Professors Saulius Sužiedėlis (Millersville University, Pennsylvania) and Šarūnas Liekis (Vilnius Yiddish Institute, Vilnius University, Vytautas Magnus University, etc), two excellent historians with impressive track records, have again been engaged by the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry to present a Holocaust program abroad for foreign consumption.
Flown to London in February as part of a larger conference that backfired badly, they are being dispatched to Warsaw as a duo for April 19th commemorations of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising, where they will speak about Yiddish poet Abraham Sutskever’s Vilna Ghetto memoirs, in an event sponsored by the Lithuanian Embassy in Warsaw.
As usual, the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry has failed to include in its international mobile unit a single Holocaust Survivor, a single Jewish scholar from Lithuania, or a single representative from the country’s Jewish Community.
The event is part of the Foreign Ministry’s activities to mark the designation of 2011 as the year of Holocaust commemoration in Lithuania. Not many in the Warsaw audience may be aware that the Lithuanian government has also declared 2011 to be a year of commemoration for (inter alia) the Holocaust perpetrators of the Lithuanian Activist Front (LAF) who unleashed the killings before the Germans even arrived. See box 6 on page one, and the reports here and here. Before being exposed in this journal, the parliament’s Lithuanian and English websites announced ‘one year’ in Lithuanian and ‘the other year’ in English (see here). In addition, the parliament, in context of the ‘other 2011’, is sponsoring a film glorifying the LAF murderers. The LAF and related pro-Nazi units also murdered many thousands of Polish civilians, particularly in the Vilnius region.
Neither of the Holocaust-on-the-road professors have yet commented in print on last year’s legalization of swastikas in Lithuania or the ongoing state-enabled defamation of Holocaust Survivors Rachel Margolis and Fania Yocheles Brantsovsky.
Either of these two incredible women, both now in their late eighties and sharp as ever, would be able to make a huge contribution to the topic of the Warsaw seminar. Both were incarcerated in the Vilna Ghetto and have unique personal memories of Abraham Sutskever in the Vilna Ghetto that would gracefully complement the learned researches of the dispatched professors. Both Rachel and Fania are fluent in Polish, the official language in Vilna (then Wilno) during the interwar period when the city was part of the Polish Republic.
Neither of the traveling professors signed the recent Open Letter, signed by 595 Lithuanian intellectuals, protesting the 11 March 2011 Nazi march which proceeded up the main boulevard of the Lithuanian capital, with a permit issued by the municipality, and with the participation of a member of parliament and an official of the Genocide Research Center, with which both learned colleagues have had dealings over the years.
Last November, Poland’s ambassador to Lithuania protested the dismal state of Holocaust denial and distortion in Lithuania in a public letter.
Details of the April 19th Warsaw event are available here.