Opinion

Rabbi Elchonon Baron, Asserting that Bnei Brak Rabbi was Misrepresented, Makes Clear: ‘There Will NOT be a Museum on Shnípishok Cemetery’



DOCUMENTS | OPINION2023-2024 “WORKING GROUP” ON VILNA CEMETERY | LIST OF MEMBERSOLD VILNA JEWISH CEMETERY AT PIRAMÓNT | OPPOSITION TO CONVENTION CENTER | CONFERENCE OF EUROPEAN RABBIS (CER)THE “CPJCE” LONDON GRAVE TRADERS | CEMETERIES & MASS GRAVES | LITHUANIAN JEWISH COMMUNITY AFFAIRSHUMAN RIGHTS

Excerpts from Rabbi Elchonon Baron’s video:

“The use of any Jewish cemetery, for anything except the cemetery, is strictly forbidden in Jewish law and tradition. Most senior rabbis are very perplexed at the recent indication here in Vilna that perhaps there is an attempt to make a museum on the Shnípishok Cemetery, where our giants are buried. And they are claiming that this is in the name of senior rabbis. I mentioned to Rabbi Sariel Rosenberg [head of the Bnei Brak Beth Din] a few weeks ago that people are saying in his name that we can make a museum on the cemetery. We asked him exactly what it is possible to do. And he said: Nothing else — except matséyves [gravestones].

“There will not be a museum on Shnípishok Cemetery! There will not be a convention center! Woe is to anyone who tries. Because the Jewish souls want to rest in peace. Nothing will succeed there. There’s nothing to talk about. We won’t let it, it won’t happen!

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Posted in "Good Will Foundation" (Jewish Restitution in Lithuania), 2023-2024 'Working Group' on the Future of the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery, American Jewish Committee (AJC) in Lithuania, Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Christian-Jewish Issues, Conference of European Rabbis (CER), Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Opinion, Politics of Memory, Rabbi Elchonon Baron, Vilnius | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Rabbi Elchonon Baron, Asserting that Bnei Brak Rabbi was Misrepresented, Makes Clear: ‘There Will NOT be a Museum on Shnípishok Cemetery’

Building Sheets Down, Scaffolding Removed, Builders’ Barriers are “Last Stage” for “Noreika section” of National Library of Sciences Facade



OPINION | COLLABORATORS GLORIFIED | INS AND OUTS OF THE NOREIKA PLAQUE IN CENTRAL VILNIUS | NOREIKA SAGA | U.S.A.

Latest images (17 June 2024) from the cleaned facade that Lithuania’s friends hope will remain morally clean… This is the Vrublevskis Library of the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences in central Vilnius, several moments from Cathedral Square and Gedimino Boulevard.

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Posted in Antisemitism & Bias, Celebrations of Fascism, Collaborators Glorified, Ins and Outs of the Central Vilnius Noreika Plaque Glorifying a Brutal Holocaust Collaborator, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory, State Glorification of Holocaust Collaborator J. Noreika, Vilnius | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on Building Sheets Down, Scaffolding Removed, Builders’ Barriers are “Last Stage” for “Noreika section” of National Library of Sciences Facade

New ‘Lost Shtetl’ Museum Allegedly Blocks Public Release of Documentary on the Holocaust in Sheduva. Meantime, Film (and Trailer) are Circulating Widely


[LATEST UPDATE; ORIGINAL PUBLICATION: 27 APRIL 2023]

OPINION|FILM|BOLD CITIZENS|SAULIUS BERŽINIS|SHEDUVA | MUSEUM OF THE LOST SHTETL

Partial chronology of recent events in the life and times of modern Lithuania’s first major Holocaust truth teller, documentary film maker

Saulius Beržinis

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DEFENDING HISTORY’S BERŽINIS SECTION

What is it all about?

