YIDDISH AND JUDAIC STUDIES MANIPULATED FOR HOLOCAUST REVISIONISM | VILNIUS YIDDISH INSTITUTE | BORNS JEWISH STUDIES PROGRAM AT INDIANA UNIVERSITY | RICHARD MAULLIN
VILNIUS—As covered sequentially by DH over the past year, the official “Lithuanian Jewish Community” (LJC) saw its democracy abruptly dismantled in the spring of 2017 with the mid-campaign rule-change whereby the three thousand or so surviving Jews of Lithuania were disenfranchised and their voting rights replaced by a roomful of “Jewish oligarchs,” most of whom are beneficiaries of funds allocated by the government’s Good Will Foundation. Some have two or three votes, some represent defunct organizations, and one, who has two votes actually lives in Brussels. Western observers have compared it with some irony to the original Zero Mostel version of the Hollywood film The Producers. In any case, the “election” was ruled illegal by the Lithuanian courts in a case that brought their judicial independence to the fore, to the nation’s great credit.
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Observers have pointed to the dangers of restitution settlements with East European governments that end up destroying communities’ democracy and independence in the direction of becoming “Jewish PR” units for the state with massive glories falling upon one or a handful of “court Jews” who serve to showcase state policies to the outside world.
VILNIUS—The following (text below) is a translation from Lithuanian of the 2 March 2017 letter from the state-sponsored Genocide and Resistance Research Center of Lithuania (widely known as the Genocide Center) to a nationalist group that put on this year’s March 11th Independence Day neo-Nazi march, with authorities’ permission, in the center of Vilnius, the Lithuanian capital. The group had complained about Lithuania’s president, Dalia Grybauskaite, having granted an award on February 16th to Lithuania’s oldest Holocaust survivor, Fania Yocheles Brantsovsky, soon to turn 95, for her work in the field of Holocaust education. The president’s office had referred the complaint to the Genocide Center which issued this letter (facsimile of the original below). The correspondence was then read out at a bizarre ceremony that some observers thought bore the hallmarks of a 2017 “Jew-witch hunt” when the Independence day festivities announced a detour to the presidential palace to read out the various letters and condemn Fania Yocheles Brantsovsky, who is the only one of her family to survive the Holocaust precisely because she escaped the Vilna Ghetto in September 1943 and joined up with the anti-Nazi Soviet partisans, the only force seriously challenging Hitler’s rule of Lithuania.
VILNIUS—The 22 November edition of the Jerusalem Post carried the following news item about an international meeting at the Peres Center for Peace and Innovation.
Lithuanian and Israeli diplomats, academics, and government officials, together with representatives of Litvak organizations in Israel, the American Jewish Committee, the World Jewish Congress and the Tel Aviv Municipality, will congregate on Thursday at the Peres Center for Peace and Innovation to discuss Lithuania and Israel – Past, Present and Future. Among the Lithuanians will be Lithuanian Ambassador Edminas Bagdonas, Ronaldas Račinskas, executive director of the International Commission for the Evaluation of the Crimes of the Nazi and Soviet Occupation Regimes in Lithuania; Faina Kukliansky, chairwoman of the Lithuanian Jewish Community; and several other Lithuanian dignitaries. Among the topics tabled for discussion is the reinstatement of Lithuanian citizenship to Lithuanian expatriates living in Israel.
VILNIUS—The news portal Delfi.lt reported yesterday on Lithuanian sharpshooting star Ronaldas Račinskas making a hit at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics not only for his talents with a rifle, but on his work back home for which the headline calls him the “Nazi-Soviet hunter,” in the latest of a long series of Holocaust terms appropriated and ably recast by the Red-Brown movement’s PR wizzards. Besides heading a commission that now includes the gentleman who launched the campaign, a decade ago, to “hunt” Holocaust survivors who joined the Jewish partisans, his “Nazi and Soviet hunting” refers to his role as Director of the Secretariat of that comission, popularly known as the Red-Brown Commission, a state-financed entity that is one of the main European engines for spreading the revisionist far right’s “Double Genocide” model of World War II history. In that history, as an example, those who liberated Auschwitz are declared to be equal in principle to those who committed the genocide there. Moreover the movement’s primary document, the 2008 Prague Declaration (PD), insists that all European “minds” accept the revised history and regard Nazi and Soviet crimes as equal, a stance widely considered to be a camouflage for obfuscating and diminishing the Holocaust. The response in the European arena came in the form of the 2012 Seventy Years Declaration (SYD).
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.
Editor’s note: The following is a translation of the open letter by Professor Pinchos Fridberg, a Holocaust survivor in Vilnius, and the reply by Yivo’s director, Dr. Jonathan Brent. Both were published in the Yiddish Forward (Forverts) on 1 March 2015. Prof. Fridberg has also posted an audio file of his reading his letter aloud in his native Vilna Yiddish. In the case of any issue arising, the Yiddish text is authoritative. For readers’ reference, hyperlinks have been added (by Defending History) to various of the documents and topics cited. See also the Pinchos Fridberg page and section in Defending History, page and section on the state-sponsored commission discussed, and section on Yivo issues.
September 2014 at Ponár, the mass muder site of Vilna Jewry: Three representatives of the controversial state sponsored commission on Nazi and Soviet crimes pay respects in unison: (from left): Dr. Jonathan Brent, Emanuelis Zingeris, Ronaldas Račinskas. Photo: Defending History.
ear Dr. Jonathan Brent,
I appeal to you in Yiddish. Do you know why? Because I believe, that a person who is the leader of the Yivo institute will understand me. My name is Pinchos Fridberg. I was born in Vilna before the war and am a survivor of the Holocaust. My grandmother and grandfather, and all our relatives on my mother’s side — 28 people — lie [at the mass murder site] Ponár.
