Julius Norwilla

12 Holocaust Massacre Sites in Vilnius Region; Taking a Closer Look at 2



CEMETERIES AND MASS GRAVES  |  COMMEMORATIONS  |  LITHUANIA

by Julius Norwilla

There are at least twelve Holocaust mass murder sites in the immediate Vilnius region that are marked by some kind of memorial. They are noted in the online Holocaust Atlas of Lithuania, founded by Milda Jakulytė. In Lithuania, there are over 227 such sites that are described in the atlas, which is historically a continuation of the painstaking 1990s work of the late Joseph Levinson, published in his The Book of Sorrow (Vilnius 1997) that documented close to 200 such sites.

The best known is the Paneriai Memorial as the largest mass grave in the country, known as Ponár in Yiddish and Ponary in Polish. It is the site where 100,000 people were humiliated and murdered, around 70,000 of them Jews. This is where official commemorations take place, particularly each year on September 23rd, the day (controversially) designated by the Lithuanian government as the Holocaust Remembrance Day, rather than the international day, on January 27th, or days specific to the Lithuania-wide Holocaust such as June 23rd when violence against and humiliation of Jewish neighbors broke out across Lithuania.

Other mass murder sites in the Vilnius region are visited much less frequently and very often — not at all. But visiting these places is important for the respect for those murdered there and for a deeper understanding of the Holocaust which has so distorted our nation’s qualities.

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My Take On Malát



OPINION  |  SHTETL COMMEMORATIONS  |  EVENTS  |  POLITICS OF MEMORY  |  COLLABORATOR GLORIFICATION

by Julius Norwilla

The year 2016 marks the 75th anniversary of the genocide of the Jews of the Lithuanian shtetls, the smaller towns, villages and countryside, in fact, a solid majority of Lithuanian Jewry (with a smaller component being kept alive in four cities for slave labor and rolling annihilation over the remaining years of the Holocaust). Marking the anniversary, at the end of August and beginning of September this year (a period in 1941 when a number of the local massacres were concentrated), there have been commemorative events in (Yiddish names first) Birzh (now: Biržai), Dusát (Dusetos), Malát (Molėtai), Shádov (Šeduva), Vílkomir (Ukmergė) and more. By far the largest event took place at Malát on the 29th of August. The project, leading to establishment of a new foundation, was initiated by Tzvi Kritzer. The speakers included high representatives from the Lithuanian government, its official Jewish community, and various public and cultural representatives.

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Posted in Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Christian-Jewish Issues, Commemorations for Destroyed Communities, Events, Julius Norwilla, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Malát (Molėtai), News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on My Take On Malát

Julius Norwilla to Speak on 12 Vilnius Mass Graves



THIS THURSDAY EVENING 4 AUGUST 2016 IN VILNIUS:

Defending History veteran writer-researcher Julius Norwilla will give an illustrated talk on

“A Dozen Holocaust Mass Graves in the Vilnius Area: What is the Actual State of Respect for the Victims?”

Thursday evening, 4 August, 6 PM (1800) at the Jewish Cultural and Information Center, Mėsinių  3 in Vilnius Old Town. Lecture in English, questions in any language. Admission free. Everyone welcome.

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What Does the Mayor of Vilnius Think About His City’s Thousands of Jewish Graves?



O P I N I O N

by Julius Norwilla

Back in May, the story broke about an electrical station on an uninhabited hillside by a highway here in the Lithuanian capital, Vilnius, being made out of pilfered old Jewish gravestones. It quickly spread to the international press, including London’s Daily Mail. The city’s recently elected mayor, Remigijus Šimašius reacted with lightning speed, getting the city’s sign-making maestros to create and mount a handsome solid-metal smartly round-edged bilingual sign condemning the “example of Soviet barbarism” and promising the rapid removal of the stones to a place of dignity where they will form part of a memorial. A PR disaster was spun into a rapid reaction force’s PR triumph against discrimination that could only do our great city proud.

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Posted in Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Double Games, Julius Norwilla, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Media Watch, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Opinion, Politics of Memory, Vilnius Mayor Remigijus Šimašius | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on What Does the Mayor of Vilnius Think About His City’s Thousands of Jewish Graves?

The June 2015 Memorial for the Lietūkis Garage Massacre in Kaunas, Lithuania



O P I N I O N   /   E Y E W I T N E S S   A C C O U N T

by Julius Norwilla

To mark the 74th anniversary of one of the iconic events of the Lithuanian Holocaust, the infamous Lietūkis Garage Massacre of 27 June 1941, the Kaunas Jewish Community organized its annual memorial event at the site, last Friday, 26 June 2015. The massacre, carried out by local Lithuanian “patriots” wearing the white armbands of the Lithuanian Activist Front (LAF), butchered dozens of Jewish passers-by at a garage on Kaunas’s Vytautas Avenue, using a variety of execution methods, including clubbing to death with crowbars, and particularly, forcing water from high-pressure hoses into bodily orifices of the victims until they burst. A growing crowd, including women holding up their young children to get the best views, cheered them on.

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A Protestant Pastor in Vilnius Speaks Out About Church Steps Still Made of Pilfered Jewish Gravestones



O P I N I O N

by Julius Norvila

“And Rachel died and was buried on the road to Ephrath—the same is Beth-lehem. And Jacob set up a gravestone upon her grave, it is the Tomb of Rachel unto this very day.”

 (Genesis 35, 19-20)

Back in 1989 I had become a minister in our Reformed Evangelical Church here in Vilnius. The end of the 1980s in Lithuania had been a particularly pivotal period for church-state relations. The government changed its policy radically. There was a liberalization of religious activities and along with religious revivals came the idea of restitution of church properties that had been nationalized under the communist policies of the Soviet state. In order to bring to realization that idea, and to speed the process of restitution, we as reformed protestants organized a number of open air meetings and worship services on the street in front of historical church buildings in Vilnius and Kaunas, Lithuania’s two major cities.

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Graffiti Debate on Hitler in a Vilnius Housing Complex



P H O T O G R A P H Y

by Julius Norwilla

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The Bubnys Event at the 2015 Jewish Community Auschwitz Commemoration



E Y E W I T N E S S   R E P O R T   /   O P I N I O N

by Julius Norwilla

This year much of the world commemorates the seventieth anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz in 1945. The day of its liberation, January 27th, is International Holocaust Remembrance Day. To mark the day this year, on the 26th of January, the Jewish Community of Lithuania organized three events, as reported in Defending History.

The final event of the day was the book launch for The Šiauliai Ghetto featuring as sole announced speaker its author, Dr. Arūnas Bubnys, director of the Genocide and Resistance Research Department of the Genocide and Resistance Research Center of Lithuania; for a critical view of the Genocide Center, as it is known for short, see Defending History’s page and news section on the institution.

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Posted in A 21st Century Campaign Against Lithuanian Holocaust Survivors?, Books, Dr. Arūnas Bubnys and State Holocaust Revisionism in Lithuania, Events, Genocide Center (Vilnius), Julius Norwilla, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on The Bubnys Event at the 2015 Jewish Community Auschwitz Commemoration