On the occasion of Holocaust Remembrance Day, the Margolis family in the United States released to the media a 3 December 2009 letter from the United States Congress to the prime minister of Lithuania, protesting in no uncertain terms the campaign being waged against 88 year old historian, museum builder and biologist, Dr Rachel Margolis; 87 year old Fania Yocheles Brantsovsky, librarian of the Vilnius Yiddish Institute; and 83 year old Holocaust scholar Dr Yitzhak Arad, who was founding director of Yad Vashem. All three have been the subject of ongoing ‘investigations into war crimes’ by Lithuanian prosecutors and of extensive defamation by the country’s mainstream media. Since the saga got underway in the spring of 2006, none has been charged, and not one has been cleared. Holocaust studies specialists increasingly suspect a ruse to create a bogus paper trail of ‘investigations’ of Holocaust survivors as a diversion to the documented history of massive Baltic participation in the Nazi-led genocide of the Jewish population, as well as to the region’s dismal record of not punishing a single Nazi war criminal since independence. See the media coverage; responses to the anti-survivor campaign; critiques of the underlying ‘red=brown’ movement and the state-funded apparatus that underpins it.
US State Dept Manipulated?
U.S. Congress Protests Lithuanian Gov. Campaign against Rachel Margolis and other Holocaust Survivors who joined the anti-Nazi Resistance
Norway’s ambassador to Lithuania HE Steinar Gil has emerged as a Baltic region champion of human rights, at a time when the Lithuanian government continues its gestures of support for the March 11th neo-Nazi marchers (parallel to Latvian leaders’ stout defense of the March 16th Waffen SS march in Riga). Speaking at a March 19th forum on ‘European and Lithuanian Values’ at the Lithuanian parliament, Ambassador Gil remarked for the record: ‘Every foreigner in Lithuania noticed this march, where the participants were shouting “Lithuania for Lithuanians”. We were shocked.’ The ambassador also pointed out politely that fifty parliamentarians had signed a petition to ban the Baltic Pride gay-rights parade. He asked: How many had spoken up against the nationalist march? He added that every person with respect for herself or himself and for her or his country should condemn this kind of manifestation. Others who have spoken up include Irish ambassador HE Dónal Denham; UK ambassador HE Simon Butt; and Lithuania’s sole Liberal member of the European Parliament, Prof. Leonidas Donskis.
A Lithuanian court in Klaipeda approved the public display of swastikas on the grounds that they are ‘Lithuania’s historical heritage rather than symbols of Nazi Germany’. An ‘expert’ transported from Vilnius was easily able to persuade the court, which did not bother to ask a contrasting view of the Holocaust Survivor community, or the Jewish Community of Lithuania, in a European country with the highest proportion of Holocaust genocide on the continent. This sad distinction resulted from massive local collaboration and actual participation.
Lithuanian Court Legalizes Public Swastikas as ‘Historical Heritage’; 2008 Ban on ‘Nazi and Soviet Symbols’ now Excludes… Swastikas
A Lithuanian court in Klaipeda approved the public display of swastikas on the grounds that they are ‘Lithuania’s historical heritage rather than symbols of Nazi Germany’. An ultranationalist ‘expert’ transported from Vilnius was easily able to persuade the court, which did not bother to ask a contrasting view of the Holocaust Survivor community, or the Jewish Community of Lithuania, in a European country with one of the highest proportions of Holocaust genocide on the continent. This sad distinction resulted from massive local participation. Image from 16 Feb Klaipeda demonstration courtesy DMN atKaunodiena.lt.
BNS report on the court’s 19 May decision here. So much for the parliament’s 2008 ban on ‘Nazi and Soviet symbols’ which only caused pain to aged veterans of the anti-Nazi war effort, and which was ultimately part of the machinations in support of the Double Genocide movement in the European Parliament, in cooperation with the movement’s local power structures.
The United States Embassy has remained silent on the legalization of public swastikas.
Lithuanian Holocaust Survivors ask U.S. Embassy in Vilnius to Clarify 64,000 Euro Holocaust Education Grant
The Tel-Aviv based Association of Lithuanian Jews, the world’s most active association of Holocaust Survivors from Lithuania and their progeny, today released to the media the letter which its chairman, Joseph A. Melamed, sent on 16 September 2010 to Anne E. Derse, America’s ambassador to Lithuania. Mr Melamed, a Tel Aviv attorney and former Israeli diplomat, told DefendingHistory.com that his office hopes to receive a reply “in the nearest future”. The full text of Mr Melamed’s 16 September letter:
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.