The following, in reverse chronological order, is the text of Monica Lowenberg’s two comments to Ronaldas Racinskas’s comment, all in the discussion following Olga Zabludoff’s article in the Algemeiner Journal on the Holocaust in Lithuania and a Yivo symposium in New York. These and other comments appear in the AJ‘s comments section.
This opinion piece and eyewitness report by Geoff Vasil relates to the July 10th event in honor of the Red-Brown Commission held at the Vilnius Jewish Public Library. See related reports on the library’s instrumentalization as a PR platform for the Commission and the more or less contemporaneous announcement of the Commission’s resumed activities, in the absence of apologies to Yitzhak Arad, Pinchos Fridberg, and the other accused Holocaust survivors.
Page on the commission
Resignations to date from Commission-related bodies include Dr. Yitzhak Arad, Sir Martin Gilbert (London), Prof. Gershon Greenberg (Washington DC), Prof. Konrad Kwiet (Sydney) and Prof. Dov Levin (Jerusalem).
Edward Jacobs in the Huffington Post (31 May 2013)
More materials (including videos of the entire conference) posted by conference organizers; videos also on YouTube (12 June 2013)
Educators, diplomats, historians and journalists thought they had seen it all when it came to Holocaust-in-Lithuania issues in recent times. But an online attack by the state sponsored “history commission” on a local Holocaust survivor, Professor Pinchos Fridberg, who is deeply involved in honoring righteous Lithuanians who saved a Jewish neighbor, because he expressed his views against distortion of the Holocaust? That is a bit much even for here.
UPDATE of 21 February 2014:
One year later: Defamation continues on Commission website;
See Chronology of a Debate and what Pinchos Fridberg actually said…
A conference called “United Europe, United History” took place at the Lithuanian parliament on November 15th and 16th. The conference organizers and speakers repeatedly spoke of upcoming changes in the government (16 November was the first day the newly elected parliament assembled), and conference organizer and “Red-Brown Commission” chairman Emanuelis Zingeris even tried, unsuccessfully, to explain the poll results as the bad influence of the long Soviet occupation on the mentality of the people… (It was probably a good thing he didn’t call for a an international tribunal to provide compensation for the losses suffered by his party).
But one thing at a time.
A number of viewers of the new Australian documentary film Rewriting History have submitted to DefendingHistory near-identical transcripts of a statement on camera, made to the film’s producers, by the executive director of the “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,” the state-sponsored body has long been opposed by Holocaust survivors and educators. The commission is responsible for Holocaust education in Lithuania, but has also taken an active political role in promoting the 2008 Prague Declaration and various details of alleged “equality” of Nazi and Soviet crimes. The commission’s website features the Prague Declaration in both English and Lithuanian.
The commission’s executive director, Ronaldas Račinskas, is quoted as saying on camera that his commission does not support “Double Genocide” but that he does support the 2008 Prague Declaration (though he concedes there are passages to be “discussed”). The problem is that the Prague Declaration is the primary document of the Double Genocide movement in Europe.
See also: Mr. Račinskas’s 2011 speech in the Lithuanian parliament; Critiques of his commission; 2015 Update: His call for investigations of Holocaust survivors who joined up with the anti-Nazi partisans.
Mr. Račinskas goes on to say, according to the transcripts provided of his Rewriting History interview:
The Seventy Years Declaration, released on 20 January 2012, was the subject of a 31 January 2012 Žinių radijas (News Radio) station panel discussion including one of the Lithuanian signatories of the declaration, Social Democratic MP Vytenis Andriukaitis, himself a signatory of the Lithuanian Declaration of Independence. MP Andriukaitis was attacked by the foreign minister for signing.
MP Andriukaitis’s response won international support, and there is reference in the panel discussion to the support from British human rights champion MP Denis MacShane for all eight Lithuanian parliamentarians who signed the Seventy Years Declaration.
Although not seeking to deny the Holocaust, the ultimate consequence of the movement to redefine genocide is the equalization of National Socialist and Soviet crimes. The characterization of Soviet crimes as genocide is a misrepresentation that hinders authentic remembrance of the Holocaust in Lithuania by helping to obscure the extent and nature of Lithuanian complicity in the killings of the local Jewish population.
The idea that the crimes of Hitler and successive Soviet regimes are in fact equal has been a growing force behind public discourse on the Holocaust since the formulation of the national Holocaust and Genocide Education Program at the sixth meeting of The International Commission for the Evaluation of the Crimes of the Nazi and Soviet Occupation Regimes in Lithuania in June 2002.
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On Wednesday, November 16th 2011, the Tolerance Center in Vilnius hosted a conference called: Tolerance and Totalitarianism. Challenges to Freedom.
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.
Professor Saulius Sužiedėlis (Millersville University, Pennsylvania), a major historian who has recently been flown to conferences far and wide courtesy of the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry, and politician Ronaldas Račinskas, deputy chairman of the state-funded ‘Red-Brown commission’ have blasted Dr. Efraim Zuroff and Professor Dovid Katz for being responsible for Lithuania’s international Holocaust issues, in a major panel discussion that appeared in the media both as a sound file and in an edited transcript format. There were also other members of the panel discussion.