VILNIUS—Ruta Bloshtein, author of the Change.org petition that garnered over 50,000 signatures and played a major role in the internationally praised 2021 cancellation by Lithuania’s prime minister of the project to turn the Soviet-era “Sports Palace” (Sporto rumai) ruin into a national congress center, today released for publication her 25 October letter to the Jewish Orthodox members appointed — in an apparent effort to confer legitimacy — to the current “working group” (commission) established, many believe, to rubber stamp a state (and Turto Bankas) project to renovate (rather than demolish) the Soviet eyesore that sits in the middle of the cemetery. Without even mentioning the view that hated Soviet ruin should be removed, official commission minutes include an array of future conference-center, museum, memorial and other public space aspirations, including business (and builders’) interests’ visuals, but not including a hint of the extant visuals in support of cemetery preservation and restoration.
Monthly Archives: October 2023
Ruta Bloshtein, Author of Successful Petition, Calls on Jewish Orthodox Members of ‘Cemetery Commission’ to Stand Up for Preservation and Restoration of the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery
Text of 2020 Litvak Rabbinic Decision on Old Vilna Cemetery and Powerful Statement of the Conference of European Rabbis (CER)
VILNIUS—In view of diverse characterizations circulating regarding the content of the judgment on the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in the Snípishok/Šnipiškės district), handed down by Litvak Jewry’s highest international rabbinic authority, on 9 February 2020 (14 Shvat 5780), signed also by the late and revered Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky (1928-2022) of blessed memory, Defending History is providing the original documents of the certified English translation released by the court, as well as the Hebrew original. This was followed below by the Conference of European Rabbis’ solemn repudiation of any role for the London-based CPJCE, issued on 29 Sept. 2020, after years of documentation of allegedly corrupt activities in the alleged de facto sale of East European cemeteries with which they have no historic ties of any kind.
A Different Kind of Holocaust Artist: Auschwitz Survivor David Olère’s Unedited and Unabastracted Realism
OPINION | ARTS | BOOKS | HISTORY | POLITICS OF MEMORY
by Roland Binet (De Panne, Belgium)
I want to share with our readers a remarkable book with reproductions of paintings and drawings by and about David Olère who had been a member of a Sonderkommando in Auschwitz-Birkenau. But after the war he felt his mission was to bear witness to the truth, including the horrendous scenes he had seen and himself been part of: Vergessen oder Vergeben – Bilder aus der Todeszone by Alexandre Oler and David Olère [= David Oler]; zu Klampen! (Verlag- Springe/Deutschland; originally published in French in 1998 by his son Alexandre Oler: Un genocide en heritage.
Despite the millions of Jews killed by bullets or who died of beatings, pogroms, hunger or ill treatment in Poland and in the Republics of the USSR, the iconic symbols of Nazi evil remain, for a large segment of the world population, the gas chambers and crematories of Auschwitz-Birkenau and the five other extermination camps in Poland. Historians have stressed the fact that the Nazi killers and their helpers sometimes found those mass slaughters by bullets or asphyxiation inside trucks where monoxide of carbon had been injected to be too tedious and harsh to bear for the executioners. So, Nazi Germany switched to mass killings in gas chambers with Zyklon B and – concerned about leaving traces – devised the crematories. Searching for the roots of this industrialization process, Simon Wiesenthal had already come to that conclusion very early (as quoted by Guido Knopp in Die SS – Eine Warnung der Geschichte).
Are Members of the ‘International Working Group’ Being Tragically Misinformed on Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery?
by Julius Norwilla (Vilnius)
Like my fellow campaigners, over the years, in opposition to the project to plonk a national convention center in the heart of the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery (via refurbishment of a hated Soviet “Sports Palace” dump that should have long ago been demolished), I felt nothing but relief and the need to express congratulations back in the summer of 2021 when our prime minister wisely cancelled the project. Over two years later, there is again fear, among Jews, Lithuanians, and many around the world who respect the right of the dead to lie in peace (verily a part of Human Rights), even when they are members of a minority. When the buried belong to a nation’s ethnic majority, there are usual no serious efforts to situate conference centers surrounded by subterranean graves (even when the above-ground gravestones have long disappeared).
A Great European City’s 700th Birthday: Will They Now Take Down Vilnius Public-Space Honors for Holocaust Collaborators?
[LATEST UPDATE. PAGE PUBLISHED ON 1 JAN. 2023]
VILNIUS—The Defending History community celebrates the 700th birthday of Vílna (today’s beautiful Vilnius — capital of the democratic EU state Lithuania; in Yiddish — Vílne; Polish Wilno; Belarusian Vilna; German Wilna) in the spirit of love for a city whose hundreds of years of harmony brought such magnificent cultural achievements in an array of cultures and languages. One of them is its Jewish legacy. Briefest of examples: Thousands of books in Hebrew, Aramaic and Yiddish were published in the nineteenth century alone. The Gaon of Vilna and the founders of modern Yiddish scholarship walked these streets.
The universally revered founder of Vilnius, Grand Duke Gediminas (Gedymin) built his new capital in 1323 as a harmonious symphony of humanistic diversity, a legacy that pulsates even today on the city’s charming streets. He is surely looking down on his city aghast at these “monuments” (in effect) to Aryanist ethnic purity, via the glorification of “nationalist heroes” who joined the Holocaust to kill as many Jewish citizens as possible. The Gediminist spirit will emerge triumphant, wait and see…
[LAST UPDATE: 15 OCT.]
DOCUMENTS | OPINION | HUMAN RIGHTS | OLD VILNA JEWISH CEMETERY AT PIRAMÓNT | OPPOSITION TO CONVENTION CENTER | CEMETERIES & MASS GRAVES | LITHUANIAN JEWISH COMMUNITY AFFAIRS | CHABAD IN VILNIUS
First, the documents.
All these recent documents, circulated by now to hundreds (if not thousands) of recipients, whether by direct email blast or by multiple forwards of such blasts (by their own authors’ offices and supporters), are, needless to say, now in the public domain, and form part of an important record for the issues of today, and for the chronicles of history.