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
[UPDATE of 1 March 2013]: The journal refused to publish a reply, but after an intervention from Prof. MEP Leonidas Donskis it was uploaded on the journal’s website for a time, and then removed.]
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.
O P I N I O N
by Dovid Katz
DefendingHistory.com disagrees with each and every word that Lithuanian politician Algirdas Paleckis has uttered about the events in Vilnius, Lithuania, of January 13th 1991 when courageous unarmed protesters for freedom and independence were mercilessly murdered by armed Soviet forces.
As students of Voltaire (though the famous quote is by his biographer Evelyn Beatrice Hall), we disapprove of all that Paleckis has said about January 1991, but we will join the fight to the finish for his right to say it and not be subject to trial in a member-state of the European Union and NATO.
Was the OSCE’s (ODIHR) ‘High Level Meeting on Confronting Antisemitism’ another East European Whitewash?
The OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe) today released its report on the ‘OSCE High Level Meeting on Confronting Antisemitism in Public Discourse’ that was held in Prague on 23 and 24 March 2011 under the auspices of its ODIHR department (Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights). The full report is available here (alternate link here).
Račinskas’s Version of ‘Holocaust Education’: Red-Brown Commission Director General Speaks in the Lithuanian Parliament
Updates (newest first):
The following is DefendingHistory.com’s translation (from the tape) of the concluding speech of the 29-30 June 2011 conference (reports here and here), delivered by Ronaldas Račinskas, director general (sometimes listed as executive director) of the government 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’), which is housed in the Office of the Prime Minister of Lithuania. It can serve as a potent example of the state-sponsored Holocaust Obfuscation movement which presents one face domestically, a second in the European Parliament, and a third to naive Western Holocaust Studies groups.
Antony Polonsky Returns to Brandeis ‘Knighted’ by Lithuanian President’s Cross of the Officer of the Order — for helping the Baltic State’s Holocaust PR Campaign
C O M M E N T
VILNIUS—Professor Antony Polonsky of Brandeis University, one of the world’s most accomplished scholars of Polish-Jewish history and the long time editor of the seminal Polish Jewish history series Polin, was at the Lithuanian president’s palace today to receive from her excellency the prestigious Cross of the Officer of the Order for Merits to Lithuania. The award, pinned on his chest by President Dalia Grybauskaitė, was not for a lifetime of sterling work on Polish Jewish history, but it seemed, for several years’ staunch and perhaps somewhat naive loyalty to the public relations program of the current government of Lithuania, organized by the local Holocaust revisionism elite’s alleged top handler of “important foreign Jews,” Prof. S.arunas Liekis. The presidential press release, reported in English by Baltic News Service (BNS), put it this way:
300 Neo-Nazis March through the Center of Kaunas on Lithuanian Independence Day; They are Addressed by Members of Parliament
E Y E W I T N E S S R E P O R T / O P I N I O N
by Dovid Katz
With attention focused on the government-permission-granted central Vilnius neo-Nazi march slated for Lithuania’s March 11th independence day — now the subject of an international petition on Change.org — there was minimal foreign interest in today’s independence day neo-Nazi march and demonstration in central Kaunas, Lithuania’s second city. The March 11th independence day marks the date in 1990 when Lithuania declared independence from the Soviet Union. Today’s holiday is on the date of the 1918 declaration of independence which heralded the rise of the modern Lithuanian state in the twentieth century. Both dates are revered by the country’s diverse minorities and factions. They represent freedom from oppression and foreign domination, and celebrate the building of a free and democratic state.
But in recent years, both dates have been hijacked by neo-Nazi groups in the heart of the country’s major cities, with the support of some members of parliament and leading political figures. There is, moreover, the proverbial blind eye of much or most of the elite classes, which serves as a contributing catalyst.
C O M M E N T
In contrast to its potent and convincing public response to neo-Nazi events in the center of Vilnius in earlier years, the current leadership of the American embassy in the Lithuanian capital has followed a pattern disturbing to many Americans, of failing to even mention what America’s values are in commenting in official communications on both a neo-Nazi march and a pro-tolerance march, both scheduled for tomorrow, Lithuania’s independence day.