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Posted in Bold Citizens Speak Out, Film, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Museums, News & Views, Opinion, Saulius Beržinis, Šeduva (Sheduva, Shádeve, Shádov) and its "Museum of the Lost Shtetl" | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on New ‘Lost Shtetl’ Museum Allegedly Blocks Public Release of Documentary on the Holocaust in Sheduva. Meantime, Film (and Trailer) are Circulating Widely

The European Journey of Belgium’s Roland Binet: Warsaw to Rumbula (near Riga) and Ponár (near Vilnius)



MEMOIRSOPINION  |  HISTORY  |  BELGIUM

by Roland Binet  (De Panne, Belgium)

Until the age of seventeen I did not know at all that there were Jews. Following from that, I had moreover never heard anything of what happened to the Jews during World War II. My awakening came one evening in the fall of 1962.

I saw Frédéric Rossif’s documentary on the Warsaw Ghetto, Le Temps du Ghetto (‘The Time of the Ghetto’). I came away devastated, particularly shocked by the scenes of the starving children begging in the streets and by the “morning collection” of nude bodies picked up from the pavements and streets of Warsaw and transported by wheelbarrows and carts to a mass grave where the bodies were dumped without any respect. The images were at once revolting and unforgettable.

Screenshot from my ‘first shock’: Frédéric Rossif’s documentary on the Warsaw Ghetto, Le Temps du Ghetto (‘The Time of the Ghetto’)

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Posted in Belgium, History, Latvia, Lithuania, Memoirs, Music, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory, Roland Binet | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on The European Journey of Belgium’s Roland Binet: Warsaw to Rumbula (near Riga) and Ponár (near Vilnius)

Builders’ Curtain Down, Scaffolding Still Up, at Vilnius Science Library’s Facade: Will the Gov. Step in to ‘Just Say No’ to Plaque Glorifying a Collaborator in Genocide of Lithuanian Jewry during the Holocaust?



OPINION | COLLABORATORS GLORIFIED | INS AND OUTS OF THE NOREIKA PLAQUE IN CENTRAL VILNIUSNOREIKA SAGA | U.S.A.

Left: Before renovations. Right: Current stage of renovations. The question: What’s in store for this spot when the long-lasting renovations are finally complete?

Will the government of Lithuania, a proud, successful and delightful member of the European Union and NATO, stand up and state clearly that the Vilnius city-center plaque glorifying J. Noreika, a brutal Holocaust collaborator, removed a year ago in the run-up to July’s NATO conference (pretext: “renovations of the facade”), will not be put back?

“A state’s moral decisions are vital in determining the path for the future”

The builders’ sheets have come down. The scaffolding is still up. When the plaque was removed for renovations, Delfi.lt reported one year ago that the director of the National Library of Sciences, whose Noreika facade has damaged Lithuania’s standing, gave the plaque to a far-right, pro-fascist youth group “for safekeeping” while assuring the public that “the sign will be put back when the renovation works are completed.” Sources in the government have told Defending History that the plan of the far right is to replicate the “success of 2019” when removal of the plaque was followed by a far-right Nazi-sympathizing group coming by one night with a crowd to put it up (in that instance —to put up a bigger and better plaque with bas relief of the Holocaust collaborator), after which “nobody in the government or municipality would dare defy their fait accompli.”

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Posted in Antisemitism & Bias, Celebrations of Fascism, Christian-Jewish Issues, Collaborators Glorified, Ins and Outs of the Central Vilnius Noreika Plaque Glorifying a Brutal Holocaust Collaborator, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory, State Glorification of Holocaust Collaborator J. Noreika, United States | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on Builders’ Curtain Down, Scaffolding Still Up, at Vilnius Science Library’s Facade: Will the Gov. Step in to ‘Just Say No’ to Plaque Glorifying a Collaborator in Genocide of Lithuanian Jewry during the Holocaust?

“Museum of the Lost Shtetl” Forces Removal of Saulius Beržinis’s 5 Minute Youtube Trailer Featured on Yom HaShoah



OPINION | FILM | BOLD CITIZENS | SAULIUS BERŽINIS | SHEDUVA | MUSEUM OF THE LOST SHTETL

Five Minutes & Six Seconds:

The Satanic Verses of Sheduva, Lithuania?

