VILNIUS—The international petition launched by Ruta Bloshtein, a native and resident of Vilnius, has today reached the 50,000 signature mark. People of diverse background and many countries are among the signatories. Opponents of the disturbing idea to site a convention center in the heart of the old Jewish cemetery (with extant graves, albeit not stones, on all four sides), has been resolutely opposed by rabbis in Lithuania in recent years, including, in alphabetical order, chief rabbi of nine years’ standing Chaim Burshtein (who was fired in 2015 for speaking out); Rabbi S. J. Feffer (a Gaon of Vilna scholar who has been based in Vilnius for decades, and issued edicts in Hebrew and English); Rabbi Kalev Krelin, now based in Riga, who was one of the first to sign Ms. Bloshtein’s petition, along with Chabad rabbi Sholom-Ber Krinsky, who has lived in the city for over a quarter century with his family and is now official rabbi of the one functioning synagogue. Only partly in jest, Vilnius residents say this is the first time these rabbis have agreed on much of anything.
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
Tagged Jewish cemeteries, Lithuania, Ruta Bloshtein, Snipiskes (Piramont) cemetery, Vilnius, Vilnius Jewish cemetery
PEN America released this statement on its website today:
NEW YORK—The decision by the Alma Littera publishing house to cut all ties with their author Ruta Vanagaite, and to remove remaining copies of all of her five books from circulation and pulp them, is a troubling overreaction and should be reconsidered, said PEN America today.
The publisher’s decision to remove and destroy all of Vanagaite’s books was a response to her recent criticism of Adolfas Ramanauskas, a Lithuanian nationalist widely perceived as a hero. Vanagaite previously touched on sensitive historical issues in her most recent book, Mūsiškiai (Our People), published in Lithuania in 2016, which discusses the role of Lithuanian nationalists and freedom fighters in the persecution of Jewish Lithuanians and the Holocaust during World War II. Lithuania still denies their role in WWII and the Lithuanian authorities claimed that the book jeopardized national security. The destruction and removal of Vanagaite’s books demonstrates the tight borders of what is acceptable criticism of a national hero in Lithuania. Since the publication of the book, Vanagaite has received threats, which have escalated in recent weeks; a suit against her for slander and denigration of a deceased person has also been filed with the prosecutor by a patriotic group (the prosecutor has declined to take up the case, finding no evidence of malicious intent).
Posted in Debates on Adolfas Ramanauskas (Vanagas), Free Speech & Democracy, Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Politics of Memory, Rūta Vanagaitė, United States
Tagged Alme Littera (publishers, Free speech in Lithuania, Karin Deutsch Karlekar, Mususkiai, PEN America + Lithuania, Ruta Vanagaite, Vilnius
VILNIUS—The Hon. Herbert Block, a prominent and popular personality known to New Yorkers from his days as the highly successful Jewish affairs liaison for the campaign and administration of New York City mayor David Dinkins years ago has emerged as a major force at the confluence of Jewish-Hasidic, American and Lithuanian-government politics on issues in Lithuanian-Jewish affairs. There are conflicting views about his myriad, and some would say conflict-of-interest laden, entanglements that include a Satmar group in Monroe, New York intent on fulfilling the wishes of Vilnius builders for a convention center and annex in the heart of the old Jewish cemetery of Vilnius (allegedly for the financial benefit of their London followers in the CPJCE), a US taxpayer funded agency that exists to preserve Jewish cemeteries (but has yet to issue a word of protest at the “convention center in the Jewish cemetery” project) and the Lithuanian government’s “Good Will Foundation” that allocates monies deriving from the religious properties of the annihilated Jewish communities of Lithuania.
Posted in "Admas Kodesh", "Good Will Foundation" (Jewish Restitution in Lithuania), Cemeteries and Mass Graves, CPJCE (London), Herbert Block and Issues of Lithuanian Jewish Cemetery Preservation, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Opinion, United States, US Commission for Preservation of the American Heritage Abroad
Tagged Admas Kodesh (New York), CPJCE (London), GWF (Good Will Foundation, Herbert Block + American Zionist Movement (AZM), Herbert Block + Lithuania, Herbert Block + WJRO, Satmar (Aaron branch), USCPAHA (Commission for Preservation of Heritage Abroad), Vilnius, World Jewish Restitution Organization
NEW YORK CITY—Dr. Bernard Fryshman, physics professor at the New York Institute of Technology here, today published a new article concerning the imminent danger to thousands of Jewish graves in Vilna’s old Jewish cemetery upon which a huge $25,000,000 convention center, structured to yield hundreds of millions for property developers is about to be erected, where revelers will clap, sing and use toilets surrounded by the graves of Vilna Jewry paid for, on the understanding of possession in perpetuity, by untold thousands of families between the late fifteenth and the early nineteenth centuries. Protestant and Catholic ethicists have noted that such would never be the disrespect shown a cemetery full of Christian (or majority ethnicity) scholars in a great capital city of Europe. Last summer, Lithuania’s chief rabbi was rapidly fired by the Jewish community’s lay-leader-cum-private-attorney, after he spoke against the convention center project. His replacement has yet to speak out for the record; in the interim the search for a new chief rabbi was the subject of latter day Vilna folklore).
