BELGRADE—The president of Serbia, Tomislav Nikolic, today awarded a Golden Medal for Merit to Dr. Efraim Zuroff, the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s chief Nazi hunter and its Director of East European Affairs, as part of the celebrations of Sretenje, the Serbian republic’s national day. The rationale for the award, which was granted to Dr. Zuroff for “exceptional achievements” included his “selfless dedication to defending the truth about the suffering of Jews, and also Serbs, Roma and other nations during World War II.”
Tag Archives: Simon Wiesenthal Center
by Dovid Katz
This article appeared today in Jewish Currents:
A recent Washington Post editorial rightfully takes Russia and China to task for persecuting those who dare challenge the state’s distortions of history. In the case of Russia, there is mention of the disgraceful prosecution of a citizen for pointing out that the September 1939 dismemberment of Poland was a joint venture of Germany and the USSR codified by the infamous Molotov-Ribbentrop pact. But wait a minute.
Wiesenthal Center Calls on Kaunas Mayor to End Abuse of “Seventh Fort”; Pressure Builds on Vilnius Mayor’s Jewish Politics
JERUSALEM—The Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Israel Office today issued a press release (text below), including a quote from its director, Dr. Efraim Zuroff, calling on Visvaldas Matijošaitis, the mayor of Kaunas (Kovno), Lithuania’s second city, to ban weddings and other celebrations from the now privatized parts of the historic Seventh Fort, where thousands of Kaunas Jews were humiliated, tortured and murdered starting with the first week of the Lithuanian Holocaust in late June 1941.
Vilnius Prosecutor Skirts Key Question: Will the List of Alleged Holocaust Perpetrators be Made Public?
by Dovid Katz
VILNIUS—An array of local observers, speaking as usual off the record here, declared themselves “in shock” over the official response to the Jewish Community released by Prosecutor General Rimvydas Valentukevičius yesterday, dealing with widespread requests that the state’s Genocide Center — with which his Prosecutor General’s office has closely cooperated on Holocaust issues for many years — release the list of around two thousand names of alleged Holocaust murderers that it recently announced it had compiled, drawing international press attention. Over the years, the Center has been critiqued by the Wiesenthal Center and by various authors in Defending History for its alleged history-distorting antics; Evaldas Balčiūnas and Andrius Kulikauskas are among the boldest challengers of the Center’s moral integrity. (See also DH’s page on the Genocide Center, and on the museum which it directs in central Vilnius.)
The Association of Lithuanian Jews in Israel has long maintained an estimate of 23,000 local perpetrators involved in the killing. Thousands were listed on the Association’s website until June 2009 when the Israeli Foreign Ministry, under pressure from Lithuanian counterparts, itself harshly pressured the Association’s then chairperson to remove the list from its website. But it continues to circulate widely both on the internet and its fuller form is preserved in Joseph Melamed’s 1999 book, Crime and Punishment (Tel Aviv 1999), where the lists of alleged killers are organized by region and town.
Wiesenthal Center Praises Lithuanian Jewish Community Call to Publish List of Local Holocaust Perpetrators
JERUSALEM—The Simon Wiesenthal Center today praised the call issued late last week in Vilnius by the Lithuanian Jewish community to the official state Genocide and Resistance Research Center to publish its list of 2,055 Lithuanians whom it alleges participated in the mass murder of Jews during the Holocaust. In a statement issued here by its chief Nazi-hunter Dr. Efraim Zuroff, who also is responsible for Eastern European Affairs, the Center noted the importance of the call by community president Faina Kukliansky to finally reveal the names on the list which was originally compiled in 2012, but has hitherto never been made public. Of particular importance was the community’s call upon the Genocide Center to verify whether any of the persons on the list were still alive, how many of them had been granted rehabilitations and whether any of these persons had received decorations from the Lithuanian government (for their anti-Soviet activities).
Wiesenthal Center Praises Vytautas Bruveris’s Call for Investigating Scope of Local Holocaust Participation
TAURAGĖ (TÁVRIK), LITHUANIA—The Simon Wiesenthal Center today praised an op-ed in the popular Lithuanian news portal Lrytas.lt by prominent journalist Vytautas Bruveris calling upon the government to finally undertake a comprehensive investigation of the scope of Lithuanian complicity in Holocaust crimes. In a statement issued here today by its chief Nazi hunter, Dr. Efraim Zuroff, who is currently in Lithuania on a research expedition, the Center expressed its appreciation and support for the content of the article and expressed the hope that the government would indeed implement the ideas raised by Bruveris.
