The following press release was received today from the office of Lukas Welz, chairman of the board of AMCHA Germany, who nominated Rachel Kostanian for the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany. Contacts: Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @amchade. Facebook: www.facebook.com/amcha.deutschland.
Rachel Kostanian Awarded the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany
From left: Rachel Kostanian; Andreas Görgen, head of the Directorate-General for Culture and Communication of Germany’s Federal Foreign Office; Lukas Welz, chairman of AMCHA Germany. Below: The Order of Merit. Photos: Florian Krauss for AMCHA Germany.
BERLIN—Rachel Kostanian was awarded the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany on February 9, 2021 in Berlin for her lifelong work in researching and remembering the Holocaust in Lithuania. For a quarter century she was director of a small but world-renowned and unique Holocaust museum in Vilnius, Lithuania, known as The Green House that she co-founded as Soviet rule was crumbling in the late 1980s.
“Dear Rachel, 20 years have passed, but believe it or not, I often think of you and the Green House, I tell people about you, and all the wonderful people I met – and I hope to be able to see you again my dear Rachel. Today, celebrate your birthday, celebrate LIFE! HAPPY BIRTHDAY my dear! Rachel! Lots of love and a big hug Sepp.” See also Sepp Brudermann’s video tribute.
Ambassador Simon Butt(Ambassador of the United Kingdom to Lithuania, 2008-2011):
“Dear Rachel: on your 91st birthday I would like to congratulate you on a life well lived and for the huge contribution you have made to the cause of maintaining the history of Lithuanian Jewry. The Green House, in its intimacy, scope and historical erudition celebrates a vibrant pre-war culture as well as commemorating its tragic eradication. Its modest appearance disguises the riches it contains — a portrait of an entire civilisation. Through your dedication and scholarship, you have shared those riches with many visitors, including the descendants of the community immortalised in the museum’s displays. That their memory lives on is thanks in no small part to the work you have done; and all who have enjoyed your company honour you for it. With all good wishes, Simon Butt, UK Ambassador, 2008-11.”
Rachel Kostanian-Danzig, one of the founders of the Vilna Gaon Museum of Jewish History, is celebrating her venerable ninety-first birthday. She belongs to the generation that survived the horrific years of the Second World War as well the times of the Soviet regime, and saw the fall of the Iron Curtain: the geopolitical “earthquake” that allowed Lithuania to take back control of its own history.
During her youth in Soviet times, Rachel completed a law degree at Vilnius University and qualified as an English teacher at the city’s Pedagogical University. Her field was not history, until the breakup of the Soviet Union and the rise of Lithuanian liberty gave her the freedom to immerse herself in the history and culture of her Jewish people. But no historian’s diplomas could match her relentless, painstaking and passionate desire to meaningfully fill the gaps in Lithuanian collective memory. Today’s young professionals could envy her enthusiasm and “engagement.”
VILNIUS—Author Silvia Foti, the American granddaughter of the notorious Lithuanian Holocaust collaborator, Jonas Noreika, has been described as “exceptionally courageous” for publicly telling the truth about her grandfather, whom far-right elements in the Lithuanian government and its “history fixing agencies” continue to revere with street names, plaques and state-contrived history. That rewriting of history has a “higher purpose” — to downgrade the Holocaust and beyond whitewashing, to recast the local perpetrators as “heroes” (because they were “anti-Soviet,” a description that could match close to 100% of the East European Holocaust murderers). He is only one of a series of collaborators in the destruction of around 96% of Lithuanian Jewry (among the highest proportions in Holocaust-era Europe) who are regarded as “national heroes” in tandem with the vast, and lavishly state-financed, campaign to rewrite World War II as “two equal genocides,” thereby, according to some, seeking to write the Holocaust out of history as unique event here — without denying a single death.
This week, Ms. Foti launched an international petition boldly entitled “Remove all honors awarded to my grandfather Jonas Noreika.” In some ways, it is a follow-up to an earlier petition, launched some years ago by London-based Monica Lowenberg.
Defending History Brings Real (But Not Enough) Results…
After 7 Years of Silence, Part of Lithuanian Government’s “Red-Brown Commission” Expresses “Sorrow and Anger” at “Unwarranted Attacks” on Yitzhak Arad
First Real Gesture Brings Praise; But No Mention of Prosecutors’ “Kangaroo War Crimes Investigation” or Urgent Need for Apology from Prosecutor and Political Leaders to Halt Ongoing Defamation of Dr. Arad — a Holocaust Survivor, Resistance Hero in the Struggle against Nazism, Veteran of Israel’s War of Independence and then General, Major Scholar of the Holocaust, Head of Yad Vashem for Over Two Decades (1972-1993)
His The Holocaust in the Soviet Union is a (2010) National Jewish Book Award winner
CINDERELLA NOT INVITED TO THE BALL? Her 92nd birthday was 28 Oct, in the middle of the conference.
Dr. Rachel Margolis, Vilna native, Vilna Ghetto survivor, heroic resistance fighter against the Nazis, co-founder of the Green House Holocaust museum in Vilnius, who rediscovered and published long lost diary of eyewitness to the Ponár massacres, defamed by Lithuanian state prosecutors, is not on the list of speakers in Berlin.
Meanwhile, in Rehovot, Rachel Margolis prepared to celebrate her 92nd birthday (Monday 28 Oct). PHOTO: HADAS PARUSH
RIGHT WING POLITICS IN PLAY AT BERLIN VILNA GHETTO CONFERENCE: The event is hosted by a Conservative Party (Christian Democratic Union) linked foundation that is itself part of the Centre for European Studies, a think tank affiliated with the right wing EPP that is itself an engine of red-brown Double Genocide politics in Europe. Chief of red-brown commission in town for the event.
Dr. Rachel Margolis at her home in Rehovot, Israel, visited by Joseph Melamed, president of the Association of Lithuanian Jews in Israel, who was himself visited by agents of Interpol in 2011 on instructions from Lithuanian prosecutors.
Authorized English translation of Dr. Zuroff’s speech at the annual commemoration event held by the Association of Lithuanian Jews in Israel, received from the Israel Office of the Simon Wiesenthal Center. Hebrew original is here.
Attorney Yosef Melamed asked me to update you regarding the recent events which have taken place since the last memorial event a year ago, concerning the attempts by the Lithuanian government to distort the history of the Holocaust and to minimize or deny the participation of many Lithuanians in the murder of Jews, not only in Lithuania but also beyond its borders.
Rachel Kostanian, the famed one-woman bastion holding off the state-sponsored hordes of ultranationalist Holocaust revisionism, continues to lead The Green House, as the Holocaust section of Lithuania’s state Jewish museum is known. It is a small wooden structure atop a hall hidden by a long driveway, invisible from the street, in contrast to the other sections of the Jewish museum. In contrast to all the others, The Green House’s exhibits and texts narrate the simple truth about June 1941 and the role of the “white armbander” Nazi militias in initiating the genocide of Lithuanian Jewry, as well as the later and massive collaboration with and participation in the killing throughout the genocide of Lithuanian Jewry. Like others who stand up, and especially those in prestigious academic or cultural positions in Lithuania, she is being subjected to extensive official harassment, degradation, demotion and a campaign of psychological warfare including defamation (see for example, Esther Goldberg Gilbert’s first and second articles in 2010).
It is against this backdrop that Ms. Kostanian’s prominent inclusion, at four separate points, in Professor Danny Ben-Moshe’s new documentary, Rewriting History, acquires special significance here in Vilnius.
The film is available online. Rachel Kostanian’s four appearances are at the following time c odes:
11:16 to 12:12 17:47 to 19:47 21:10 to 21:34 31:20 to 33:16
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Esther Goldberg Gilbert, wife and partner to Sir Martin Gilbert and an accomplished Holocaust scholar in her own right, today published a second bold article in the Canadian Jewish News on Holocaust issues in Lithuania. The new piece, a follow-up to her first on the subject last month, became necessary, in the view of some observers, in light of a renewed campaign of harassment, degradation and attempted dismissals , against Ms. Kostanian, enabled and enacted out by the highest echelons of the parent museum’s government sponsored leadership, as well as the state’s “Double Genocide industry.” The new article is available as PDF, and herein:
The following is the text of an email sent by Sir Martin Gilbert to an official of Lithuania’s Jewish state museum in defense of Rachel Kostanian, the internationally acclaimed cofounder and longtime director of the Holocaust section of the state Jewish museum, long known as “The Green House” (it is housed in a green wooden house at Pamenkalnio 12, invisible from the street, and up a steep driveway). She is also an eminent author, creator of exhibits and catalogues, and Holocaust educator who has engated with thousands of loval and foreign visitors to the museum. At Sir Martin’s request, the name of the recipient, and of others mentioned in the letter, have been redacted to maintain confidences and avert unnecessary embarrassments. The alleged “mistake” referred to in the final paragraph refers to a powerful new Holocaust documentary film directed by Saulius Beržinis, which Rachel Kostanian enabled, helped to research and complete, and obtained the funding for from a prominent Litvak family in the United Kingdom. The film was apparently deemed unacceptable for its “excessive truth telling,” as one (non-Jewish) museum worker, speaking off the record, put it with some irony. It will presumably one day find its way to the public square one way or another.