The Simon Wiesenthal Center today issued a statement expressing dismay that Vilnius’s state-sponsored Genocide Center (full name: Genocide and Resistance Research Center of Lithuania) was included in the Lithuanian Jewish Community’s annual program marking Holocaust Remembrance Day. The third of three events was dedicated entirely to a book produced by the Center. The only announced speaker for the event, the book’s author, is known for rejecting known elements of the historic narrative of the annihilation of Lithuanian Jewry, for his support for monuments for pro-Hitler forces, and for participation in far-right pro-fascist journals.
Wiesenthal Center Blasts Vilnius Genocide Center’s Involvement in Jewish Community’s Holocaust Remembrance Day Event
JERUSALEM—The Simon Wiesenthal Center today harshly criticized steps taken by the Latvian delegation to UNESCO which effectively cancelled an exhibition about the Holocaust in Latvia scheduled to open this coming Sunday at UNESCO headquarters in Paris.
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In a statement issued here by its Israel director, Holocaust historian Dr. Efraim Zuroff, the Center called the action by the Latvians “an outrageous and ultimately futile attempt to hide the extensive Latvian collaboration with the Nazis in perpetrating Holocaust crimes” and urged UNESCO officials to consider steps to enable the exhibition, titled “Stolen Childhood: Holocaust Victims Seen by Child Inmates of the Salaspils Nazi Concentration Camp,” to be shown to the public.
According to Zuroff:
“This step by the Latvians is part of a systematic effort by the Baltic countries to hide the truth about the extensive collaboration with the Nazis of Balts in the implementation of the Final Solution in their native countries, as well as in Poland and Belarus. Instead of complaining that the exhibition risked damaging her country’s reputation, Latvia’s chief delegate to UNESCO should have welcomed an effort to expose the wartime collaboration of so many Latvians as part of an honest confrontation with her country’s bloody Holocaust past.”
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JERUSALEM—The Simon Wiesenthal Center today expressed outrage at the announcement of an online beauty pageant for “Miss Hitler 2014” as publicized by a neo-Nazi group on VKontakte, Russia’s largest social networking service. Contestants who are supporters of Nazism and sufficiently antisemitic may submit a Nazi-themed selfie to compete for this dubious prize.
Hungary’s Supreme Court Forbids Local Media to Use the Term “Far Right” in Describing the Far Right Jobbik Party
JERUSALEM—The Simon Wiesenthal Center today harshly criticized a decision by Hungary’s Supreme Court which recently ruled that local media cannot refer to the Jobbik party as “far right.”
UPDATE: See now Efraim Zuroff’s 14 June 2014 op-ed in the Jerusalem Post
Vitas Tomkus’s daily tabloid, Respublika has, alongside its sister title, Vakaro Žinios (Evening News, also owned by Tomkus) in many views inflicted tangible damage upon Lithuania and its image. The papers leave a long trail of racist, antisemitic, and homophobic invective, not seldom in sensationalistic formats that mirror the 1930s.
The most notorious instance was perhaps the 2004 front page featuring the unseemly cartoon of the The Jew and The Gay holding up a globe under the headline “Who runs the world?” recycled (and again, on page 1), in 2009. Vakaro Žinios (Evening News) even featured a sickening photo montage of the then head of the Jewish community Dr. Shimon Alperovich, and a Soviet-era abacus, with text suggesting the Jews were conspiring to defraud the Lithuanian people. More recently, a front page was devoted to a local rabbi with a headline about Jews not having to pay taxes. The word Žydai (Jews) alone was in massive size type, as on numerous occasions, e.g. when the paper accused “The Jews” of plotting to steal the building housing the Culture Ministry. It is almost all out of a dark satire.
Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Statement on the Death of Lithuanian Jewish Community Leader Dr. Shimon Alperovich
JERUSALEM—The Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Israel Office issued this statement today in the wake of the passing of Dr. Shimon Alperovich, the former Chairman of the Lithuanian Jewish community (PDF here):
Wiesenthal Center Mourns the Passing Today of Courageous Leader of Lithuanian Jewish Community
“It is with great sorrow that we learned of the passing last night of Dr. Shimon Alperovich, the venerable leader for many years of the Lithuanian Jewish community. Dr. Alperovich displayed great courage and fortitude in leading the renewed Lithuanian Jewish community and fought bravely against the ongoing efforts to minimize local participation in Nazi crimes and the promotion of the canard of equivalency between Nazi and Communist atrocities.
(Reposted from today’s Jerusalem Post)
O P I N I O N
Three events took place this weekend which reflect the ambiguities of contemporary Jewish life in the Baltics and particularly in Lithuania, the largest of the three new democracies. In reverse order, on Sunday, ultra-nationalist groups staged an Independence Day march, which included anti-Semitic themes, in Kaunas (Kovno), Lithuania’s interwar capital and the country’s second largest city.Continue reading
JERUSALEM—The following statement was issued today by the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Israel office.
WIESENTHAL CENTER ISRAEL DIRECTOR LEADS PROTEST AGAINST EXTREME RIGHT INDEPENDENCE DAY MARCH
16 February 2014 KAUNAS, LITHUANIA—The Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Israel Director and chief Nazi hunter Dr. Efraim Zuroff yesterday afternoon led a protest against an ultra-nationalist neo-Nazi march in honor of Lithuanian Independence Day, held here, in Lithuania’s inter-war capital, whose large and important Jewish community was virtually totally annihilated during the Holocaust by the Nazis, with highly significant participation of Lithuanian volunteer collaborators.
Efraim Zuroff on Tablet Magazine’s Co-Sponsorship of Lithuanian Government’s Yivo Event, and a Suggestion for Yivo’s Audience
Dr. Efraim Zuroff, Holocaust historian, Nazi-hunter, and director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Israel office, has posted the following comment on the website of Tablet magazine, as one of the comments to a new book review. The comment also appears separately on Facebook.
O P I N I O N
The following is the original English text, received today from the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Israel office in Jerusalem, of its director Efraim Zuroff’s public letter to Croatian authorities, published in Croatian translation on 6 February, and referred to in a press release from SWC earlier today.
JERUSALEM—The Simon Wiesenthal Center today urged the Croatian authorities to expedite the prosecution of Auschwitz guard Jakob Dencinger, who was discovered living in Osijek by the Croatian daily Jutarnji List late last week.
In an op-ed published on 6 Feb. in Jutarnji List by the Center’s chief Nazi-hunter, Israel director Dr. Efraim Zuroff, the importance of bringing Dencinger to justice was emphasized. The original 2 Feb. English text of Dr. Zuroff’s article appears here.
According to Zuroff:
JERUSALEM—The Simon Wiesenthal Center today issued a statement of support for the strong protest by the leadership of the Hungarian non-Orthodox Jewish communities (Mazsihisz) against efforts by the Hungarian government’s “Veritas Institute” to falsify the narrative of the Holocaust in Hungary and attempt to hide the important role played by locals in the mass murder of Hungarian Jewry.
In a statement issued here today by its Israel director, Holocaust historian Dr. Efraim Zuroff, the Center expressed its strong opposition to the recent statement by Veritas Institute director Sandor Szakaly, who referred to the summer 1941 deportation of about 16,000-18,000 Jews from Hungary to Kamenets-Podolsk (now Kamianets-Podilskyi) in German-occupied Ukraine, where the overwhelming majority were murdered, as a “police action against aliens,” when in reality it was clearly a crime against humanity and the initial massacre of the Holocaust of Hungarian Jewry.
I N T E R V I E W
Efraim Zuroff is interviewed in Belgrade by Aleksandar Roknić. Translation from Danas, 28 December 2013, by Vesna Milosevic.
Efraim Zuroff: World War II History is Being Rewritten
Even if I were Superman I wouldn’t be able to bring to justice all remaining Nazis. Of course not. It is impossible. Nobody can do it. But if you ask me what is better — a bit of justice or injustice, I would always say — a bit of justice. You know, to me it is clear that even when the last Nazi dies, a battle is not over, because it begins over and over again.