Efraim Zuroff on Tablet Magazine’s Co-Sponsorship of Lithuanian Government’s Yivo Event, and a Suggestion for Yivo’s Audience
Dr. Efraim Zuroff, Holocaust historian, Nazi-hunter, and director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Israel office, has posted the following comment on the website of Tablet magazine, as one of the comments to a new book review. The comment also appears separately on Facebook.
Wiesenthal Center’s Israel Office Releases 2007 Correspondence with LA Board Chief of Vilnius Yiddish Institute
Editor’s note: The Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Israel office today released for the record the following September 2007 email exchange with the director of the Los Angeles based “Friends of the Vilnius Yiddish Institute” (VYI).
O P I N I O N
by Efraim Zuroff
I hate to spoil the Havel and the Jews festival in the wake of his demise, but I feel that it is important to point out a terrible mistake Havel made which directly relates to Jewish affairs. I am referring to his signing the Prague Declaration of June 3, 2008 (along with 39 other East European politicians and intellectuals), which basically equates Communist crimes with those of the Nazis, warns that “Europe will not be united unless it is able to unite its history [and] recognize Communism and Nazism as a common legacy”and seeks to deny the Holocaust its deserved status as a unique case of genocide.
“One of the most important statements in the article is that the swastika is banned by Lithuanian law, something that Katz and others have refused to acknowledge.”
“Fact: It is illegal to display the swastika in Lithuania today.”
— Jonathan Brent, Executive Director of the Yivo Institute for Jewish Research, in a 13 September 2o11 memo comprising the text of his proposed Public Yivo Statement, for which the support of Prof. Jeffrey Veidlinger (Bloomington) is claimed.
11 March 2008: For the first time, authorities permitted a city-center neo-Nazi march on Independence Day, with police escort, at which the ‘Lithuanian swastika’ was widely displayed. Since then the march has been permitted on Gedimino Boulevard with increasing attendance. By 2011, the march, featuring many ‘Lithuanian swastikas’, included a member of parliament, and was co-organized by a high official of the state-sponsored Genocide Center.
17 June 2008: BBC News reports on the new law passed by the country’s parliament forbidding Nazi and Soviet symbols (equally). While the ‘Nazi symbol component’ of the law was to remain largely unenforced and in the case of the swastika overturned by a court (see below; here and here), the banning of Soviet symbols, at a time and place where there is zero interest in restoring the USSR, came as a bitter blow to (by then very aged) Jewish war veterans for whom old uniforms and war medals are a treasured memory of the struggle against Hitler here on ground zero of the Holocaust. The red-brown-symbol law came two weeks after the Prague Declaration, and the emphasis was on legally mandated ‘equality’ of Nazism and Communism as per the Double Genocide movement, in Europe and in Lithuania, that seeks to downgrade and obfuscate the Holocaust (responses here and here).
2008-2011: Both before and after passage of the law, various forms and variations of the swastikas have been used in fascist demonstrations (protected by law enforcement), the best known being the ‘Lithanian swastika’ (with added lines). More information and images here.
8 May 2010: Eyewitness report on the ‘modified swastika’ demonstration protected by police for eight hours outside the Lietuva (Reval) Hotel. The ‘literature table’ provided onlookers with this diagram, meant to ensure that the different varieties of swastikas are equally legitimate for the neo-Nazi (“patriotic”) cause.
19 May 2010: Report on Delfi.lt on the court decision legalizing public swastikas.
19 May 2010: Report on Baltic News Service (BNS) on the court decision legalizing swastikas.
20 May 2010: Simon Wiesenthal Center press release on the Lithuanian court decision legalizing swastikas. Also available on the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Operation Last Chance website (see at: 20 May 2010).
21 May 2010: Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA) report on the court decision legalizing swastikas.
June 2010: The Jewish Community of Lithuania responds in its official newspaper, Jerusalem of Lithuania [English version; also available in Lithuanian, Russian and Yiddish].
