The Defending History community celebrates the 700th birthday of Vílna (today’s beautiful Vilnius — capital of the democratic EU state Lithuania; in Yiddish — Vílne; Polish Wilno; Belarusian Vilna; German Wilna) in the spirit of love for a city whose hundreds of years of harmony brought such magnificent cultural achievements in an array of cultures and languages. One of them is its Jewish legacy. Briefest of examples: Thousands of books in Hebrew, Aramaic and Yiddish were published in the nineteenth century alone. The Gaon of Vilna and the founders of modern Yiddish scholarship walked these streets.
The universally revered founder of Vilnius, Grand Duke Gediminas (Gedymin) built his new capital in 1323 as a harmonious symphony of humanistic diversity, a legacy that endured for many centuries.
“People who love the city actually care about this stuff”
QUESTION: Will the city’s (and country’s) leaders at long last remove the public-space state-financed memorials that glorify participants in and collaborators of the Holocaust in which 96.4% of Lithuanian Jewry perished? Here are some of the most obvious candidates for rapid removal. Hopefully before the year’s tourist season gets underway this spring…
The shiny new plaque with bas-relief on facade of Library of Sciences was erected in 2019 after the dispute over the earlier one. This is on a prestigious public building some three minutes walk from Vilnius Cathedral and Gedimino Boulevard). It glorifies the brutal Jonas Noreika (subject of his granddaughter Silvia Foti’s major recent book in the USA). The travesty of Noreika worship was brought to the attention of the English speaking world in Defending History in 2012 by Evaldas Balčiūnas, who is this year’s DH Person of the Year.
“Gediminas is turning over in his grave”