don’t talk to them’. Although now aged, these survivors’ ranks still include prominent Holocaust scholars.
The Baltic trend to delegitimize Holocaust survivors and their supporters is part of the wider series of attempted conceptual realignments deemed ‘necessary’ to propagate the Double Genocide bandwagon, and obfuscation of the Holocaust, within the context of regional unltranationalism.
Supposedly impartial Baltic Times coverage of a later version of the proposed law that would max out at just two years of imprisonment for disagreeing with the state’s version of ‘Soviet and Nazi genocide’.
The BT report also gloats that ‘Earlier this year, the members of the European Parliament decided that Stalin’s USSR and Hitler’s Germany were equal’ (cf. materials on the Prague Declaration page). [14 September 2010: On the law eventually passed, in June 2010, see here].
Lithuania’s Main News Portal Calls Jewish Partisan Hero Fania Brantsovsky a Suspect in a Mass Murder after she is Honored by the President of Germany
Minutes after the German Embassy in Vilnius issued a press release announcing that it had awarded Germany’s Federal Cross of Merit to Holocaust survivor Fania Yocheles Brantsovsky (born 1922), Lithuania’s main news portal, Delfi.lt, published a bileful attack replete with libelous and ridiculous accusations about her ‘war crimes’ (in effect trying to blame the Holocaust’s victims, a frequent ploy of the Baltic region’s Double Genocide Industry that is pushing the Prague Declaration in the European Parliament). The campaign against Holocaust survivors was launched by the antisemitic press and picked up by state prosecutors, starting in 2006 (see Blaming the Victims and the 28 Oct 2009 entry on the home page). English translation. The Lithuanian original appeared with this caricature of anti-Nazi resistance veteran Brantsovsky, librarian of the Vilnius Yiddish Institute, whose entire family perished in the Holocaust. It is not known why the Yiddish institute’s website contains no mention of the award, or of the unseemly attack against its own beloved librarian, who has been with the VYI since its inception in 2001. Speculation has centered on pressure ‘from above’ and fear of falling into disfavor with powers that be. On a related note, there is growing international interest in preservation of the underground partisan fort where Fania lived from September 1943 until the region’s liberation in July 1944. Authorities in the country seem to wish the fort to disappear. Fania is the country’s last Holocaust survivor who actually lived there. She continues to accompany visitors and students there. The international effort to save this remarkable Holocaust site is spearheaded by Samuel Gruber’s Jewish Art & Monuments site.
According to a front page report (continued on page 3), in the mass circulation daily Vakaro zinios, headlined: ‘Important News. Jews won’t slander us Anymore’, a shutdown of Holocaust Studies is called for to ‘shut up Jews slandering Lithuanians’.
Specifically, the article, in an antisemitic tone, explains that the Genocide Center will itself now determine which locals participated in the Holocaust. English translation.
For the overall tone at the Genocide Museum, on Vilnius’s central boulevard, see here. Antisemitism and rejection of the internationally known narrative of the Holocaust are closely interlinked in the Baltic region, and to some extent, throughout Eastern Europe.
On Holocaust Remembrance Day, the international section (‘World’) of the popular mass-circulation daily Vakaro zinios led off with the article ‘Jews Don’t Understand Why they are Not Loved’ by an unnamed author. The first sentence starts with a reference to ‘the Jewish community’ which is locally taken to refer to today’s Vilnius Jewish community. The article goes on to explain antisemitism as the result of the previous year’s conflict in Gaza, and contains a large photograph of a scene of devastation there. Translation into English.
‘Baltic Times’ Condemns Riga City Council for Trying to Nix March 16th Waffen SS March in the Capital’s Center
The Baltic Times, in the spirit of its increasing pattern of delivering up far-right views dressed up as impartial news coverage, did it again today. The front page banner headline reads ‘Riga Council in Civil Rights Attack’ with the caption to the large front page photo that condemns the city council for trying to block ‘war veterans and others’, as the anonymous authors put it (the article is signed by ‘Staff and wire reports, Riga), from being able to ‘exercise their rights in commemorating wartime duties and efforts’.
There was no mention that these are Waffen SS veterans and that the annual ceremony in the capital’s center is an affront to free Europe and Holocaust victims and survivors.
That an allegedly impartial newspaper would regard a noble attempt to legally block a pro-Nazi march, on the part of elected officials in a European Union country, as a ‘civil rights attack’ in a news headline is shocking. PDF of the article here.
The Lithuanian parliament amended the criminal code ‘to envisage criminal penalties for supporting, denying or downgrading crimes committed by the Soviet Union or Nazi Germany’ recommending ‘up to two years in prison’. The amendment’s initiator explained that the ‘changes were based on the European Union’s obligation to member-nations to take the necessary measures to ensure penalties for public support for genocide crimes’. BNS report.