Our take:

We sincerely regret that the directors, donors, and staff of the “Museum of the Lost Shtetl” in the town of Sheduva, Lithuania have not yet spoken out freely and publicly about removal from Youtube of the five minute and six second  trailer to Saulius Beržinis’s classic Holocaust documentary on Sheduva:

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Posted in Free Speech & Democracy, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Museums, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory, Saulius Beržinis, Šeduva (Sheduva, Shádeve, Shádov) and its "Museum of the Lost Shtetl" | Tagged , , , , , | Comments Off on “Museum of the Lost Shtetl” Forces Removal of Saulius Beržinis’s 5 Minute Youtube Trailer Featured on Yom HaShoah

Rwandan Genocide Remembrance Deserves Better than Being Lassoed into Baltic Holocaust Obfuscation Politics



OPINION | VILNIUS’S GENOCIDE CENTER | VILNIUS’S GENOCIDE MUSEUMTUSKULĖNAI PEACE PARKGLORIFYING COLLABORATORS | DOUBLE GENOCIDE | EVENTS

by Dovid Katz

Published reports today provided details and images of the solemn, significant, and meaningful April 24th commemoration ceremony remembering the victims of the Rwanda Genocide of the Tutsi. The commemoration event was organized by a partnership that included Vilnius’s Genocide Center and the Embassy of Rwanda. Among the participants was the ambassador of Rwanda, HE Olivier J.P. Nduhungirehe, resident in the Hague, whose remit includes also Lithuania.

The Defending History community avidly supports remembrance of the Rwandan Genocide, and all genocides.

The problem here in Vilnius is that such events are often subtly (or not so subtly) part of a program to legitimize and cover up for systematic and institutional downgrade, relativization and obfuscation of the Holocaust — the genocide that happened “right here” and resulted in the massacre of around 96% of Lithuanian Jewry, one of the highest rates in Europe. Even more painfully, the same efforts usually extend to the (ab)use of vast budgets and corralled academic knowhow to find ways and means to perpetuate state-sponsored glorification of actual Holocaust collaborators and perpetrators, or, in the more public arena, to invest fortunes in Judaic, Yiddish and (indeed) Holocaust events to cover up for, and deflect from the same.

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Posted in "Tuskulėnai Peace Park", Collaborators Glorified, Double Genocide, Dovid Katz, Events, Genocide Center (Vilnius), News & Views, Opinion | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Rwandan Genocide Remembrance Deserves Better than Being Lassoed into Baltic Holocaust Obfuscation Politics

Major Jewish Religious Publication, ‘Yated Ne’eman’, Calls for Campaign Against Latest Government Plan for Multipurpose Museum in the Middle of Sacred Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery



 OPINION | 2023-2024 “WORKING GROUP” ON VILNA CEMETERY | WHO ARE THE MEMBERS? | OLD VILNA JEWISH CEMETERY AT PIRAMÓNT | OPPOSITION TO CONVENTION CENTER | THE “CPJCE”  | CEMETERIES & MASS GRAVES | HUMAN RIGHTS

VILNIUS—The major Jewish Orthodox publication Yated Ne’eman featured a full page eve-of-Passover protest today against the most recent Lithuanian government plans to desecrate the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in the Shnípishok/Šnipiškės district) by retaining, remodeling and converting a huge and widely hated Soviet dump plonked in the middle of the cemetery into a modern de facto museum commemorating an array of Jewish, Lithuanian and general historical issues. Religious Jews, secular humanists, and human rights activists for whom the rights of the deceased to lie in peace are indeed human rights, all continue to argue that the cemetery belongs to those buried in it. Thousands are still buried in this cemetery in plots purchased in perpetuity by their families over around half a millennium.

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Posted in 2023-2024 'Working Group' on the Future of the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery, Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Opinion | Comments Off on Major Jewish Religious Publication, ‘Yated Ne’eman’, Calls for Campaign Against Latest Government Plan for Multipurpose Museum in the Middle of Sacred Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery

Two Statements by Prof. Sid Leiman, To Date Only Member of Commission on Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery to Resist ‘Directed Foregone Conclusion’



DOCUMENTS | 2023 “WORKING GROUP” ON VILNA CEMETERY | OLD VILNA JEWISH CEMETERY AT PIRAMÓNT | OPPOSITION TO CONVENTION CENTER | THE “CPJCE” LONDON GRAVE TRADERS | CEMETERIES & MASS GRAVES | LITHUANIAN JEWISH COMMUNITY AFFAIRS | HUMAN RIGHTS