Posted in Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Human Rights, Identity Theft of Litvak Heritage, Lithuania, Media Watch, News & Views, United States, US Commission for Preservation of the American Heritage Abroad, US State Dept Manipulated?
Tagged Commission for the Preservatin of American Heritage Abroad, Committee for Preservation of Jewish Cemeteries in Europe, CPJCE, Jewish Vilnius, Lithiuania, Piramont in Vilnius, Shnipiskes Jewish cemetery, Vilnius, Vilnius Jewish cemetery
VILNIUS—Briton Mark Adam Harold, also known as Mark Splinter, this city’s sole foreign elected City Council member, spoke out in an interview published today in 15min.lt calling for the city to accept the 2015 petition of a group of intellectuals to remove plaques honoring Holocaust collaborator Jonas Noreika. In his reply to a pointed question, he also added that the city-center street named for Nazi collaborator Kazys Škirpa be renamed for Righteous of the Nations (rescuers of civilians targeted for death by the Nazis and their local partners). He also challenged the city’s mayor, implying that there might be an element of cowardice in failure to undertake simple measures that would immeasurably improve the international reputation of Lithuania’s storied capital.
Posted in Collaborators Glorified, Lithuania, Lithuania's Jewish Community Issues, Litvak Affairs, Media Watch, News & Views, Politics of Memory, Vilnius Mayor Remigijus Šimašius
Tagged Holocaust in Lithuania, Honoring Holocaust collaborators, Mark Adam Harold, Mark Splinter, Vilnius, Vilnius City Council
C E M E T E R I E S / P I R A M Ó N T
JERUSALEM—The Simon Wiesenthal Center today released a statement reaffirming its previously reported opposition to plans to place a $25,000,000 convention and congress center on Vilnius’s old Jewish cemetery at Piramónt (in today’s Šnipiškės). International opposition to the project has been mounting in recent weeks. The text was released by Dr. Efraim Zuroff, director of the Wiesenthal Center’s Israel office and head of its East European Affairs division. The text follows:
Posted in Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Efraim Zuroff, Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Opinion, Politics of Memory
Tagged Jewish cemetery in Vilnius, Piramont cemetery, Snipiskes Jewish cemetery, Vilnius
The unfortunate and wasteful campaign of Holocaust obfuscation waged by certain East European state institutions continues apace. The level of investment continues to strike outsiders as puzzling, given current economic and cultural issues and the younger population’s clear focus on the future and a better life for all in the new and multicultural European Union. Here in Lithuania, the first victims of the government’s (rather Soviet-style) “genocide industry” are the hard-working people of the country who deserve more judicious disbursement of their nation’s resources. The state-sponsored Genocide Center has just released three simultaneous editions (English, Lithuanian and Russian) of a new book on the Vilna Ghetto by historian Arūnas Bubnys, its own “director of the Genocide and Resistance Research Department.”
Dr. Bubnys is also a member of the state-sponsored “International Commission for the Evaluation of the Crimes of the Nazi and Soviet Occupation Regimes in Lithuania” (known for short as the “red-brown commission”). He was one of a minority of members of the Commission who refused to sign the (in the opinion of some, inadequate) letter of 14 October 2013 to Dr. Yitzhak Arad.
Posted in "Red-Brown Commission", Books, Double Games, Double Genocide, Dovid Katz, EU, Genocide Center (Vilnius), History, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Opinion, Poland, Politics of Memory, Ponár (Ponary, Paneriai)
Tagged Arunas Bubnys, Genocide Center Vilnius, Holocaust Obfuscation, International Commission for the Evaluation of the Crimes of the Nazi and Soviet Occupation Regimes in Lithuania, Lithuania, Vilna Ghetto, Vilnius, Yitzhak Arad
Vilnius native and life-long resident Professor Pinchos Fridberg sent the following question to the leadership of the Jewish Community of Lithuania (JCL), and received the following answer. These official English translations, accepted by JCL, are reprinted verbatim, with permission from the website of the Jewish Community of Lithuania, where the question appears here and the reply here.