Red-Brown Bill with Two Years of Jailtime for Disagreeing with Government’s Position is Signed into Law
A new law in effect criminalizing anti Double Genocide opinions has been passed by the Lithuanian parliament and signed into law by the president. Full text of the law. In English translation. The move followed adoption of a similar statute by Hungary’s new right-wing government.
UPDATES (TO SEPT. 2011):
The new law criminalizes debate on the Holocaust and World War II, imposing punishments that include prison sentences of up to two years for those who would argue that Soviet crimes in Lithuania did not constitute genocide (hence: upon those who would challenge the notion that ‘Soviet and Nazi crimes are equal’). The opposing view (e.g. of this website) holds that Soviet crimes in Lithuania were horrendous but did not constitute genocide (following Donskis 2009, Katz 2009 etc; see page on Soviet crimes and draft response to the Prague Declaration).
Letter to the Editor of the New York Times [not published; subsequently entered into the record on HITB for the date of submission]:
Human Rights — and Holocaust Obfuscation — in the Baltic States
To The Editor:
Clifford J. Levy’s fine report (Aug 16 [print edition]) on the humiliations suffered by native-born Estonians whose mother tongue is Russian is particularly important because Estonia is a member of NATO and the European Union, and its human rights policies are therefore automatically a matter for the collective conscience of these alliances and their individual members.
There is just one painful point on which the report accepts uncritically an Estonian (and generally a Baltic) ‘Excuse for Genocide’ that is verily inexcusable. “Before Estonia was seized by the Soviets in 1940, its population was largely ethnic Estonian; resentment was strong enough that many sided with the Germans when Hitler invaded in 1941.”
Actually, the demographic-balance threatening influx of Russian speakers from other Soviet republics came after World War II. But in any case, the idea that the Soviet occupation somehow justifies (or even explains) the Estonian Hitlerists’ (and Lithuanian and Latvian fascists’) gleeful mass murder of the women, children and men of their Jewish minority (making way, in the Baltics, for the highest percentages of Jews slaughtered in all of Holocaust-era Europe) is sheer nonsense. It is one of many ruses underway in the eastern reaches of the European Union to sanitize and obfuscate the Holocaust. Journalists must be sensitized to its box of semantic tricks.
The 2 September 2010 issue of the Baltic Times carried an unsigned editorial on the Opinion page that refers to Dr Efraim Zuroff, director of the Wiesenthal Center’s Israel office, and the author of Operation Last Chance [excerpt here], as someone who ‘plays Moscow’s political games’, in line with local far-right efforts to tar with a McCarthyist brush of alleged communism those who speak out against racism, antisemitism, and Holocaust revisionism.
Readers recall that the Lithuanian parliament’s 21 September proclamation of 2011 as the ‘Year of Remembrance for the Victims of the Holocaust in Lithuania’ (text here) was mysteriously reincarnated one week later, on 28 September, as the ‘Year of Commemoration of the Defense of Freedom and of Great Losses’ (text here) with accompanying press explanations restricting the 1941 aspect to Soviet deportations to Siberia and no mention of the Holocaust among the ‘great losses’ (text here).
The text and press releases gave rise to fears that plans were still underway to sanitize, revise and glorify the memory of the 1941 LAF and Provisional Government collaborators of the Nazis. This painful subject was dealt with in a recent statement from the Jewish Community of Lithuania.
The ensuing History Apartheid, as this journal called it (2011 dedicated to one thing for foreigners and Jews and another for the country itself, in effect) led to a letter to the chair of the Seimas from the head of Lithuania’s tiny but proud Jewish community (text here).
A check today of the official website of Lithuanian parliament (the Seimas) added a further curious aspect to the parliamentarians’ thinking. The English version of the website explains that 2011 has been proclaimed as the ‘Year of Remembrance for the Victims of the Holocaust in Lithuania’.
The corresponding sentence on the home page of the Lithuanian version of the official Seimas website indicates however that 2011 is the designated ‘Year of Commemoration of the Defense of Freedom and of Great Losses’.
One Western diplomat who requested anonymity commented to this journal: ‘You see, if you live long enough, you live to see everything’.
Interior Ministry ‘Specialist’, writing in a Mainstream Publication, calls the Murder of Six Million Jews ‘a legend’
The mainstream Lithuanian magazine Veidas (Veidas.lt), a glossy publication available at every news stand in the country, published on its website on 14 November an article under the rubric of ‘History’ titled ‘The Nurnberg Military Court Tribunal: The Biggest Legal Farce in History’. Original here. Full English translation here.