And it is a battle with history which is more important than people may think and understand. Facing the history with sincerity is the best way to build a better future, says Efraim Zuroff, director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Jerusalem, while answering a question on whether he thinks that he would be able to bring to justice all remaining Nazis.
Wiesenthal Center’s Israel Office Releases 2007 Correspondence with LA Board Chief of Vilnius Yiddish Institute
Editor’s note: The Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Israel office today released for the record the following September 2007 email exchange with the director of the Los Angeles based “Friends of the Vilnius Yiddish Institute” (VYI).
Efraim Zuroff Critiques Vilnius Genocide Center’s Latest Attempt to Massage Figures (and Ethics) of Local Holocaust Perpetrators
In a statement issued in Jerusalem today, the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Israel director Dr. Efraim Zuroff noted two major flaws in a recent report issued by the state-sponsored Genocide Center in Vilnius, Lithuania. The report’s key findings, presented by the Center’s Dr. Alfredas Rukšėnas, were published by the Lithuanian news portal Delfi on 25 October 2013 (English translation available in Defending History).
According to Dr. Zuroff:
“The findings of the report, as presented by the coordinator of this project, are clearly part of a systematic attempt by the Lithuanian government to minimize the role of ethnic Lithuanians in the mass murder of Jews during the Holocaust. Based on the records in our archives, I can unequivocally state, that the figure of 2,055 Lithuanians whose direct and indirect participation in Holocaust crimes was confirmed by this study, is a gross underestimate of the number of Lithuanians complicit in Shoah crimes, designed to deflect blame from local collaborators and hide the extensive scope of Lithuanian involvement in the mass murder of Jews, both in Lithuania and outside her borders.
“Also highly objectionable is the assertion by Dr. Rukšėnas that those Lithuanians who indeed murdered Jews really had no choice but to do so, having received orders to commit murder from their superiors. Besides the fact that in many cases, these superiors were themselves Lithuanians, such arguments have been consistently and unequivocally rejected by courts all over the world, starting with the Nuremberg Trials.”
O P I N I O N
Authorized English translation of Dr. Zuroff’s speech at the annual commemoration event held by the Association of Lithuanian Jews in Israel, received from the Israel Office of the Simon Wiesenthal Center. Hebrew original is here.
Attorney Yosef Melamed asked me to update you regarding the recent events which have taken place since the last memorial event a year ago, concerning the attempts by the Lithuanian government to distort the history of the Holocaust and to minimize or deny the participation of many Lithuanians in the murder of Jews, not only in Lithuania but also beyond its borders.
Efraim Zuroff’s Speech at the 28 October 2013 Annual Memorial Program of the Association of Lithuanian Jews in Israel [in Hebrew]
דבריו של ד″ר אפרים זורוף באזכרה השנתית לקורבנות השואה בליטא
כ″ה חשון תשע″ד 28/10/2013
ערב טוב לכולם,
עו″ד יוסף מלמד בקש ממני לעדכן אותכם לגבי האירועים שהתרחשו מאז האזכרה האחרונה לפני שנה בנסיונות של ממשלת ליטא לעוות את ההסטוריה של השואה, וכמו כן גם למזער או להעלים את השתתפותם של ליטאים כל כך רבים ברצח יהודים בליטא, אבל גם מחוץ לגבולותיה.
JERUSALEM—The Simon Wiesenthal Center today denounced the commemoration of the “liberation” of the Latvian city of Limbazi, sponsored by the Visu Latvija political party, a member of the ruling coalition in the nation’s parliament in Riga.
A paste-in of the Facebook discussion to date on the upcoming Global Forum conferences in Jerusalem is available at:
Wiesenthal Center Welcomes Punishment of Hungary by FIFA for Antisemitic Behavior of Hungarian Fans in August 2012
Jerusalem—The Simon Wiesenthal Center today praised the steps taken earlier this week by the international football federation (FIFA) to punish the Hungarian Football Federation in the wake of the antisemitic behavior of many dozens of Hungarian fans at a friendly match against Israel held this past August 15 in Budapest.