The office of Professor Sid Leiman, a member of the Commission (or “Working Group”) established in 2023 to advise Lithuania’s prime minister on the future of the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery, today released for the public record two statements, both of 28 November 2023. One is his letter to Prime Minister Ingrida Šimonytė, which itself forwarded to the PM his earlier letter of the same date to fellow Commission members. The two attachments, one in Hebrew and one in English, were both published at the time by Defending History. They are the Hebrew and the English version of the call by four leading heads of Lithuanian heritage yeshivas around the world. In short order, a fifth head of a Lithuanian yeshiva wrote separately for the record.


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Posted in 2023-2024 'Working Group' on the Future of the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery, Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Documents, Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Opinion, Sid (Shnayer) Leiman | Comments Off on Two Statements by Prof. Sid Leiman, To Date Only Member of Commission on Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery to Resist ‘Directed Foregone Conclusion’

A Great European City’s 700th Birthday: Will They Now Take Down Vilnius Public-Space Honors for Holocaust Collaborators?


[LATEST UPDATE. PAGE PUBLISHED ON 1 JAN. 2023]

VILNIUS—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 pulsates even today on the city’s charming streets. He is surely looking down on his city aghast at these “monuments” (in effect) to Aryanist ethnic purity, via the glorification of “nationalist heroes” who joined the Holocaust to kill as many Jewish citizens as possible. The Gediminist spirit will emerge triumphant, wait and see…

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Posted in Antisemitism & Bias, Collaborators Glorified, Ins and Outs of the Central Vilnius Noreika Plaque Glorifying a Brutal Holocaust Collaborator, Kazys Škirpa, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Opinion, Vilnius | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments Off on A Great European City’s 700th Birthday: Will They Now Take Down Vilnius Public-Space Honors for Holocaust Collaborators?

A ‘Shameful’ Public Letter by Five Vilnius Architects: Would They Be Saying This About a Christian Lithuanian Cemetery of 500 Years’ Vintage?



DOCUMENTS | OPINION | OLD VILNA JEWISH CEMETERY AT PIRAMÓNT | OPPOSITION TO CONVENTION CENTER | THE “CPJCE” LONDON GRAVE TRADERS | CEMETERIES & MASS GRAVES | LITHUANIAN JEWISH COMMUNITY AFFAIRS | HUMAN RIGHTS

VILNIUS—Five eminent Vilnius architects have released to the public domain a letter to the mayor of Vilnius expressing their passionate views on the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in the Shnípishok section, today’s Šnipiškės in beautiful, modern Vilnius). Many thousands of Vilna Jewish citizens still lie buried in the cemetery, though the Soviets pilfered all the gravestones and constructed the hated “Sports Palace” (long a derelict, dangerous ruin) in its center, followed by construction of “the two green buildings” under Lithuanian sovereignty early in the twenty-first century.

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Posted in 2023-2024 'Working Group' on the Future of the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery, Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Documents, Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Opinion, Vilnius | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments Off on A ‘Shameful’ Public Letter by Five Vilnius Architects: Would They Be Saying This About a Christian Lithuanian Cemetery of 500 Years’ Vintage?

Vilnius Chabad Rabbi, Sholom Ber Krinsky, Circulates Appeal on Closing of Synagogue, Cites Concerns on Entanglement of ‘Conference of European Rabbis’ (CER) in Local Shenanigans



OPINION | DOCUMENTS | LITHUANIAN JEWISH COMMUNITY AFFAIRS | CHABAD IN VILNIUS | CONFERENCE OF EUROPEAN RABBIS (CER)

VILNIUS—A public statement distributed via email today by Rabbi Sholom Ber Krinsky, Vilnius’s Chabad rabbi for thirty years, and the only full-time resident rabbi in the city during the three decade period, has by this evening reached hundreds, or possibly thousands, and is in the public domain. Defending History provides the text below, noting that the prime topic, the closure of the city’s Choral Synagogue for several months now on orders of the chairperson of the state-financed “Lithuanian Jewish Community” invokes such episodes in previous years, and had recently been the subject of an earlier public statement by Rabbi Elchonon Baron. Readers interested in more background are invited to peruse the following Defending History sections: Chabad in Lithuania; Lithuanian Jewish Community Affairs; Good Will Foundation (GWF); American Jewish Committee (AJC) and its damaging meddling in Lithuanian Jewish affairs; the Conference of European Rabbis (CER).

