Museums

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.

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Sir Martin Gilbert Writes to State Jewish Museum in Lithuania, Asking for Halt to Campaign Against Kostanian


The following is the text of an email sent  by Sir Martin Gilbert to an official of Lithuania’s Jewish state museum in defense of Rachel Kostanian, the internationally acclaimed cofounder and longtime director of the Holocaust section of the state Jewish museum, long known as “The Green House” (it is housed in a green wooden house at Pamenkalnio 12, invisible from the street, and up a steep driveway). She is also an eminent author, creator of exhibits and catalogues, and Holocaust educator who has engated with thousands of loval and foreign visitors to the museum.  At Sir Martin’s request, the name of the recipient, and of others mentioned in the letter, have been redacted to maintain confidences and avert unnecessary embarrassments. The alleged “mistake” referred to in the final paragraph refers to a powerful new Holocaust documentary film directed by Saulius Beržinis, which Rachel Kostanian enabled, helped to research and complete, and obtained the funding for from a prominent Litvak family in the United Kingdom. The film was apparently deemed unacceptable for its “excessive truth telling,” as one (non-Jewish) museum worker, speaking off the record, put it with some irony. It  will presumably one day find its way to the public square one way or another.

Sir Martin Gilbert’s foreword to Rachel Kostanian’s book Spiritual Resistance in the Vilna Ghetto


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The Green House



Pamėnkalnio 12, Vilnius

Update of Oct. 2010: 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’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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Green House Shuts for Repairs at Height of Tourist Season


Vilnius’s one Holocaust museum, The Green House, shut down for renovations at the start of August 2010, at the height of the tourist season. Tourists are now limited to the Holocaust-obfuscating Genocide Museum, the Genocide Center, and Gruto Parkas.  The Holocaust Studies community internationally is moreover profoundly disturbed by persistent efforts to undermine Rachel Kostanian, the Green House’s esteemed director of twenty years’ standing, and the efforts to replace her with a ‘compliant’ nationalist operative.   Full story here

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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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Esther Goldberg Gilbert on Life’s Work of Rachel Kostanian, Intrepid Director of Vilnius’s ‘Green House’ Holocaust Museum



VILNIUS—Esther Goldberg Gilbert, wife and partner to Sir Martin Gilbert and an accomplished Holocaust scholar in her own right, published a profile today of Rachel Kostanian, the widely admired director of Vilnius’s Green House, which many consider to be the only honest Holocaust exhibit or museum in the entire country. The PDF is available here, and a facsimile follows. Please use handles in the upper left hand corner to turn pages.

20108SeptGGoldergOnKostanian
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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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Esther Goldberg Gilbert Continues to Honor Courage of Rachel Kostanian, Critiques Lithuania’s Policy of ‘Holocaust Downgrade’ and Ongoing ‘Investigations’ of Kostanian



Esther Goldberg Gilbert, wife and partner to Sir Martin Gilbert and an accomplished Holocaust scholar in her own right, today published a second bold article in the Canadian Jewish News on Holocaust issues in Lithuania. The new piece, a follow-up to her first on the subject last month, became necessary, in the view of some observers, in light of a renewed campaign of harassment, degradation and attempted dismissals , against Ms. Kostanian, enabled and enacted out by the highest echelons of the parent museum’s government sponsored leadership, as well as the state’s “Double Genocide industry.” The new  article is available as PDF, and herein:

2010Oct7EstherGoldberg (1)

 

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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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Revolving Posters at Ponár


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Catherine Chatterley leads Opposition to Holocaust Obfuscation campaign in Canada


Dr. Catherine Chatterley, founding director of the Canadian Institute for the Study of Antisemitism

In a bold op-ed published in the Winnipeg Free Press on 2 April, Dr. Catherine Chatterley has spoken out against attempts by some elements in Canada’s Ukrainian-heritage community to derail a planned Holocaust exhibit at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights (CMHR) on the grounds, broadly speaking, that such an exhibit would unduly emphasize Jewish suffering and cause to be underrepresented Ukrainian suffering in Stalin’s murderous state-caused famine in Ukraine in the early 1930s.

The campaign has been accompanied by the printing and wide distribution in Canada of offensively and antisemitically manipulated versions of an illustration that had appeared in a 1947 Ukrainian edition of George Orwell’s classic Animal Farm.

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Education Ministry and Association of Museums Encourage Activities to Commemorate the Activities of ‘Partisans’ including the Murderers who Unleashed the Lithuanian Holocaust; No mention of anti-Nazi partisans…


At the behest of Lithuania’s Education Ministry, the Association of Lithuanian Museums today canvassed museums and other institutions asking for information about what is being done concretely to commemorate the celebration of local fascists who collaborated with Hitler, including the killers who unleashed the Lithuanian Holocaust (Lithuanian Activist Front or LAF), and the collaborationist Provisional Government (PG).

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Obfuscationists planning Vilnius Holocaust Museum miles away from the City Center


Rumors are flying in the Lithuanian capital about plans to induce foreign institutions and governments to support the building of  a new Holocaust Museum at  the mass-murder site Ponár (Paneriai), where no unsuspecting tourist or visitor to Vilnius would ever see it, more than six miles out of town, unless they have prior special interest that would motivate the hiring of a taxi for that purpose.

