VILNIUS—This week, Wednesday the 23rd of May, as for a number of years, Vilnius and its Jewish community will be welcoming a group of truly inspiring Israelis who have made the bold decision to visit the land of their forefathers, to honor the memory of the victims of the Holocaust and to work to increase awareness about the historic truth of history’s worst genocide while establishing relations with the delightful citizens —of all backgrounds — of modern democratic Lithuania. The blossoming of Lithuanian-Jewish and Lithuanian-Israeli relations is a blessing to be nurtured. But not to be abused.
VILNIUS—“There is nothing new under the sun,” as the Good Book says (Ecclesiastes 1:9). Sure, on occasion, Irish communities will feud in Boston, Italians in New York, Chinese in LA and Lithuanians in Chicago. It is part of the professional training, posture, and policy of diplomats to negotiate such inevitabilities by way of common sense, wisdom, and fairness. For years now, the widely admired German ambassador to Lithuania, HE Jutta Schmitz has kept her embassy’s diplomatic table open to people and organizations, governmental and non-governmental, from across the colorfully diverse spectrum of opinion in Lithuania. It is not known whether the recent completion of her Vilnius ambassadorship and departure from Lithuania, and the temporary vacancy, had anything to do with the embassy’s recent, and quite innocent, faux-pas.
Posted in Commemorations for Destroyed Communities, Germany, Israel, Lithuania, Lithuania's Jewish Community Issues, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Opinion, Ponár (Ponary, Paneriai), Simon Gurevich (Simonas Gurevičius)
Tagged Ambassador Jutta Schmitz (Vilnius), Faina Kukliansky, German Embassy in Vilnius, Lithuania, Lithuanian Jewish Community (LJC), Simon Gurevich (Simonas Gurevicius), Vilnius Jewish Community (VJC)
VILNIUS—When Lithuania’s official chief rabbi of eleven years’ standing, Rabbi Chaim Burshtein, was dismissed last summer after disagreeing with the government’s plan to erect a national convention center in the heart of Vilna’s old Jewish cemetery, the event caught the attention of both local and international media. It was quietly hoped, both in Vilnius and abroad, that the eventual replacement would be loyal to sacred Jewish causes (see Rabbi Burshtein’s final statement of his tenure in Vilnius), someone who would not dare, for the considerations of a job, betray the letter and spirit of Jewish law, or the living and the deceased actual Jews of Vilna over the centuries. See Prof. Shnayer Leiman’s essay on the subject, our editor’s summary, a satiric Motke Chabad take, and Dr. Bernard Fryshman’s reminder that “Even now, the cemetery contains the bodies of the Chayey Odom and the Be’eyr ha-Goylo among many others.” A second essay by Professor Leiman paves the way for inspiring reconstruction of many of the major historic structures of Lithuania’s foremost Jewish cemetery.
by Vulovak (Vilnius) for DefendingHistory.com
Posted in "Jewish" Events as Cover?, Cemeteries and Mass Graves, CPJCE (London), Identity Theft of Litvak Heritage, Lithuania, Lithuania's Jewish Community Issues, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Politics of Memory, Ponár (Ponary, Paneriai)
Tagged CPJCE, Piramont (Snipiskes), Rabbi Samson Daniel Izakson, Rabbi Samson Izakson in Vilnius, Vilna Jewish cemetery
The national Lithuanian television channel Lietuvos rytas TV recently (on May 4) broadcast a show by veteran talk-show host Rūta Grinevičiūtė (surname recently changed to Janutienė) called Nuoga Tiesa, “Naked Truth,” which posed the question, “Do you want the Jews to return again [sic] to Lithuania?” Viewers were invited to call in and/or vote by special telephone lines for Yes and No with a one euro toll per call. For that and a number of other reasons the entire program had something of the macabre about it, and although some of the guests made some important points, all of them seemed to miss certain glaring details which would have been the center of attention in the West.
