Tag Archives: Vilnius Jewish cemetery

Mounting International Opposition to Vilnius Convention Center in Old Jewish Cemetery


[last update]


JUMP TO INTERNATIONAL OPPOSITION; TO DH SECTION


September 2020:

Vilnius: Lithuanian journalist Arvydas Jockus publishes two balanced articles in Alfa.lt (9 Sept. and 10 Sept.); Independent journalist  independent journalist Skirmantas Malinauskas posts extensive Youtube video. Summary of latest media by Andrius Kulikauskas. Voice of the major Litvak (Lithuanian tradition) rabbis begins to be heard over protests by London-based Satmar CPJCE and its partners.

Meanwhile, next Vilnius court hearing set for !. Oct. DH publishes compilation of visualizations and cartoons. Ruta Bloshtein’s petition approaches the 52,000 signature mark. At Puramónt, preliminary landscape digging turns up human remains…

London Satmar “Declaration of Triumph” over Old Litvak Jewish Cemetery in Vilna

London CPJCE issues a “shameless orwellian statement” (replete with anti-Litvak sarcasm) boasting of “saving” the Vilna cemetery after the Vilnius city council’s agreement with state bank to proceed with convention center and large new annex in heart of the cemetery. Statement, dated 20 Aug, appears on LJC’s state sponsored website on 2 Sept (as pdf). It claims (Satmar “Aaronite sect”) rabbinic support for the humiliation of the cemetery without mentioning the recent rabbinical decisions from Lithuanian  tradition rabbinic masters, including Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky and the heads of yeshivas of Telz, Ponevezh and Slabodka (English translation). See also recent words on video by Rabbi Elchonon Baron, head of the Baranovich yeshiva, at the Western Wall in Jerusalem. More bona fide rabbinical decisions below.

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Posted in Appeals to the European Commission on Piramónt, Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Dovid Katz, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Opinion, Rothschild Foundation Europe (Hanadiv): Lithuanian Issues | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Mounting International Opposition to Vilnius Convention Center in Old Jewish Cemetery

Websites Report that Lithuania’s Ambassador in Washington Assures Head of Senate Foreign Relations Committee: ‘There will be no conference center on the cemetery!’



HUMAN RIGHTS  |  MEDIA WATCH  |  CHRISTIAN-JEWISH ISSUES  |  CEMETERIES & MASS GRAVES  |  OLD VILNA JEWISH CEMETERY AT PIRAMÓNT  |  OPPOSITION TO CONVENTION CENTER PROJECT  | INTERNATIONAL PETITION

VILNIUS—According to a report by the website Save Vilna that also appeared in the Christian News Journal, the Lithuanian ambassador to the United States, HE Rolandas Kriščiūnas has personally assured the chairman of the U.S. Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee, Jim (James E.) Risch “that there will be no conference centre on the cemetery.” The meeting resulted from months-long diplomacy by Christian Evangelical journalist Dr. Matthew Anthony Harper of InterMountain Christian News, a prominent campaigner against the desecration of Jewish cemeteries. Over the past year, he has passionately represented the cause in Vilnius and Tel Aviv, in addition to his work as a White House correspondent representing Christian media. Together with a delegation of top Lithuanian tradition rabbis in Israel, he spoke eloquently at a videotaped meeting with the Lithuanian ambassador to Tel Aviv.

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Posted in Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Christian-Jewish Issues, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Media Watch, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok) | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off on Websites Report that Lithuania’s Ambassador in Washington Assures Head of Senate Foreign Relations Committee: ‘There will be no conference center on the cemetery!’

Historic Petition on Vilnius Cemetery Reaches 50,000 Mark



CEMETERIES & MASS GRAVES  |  OLD VILNA JEWISH CEMETERY AT PIRAMÓNT  |  OPPOSITION TO CONVENTION CENTER PROJECT  |  PETITION  |  HUMAN RIGHTS

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.

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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 , , , , , | Comments Off on Historic Petition on Vilnius Cemetery Reaches 50,000 Mark

Do the Bones of Old Vilna Jewry Still Lie at Piramónt Cemetery?



OLD VILNA JEWISH CEMETERY  |  OPPOSITION TO CONVENTION CENTER PROJECT  |  INTERNATIONAL PETITION  |  HUMAN RIGHTS  DOCUMENTS

VILNIUS—A recent social media campaign has been spreading the message that there are no longer human remains at the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt, in today’s Šnipiškės section of modern Vilnius, the capital of democratic EU and NATO member Lithuania. Of course within the Jewish faith the sanctity of Jewish cemeteries remains in situ despite earth disruptions. “There is no such thing as a former Jewish cemetery,” Lithuania’s last chief rabbi, Chaim Burshtein, pointed out, before being fired in 2015 for expressing his opposition to “the convention center in the cemetery.”

