Monthly Archives: January 2021
by Moss Robeson
On International Holocaust Remembrance Day this year, The Forward published a shocking collection of articles by Lev Golinkin, a friend of Defending History, called the “Nazi Collaborator Monument Project.” As the most comprehensive survey of such monuments around the world it should be a catalyst for an international reckoning with the continued glorification of Holocaust perpetrators in the 21st century.
Less than a week earlier, Jerusalem Post reporter Jeremy Sharon shed light on a very different sort of project after exploring a digital cemetery being constructed by the Ukrainian Institute of National Memory (UINP). Launched in November 2020 for Ukrainians buried abroad, the “Virtual necropolis of the Ukrainian emigration” is far from complete, but is already stacked with Nazi collaborators, including “senior auxiliary police unit officials” who massacred Jews.
by Markas Zingeris
Rachel Kostanian-Danzig, one of the founders of the Vilna Gaon Museum of Jewish History, is celebrating her venerable ninety-first birthday. She belongs to the generation that survived the horrific years of the Second World War as well the times of the Soviet regime, and saw the fall of the Iron Curtain: the geopolitical “earthquake” that allowed Lithuania to take back control of its own history.
During her youth in Soviet times, Rachel completed a law degree at Vilnius University and qualified as an English teacher at the city’s Pedagogical University. Her field was not history, until the breakup of the Soviet Union and the rise of Lithuanian liberty gave her the freedom to immerse herself in the history and culture of her Jewish people. But no historian’s diplomas could match her relentless, painstaking and passionate desire to meaningfully fill the gaps in Lithuanian collective memory. Today’s young professionals could envy her enthusiasm and “engagement.”
Tale of Two Lands: Ukraine’s and Lithuania’s State Policies of Glorifying Holocaust Collaborators Treated Very Differently by Israel’s Foreign Ministry?
Israel’s Ambassador Joel Lion in Ukraine Boldly Condemns Annual Parade Glorifying Holocaust Collaborator Stepan Bandera; JTA’s Cnaan Liphshiz Reports
But at same time, Israeli Foreign Ministry colludes to silence dialogue on glorification of Holocaust collaborators in Lithuania (including the “naming of 2021“); Wiesenthal Center’s Dr. Zuroff protests in Jerusalem Post
Lithuanian Parliament’s dedication of 2021 to memory of J. Lukša, alleged Kaunas 1941 killer is little mentioned after powerful protests by two Israeli citizens — WJC’s Dr. Laurence Weinbaum, and Yakov Faitelson, son of legendary anti-Nazi partisan hero and escaper from Kainas IX Fort Alex Faitelson.
[most recent update]
Israeli Foreign Policy and the Holocaust in Eastern Europe (1990 — 2021)
Great Expectations for Kaunas, as City (where Lithuanian Holocaust Started on 23 June 1941) is Named 2022 “Capital of European Culture”
Congratulations to the city of Kaunas, Lithuania, once known also as Kovno (in Yiddish Kóvne) on its selection as Europe’s “Capital of European Culture” in 2022, sharing the title with Esch-sur-Alzette in Luxembourg.
See our evolving Interactive Map on monuments glorifying Holocaust perpetrators in Kaunas (Kovno), where the Lithuanian Holocaust was initiated on 23 June 1941
In many respects women in Lithuania are in a far better situation than in our neighboring countries, Poland to the west , and Belarus to the east. In Poland, major efforts are underway to criminalize women for their personal reproductive choices. In Belarus, women stand in the front ranks of the struggle against Lukashenko’s regime. The imagery of Belarusian women and their stalwart protest that reaches us here, in Lithuania, is a powerful one.
We, on the other hand, live in relative peace and quiet. We are, moreover, rightfully congratulating ourselves on the new Cabinet that has replaced the previous all-male one. Now, the percentage of women in our Government is similar to that in other European states, where gender balance is a norm.
But while we count our blessings, we must continue to fight where there is still major discrimination. Women in Lithuania still earn 14% less, on average, than men in the same positions; women continue to suffer from domestic violence; the pandemic, according to statistics, harmed them the most, too. Women and — children.