Posted in Antisemitism & Bias, Geoff Vasil, History, Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Media Watch, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory, Ponár (Ponary, Paneriai), Rūta Vanagaitė
Tagged Antisemitism in Eastern Europe, Antisemitism in Lithuania, Darius Kuolys, Geoff Vasil, Holocaust in Lithuania, Julius Panka, Ponar (Paneriai, Ruta Vanagaite, Shimon Gurevich, Simonas Gurevicius, Tomas Baranauskas
O P I N I O N
VILNIUS—Ronaldas Račinskas, executive director of the Lithuanian-government financed “International Commission for the Evaluation of the Crimes of the Nazi and Soviet Occupation Regimes in Lithuania,” widely known for brevity as the “Red-Brown Commission,” has revealed — on camera, to the producers of the documentary film Liza Ruft — his thoughts about the “war crimes investigation” into Fania Brantsovsky. The video clip of his statement was released today on Youtube.
Posted in "Red-Brown Commission", A 21st Century Campaign Against Lithuanian Holocaust Survivors?, Double Games, Double Genocide, EU, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Opinion, Ponár (Ponary, Paneriai), Views of Mr. Ronaldas Račinskas and the State-Sponsored "International Commission" (ICECNSORL)
Tagged Fania Brancovskaja, Fania Brancovskaya, Fania Brantsovsky, Holocaust in Lithuania, International Commission for the Evaluation of the Crimes of the Nazi and Soviet Occupation Regimes in Lithuania, Mickey Cantor, Red-Brown Commission, Ronaldas Racinskas
O P I N I O N
by Dovid Katz
Christmas-time congratulations are due to the four architects who have won the Vilnius state Jewish museum’s competition for plans to build a Holocaust museum at the mass murder site known as Ponár in Yiddish, Ponary before the war in Polish, and currently Lithuanian Paneriai. It is a short ride outside the capital city Vilnius. The victory of the foursome, Jautra Bernotaitė, Ronaldas Pučka (team leader), Andrius Ropolas and Paulius Vaitiekūnas, is announced on the museum’s website (and on Mr. Ropolas’s site). The competition was jointly run with the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Lithuania. The elaborate description of the project’s conception, by the Union of Architects, includes many sophisticated concepts, with multiple learned citations, from Freud to Foucault. Just one rather simpler word, a word (and exhibit) needed for any Holocaust museum, is missing from the text: collaboration.
Posted in "Jewish" Events as Cover?, Commemorations for Destroyed Communities, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Museums, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory, Ponár (Ponary, Paneriai)
Tagged Andrius Ropolas, Holocaust memorials, Holocaust museums, Jautra Bernotaitė, Jewish State Museum of Lithuania, Kazimierz Sakowicz, new museum at Ponar, Paneriai, Paulius Vaitiekūnas, Ponar, Ponary), Rachel Margolis, Ronaldas Pučka
O P I N I O N
by Sebastian Hager
Iwas proud to serve as Austria’s remembrance volunteer (Gedenkdiener) in 2013-2014. Based in Vilnius in the Green House, the country’s only serious Holocaust exhibit, I was able to travel extensively and meet Lithuanian citizens from a wide variety of backgrounds. Despite all the hype, the Jewish heritage is not really in the best of shape. There is a lot of ignorance combined with an ethnocentric nationalist worldview.
by Roland Binet (Braine-l’Alleud, Belgium)
This composition, Rumbula and Ponár, memorializes the victims of the two most infamous mass murder sites of Latvia and Lithuania, Rumbula outside Riga, and Ponár (Polish Ponary, Lithuanian Paneriai) outside Vilnius. More than 130,000 people were killed in total at these two sites. The majority were Jews but there were many others of diverse ethnic and social background at Ponár.
The unfortunate and wasteful campaign of Holocaust obfuscation waged by certain East European state institutions continues apace. The level of investment continues to strike outsiders as puzzling, given current economic and cultural issues and the younger population’s clear focus on the future and a better life for all in the new and multicultural European Union. Here in Lithuania, the first victims of the government’s (rather Soviet-style) “genocide industry” are the hard-working people of the country who deserve more judicious disbursement of their nation’s resources. The state-sponsored Genocide Center has just released three simultaneous editions (English, Lithuanian and Russian) of a new book on the Vilna Ghetto by historian Arūnas Bubnys, its own “director of the Genocide and Resistance Research Department.”
Dr. Bubnys is also a member of the state-sponsored “International Commission for the Evaluation of the Crimes of the Nazi and Soviet Occupation Regimes in Lithuania” (known for short as the “red-brown commission”). He was one of a minority of members of the Commission who refused to sign the (in the opinion of some, inadequate) letter of 14 October 2013 to Dr. Yitzhak Arad.