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Posted in "Good Will Foundation" (Jewish Restitution in Lithuania), American Jewish Committee (AJC) in Lithuania, Chabad in Vilnius, Conference of European Rabbis (CER), Lithuania, Lithuania's Jewish Community Issues, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Opinion | Tagged , , , , , | Comments Off on Vilnius Chabad Rabbi, Sholom Ber Krinsky, Circulates Appeal on Closing of Synagogue, Cites Concerns on Entanglement of ‘Conference of European Rabbis’ (CER) in Local Shenanigans

Rabbi Elchonon Baron Adds Powerful Voice to International Appeals to ‘Working Group’ to Abandon Refurbishment of Hated Soviet Ruin and Restore the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery



DOCUMENTS | OPINION2023 “WORKING GROUP” ON VILNA CEMETERY | OLD VILNA JEWISH CEMETERY AT PIRAMÓNT | OPPOSITION TO CONVENTION CENTER | THE “CPJCE” LONDON GRAVE TRADERS | CEMETERIES & MASS GRAVES | LITHUANIAN JEWISH COMMUNITY AFFAIRSHUMAN RIGHTS

VILNIUS—Shortly before yesterday’s meeting in Vilnius of the Lithuanian prime minister’s Working Group (commission) on the fate of the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramont in the Shnípishok district (today’s Snipiskes section of modern Vilnius), the commission’s members received the text of the rabbinic edict signed by four of the world’s greatest Lithuanian-tradition (Litvak, Litvish) heads of yeshivas around the world, making clear that no museum, memorial center or other functional building may ever be set up or operate on hallowed Jewish cemetery grounds.

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Posted in 2023-2024 'Working Group' on the Future of the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery, Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Opinion, Rabbi Elchonon Baron | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on Rabbi Elchonon Baron Adds Powerful Voice to International Appeals to ‘Working Group’ to Abandon Refurbishment of Hated Soviet Ruin and Restore the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery

Julius Norwilla’s Final Appeal to the Members of the ‘Working Group’ asked to Help Determine Fate of the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery



OPINION | 2023 “WORKING GROUP” ON VILNA CEMETERY | OLD VILNA JEWISH CEMETERY AT PIRAMÓNT | OPPOSITION TO CONVENTION CENTER | THE “CPJCE” LONDON GRAVE TRADERS | CEMETERIES & MASS GRAVES | LITHUANIAN JEWISH COMMUNITY AFFAIRS | HUMAN RIGHTS

by Julius Norwilla (Vilnius)

D

ear eminent members of the Prime Minister’s Working Group assembling this week in Vilnius to carry forth your deliberations on the future of the sacred Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in the Šnipiškės district of modern Vilnius, Yiddish Šnipiškės):

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Posted in Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Human Rights, Julius Norwilla, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Opinion | Tagged , , | Comments Off on Julius Norwilla’s Final Appeal to the Members of the ‘Working Group’ asked to Help Determine Fate of the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery

A Masterclass in Orwellian Discourse: The Vilnius Cemetery Commission Minutes of 26 October 2023



OPINION | DOCUMENTS | 2023 “WORKING GROUP” ON VILNA CEMETERY | OLD VILNA JEWISH CEMETERY AT PIRAMÓNT | OPPOSITION TO CONVENTION CENTER | THE “CPJCE” LONDON GRAVE TRADERSCEMETERIES & MASS GRAVES | LITHUANIAN JEWISH COMMUNITY AFFAIRS | HUMAN RIGHTS

by Dovid Katz

This week’s release of the official minutes, in Lithuanian and in English, of the 26 October 2023 meeting of the current international “Working Group” (list of members) established to advise on the future of the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in the Shnípishok district, today’s Šnipiškės) contain some passages, in the view of this journal, worthy of George Orwell. Here are some samples from the official English language text (the entirety of which appears below, and is available in PDF format). Each quote in bold text is followed by some commentary.

