[UPDATED; ORIGINAL PUBLICATION 27 APRIL 2023]
OPINION | FILM | BOLD CITIZENS | SAULIUS BERŽINIS | SHEDUVA
Defending History proudly supports modern Lithuania’s first major Holocaust truth teller, documentary film maker
What is it all about? Allegedly, a major gang-up is underway against Vilnius’s beloved documentarian Saulius Beržinis who was perhaps the first to tell the truth about the Holocaust in Lithuania (at great cost to his career). When his new film, commissioned by the Museum of the Lost Shtetl, included the last eyewitnesses to the slaughter of the Jews of Sheduva, where the museum is situated (they reveal: identity of the perpetrators, recycling of the Jews’ clothing, homes, and family gravestones, perpetrators honored on a church plaque today, and more), the film was not only rejected by the new museum. When Saulius refused for his work to be buried, instead of allowing him to release those interviews with the last witnesses separately on his own responsibility as a major international document morally owned by humanity, they initiated legal proceedings that have already closed down his beloved non-profit Kopa Studio, endangered its Holocaust archive, and made financial claims endangering his being able to continue owning his home. But who are they? The group includes the Brussels-based executive director of the museum (himself a major ink company director in Belgium), a Switzerland-resident South African billionaire donor, and a top Vilnius lawyer famous for his “love of the Jews” via a truly impressive Litvak art collection and a Litvak foundation (who has visited Defending History’s Mini Museum of Old Jewish Vilna on more than one occasion, and whom we helped locate a rare book he was looking for). All against — Saulius Beržinis and his film, now known informally here in Vilnius as The Satanic Verses of Sheduva. That which must be deleted and remain unseeable, in the spirit not only of Rushdie’s book but of the fatwa against it. Like Salman Rushdie’s book, the Satanic Verses filmed by the master truth-telling camera of Saulius Beržinis will live forever. Not under a rock, but in the public domain.