Christoph Dieckmann & Ruta Vanagaite: How Did It Happen? (Our People. Part II. Understanding the Holocaust in Lithuania). Available for online order.
Book launch in Vilnius on 25 June 2020 (LJC video). DH opinion piece on background. Reviews by Silvia Foti (Times of Israel), Aušra Maldeikienė (Literaturairmenas.lt); Linas Vildžiūnas (Lrt.lt; 7md.lt).
English edition in press
Background on author’s website. In her latest blog, the author again fails to credit Evaldas Balčiūnas for revealing, in 2012, the Noreika history (and thereafter that of other glorified perpetrators) to the English speaking world, for which he was persecuted by police and prosecutors for years (see his section, scroll down to May 2014). References to the recent glorification of Noreika and Skirpa by a prominent scholar the Genocide Center and “Red-Brown Commission” on 23 June 2020 don’t cite Defending History’s eyewitness report in Vilnius.
Some Simple and Constructive Solutions to the Irksome “Jewish Issues” that Continue to Haunt the Lithuanian Government and Its Agencies
NOTE: The original (2009) version of this document was constructed in close cooperation with the late Dr. Shimon Alperovich (1928-2014), elected head of the Jewish Community of Lithuania for many years. Revisions were discussed with him in detail until several days before his death in 2014. Naturally, he does not bear responsibility for the document’s annual updates since that time but his intellectual imprint on its spirit should not go uncredited.
Abandonment of the state’s financing of the campaign to obfuscate the Holocaust by means of its Double Genocide campaign, including “cooked” international events, conferences, film screenings and panel discussions; withdrawal of formal state support for the Prague Declaration and similar projects, closing down of the “red-brown commission” and the inauguration of an atmosphere of full freedom for citizens and organizations to support alternatives including the Seventy Years Declaration. Holocaust history to be included in historically accurate proportionality in the Genocide Museum and all relevant tourist locations that deal with genocide. Abandonment of the extensive state sponsored program to glorify the local Holocaust perpetrators of 1941, including the “Lithuanian Activist Front” (LAF), whose leaflets indicated desire to murder the country’s Jewish citizens even before arrival of Nazi forces. Rapid correction of the mischaracterization of the early local perpetrators as supposedly heroic rebels in the new basement room on the Holocaust in the Genocide Museum.
Why The First Week of the Lithuanian Holocaust is Historically Unique. Whom to Honor on the 80th Anniversary?
by Dovid Katz
For years now, Defending History has, on the first of January each year, named the newborn year in honor of Lithuanian Holocaust-era Rescuers, or Righteous of the Nations as they are also known (tsadíkey úmes ho-óylem in Yiddish). In 2020 — Antanas Zubrys and Dr. Matilda Zubrienė; in 2019 — Jonas Paulavičius; in 2018 — Malvina Šokelytė Valeikienė. That is a tradition we hope to resume next year. But 2021, the eightieth anniversary of 1941, calls for something more focused, not least when some governmental bodies have chosen, shockingly, to use the anniversary to glorify the perpetrators rather than commemorate the victims and honor those who helped a neighbor to escape the rapidly closing death vise in the last week of June 1941.
By and large, the 916 Rescuers recognized by Yad Vashem (and a somewhat larger number if those recognized by Lithuanian institutions and assorted survivor families are added) are people who risked their own and their families’ lives to hide (and feed, sustain, care for and guard) a Jew or Jews for an extended period, risking it all for weeks, months or years, until the fall of the Nazi regime at the hands of the USSR — then in alliance with the United States, Great Britain and the other Allies — in July of 1944 (there were no American or British forces in Eastern Europe…). As an old adage, variously attributed, goes: One fascist with an automatic weapon could murder hundreds of trapped innocent civilians in some moments, but to save one person took years of heart-wrenching, inspirationally courageous effort by entire families and networks of incredibly good people. In the Baltics, the courage had to be greater than most other places, because they were regarded as traitors to their own nationalist leaders, not only to the occupying Nazi forces. And frankly, because things are different when much or most of the actual killing is done by willing locals idolized by the nationalists of the day.