OPINION | HUMAN RIGHTS | CHRISTIAN-JEWISH ISSUES | CEMETERIES & MASS GRAVES | OLD VILNA JEWISH CEMETERY AT PIRAMÓNT | OPPOSITION TO CONVENTION CENTER
VILNIUS—On 4 May this year, Defending History published the official document issued by the Office of the Prime Minister of Lithuania announcing the members appointed to the latest commission (“Working Group”) on the fate of the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in the historic Shnípishok district, today’s Šnipiškės). In the accompanying Opinion piece, the DH community expressed the view that “Never before has a state commission been empaneled on such a ‘Water is wet’ question. Of course the capital’s last Soviet eyesore (and symbol of brutal foreign domination) should be demolished and the 500 year old Vilna Jewish Cemetery restored. […] The argument that it can’t be touched because its preservation status is sacred and immutable to the end of time is an insult to modern democratic Lithuania and all who hold her dear.”
Scarcely had the document become public, when local media reported that the Working Group would be deciding what to do with the building preserved, which has been demonstrated to lie in the very center of the cemetery, rather than with the obvious question of ridding Vilnius of this hated Soviet eyesore (see takes by Norwilla, Kulikauskas, and Katz). Within the month, the Lithuanian government’s website itself published a statement in English sadly omitting the main question, and framing the Working Group’s remit in terms of “The working group is expected to present its proposals for the future of the building by the end of this year” (in other words incorporating the matter needing free and forthright discussion right into the foregone conclusion, otherwise known as malevolent circularity).