25 November 2010: Seven European ambassadors (Britain, Estonia, France, Finland, Netherlands, Norway, and Sweden) include in their letter to Lithuania’s leaders the sentence: ‘A court in Klaipeda is able to declare it acceptable to display a swastika in public as a traditional Lithuanian symbol’ (BNS report here, DefendingHistory.com report here). Follow-up: On 13 December 2010, MP Denis MacShane asked in the House of Commons for the entire letter to be made public.
11 March 2011: The ‘Lithuanian swastika’ (with added lines supposedly invoking a medieval symbol) is widely displayed in the Independence Day neo-Nazi parade on Gedimino Boulevard, protected by police. Eyewitness report.
20 April 2011: To mark Hitler’s birthday, a series of swastikas and other fascist symbols were displayed in various locations. Most disturbingly, three swastika flags were left to hang for eight hours on Tauro Hill, overlooking central Vilnius, before being removed. Report on Delfi.lt. English summary and photos here.
22 June 2011: The 22 June premiere of a parliament-supported ‘documentary film’ glorifying the Lithuanian Activist Front (LAF) fascists, whose pre Nazi invasion leaflets called for murder of the Jewish citizens of Lithuania, featured a souvenir ticket which was stamped with a nostalgic replica of a 1941 Nazi stamp (with swastika, of course…) applied by an usher dressed up in LAF garb. The premiere was addressed by a former president of Lithuania. The same day, the chairperson/speaker of the parliament honored the film’s producers in her office in a scene chosen by the parliament’s website as Picture of the Day. Details here. Image of the ticket and stamp here. Review of the film by the editor of Lithuania’s last Jewish newspaper here.
8-10 July 2011: Over this weekend, there was a desecration of the two major monuments at the mass murder site Ponár (Paneriai), where over 70,000 Jews from Vilna and its region were murdered: the smaller one with a swastika and an inscription translating ‘Hitler was right’ and the larger monument with an obscene drawing and text (details here; full image here). Authorities rapidly cleaned up the damage and tried to cover up the incident. Timothy Snyder in the New York Review of Books blog noted that the cover-up resulted in a lost educational opportunity. The Wiesenthal Center’s press release is here.
28 July 2011: A bold young journalist, Eglė Samoškaitė, exposes on Delfi.lt extensive state funding for fascist organizations, including those that lead or participate in swastika-bearing neo-Nazi marches. English translation here.
9 August 2011: A bold young journalist, Dovilė Tuskenytė, exposes in Lietuvos rytas the ongoing and successful endeavor by neo-Nazis in Lithuania to cover for their activities by claiming the swastika is just a historical or pagan symbol, with reference to authorities’ failure to act. English translation here.
3 October 2011: A ‘chief specialist’ at the state-sponsored Genocide Research Center who helped organize the neo-Nazi march (featuring numerous swastikas) last March 11, and who has published antisemitic interviews and documents since then, has not been disciplined or disemployed to date. Details here, here, here, and here. Most recently, the neo-Nazi organization he leads in his ‘spare time’ published an ‘Enemies List’ including an official advisor to the country’s small Jewish community. Original here, English translation here, summary here.
3 October 2011: All recent issues of the Lithuanian edition of Der Stürmer (put on line abroad but produced by native neo-Nazis who often refer to current domestic issues in Lithuania in the hate materials included), featuring numerous swastikas and other fascist icons, are freely available online, as of today’s date, with no intervention from authorities: No. 1 (November 2009); No. 2 (December 2009); No. 3 (January 2010); No. 4 (February 2010); No. 5 (March 2010); No. 6 (April 2010); No. 7 (May 2010); No. 8 (June 2010).
August-November 2011: The current issue of the independent Vilnius in Your Pocket lists the 19 May 2010 legalization of swastikas as one of the two historic events in Lithuania in that year, regarding it as ‘a sinister U-turn’ in the aftermath of the celebrations marking the twentieth anniversary of independence on March 11. See penultimate paragraph on p. 9, PDF here.
16 November 2011: Dissident political leader Algirdas Paleckis notes the legal status of swastikas in his comments at a conference held at the Tolerance Center in Vilnius. Video here.
See also page on