Daily Archives: 19 September 2022

Russian Warship, Go F**k Yourself! (Tale of an Overdue Vilnius Cultural Version)


by Julius Norwilla (Vilnius)

 Look what you can see standing right by Vilnius’s Cathedral Square: The Soviet “Sports Palace” ruin that symbolizes not only antisemitism but also: Soviet/Russian Empire spiritual and political domination of Lithuania’s free spirit. High time to be rid of this carbuncle on the beautiful face of modern Vilnius?

The first phase of the eradication of the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt in Shnípishok — modern Šnipiškės — and of the people buried there, started back in 1830, contemporaneous with an uprising against the Russian Empire. The November Uprising, as it is now known, started with the will to resist the czarist government’s plans to send the army of Poland — at the time an autonomous kingdom within the Russian Empire — to Belgium and France, as well as with the dreams of restoring Polish independence. In 1831, seeing that the uprising for independence would soon take over Vilna, the Russian Imperial government expropriated a section  of the Jewish cemetery by the bank of the Viliya (now Neris), and established an artillery citadel to keep the freedom-loving city at all times in the crosshairs of its cannon barrels. But even after the establishment of the citadel, more than three quarters of the actual graves (and their stoness or mini-mausoleums, oyhólim) remained untouched. This legendary cemetery is a Litvak pantheon, a monument to the civilization of Lithuanian Jewry. So it is meaningful that its first phase of destruction got underway just as the Russian imperial government’s project to enhance its military presence in Vilna, by making sure that the city’s inhabitants live in constant fear.

A small section of the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt. The Soviet Sport Palace was built in its heart. All stones and inscriptions were trashed but thousands of graves survive on all four sides of the building, now an eyesore in the heart of modern Vilnius.

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Posted in Antisemitism & Bias, Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Julius Norwilla, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Opinion, Politics of Memory | Comments Off on Russian Warship, Go F**k Yourself! (Tale of an Overdue Vilnius Cultural Version)