Monthly Archives: February 2023

We Knew Roza


by Dalia Epstein (Dalija Epšteinaitė)

in memory of

Roza Bieliauskienė (1946-2023)

She died faster than a match burns out. Dumbfounded, we are trying to understand her place in our lives, and in Jewish culture, to which she devoted so much energy. The Jewish Museum in Lithuania has a long-suffering history. It burned, and was plundered, and ceased to exist, opened and closed many times… There were always experienced workers, Torah connoisseurs who knew Hebrew and, of course, Yiddish.

And suddenly, after World War II, only a few of these specialists remained alive. And in 1949 the museum, where writers, journalists and other cultural figures had already settled, the Soviet authorities again closed the museum and dispersed its collections, all that had miraculously survived during the war years, distributing it to various museums in Lithuania. Jewish culture was rapidly destroyed. Yiddish writers either went to camps, like all “rootless cosmopolitans,” or mastered some applied professions, while others began to write in Lithuanian. In a rare Jewish family did they continue to speak máme-loshn (Yiddish). Parents among themselves — yes, but with children in Russian or in Lithuanian.

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Posted in Arts, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Museums, News & Views, Obituaries, Roza Bieliauskienė | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on We Knew Roza

The Defending History Community’s Statement on Putin’s Barbaric Assault on Ukraine (and the Free World)


Renewing our call of one year ago:

The Defending History community joins in calling for immediate restoration of peace and security for all the people of Ukraine, condemning unequivocally the savage and barbaric invasion — and rain of death and destruction — by a neighboring big power, led by our century’s most dangerous and deranged warmonger dictator. Ukraine’s victory will be the victory of the free and democratic world everywhere, as will the fall of the Putinist regime of dictatorship, invasion, and mass murder of civilians.

As a small gesture of spiritual solidarity, our Yiddish Studies team has constructed a modest new collection of videos of Ukraine’s last Yiddish speaking survivors. Ukraine alone spans every modern dialect of the language.

Note: In response to onslaughts of attempts at defamation and personal destruction (including from  far-right and neo-nazi groups), it can be useful to provide a screenshot (just below) of a front page text we introduced early in 2014, at first intermittently, and now for many years consistently. At the more intellectual level, our earlier (2011) reply to a much more academically nuanced version of the Red Libel in a major Lithuanian journal of political science may shed light (it was, at the insistence of the late Prof. L. Donskis, posted on their website, but never carried, or we believe, mentioned, in the print edition; please check). The text is available in DH.Continue reading

Posted in News & Views, Ukraine | Comments Off on The Defending History Community’s Statement on Putin’s Barbaric Assault on Ukraine (and the Free World)

Review of Michael Kretzmer’s Documentary Film “J’Accuse”


by Dovid Katz

Genuine heroes of this saga—both written out of the film

  • At left: Evaldas Balčiūnas (who first called his nation’s attention (in Lithuanian) and the world’s (in English) to state-sponsored adulation of Lithuanian Holocaust perpetrator J. Noreika. That was a year after his classic essay “Why does the state commemorate murderers?” appeared in Defending History in 2011. Here pictured at Vilnius County Court after one of the hearings in the litany of kangaroo cases against him (Defending History was there at each hearing to support him). He is DH’s 2023 Person of the Year.
  • At right: Dr. Andrius Kulikauskas brought his self-crafted poster to a nationalist event on independence day in central Vilnius, with an image to show his people the kind of national hero Lithuania should be celebrating: the inspirational Holocaust-era rescuer Malvina Šokelytė Valeikienė (DH’s person of the year in 2018). The gentle, teetotaling mathematician and philosopher took this sign right into the heart of an alcohol-fueled ultranationalist demonstration, leaving observers of every persuasion in awe of his courage. Dr. Kulikauskas boldly led the effort to expose Noreika in Lithuania and is the de facto author of the primary documents underpinning the legal petitions to the state’s Genocide Center and its courts. A Lithuanian American born and raised in California, he and his family migrated to newly free Lithuania decades ago.
  • See DH’s Evaldas Balčiūnas and Andrius Kulikauskas sections. A future film maker might even find an enchanting angle in the stark differences between the two Lithuanian heroes of this story. One is a devout Catholic, the other an atheist. One is an anarchist, the other a nationalist. One an urban family guy, the other a lone thinker and dreamer in a faraway wooden hut in the depths of the Lithuanian countryside.

VILNIUS—Michael Kretzmer’s new documentary J’Accuse! provides a terrific extended interview with legendary truth-teller Silvia Foti. The film’s narration provides effective statements on ongoing East European state adulation of Nazi collaborators though focused on just one, Jonas Noreika of Lithuanian Holocaust infamy (who was the Chicago-born Foti’s grandfather).

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Posted in Arts, Bold Citizens Speak Out, Collaborators Glorified, Dovid Katz, Film, History, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Media Watch, Michael Kretzmer's Documentary Film "J'Accuse!" on the Lithuanian Holocaust, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory, State Glorification of Holocaust Collaborator J. Noreika | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Review of Michael Kretzmer’s Documentary Film “J’Accuse”

Film, Video, Radio, Music




Rewriting History logo


See also DH sections on: ARTS, BOOKSFILM, MUSIC

Films and Videos on Defending History topics:

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Posted in Arts, Film, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Media Watch, Michael Kretzmer's Documentary Film "J'Accuse!" on the Lithuanian Holocaust, Music, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Film, Video, Radio, Music

Lithuania Learns Important Lessons ― The Hard Way


by Vilma Fiokla Kiurė

The war in Ukraine has truly shaken everyday life in Lithuania. It has, among other things, pushed human rights issues to the background, or reframed them in a strictly military or geopolitical east-west perspective. When information about civilian women being massively and brutally raped by the occupying army reached our shores, a protest was organized at the Russian Embassy in Vilnius. The protest was very similar to the one in Estonia, where Estonian women similarly protested at the Russian Embassy in Tallinn, expressing their solidarity with Ukrainian women by placards depicting victims of sexual violence. They stood by the embassy with horribly blood painted groins and bags on their head. Lithuanian protestors echoed the image. Protesters in Lithuania also brought children’s toys and strollers with them to direct attention to the tragedies of women who got pregnant after being raped. The image was reinforced by “the red pond” because, before the protest, the performance “Swimming Through” took place, during which the famous Lithuanian swimmer Rūta Meilutytė swam across the pond near the Russian Embassy, the water of which had been colored with red dye, to remind the diplomats of the ongoing massacres and atrocities and mass murder in Ukraine.

Lithuanian women activists started organizing various forms of aid to Ukrainian women, from raising funds for mobile gynecological clinics to supplying Ukrainians with hygiene products and pregnancy terminating medication.

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Posted in Human Rights, LGBTQ Equal Rights, Lithuania, News & Views, Opinion, Vilma Fiokla Kiurė, Women's Rights | Comments Off on Lithuania Learns Important Lessons ― The Hard Way