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Posted in "Jewish" Events as Cover?, "Red-Brown Commission", Commemorations for Destroyed Communities, Double Genocide, Museums, News & Views, Poland, Politics of Memory, Ponár (Ponary, Paneriai) | Tagged , , | Comments Off on Obfuscationists planning Vilnius Holocaust Museum miles away from the City Center

Yad Vashem, in Jolt to Holocaust Survivors, Joining Revisionist Holocaust Conference in the Lithuanian Parliament


UPDATE 1: On 27 June 2011 at 3:31 PM (Vilnius time), the Israeli Embassy in Riga (responsible for Lithuania as well as Latvia) emailed DefendingHistory.com to say that Yad Vashem’s participation in the event has been cancelled. This was confirmed in a further email from Yad Vashem at 3:56 PM. In Vilnius, however, the name of Yad Vashem and its designated representative continue to appear on programs and brochures, giving the impression that the event enjoys the formal participation of Yad Vashem. See our public query to Yad Vashem.

UPDATE 2: See Defending History’s eyewitness reports of Day 1 and Day 2 of the conference.

According to a conference program posted on the website of the Lithuanian Parliament, Yad Vashem is the only Jewish institution sending a representative to the latest conference mounted by the Lithuanian government in its campaign to downgrade the Holocaust and whitewash the Lithuanian Holocaust’s first murderers (the L.A.F. and other fascist groups), often by glorifying them as ‘freedom fighters’. The printed brochure for the conference, to be held on 29 and 30 June 2011, announces the event as a joint project of the Lithuanian Parliament (Seimas) and the deeply antisemitic Genocide Research Center. One of the Center’s top ‘specialists’ participated in the recent neo-Nazi parade and went on to launch a public antisemitic campaign. He was neither removed from his post nor publicly reprimanded, as the season’s conferences plow ahead full steam.

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The Brand New HOLOCAUST Cubicle 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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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

Joint Statement by the Lithuanian Jewish Community and the Vilna Gaon Jewish State Museum on the Ceremonies for the Reburial of Juozas Brazaitis (Ambrazevičius)



The following statement, drafted by the head of the Jewish Community of Lithuania, appeared today on the community’s website, and is republished here with permission. Presumably it will appear also on the website of the Vilna Gaon Jewish State Museum. [Update of 15 September 2012: it has not thus far appeared on the museum’s website.]


 

On May 19 and 20 of this year rites to re-inter Juozas Brazaitis (Ambarazevčius), the head of the Provisional Government of Lithuania, and commemorations and events in connection with this will take place in Kaunas.

Every person has the right to leave this world maintaining their inherited traditions and religious convictions. The Lithuanian Jewish Community and the Vilna Gaon Jewish State Museum do not protest and are not expressing dissatisfaction over the return of the mortal remains of Juozas Brazaitis (Ambarazevčius) to Lithuania.

Nonetheless, we are deeply hurt because of the ceremonies and events surrounding the reburial ceremony of this controversial political figure. This figure is connected with the actions of the puppet Provisional Government of Lithuania and with the calls by the Lithuanian Activist Front for inciting the mass murder of Jews which led to the execution of barbaric “justice” by the mob.

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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 (1937-2021), Museums, Opinion, Politics of Memory, VilNews.com | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on It’s Not Just About the New Tuskulėnai “Peace Park” in Vilnius

June 2009 Correspondence with Yad Vashem



D O C U M E N T S

After more than three years’ wait for a substantive reply to the points raised in a letter to Yad Vashem, and in light of the past week’s shocking revalations about political legitimization by Yad Vashem of the Lithuanian government’s “red-brown commission” that is the engine of Prague Declaration and Double Genocide politics in Europe, DefendingHistory is releasing the full text of the letter of 28 June 2009, and the initial reply received the following day.

In the original the images, numbered 1-7, were included as email attachments. Here they are inserted in the text. [Note: the author’s eleven-year Vilnius University affiliation ended in 2010.]


—-Original Message—–

From: Dovid Katz [mailto:dovidkatz@vilniusuniversity.net]
Sent: Sunday, June 28, 2009 1:17 PM
To: גביר יוסי
Cc: ‘Simon Wiesenthal Center-Israel Office’; ‘Dov Levin’; ‘Joseph Melamed’
Subject: from Dovid Katz (Vilnius University)

Greetings dear Yossi (at the moment from Tel Aviv),

Trust this finds you and all at Yad Vashem well and thriving. As you may recall, we corresponded for several months in Spring 2008. I had been (and frankly remain) disappointed that by continuing to allow Yad Vashem’s name to appear as a partner of the Lithuanian government sponsored “Red-Brown Commission” even as the falsification of history (replacement of the very notion of the Holocaust by a paradigm of two equal genocides) continues apace at the European Parliament. Parliamentarians are told: “Look, Yad Vashem is with us….” Of course Yad Vashem has no such intention, and we are in agreement that it’s important for Lithuanian teachers to be educated in Jerusalem but that should be facilitated through any of the various honest NGOs or educators, not the “Red-Brown Commission” whose major current project is passage of the “equal genocide” resolutions in the European Parliament. My two recent op-eds on the topic are in the Jewish Chronicle and Irish Times.

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