“The objective is to honour and commemorate the centuries-long history of Lithuanian Jews and the Šnipiškės cemetery.”

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Posted in 2023-2024 'Working Group' on the Future of the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery, Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Conference of European Rabbis (CER), Documents, Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Opinion | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on A Masterclass in Orwellian Discourse: The Vilnius Cemetery Commission Minutes of 26 October 2023

Rabbi Elchonon Baron, Citing ‘Morally Despicable Plan to turn the Shnipishok Cemetery into a Museum’ Tells the World: ‘I will Not Remain Silent’



OPINION | DOCUMENTS2023 “WORKING GROUP” ON VILNA CEMETERYOLD VILNA JEWISH CEMETERY AT PIRAMÓNT | OPPOSITION TO CONVENTION CENTERCEMETERIES & MASS GRAVES | LITHUANIAN JEWISH COMMUNITY AFFAIRS | HUMAN RIGHTS | CHABAD IN VILNIUS

VILNIUS—In a 1 Nov. 2023 statement circulating widely among Lithuanian officials as well as local and international Jewish leaders, Rabbi Elchonon Baron, head of the Lithuanian-tradition Yeshiva Ahavas Torah Baranovich, based in Jerusalem, writing in the capacity of rabbinical emissary to Lithuania representing the Council of Torah Sages of the US and Canada, challenges the extended closure of Vilnius’s Choral Synagogue at 69 Pylimo Street as point of departure for his critique of some of the government’s Jewish policies (including its supply of tens of millions of euros in “restitution” to the alleged control of a tiny number of government-indebted individuals, one of them representing the American Jewish Committee or AJC). The new statement is a follow-up to his publicly released letter to the prime minister and speaker of the Seimas (parliament) of 24 Sept. 2023. Rabbi Baron’s late father was the legendary Litvak head-of-yeshiva Rabbi Aryeh Leib Baron.

The issue of the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery is the focus of one passage in the just-released statement.

“[…] (like the morally despicable plan to turn the Shnipishok cemetery into a museum)? I will not remain silent, no matter how many groups and people the Lithuanian government manages to pay off and silence through their well-paid proxies.”

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Posted in Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Chabad in Vilnius, Human Rights, Lithuania, Lithuania's Jewish Community Issues, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Opinion, Rabbi Elchonon Baron, Vilnius | Tagged , , , , , | Comments Off on Rabbi Elchonon Baron, Citing ‘Morally Despicable Plan to turn the Shnipishok Cemetery into a Museum’ Tells the World: ‘I will Not Remain Silent’

Ruta Bloshtein, Author of Successful Petition, Calls on Jewish Orthodox Members of ‘Cemetery Commission’ to Stand Up for Preservation and Restoration of the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery



OPINION | OLD VILNA JEWISH CEMETERY | VILNIUS | CEMETERIES | LITVAK AFFAIRS

Ruta Bloshtein

VILNIUSRuta Bloshtein, author of the Change.org petition that garnered over 50,000 signatures and played a major role in the internationally praised 2021 cancellation by Lithuania’s prime minister of the project to turn the Soviet-era “Sports Palace” (Sporto rumai) ruin into a national congress center, today released for publication her 25 October letter to the Jewish Orthodox members appointed — in an apparent effort to confer legitimacy — to the current “working group” (commission) established, many believe, to rubber stamp a  state (and Turto Bankas) project to renovate (rather than demolish) the Soviet eyesore that sits in the middle of the cemetery. Without even mentioning the view that hated Soviet ruin should be removed, official commission minutes include an array of future conference-center, museum, memorial and other public space aspirations, including business (and builders’) interests’ visuals, but not including a hint of the extant visuals in support of cemetery preservation and restoration.

