The Survivor community and its supporters, Holocaust studies and commemoration circles, and numerous members of the Lithuanian Jewish community felt betrayed by the largely secret Holocaust education conference organized by the US embassy in Vilnius from 29 November to 3 December 2010, in close cooperation with local state-sponsored ‘Double Genocide’ proponents. The event included excellent individual scholars and educators, both from Lithuania and abroad, alongside notoriously obfuscationist local institutions, including the ‘Red-Brown Commission’ and the Genocide Research Center.
O P I N I O N
by Nida Vasiliauskaitė
I read Kęstutis Girnius’s and Leonidas Donskis’s essays on this more than once and can’t get rid of some strange impressions. Even if I pretended that I knew nothing about the Provisional Government, the LAF and that historical period in general, and my only source of information were these two texts addressed to each other, they would suffice to start to make clear some things not just about the past, but also about its intimate connection with the present. How this is being talked about here and now is not less important than that (and the things connected with that) which actually happened.
Lithuania’s Foreign Ministry announced on 14 December 2010 that it was the initiator of a new demand from six East European countries ― Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania — to Viviane Reding, European Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship, that Double Genocide sentiments, and support for effective criminalization of the view that the Holocaust was a unique genocide, be incorporated in the new Stockholm Programme before the end of 2010. Less than a week earlier, Lithuania’s president took the same demand with her to a meeting in Brussels.
Extract (from original posting by François Guesnet, Corob Reader in Jewish History, University College London) from the description of the (foregone?) conclusions of the “No Simples Stories” conference on 6-10 February 2011:
Lithuanian Activist Front (LAF) Prewar Proclamations on Plans for their Jewish Fellow-Citizens of Lithuania
What did the Lithuanian Activist Front (LAF) put in writing concerning its intentions for fellow citizens who were Jews in the days and weeks before the German invaders took actual control of various locations within Lithuania?
These excerpts are all from the translations from Lithuanian in the English edition of Joseph Levinson’s The Shoah (Holocaust) in Lithuania (Vilna Gaon Jewish State Museum of Lithuania: Vilnius 2006). The full texts (or much larger excerpts) appear in the chapter Documents Speak available here as PDF by permission of Joseph Levinson.
VILNIUS—The following is the text of HE Polish ambassador Janusz Skolimowski’s 26 November letter in Veidas, which the ambassador copied to Lithuania’s Minister of the Interior. This authorized English translation was kindly provided to Defending History by the Embassy of Poland here. The letter followed one by seven other ambassadors regarding the same events in Lithuania.
From: Ambassador of the Republic of Poland in Vilnius
To: Editor-in-Chief of the weekly magazine “Veidas”
For the attention of: Mr. Raimundas Palaitis, Minister of the Interior of the Republic of Lithuania
Concerns: Article of Petras Stankeras dated November 14th, 2010:
“The International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg — the biggest legal farce in history”
Dear Mr. Editor-in-Chief,
O P I N I O N
by Clemens Heni
An Open Letter to the Scholars Reading Papers at the 6-7 February UCL-Warburg Symposium in London
On February 6 and 7 of 2011, there will be a conference held in London, entitled “No simple stories: Jewish-Lithuanian relations between coexistence and violence”. Taking into account that some 95% of Lithuanian Jews were killed during the Holocaust — the highest percentage in all of Europe — this is quite a heartbreaking title, isn’t it?
“No simple stories” — really? For those Lithuanians involved, killing Jews was quite simple, even before the Germans arrived.
“No simple stories.”
O P I N I O N
This comment appeared in today’s Jewish Chronicle (London) and is reposted here by the author’s permission.
A financially-strapped small Eastern European country is spending tens of thousands of pounds to sponsor an extraordinarily large number of political and cultural events ― lectures, concerts, exhibitions and films ― in London next week. Why? That is the obvious question for the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry, several Lithuanian cultural institutions, and local UK partners.