Lithuania’s Embassy in Washington Recruiting “Useful Academics” for Discredited “Red-Brown” Commission
The Baltic state-sponsored political infiltration into supposedly independent academic bodies concerned with Holocaust studies and education came into sharp focus in Washington this week with leakage to the media of a number of letters from Artūras Vazbys, Minister Counselor at the Lithuanian embassy in Washington DC. The identical letters read:
The following news box was posted on page one to the end of 15 April 2012:
Rabinowitz-Dorf: Did the PR firm sell out Lithuanian Jewry to help the current right-wing government “change” the history of the Holocaust with American Jewish cover, while enabling “Fake Litvaks” to misrepresent themselves as representing the Jewish community in Lithuania?
Lithuania’s Prime Minister and Culture Minister Personally Signed off on €8,700 (US $11,000) Expenditure to Honor Wartime Fascist Leader
Members of Lithuania’s small and fragile remnant Jewish community were left in shock as word was spreading that quite secretively, the country’s prime minister and culture minister personally signed off this past March on the 30,000 litas allotment for the expenses of reburying and honoring the wartime fascist leader, Juozas Ambrazevičius (later Brazaitis). Ambrazevičius, as the Nazi puppet “prime minister” during the first weeks of the war in 1941, signed the orders confirming “all means” against Jews (though calling for public executions to halt), for a concentration camp for Lithuania’s Jews, and for the herding of all of Kaunas’s Jews into a ghetto within four weeks (English translation here).
The Lithuanian Jewish Community, in partnership with the Vilna Gaon Jewish museum, has issued a statement of protest against government sponsorship of the events.
Lithuanian Newspaper Accuses Kaunas Rector of Misleading Parliament about Whether He Knew in Advance of VMU’s Planned Conference To Honor Wartime Nazi Puppet Prime Minister
Reporter Andrius Makauskas, in a substantial article in yesterday’s online edition of the respected daily Lietuvos žinios (Lžionios.lt, “Lithuanian News” which is not to be confused with the antisemitic, ultranationalist Vakaro žinios, “Evening News”), makes the sensational claim that the rector of Kaunas’s Vytautas Magnus University (VMU) was untruthful when he told parliament last week that he and his university had not been given advance notice of plans to use VMU premises for a 19 May 2012 “memorial conference” honoring the 1941 Nazi puppet “prime minister” Juozas Ambrazevičius (later Brazaitis).
The 1941 Nazi-puppet prime minister had signed orders for “all means” against the Jews (though asking for a halt to “public executions”), for setting up a concentration camp, and for herding “all of the Jews of Kaunas” into a ghetto within four weeks (English here).
O P I N I O N
by Geoff Vasil
In May Lithuania celebrated the return of the ashes of the Nazi puppet prime minister of June, 1941, Juozas Ambrazevičius (who changed his surname to Brazaitis as a matter of convenience when he began using papers issued to one Brazaitis). The schizophrenic nature of the events were evident from the start, from the Kubilius government’s resolution allocating 30,000 litas in funding to celebrate the Lithuanian Nazi which, several items down the list, also allocated 3,000 litas for a project to “name the names,” to draw up a list of Lithuanian Holocaust victims, in conjunction with the Yad Vashem institution in Jerusalem.
The dissociative shell game continued when the government and state institutions sought to pawn off the events they financed on other institutions: the Catholic Church of the Resurrection of Christ in Kaunas, and an “academic conference/commemoration” planned at Vytautas Magnus University in Kaunas. After a scandal broke and former professor now MEP Leonidas Donskis published an eloquent protest on DH, the rector of VMU, who didn’t want the heat, told the Nazi celebrators to find another venue, one supplied by the Kaunas municipality, the chambers of the Kaunas city council. Then, in keeping with the theme of schizophrenia, VMU decided to allow another “academic conference” on university premises, initially with the exact same list of speakers as the banned event.
United Nations Human Rights Committee Notes Lithuanian Government’s Position on Public Swastikas and Authorized Neo-Nazi Parades
The United Nation’s Human Rights Committee in its 11 July 2012 report, issued in Geneva, included the following text concerning the Lithuanian government’s arguments regarding the legalization of public swastikas and the ongoing authorization of neo-Nazi parades: