Tag Archives: Julius Norwilla (Norvila)

DH’s 2024 Person of the Year: Julius Norwilla


The journey of Julius Norwilla (Norvila) comprises the dynamic persona of: a child in Soviet-era Kaunas; a young intellectual dissident (of religious persuasion) in the waning days of the Soviet Union; theology student at Tallinn and Oxford; Protestant pastor in Vilnius; champion of all the minority people and cultures in Lithuania; love of the Lithuanian Jewish heritage and standing up against state efforts to manipulate that heritage and its history; intense study of Yiddish; combating Holocaust obfuscation and public worship of Holocaust participants (including peaceful, dignified protest at, and photo documentation of, each neo-Nazi march over many years); central figure in the movement to preserve Jewish cemeteries and mass graves; beloved teacher; and — through it all a rare paragon of personal steadfastness, loyalty, and integrity, equally unshakeable by offers of largesse, mammon, and career glories from one side or — by threats of personal and career destruction from the other. Such incentives sometimes come into play in the context of campaigns of defamation and personal destruction of colleagues; here is a human being who would never touch such tactics with a bargepole. Verily, such steadfastness and integrity is a rarefied trait when it comes to painful Jewish issues and history in the Baltics. All in the face of major powers and forces in a part of the world where respect for free speech and diversity of views continues to be a work in progress or, not infrequently, a public relations illusion. For close to a decade: author at Defending History.

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Posted in Bold Citizens Speak Out, Defending History's Person of the Year, Julius Norwilla, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Persons of the Year | Tagged , , | Comments Off on DH’s 2024 Person of the Year: Julius Norwilla

Lithuania’s Prime Minister Announces Members of New Commission on Fate of Hated Soviet Ruin in Heart of Vilna’s Old Jewish Cemetery


VILNIUS—The office of the Lithuanian prime minister today released the list of members of its new commission (The Working Group) to advise on the future of the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery. Lithuanian Prime Minister Ingrida Šimonytė was highly praised by Defending History for her bold and historic August 2021 cancellation of the “convention center in the Jewish cemetery” project that had been causing Lithuania’s stature so much unnecessary damage (see Šimonytė section). It had been supported by corrupt politicians, money-hungry builders and contractors, a corrupt group of London “grave sellers” (the CPJCE), and an array of “Useful Jewish Idiots” who have repeatedly betrayed the living remnants of Lithuanian Jewry over decades, via what some describe as an acquired addiction to honors, photo-ops, grants, junkets, medals, translations of their writings, and assorted other catnip products. One of them was even a JTS-based veteran of a 2007-2008 commission who helped provide “American Jewish cover” for the “two green buildings” (combined residence and business) on the cemetery site that are surrounded by graves on all four sides to this day (more exactly: he was brought in after construction of the first to help smooth the way for the second; he did utter some general sentiments of protest in a New York Yiddish newspaper but refused the editor’s permission for his piece to appear in the paper’s English supplement “because I’m going to be there soon in an important government group”).

Missing from the commission (the PM’s advisors really missed an opportunity here) are the three Lithuanian-citizen, Lithuania-resident heroes of the story who steadfast work over years saved their country from the future humiliation of an American president refusing to set foot in a “convention center in the Jewish cemetery” — Ruta Bloshtein (author of the international petition), Dr. Andrius Kulikauskas, and Julius Norwilla.

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Posted in 2023-2024 'Working Group' on the Future of the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery, Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Christian-Jewish Issues, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Prime Minister Ingrida Šimonytė | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Lithuania’s Prime Minister Announces Members of New Commission on Fate of Hated Soviet Ruin in Heart of Vilna’s Old Jewish Cemetery

Garliava, Lithuania: On the Town’s Holocaust Mass Grave and its Old Jewish Cemetery


by Julius Norwilla

The Holocaust Mass Grave Site

The best way to reach the mass killing site in Garliava (Yiddish Gúdleve, Polish Godlewo), is to take a train from the central train station in Kaunas. It is just one stop. The railway runs south, through a picturesque valley of the languid river Jiesia. Garliava is a township historically in the Suwałki region. It is named after an ancient landlord and noble family Godlewski. It seems that twentieth century ethnic purity zealots renamed the township into Garliava to sever any obvious link to the personage commemorated by the town’s naming, thereby reducing the historical chronicle of the entire region to a narrow and assertively ethnonationalist narrative

When you step out of the old railway station in Garliava, the town itself is still one kilometer away. The train line and the station were built in 1862, and one can wonder, what  the point was, with the then cutting-edge train technology of the time, to make a long detour around the town and build the station somewhere in the middle of the fields, or as one might put it, right in the middle of nowhere?

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Posted in Cemeteries and Mass Graves, History, Julius Norwilla, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views | Tagged , , , , , | Comments Off on Garliava, Lithuania: On the Town’s Holocaust Mass Grave and its Old Jewish Cemetery

No Sir. This is No Photoshop.

VILNIUS—Shortly after Defending History published the news yesterday that Dr. Arūnas Bubnys, longtime chief historian at Lithuania’s state sponsored far-right Genocide Center had been nominated by the speaker of parliament as the center’s new director, news published also by New York’s Algemeiner Journal,  a social media campaign began to try to spread a rumor that the DH photo of Dr. Bubnys proudly speaking less than a year ago under banner images of Holocaust collaborators Jonas Noreika and Kazys Škirpa was “photoshopped.” Two of DH’s Vilnius-based team, Julius Norwilla and Dovid Katz, monitored the event from start to finish. Their report appeared the same day, 23 June 2020, the 79th anniversary of the outbreak of the Lithuanian Holocaust. Instead of honoring the victims — defenseless Jewish citizens, often older rabbis and younger women brutalized and murdered by the “White Armbander” fascists  — the event, like many legitimized by Lithuanian government institutions, glorified the killers, who are invariably described as “heroic anti-Soviet rebels.” This is of course a patent historic nonsense. The USSR’s forces were fleeing Hitler’s invasion, Operation Barbarossa, the largest invasion in human history, not the local white-armbanded Jew-killers. While the Soviets were in power, the Hitler-backers and murderers of civilian neighbors now adulated as “anti-Soviet rebels” did not fire a single shot. Not even at a local rabbit.

See DH’s sections on Dr. Bubnys, the Genocide Center, and commemorations of 23 June 1941, as well as reviews  of his books on the Vilna Ghetto and on the Kovno (Kaunas) Ghetto.

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Posted in Celebrations of Fascism, Collaborators Glorified, Dr. Arūnas Bubnys and State Holocaust Revisionism in Lithuania, Genocide Center (Vilnius), Human Rights, Kazys Škirpa, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Politics of Memory, State Glorification of Holocaust Collaborator J. Noreika, Vilnius, Yitzhak Arad | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on No Sir. This is No Photoshop.

Virus-Shmirus: Vilnius Yiddish Class Celebrates 20th Session (Safely via Skype)


Julius Norwilla (standing end of table) with his class of Elementary/Intermediate Yiddish at Vilnius’s Jewish Cultural and Information Center (JCIC) in the Old Town, under auspices of the Vilnius Jewish Community in March 2020. On 24 March, with a pandemic upending life in the Lithuanian capital (as everywhere), the students and teacher decided to continue online via skype and have not missed a week. Standing at left is Rima Kazlauskaite, administrator at JCIC.

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Posted in Events, Lithuania, Lithuania's Jewish Community Issues, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Yiddish Affairs | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Virus-Shmirus: Vilnius Yiddish Class Celebrates 20th Session (Safely via Skype)