VILNIUS—Less than one month after an inspiring, and by all accounts successful launch of the new Yivo-backed Jewish Studies Center at the Martynas Mažvydas National Library on 22 and 23 May 2017, the same institution, a national library of an EU and NATO member state, has launched, on the very same floor, another new center. This slightly-later launched institute, named for Holocaust collaborator and ethnic cleansing supporter Adolfas Damušis, made its debut on 15 and 16 June 2017. Its opening ceremony is described by Andrius Kulikauskas.
It seemed obvious to observers that it is no coincidence that in the eyes of the ultranationalist far-right elite, “a gesture to the Jews” is ideally matched by “a diplomatically symmetrical gesture to the glorifiers of local Holocaust collaborators” in time and place, as part of the ongoing movement to equalize Nazi and Soviet crimes by an interlocking array of ruses that includes rehabilitation of local Nazi collaborators and the concurrent support for Jewish (or Yiddish) studies.
It is, perhaps, especially sad that this latest manipulation of the Yivo prewar Vilna Yiddish culture brand comes well after Yivo’s leaders have modified, and hopefully abandoned, an earlier pattern of overt collaboration with Holocaust obfuscators and distorters, a pattern that became public in 2011 (see DH’s section, Yivo Manipulated? and scroll down to bottom to peruse in chronological order; see as examples the 2015 letter from Vilna born Holocaust survivor Prof. Pinchos Fridberg, and coverage of Yivo’s 2012 participation in a conference set up to camouflage the concurrent reburial with full honors of the 1941 Nazi puppet prime minister).
But Yivo has won back a lot of credibility by a notable and noble shift to building Jewish studies in Lithuania in cooperation with the National Library, National Archives and other academic institutions instead of the Red-Brown Commission and Holocaust revisionist agencies as in past years. Has the Holocaust revisionist establishment nevertheless found a way yet again to abuse the Yivo board’s good will and enlist the Yivo brand in attempts to kosherize “by juxtaposition” the glorification of Holocaust collaborators and champions of Nazist ethnic cleansing of Lithuania’s annihilated Jewish minority?
Hopefully Yivo’s leaders will this time speak out rapidly with moral clarity and find the way forward to ensure that the new center does not remain under the same roof as its neighbor that exists to sanitize the Holocaust’s local supporters. What, come to think of it, would Chaikel Lunski, Zelig-Hirsh Kalmanovitsh, Zalmen Reyzen, Tsemakh Shabad, and Max Weinreich have made of Ót azélkhe shkhéynim — “such neighbors”?