Under the heading No Simple Stories; Jewish-Lithuanian relationships: facing difficult questions, the events are projected as an honest attempt to address the ostensibly complex history of Lithuania’s once very large Jewish community, which was irreparably decimated during the Holocaust — 96.4% of the 220,000 Jews who lived in Lithuania under the Nazi occupation were slaughtered, with the help of a large number of local collaborators.
O P I N I O N
by Shimon Alperovich
The following is Rachel Croucher’s authorized translation of the interview with Lithuanian Jewish Community chairperson Dr. Shimon Alperovich published in German by Frank Brendle in Taz.de.
YEAR OF REMEMBRANCE: In the Lithuanian year of remembrance the Holocaust is under threat of being forgotten while surviving Jewish partisans have been the subject of a campaign for some years. Conversation with Simonas Alperavičius, President of the Jewish Community of Lithuania. INTERVIEW BY FRANK BRENDLE, 04.02.2011
Mr Alperavičius, the 70th anniversary of the Nazi occupation of Lithuania falls this year, as well as twenty years of independence from the Soviet Union. What will take priority?
Text of the letter delivered to the Lithuanian ambassador in London Monday morning 7 February 2011 by the Right Honourable Denis MacShane MP. The letter was drafted by Danny Ben-Moshe and evolved with input from the other signatories. Signatories include Lord Janner of Braunstone, Rabbi Barry Marcus of Central Synagogue, and Professor Ada Rapoport-Albert, head of the Department of Hebrew and Jewish Studies at University College London which hosted the main conference. PDF here. Background and further links to press coverage here.
H.E. Dr Oskaras Jusys
Embassy of the Republic of Lithuania
84 Gloucester Place
London W1U 6AU
7 February 2011
A report on the website of the Board of Deputies of British Jews reveals that Holocaust Obfuscation is gaining ground rapidly as a highly specific term for the phenomenon of ‘denying without denying’ in the context of the far right’s Double Genocide revisionism prevalent in post-Soviet Eastern Europe and especially the Baltics. The Board’s summary of a meeting held with the Lithuanian ambassador to London, HE Dr Oskaras Jusys noted that:
Reply to Rokas Grajauskas: Condemnation of Communism Does Not Require Submission to Double Genocide, Holocaust Obfuscation, or the Recent Deterioration in Civil Society and Free Speech in Lithuania
O P I N I O N
by Dovid Katz
Rokas Grajauskas cites me in his recent article on these pages as invoking the notion Holocaust Obfuscation (a term I proposed at a London seminar in February 2008, then formally in 2009) to refer to “the efforts of the post-Communist countries to revive the memory of Stalin’s crimes.” Nothing could be further from the truth. The web journal I edit, DefendingHistory.com, although dedicated primarily to the battle against trivialization of the Holocaust and the concomitant racism and antisemitism of the new Far Right in Eastern Europe, contains a page on Soviet crimes, where I wholeheartedly embrace such Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly resolutions as 1096 (1996) and 1481 (2006), which wisely and rightly condemn Soviet crimes. It is vital that the full extent of these crimes be documented, the victims honored, the subject properly taught in international curricula, museums and memorializing institutions established, and justice pursued to the full extent of law. It is every bit as vital that Western commitment to Baltic security and independence remain unwavering, what with a huge unpredictable neighbor “with a certain past” (and unclear future) situated to the immediate east.
Probably every mature person living in Lithuania has heard about the mass murder of people at the beginning of World War II. During the first months of the war ― in a period of less than half a year ― more than 100,000 people were murdered, most of them Jews.
“Evil deeds uncondemned often end up idolized.”
It is sad, but there are more than enough facts corroborating that Lithuanians — regular officers of the Lithuanian military — took part in the mass murders of civilians, women and children.
marked three years to the day since police in Vilnius came looking for Holocaust Survivors Dr Rachel Margolis (born 1921, at right of photo) and Fania Yocheles Brantsovsky (born 1922) in a ‘war crimes investigation’ that has still not been publicly closed.