Posted in "Red-Brown Commission", Books, Double Games, Double Genocide, Dovid Katz, EU, Genocide Center (Vilnius), History, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Opinion, Poland, Politics of Memory, Ponár (Ponary, Paneriai)
Tagged Arunas Bubnys, Genocide Center Vilnius, Holocaust Obfuscation, International Commission for the Evaluation of the Crimes of the Nazi and Soviet Occupation Regimes in Lithuania, Lithuania, Vilna Ghetto, Vilnius, Yitzhak Arad
E Y E W I T N E S S R E P O R T / O P I N I O N
The ceremony today to commemorate Lithuanian Holocaust victims at Ponár, the country’s largest mass murder site, outside the capital city of Vilnius, on the day officially known as Day to Commemorate the Lithuanian Jewish Victims of Genocide, went off pretty much as most official commemorations do here: inappropriate and with seeming desperation to focus on any topic except the circumstances of the actual Lithuanian Holocaust—the massive collaboration and participation that led to the country’s having the highest proportion of Holocaust murder in Europe.
Ponár is the site’s Yiddish name. It is today Paneriai and is known as Ponary in Polish.
The official date, the 23rd of September was marked this year on the 24th, apparently so officials wouldn’t have to interrupt their weekend break.
Posted in "Jewish" Events as Cover?, Commemorations for Destroyed Communities, Double Games, Double Genocide, Dovid Katz, Events, Foreign Ministries: Holocaust Politics Abuse?, Identity Theft of Litvak Heritage, Israel, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory, Ponár (Ponary, Paneriai), Symbology, Vilnius Mayor Remigijus Šimašius
Tagged Lithuanian-Israeli Relations, Menachem Begin + Vilnius, Ponar (Paneriai, Ponary), Remigijus Šimašius, Vilna Ghetto commemoration
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.]
From: Dovid Katz [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
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.
Posted in Documents, Double Genocide, Israel, Lithuania, Museums, News & Views, Politics of Memory, Ponár (Ponary, Paneriai), Yad Vashem Manipulated?
Tagged Avner Shalev, Chen Ivri Apter, Dovid Katz, Holocaust in Lithuania, House of Memory (Vilnius), Linas Vildziunas, Yad Vashem + Lithuania, Yossi Gevir
Note: This news box was posted on page one until the end of 19 April 2012.
Photos by Richard Schofield (© R. Schofield). Text by Dovid Katz. From a visit on 18 November 2011.
Which is worse?
A Genocide Museum on ground zero of the Holocaust in Eastern Europe that does not mention the Holocaust,
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. . .
Posted in Collaborators Glorified, Exotic Jewish Tourism, Genocide Center (Vilnius), History, Legacy of 23 June 1941, Museums, News & Views, Politics of Memory, Ponár (Ponary, Paneriai), Symbology
O P I N I O N
by Faina Kukliansky
The following is the approved text of the speech by Faina Kukliansky at the September 23rd commemoration ceremony at Ponár (Paneriai), the mass murder site near Vilnius where some 70,000 Jews from the city and its surrounding areas, and around 30,000 non-Jews, were murdered by the Nazis and their local partners. A prominent attorney and constitutional specialist, Kukliansky is chairperson of the Vilnius Jewish Community and deputy chairperson of the Jewish Community of Lithuania. The text was translated from the Lithuanian by Geoff Vasil and approved by the author.
In 1994 September 23rd was declared the day of commemoration for Lithuanian Jewish genocide victims, dedicated to honoring the victims. The Vilna Ghetto was liquidated on 23 September 1943 when the last surviving Jewish residents of the Lithuanian capital were murdered or sent to concentration camps abroad.
Despite efforts by officials to suppress the photographs of the July 2011 desecration at the Ponár (Paneriai) mass murder site outside Vilnius, a cellphone image was released today to DefendingHistory.com by a former employee of the Tolerance Center who reported that he felt obliged by conscience to release the image. The Tolerance Center is the headquarters of the state Jewish museum which in addition to three addresses in Vilnius, runs the small museum at the Ponár site, where the desecration took place. This is the image of the paint attack on the main monument: