Is Convention Center in Old Jewish Cemetery Really Best Way to Jumpstart Post Covid-19 Economy?


VILNIUS—The major news portal reported this morning on the economic recovery plan for jumpstarting the Lithuanian economy in the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic. After reporting on the doldrums of the construction industry, the article cites at length Mantas Miseliūnas, a top specialist on the role of commercial property in the economy. No opposing views are cited. The article, which does not mention the old Vilna Jewish cemetery, the current litigation, the international petition, and the massive international protest, informs readers of an idyllic panacea to the economic downturn wrought by Covid-19:

“The state could help the business sector in a difficult situation by undertaking state projects, for example, accelerating the process of renovation, especially state-owned buildings, and the implementation of such state real estate projects as  construction by ministries. At this time,  large state projects would help the players of the real estate sector to survive, provide jobs, especially in construction companies. In the future, as markets recover, such solutions would allow better realization of the existing portfolio managed by Turto bankas. Now is the best time to implement this type of project. It would also be possible to accelerate infrastructure projects in  the capital: implementation of  the Vilnius Conference and Congress Hall, People’s House, faster implementation of the second and third stages of Šiaurinės Street, starting of work on the “pedagogical” ring viaduct, a bridge over the Neris in Vingis Park, increase development of bicycle paths and speeding  up of  the maintenance of the left bank of the Neris,”

But the juicy profits from utter desecration of Lithuania’s major historical Jewish cemetery are returned to in the report.

“For example, the long-awaited Vilnius Conference and Congress Center would strongly enliven the city’s face, and its public events and international conferences would allow the recovery of the severely affected tourism sector ,  boosting the country’s attractiveness for business travel and increasing hotel and catering employment.”

There is no mention of the view that this particular project would bring shame to Vilnius and Lithuania and that people of good conscience might never — not next year, not in ten years —participate in a convention, conference, concert or rally where thousands would cheer, drink at bars and flush lavatories surrounded by thousands of graves of citizens of Vilnius who happened to have been Jewish  and whose families purchased their graves in freehold over a five hundred year period.

Defending History’s take:  “Of course a new congress center is a splendid idea to help the economy. But the people of Vilnius and Lithuania deserve a sparkling new and morally clean new congress center that will bring harmony, joy and honor to all who come to this place. Not shame, humiliation and the lingering racism implicit in dancing in the middle of thousands of Jewish graves.”


See more in the saga of the cemetery and the international opposition, which has included pleas from US congressmen and senators and Israeli members of parliament, the chief rabbis of Israel and South Africa, and virtually all major Litvak rabbinic figures in Lithuania and abroad.



This entry was posted in Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Christian-Jewish Issues, Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Politics of Memory and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.
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