Vilnius-born author Sergey Kanovich (Sergejus Kanovičius) published in today’s issue of Bernardinai a short and powerful statement for the ceremony later today at Ponár (Paneriai), the mass-murder site outside Vilnius where 100,000 civilians, among them 70,000 Jews, were murdered by the Nazis during the Holocaust. Most of the actual shooting was carried out by local Lithuanian units sometimes nowadays glorified as ‘anti-Soviet heroes’ by certain establishment circles, even as a parallel series of Holocaust commemoration activities are produced during this year’s parallel years of commemoration proclaimed in late 2010 by the Lithuanian parliament (see here and here) for 2011, which marks the seventieth anniversary of the events.
“They took your life away. And there are those who continue to try to assassinate your memory — again, today, almost without resistance and with impunity, now and again, the spirit of swastikas and the white armbands of the LAF casts a shadow over Jerusalem of Lithuania. And today there are those who still desire to see your executioners as heroes.”
— SERGEY KANOVICH
The statement will not be read by any of the officials speaking at the event but its publication in Bernardinai, edited by the eminent Lithuanian human rights advocate Andrius Navickas, might, local observers say, have a resonance that is likely to outlive the official platitudes that will be delivered for the media and the group of Israeli visitors.
Kanovich is a noted Lithuanian poet. His books of Lithuanian verse include Kelionmaisis (‘Back Pack’, Vilnius 2009), and Rasmenys ant sniego (‘Writings on the Snow’, Tel Aviv 2002). He is the son of the renowned Lithuanian Jewish novelist Grigory Kanovich who was the first head of the Jewish Community of Lithuania when the Soviet Union collapsed and today, living in Israel, still holds the title of honorary chairman of the community.
Sergey Kanovich, currently an official advisor to the Jewish Community of Lithuania, explained that today’s statement was issued in a personal capacity.