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Posted in 2023-2024 'Working Group' on the Future of the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery, Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Opinion, Ruta (Reyzke) Bloshtein, Vilnius | Tagged , , | Comments Off on Ruta Bloshtein, Author of Successful Petition, Calls on Jewish Orthodox Members of ‘Cemetery Commission’ to Stand Up for Preservation and Restoration of the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery

A Different Kind of Holocaust Artist: Auschwitz Survivor David Olère’s Unedited and Unabastracted Realism



OPINION  |  ARTS  |  BOOKS  | HISTORY  |  POLITICS OF MEMORY

by Roland Binet (De Panne, Belgium)

I want to share with our readers a remarkable book with reproductions of paintings and drawings by and about David Olère who had been a member of a Sonderkommando in Auschwitz-Birkenau. But after the war he felt his mission was to bear witness to the truth, including the horrendous scenes he had seen and himself been part of: Vergessen oder Vergeben – Bilder aus der Todeszone by Alexandre Oler and David Olère [= David Oler]; zu Klampen! (Verlag- Springe/Deutschland; originally published in French in 1998 by his son Alexandre Oler: Un genocide en heritage.

Despite the millions of Jews killed by bullets or who died of beatings, pogroms, hunger or ill treatment in Poland and in the Republics of the USSR, the iconic symbols of Nazi evil remain, for a large segment of the world population, the gas chambers and crematories of Auschwitz-Birkenau and the five other extermination camps in Poland. Historians have stressed the fact that the Nazi killers and their helpers sometimes found those mass slaughters by bullets or asphyxiation inside trucks where monoxide of carbon had been injected to be too tedious and harsh to bear for the executioners. So, Nazi Germany switched to mass killings in gas chambers with Zyklon B and – concerned about leaving traces – devised the crematories. Searching for the roots of this industrialization process, Simon Wiesenthal had already come to that conclusion very early (as quoted by Guido Knopp in Die SS – Eine Warnung der Geschichte).

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Posted in Arts, Books, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory, Roland Binet | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on A Different Kind of Holocaust Artist: Auschwitz Survivor David Olère’s Unedited and Unabastracted Realism

Are Members of the ‘International Working Group’ Being Tragically Misinformed on Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery?



OPINION | VILNIUS | OLD VILNA JEWISH CEMETERY | CEMETERIES | LITVAK AFFAIRS

by Julius Norwilla (Vilnius)

Like my fellow campaigners, over the years, in opposition to the project to plonk a national convention center in the heart of the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery (via refurbishment of a hated Soviet “Sports Palace” dump that should have long ago been demolished), I felt nothing but relief and the need to express congratulations back in the summer of 2021 when our prime minister wisely cancelled the project. Over two years later, there is again fear, among Jews, Lithuanians, and many around the world who respect the right of the dead to lie in peace (verily a part of Human Rights), even when they are members of a minority. When the buried belong to a nation’s ethnic majority, there are usual no serious efforts to situate conference centers surrounded by subterranean graves (even when the above-ground gravestones have long disappeared).

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Other Soviet structures in Vilnius: “landmark status” withdrawn & rapidly knocked down

Members of the latest (& current) international commission

Saga of the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery

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Posted in 2023-2024 'Working Group' on the Future of the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery, Antisemitism & Bias, Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Human Rights, Julius Norwilla, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Opinion, Vilnius | Tagged , , , , , | Comments Off on Are Members of the ‘International Working Group’ Being Tragically Misinformed on Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery?

Furore over the ‘Baron Memorandum’ to Lithuania’s Prime Minister and Speaker of Seimas


[LAST UPDATE: 15 OCT.]

DOCUMENTS | OPINION | HUMAN RIGHTS | OLD VILNA JEWISH CEMETERY AT PIRAMÓNT | OPPOSITION TO CONVENTION CENTERCEMETERIES & MASS GRAVES | LITHUANIAN JEWISH COMMUNITY AFFAIRS | CHABAD IN VILNIUS

First, the documents.

All these recent documents, circulated by now to hundreds (if not thousands) of recipients, whether by direct email blast or by multiple forwards of such blasts (by their own authors’ offices and supporters), are, needless to say, now in the public domain, and form part of an important record for the issues of today, and for the chronicles of history.

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Posted in Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Conference of European Rabbis (CER), Documents, Human Rights, Lithuania, Lithuania's Jewish Community Issues, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Opinion | Tagged , , , , , | Comments Off on Furore over the ‘Baron Memorandum’ to Lithuania’s Prime Minister and Speaker of Seimas