Monthly Archives: February 2021

President of Germany Honors Major East European ‘History Dissident’ Rachel Kostanian, Longtime Head of Vilnius’s Only Holocaust Museum



RACHEL KOSTANIAN  |  TRIBUTES ON HER 91ST BIRTHDAY  |  MUSEUMS  |  GERMANY

Andreas Görgen, head of the Directorate-General for Culture and Communication of Germany’s Federal Foreign Office  presents  Rachel Kostanian the Presidential Order of Merit signed by President Frank-Walter Steinmeier. Lukas Welz, chairman of AMCHA Germany was there and issued today’s press release. Photos: Florian Krauss for AMCHA Germany.

Rachel Kostanian in 2010

VILNIUS—Rachel Kostanian, doyenne of Holocaust history dissidents in Lithuania and beyond led, for over a quarter century, a tiny little museum in a wooden green house — it came to be known internationally as The Green House — high up a driveway invisible from the street, that insisted on telling the bitter truth about the Holocaust. Though part of the state’s Jewish museum complex officially, she personally raised support for its own major projects and publications and kept the editorial control independent. Her museum told the truth about the Lithuanian Holocaust, starting with the mass campaign of murder, plunder, humiliation and violence unleashed by the “Lithuanian Activist Front” (LAF), and other local “White-Armbanders” before the first German soldiers even arrived in June 1941. The huge “Genocide Museum” on the city’s main boulevard, by contrast, some seven minutes’ walk away, has a large hall dedicated to glorification of these same collaborators as supposedly heroic leaders of an anti-Soviet “rebellion” (a strange term here, as the Soviets were fleeing Hitler’s Operation Barbarossa, the largest invasion in human history, not the local white-armbanded fascists). As it turns out, the issue comes to the fore in 2021, with the 80th anniversary of the events looming, and the nation’s parliament having named the year in honor of an LAF member accused of atrocities.

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Berlin Press Release on German President’s Award of Order of Merit to Rachel Kostanian



The following press release was received today from the office of Lukas Welz, chairman of the board of AMCHA Germany, who nominated Rachel Kostanian for the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany. Contacts: Email: info@amcha.de. Twitter: @amchade. Facebook: www.facebook.com/amcha.deutschland.

See also: Defending History’s report on the eventtributes and good wishes published on Ms. Kostanian’s 91st birthday; and DH’s Rachel Kostanian section.

Rachel Kostanian Awarded the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany

From left: Rachel Kostanian; Andreas Görgen, head of the Directorate-General for Culture and Communication of Germany’s Federal Foreign Office; Lukas Welz, chairman of AMCHA Germany. Below: The Order of Merit. Photos: Florian Krauss for AMCHA Germany.

BERLIN—Rachel Kostanian was awarded the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany on February 9, 2021 in Berlin for her lifelong work in researching and remembering the Holocaust in Lithuania. For a quarter century she was director of a small but world-renowned and unique Holocaust museum in Vilnius, Lithuania, known as The Green House that she co-founded as Soviet rule was crumbling in the late 1980s.

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Happy  Independence Day, Lithuania!



We all join in celebrating February 16th 1918, just 103 years ago, that ushered in the successful interwar republic. Classic image of the Jews of the shtetl Dorbyán (Darbėnai, northwestern Lithuania) in 1928 celebrating the tenth anniversary of the happy day so cherished by all the peoples in the land. . .


 

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Defending History Monitors Annual Far-Right Vilnius March on 16 Feb. 2021



VILNIUS MARCHES  |  KAUNAS MARCHES  |  FAR-RIGHT MARCHES  |  COLLABORATORS GLORIFIED

by Julius Norwilla

VILNIUS—This year the ultranationalist gathering on today’s February 16th national independence day took place in the Old Town, at the newly erected statute of Lithuanian author, scholar and patriot, Jonas Basanavičius, one of the signatories of the Declaration of Independence of 1918. Beside the national tricolors, I saw two more types of flags for “Pro Patria” and “Nacionalinis susivienijimas” (National Unity). Pro Patria is known as an ultranationalist movement targeting youth and an outlet of homophobic, Holocaust revisionist and xenophobic materials and initiatives. The National Unity seems to be mostly the same group of people, aspiring perhaps somewhat more to national politics.

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Commemorating the Holocaust and Healing Wounds in our Molėtai (Malát) District



MEMORIALS FOR JEWISH COMMUNITIES  |  MOLĖTAI (MALAT)  |  MUSEUMS

by Viktorija Kazlienė

Viktorija Kazlienė

Almost five years ago, an exceptional March of Jewish Remembrance took place in Molėtai, on 29 August 2016. On that occasion, an impressive monument was erected at the site of the mass murder of the Jewish citizens of Molėtai (known in Yiddish as Malát). For that, we are grateful to Tzvi Kritzer, a descendant of Molėtai Jews now living in Israel. Leonas Kaplanas, another son of survivors from the town, now living in Vilnius, also contributed significantly to organizing the March.

The Molėtai (Malát) March of Jewish Remembrance, 29 August 2016. Photo: Alvydas Balanda

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Dramatic Developments in the Life of Lithuania’s Liveliest Cemetery


[last update]


JUMP TO INTERNATIONAL OPPOSITION; TO DH SECTION ON HISTORY OF THE SAGA; TO SECTIONS ON CPJCE; USCPAHA


February 2021:

Defending History’s views on plunder and humiliation of the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery are cited in Aliide Naylor’s essay “Soviet Modernism’s Enduring Baltic Legacy” in Jacobin.