Posted in "Red-Brown Commission", Documents, Double Games, Double Genocide, News & Views, Pinchos Fridberg, Politics of Memory, Shimon Alperovich (1928 – 2014)
Tagged Emanuelis Zingeris, Holocaust in Lithuania, International Commission for the Evaluation of the Crimes of the Nazi and Soviet Regimes in Lithuania, Jewish Community of Lithuania, Lithuanian-Israeli Relations, Misrepresentation of leadership of the Lithuanian Jewish Community, Pinchos Firbderg, Red-Brown Commission, Simon Aleperovich, Simonas Alperavicius, Vilnius
O P I N I O N
The letter below was sent by then MP Denis MacShane to the director-general of the Imperial War Museum on 18 September 2012. It was released for publication in 2013, and now appears in its chronological (time of writing) slot in Defending History’s Denis MacShane section.
- Ms Diane Lees
- Imperial War Museum
- Lambeth Road
- London SE1 6HZ
Dear Ms Lees:
I write to you as one of the MPs who takes a special interest in contemporary antisemitism. I chaired the All Party Parliamentary Committee of Inquiry into the problem, have written a well-received book “Globalising Hatred: The New Antisemitism” (Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 2008/9), and lecture and write all over the world on the return of the racist ideology of antisemitism in the 21st century.
Thus as a life-long supporter of the Imperial War Museum, and one particularly proud that this magnificent British institution encompasses the excellent Holocaust Exhibition, I write to express some urgent concern that IWM might unwittingly be drawn into a plan by certain far-right or ultranationalist circles in the current Lithuanian government to abuse the good name and offices of IWM in an attempt to legitimise the profoundly problematic “Genocide Centre” in Lithuania, in a series of meetings scheduled for this month, apparently organised by the Lithuanian Embassy here in London.
Posted in Denis MacShane, Double Genocide, EU, Genocide Center (Vilnius), Lithuania, Museums, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory, United Kingdom
Tagged Ambrazevicius Brazaitis, Denis MacShane + Holocaust history, Genocide Center, Lithuania + Imperial War Museum London, Vilnius
O P I N I O N
by Evaldas Balčiūnas
Who was Jonas Noreika?
Jonas Noreika (1910-1947), also known by his nom de guerre, General Vėtra, has been named by the current Lithuanian government as “an important member of the resistance” and an object of every sort of heroic commemoration.
In 1997 he was posthumously awarded the Order of the Cross of Vytis, First Degree. The same year a memorial plaque was placed on the facade of the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences Library in Vilnius.
Library of the Academy of Sciences in Vilnius. The red arrow marks the Noreika plaque.
Noreika plaque in central Vilnius
Posted in Collaborators Glorified, Debates on the Postwar "Forest Brothers", Evaldas Balčiūnas, Exotic Jewish Tourism, Genocide Center (Vilnius), History, Lithuania, News & Views, Opinion, Plungyán (Plungė), Politics of Memory, State Glorification of Holocaust Collaborator J. Noreika, Symbology
Tagged Evaldas Balciunas, General Vetka, Generolo Vetro gatve, Genocide Center, Glorification of War Criminals in Eastern Europe, Holocaust in Lithuania, Holocaust Obfuscation, Jonas Noreika, LIETUVOS MOKSLU AKAKEMIJOS VRUBLEVSKIU BIBLIOTEKA, Lithuanian Academy of Sciences Library, streets named for Holocaust perpetrators, Vilnius
Ričardas Čekutis, ‘specialist’ at the state-sponsored Genocide Center in central Vilnius (center, with megaphone) was one of the leaders of the neo-Nazi march on March 11th. Photo: Anarchija.lt.
Lithuania’s mainstream news portal, Delfi.lt, today published an article (English here) by Ričardas Čekutis, a ‘chief specialist’ at the state-sponsored Genocide Center in central Vilnius. Mr Čekutis was one of the leaders of the neo-Nazi march held on the Lithuanian capital’s main boulevard on March 11th, with a permit from city authorities and the participation of a member of parliament. Eyewitness report here. Afterwards, he embarked on a public antisemitic campaign, in addition to defending the neo-Nazi march in an earlier Delfi.lt article. He proudly displayed a homophobic symbol when he ran for office in municipal elections.
Posted in Antisemitism & Bias, Genocide Center (Vilnius), Media Watch, Neo-Nazi & Fascist Marches, News & Views, Vilnius Neo-Nazi Marches
Tagged Antisemitism Lithuania, Center for Research on Genocide Victims, Genocide Center, Genocide Center Vilnius, Genocide Research Center Vilnius, Gruto parkas, Ricardas Cekutis, Vilnius