Both women were incarcerated in the Vilna Ghetto from 1941 to 1943. Both lost their entire families to the barbarity of the Nazis and their local collaborators. They both escaped, on different days in September 1943, to join up with the anti-Nazi partisans in the forests of Lithuania. The underground forest fort, a half-hour’s drive from Vilnius, the Lithuanian capital, where Fania lived with another hundred or so Jewish escapees of the Vilna Ghetto, is being allowed to sink into the ground and disappear from history’s view.
Yad Vashem, in Jolt to Holocaust Survivors, Joining Revisionist Holocaust Conference in the Lithuanian Parliament
UPDATE 1: On 27 June 2011 at 3:31 PM (Vilnius time), the Israeli Embassy in Riga (responsible for Lithuania as well as Latvia) emailed DefendingHistory.com to say that Yad Vashem’s participation in the event has been cancelled. This was confirmed in a further email from Yad Vashem at 3:56 PM. In Vilnius, however, the name of Yad Vashem and its designated representative continue to appear on programs and brochures, giving the impression that the event enjoys the formal participation of Yad Vashem. See our public query to Yad Vashem.
According to a conference program posted on the website of the Lithuanian Parliament, Yad Vashem is the only Jewish institution sending a representative to the latest conference mounted by the Lithuanian government in its campaign to downgrade the Holocaust and whitewash the Lithuanian Holocaust’s first murderers (the L.A.F. and other fascist groups), often by glorifying them as ‘freedom fighters’. The printed brochure for the conference, to be held on 29 and 30 June 2011, announces the event as a joint project of the Lithuanian Parliament (Seimas) and the deeply antisemitic Genocide Research Center. One of the Center’s top ‘specialists’ participated in the recent neo-Nazi parade and went on to launch a public antisemitic campaign. He was neither removed from his post nor publicly reprimanded, as the season’s conferences plow ahead full steam.
Litvaks and their Descendants Issue Public Letter Calling for Change in Lithuanian Government’s Holocaust Policies
We the undersigned Litvaks — Jews of Lithuanian origin and their direct and immediate descendants — hereby express:
by [NAME WITHHELD ON REQUEST]
The premiere of the Lithuanian-language film Pavergtųjų sukilimas, or Uprising of the Enslaved, was held in Vilnius in the early evening of 22 June 2011, timed to coincide with the anniversary of what is commonly called the “June Uprising”.
O P I N I O N
by Gert Weisskirchen
In several places in Europe, particularly in the new-accession states, there are discernible efforts to ‘blackwash’ history.
Far-right forces are hard at work to obfuscate the Holocaust, in part by defaming the victims and in part by glorifying the local perpetrators and collaborators.
DefendingHistory.com reported June 7th on Yad Vashem’s announced participation in the Lithuanian parliament’s 29-30 ‘International Conference: The Beginning of the Soviet-German War in the Baltic States in 1941’.
We commented on the pain caused to Lithuanian Holocaust survivors and their families by a decision to confer legitimacy, via the sterling name of Yad Vashem — the world’s premier Holocaust museum and research institution — on a conference held on the seventieth anniversary of the outbreak of the Lithuanian Holocaust. The agenda of the Lithuanian-government sponsored event has appeared to be yet another cover for the massive local violence that unleashed the Holocaust here, and to attempt yet again to recast the Lithuanian Activist Front (LAF), the Provisional Government (PG) and other fascist bodies as supposedly heroic freedom fighters.
In Delirium of Obfuscation: First Day of the Lithuanian Parliament’s Conference on the 70th Anniversary of Hitler’s Attack on the USSR
by Dovid Katz
Today was Day 1 of the Lithuanian parliament’s two-day ‘International Conference: The Beginning of the Soviet-German War in the Baltic States in 1941 — 29-30 June 2011, Vilnius’. It is being held as part of a series of events to mark the seventieth anniversary of the Nazi War against the Soviet Union, unleashed on 22 June 1941.