Meanwhile, Mr. Paul Packer, chair of the US taxpayer supported “Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad” (USCPAHA), who has failed throughout his tenure to publicly ask, even once, howsoever mildly and politely, for the Lithuanian government to relocate its convention center project away from the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery (ignoring pleas from every part of the world and the international petition), released a self-heroizing press release condemning an obscure Lithuanian parliamentarian who blamed the Jews for the Holocaust (after the American ambassador and many others had condemned the parliamentarian). It is high time for the full record of Washington’s most corrupt federal agency (whose members are honored by the cemetery-selling sub-branch of Satmars when coming to bow before “the rebba”) to be investigated. (For the record: the opposing branch of Satmar Hasidism’s grand rabbi has joined the civilized world in condemning the humiliation of tens of thousands of graves of Jewish citizens of Vilna.)  Defending History is proud to have documented the most recent years of this lamentable history. Various capers of the scandal-ridden agency have been reported over the years in the New York Times (e.g. here, here, and here).  In November 2020, the USCPAHA reached a new low when a newly appointed member was reported in a Times article by White House correspondent Maggie Haberman to have a white-supremacist antisemitic background, adding weirdly to the recent history of (ostensibly) ultraorthodox Jews in hock to the corrupt Satmar affiliated London-based CPJCE. Hopefully, President Biden will abolish this agency soon; it has only ever existed to repay “religious” supporters of political campaigns (of either party) and is inherently a recipe for high corruption resulting in moral sale for money, under “US gov. cover” of the very cemeteries in Holocaust-area Europe that are meant to be the prime object of its protection. Surely, religious donors can be repaid with “harmless honors”…

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Posted in Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Christian-Jewish Issues, Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Politics of Memory | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Dramatic Developments in the Life of Lithuania’s Liveliest Cemetery

Professor Josifas Parasonis (Joseph Parason) Turns 80 in Vilnius



HAPPY 80th BIRTHDAY TO

Professor Joseph Parason

(Josifas Parasonis)

Key Figure in Vilnius’s Jewish Community

Major professor of the sciences of buildings and architecture at Vilnius Gediminas Technical University (VGTU); major national expert on the science of structures

Courageous champion of Jewish causes, ethics and democracy in the community,  and the quest for historic truth and justice

Former deputy chairman of the Lithuanian Jewish Community and beloved mentor to young people of all backgrounds

Stalwart member of many years’ standing in the weekly Vilnius Yiddish Literary Circle

Contributor to numerous publications, including Defending History

[Historical note: Prof. Parasonis’s 80th is also the 80th anniversary of the events in Lithuania of 1941. His dramatic escape from his native Kaunas as 4½ month old toddler with his mother, and the fate of the rest of the family, are summarized here]

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Saving the Vilna Jewish Cemetery (and Removing the Noreika Plaques): Time for a Strong Cup of Coffee



OPINION  |  OLD VILNA JEWISH CEMETERY  |  OPPOSITION TO CONVENTION CENTER PROJECT  |  INTERNATIONAL PETITION  |  HUMAN RIGHTS

by Julius Norwilla

The author’s silent and peaceful Protest of Snow of Feb. 2021. View from across the river reminds Vilna that this is the Lithuanian capital’s Old Jewish Cemetery. Photo: Bartosz Frątczak.

The Lithuanian state budget for 2021 is torn between the need to increase spending on vital areas during a time of significantly less income. For the pandemic year of 2021, the postponement of some half a million euros toward initial stages of the (shameful) convention center project in the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery has not, in fact, been a big issue. Nor is it the great “victory” for our movement to save the cemetery that it has been trumped up to be. Half a million euros is about one percent of the total real budget. First, the convention center (Sports Palace restoration) project has been classified as of national significance. Second, there has been no decision of any kind to move the convention center to a new morally clean venue, away from the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery, as per the call of some 54,000 people in Ruta Bloshtein’s petition.

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Posted in Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Christian-Jewish Issues, Human Rights, Julius Norwilla, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Politics of Memory | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on Saving the Vilna Jewish Cemetery (and Removing the Noreika Plaques): Time for a Strong Cup of Coffee

Suddenly, Strong Statements from the Long-Silent: Holocaust Posturing or Sincere Outrage?



OPINION  |  POLITICS OF MEMORY  |  LITHUANIA

by Dovid Katz

The decision announced by leaders of the three major universities in Lithuania, and of its History Institute, to belatedly break off ties with the antisemitic, ultranationalist, far-right, history-revisionist “Genocide Center,” a state-sponsored institution, is both “better than nothing” and “better late than never.” For over a dozen years now, Defending History has documented the Center’s role in spewing antisemitism, while underpinning ultraright Nazi-sympathetic nationalism and Holocaust obfuscation and denial wrapped up in pseudo-historical research; a similar record has been kept of its obedient showcase of fake history to the outside world, the “Genocide Museum”). The shocking wall of skittish silence on the part of professors, diplomats, and political leaders has been apparent not only within Lithuania, but also from some Holocaust, history and international (particularly American-based) Jewish organizations whose leaders covet the local medals, honors, photo-ops and junkets that give them that certain godlike ego-boost that is only to be had, it seems, east of the former Iron Curtain.

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Battles over History Unleashed on Holocaust Remembrance Day 2021



On 27 January, Holocaust Remembrance Day 2021:

Silvia Foti in the New York Times on her Grandfather Jonas Noreika

Lev Golinkin in the Forward on the Proliferation of Statues and Monuments Glorifying Nazi Collaborators and — their Export to the US, Canada and Other Western Nations

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Posted in Dr. Arūnas Bubnys and State Holocaust Revisionism in Lithuania, History, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Politics of Memory | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Battles over History Unleashed on Holocaust Remembrance Day 2021