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Posted in Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Documents, Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Politics of Memory | Tagged , , | Comments Off on Do the Bones of Old Vilna Jewry Still Lie at Piramónt Cemetery?

A Vilnius Building for Danse Macabre?



OLD VILNA JEWISH CEMETERY  |  OPPOSITION TO CONVENTION CENTER PROJECT  |  INTERNATIONAL PETITION  |  HUMAN RIGHTS

by Julius Norwilla

The author is chairperson of the Vilnius Committee for Preservation of Piramont (Šnipiškės) Cemetery. A selection of his English articles is available here.

We return to the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramont (Šnipiškės). Back on December 19, 2019, the Lithuanian State Property Bank (Turto Bankas) announced an agreement with a tiny number of non-representative self-interested Jewish organizations for the development of the Vilnius Congress Center in the old Palace of Sports building surrounded by thousands of still extant Jewish graves going back to the 15th century (remember, graves and tombstones are two different things; the Soviets stole all the stones, and they keep turning up all around town). See Defending History’s report on the Dec. 2019 events here in Vilnius.

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Posted in Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Human Rights, Julius Norwilla, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Opinion | Tagged , , , , , , , | Comments Off on A Vilnius Building for Danse Macabre?

European Foundation for Human Rights on Jewish Cemetery Case in Vilnius Court


[last updated: 6 Feb. 2020]

 


Over 100 Descendants of the Buried Sign Affidavits Submitted to Vilnius Court

EFHR’s Press Statement in English, Lithuanian, and Polish

Meanwhile, “CPJCE” London “cemetery specialists” fail to release “the secret agreement” they (with “Haifa geotechnocrat” in tow) signed on December “Day of Shame”. The agreement was signed many months after the matter was placed before the Lithuanian courts, and while it remains in litigation. Where is the rule of law?

Defending History calls for document to be made public at once. Catch up on coverage from recent months. See the scope of international opposition to “the convention center in the cemetery”…

A TALE OF TWO VIDEOS

(Satmar Aaronites and — Litvaks)…

VIDEO of London CPJCE (Satmar “Aaronites”) with prime minister of Lithuania (2015) [note: opposing Satmar “Zalmanites” have condemned the convention center in the Jewish cemetery]

VIDEO of top Lithuanian-origin (Litvak) rabbis explaining Jewish and Litvak views to ambassador to Israel (2020)

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Posted in Antisemitism & Bias, Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Christian-Jewish Issues, CPJCE (London), Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok) | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on European Foundation for Human Rights on Jewish Cemetery Case in Vilnius Court

Professor Leiman Responds to Vilnius Attack on Ruta Bloshtein’s Petition



OPINION  |   MEDIA WATCH  |  CEMETERIES & MASS GRAVES  |  OLD VILNA JEWISH CEMETERY AT PIRAMÓNT  |  OPPOSITION TO CONVENTION CENTER PROJECT  |  PETITION 

by Shnayer Leiman

Note: This follows on from our report where links are to be found to the articles that elicited the present discussion.

Anyone who would claim that Ruta Bloshtein, a citizen of Lithuania, born and raised in Vilnius, is anything less than a staunch supporter of what is ultimately best for Lithuania, is sorely mistaken. She is a courageous leader of the Vilnius Jewish community and seeks only truth and fairness in Lithuania’s treatment of its minority communities. An abomination took place in Vilnius when it was under Soviet domination. A Sports Palace was constructed over a historical Jewish cemetery, where for some 400 years, every Jew – man, woman, and child – who died in Vilnius was buried. These include the graves of the Gaon of Vilna’s entire family (parents, wives, and children); R. Abraham Danzig, author of a famous Jewish code of law still in use and studied widely, and his family; and hundreds of other distinguished rabbis, scholars, poets, and scientists.

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Posted in Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Lithuania, Lithuania's Jewish Community Issues, Litvak Affairs, Media Watch, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Opinion, Politics of Memory, Sid (Shnayer) Leiman | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on Professor Leiman Responds to Vilnius Attack on Ruta Bloshtein’s Petition

Chief Rabbi of South Africa Calls on Lithuania’s Leaders to Move Convention Center Project Away from Old Jewish Cemetery



OPINION  |  HUMAN RIGHTS  |  CEMETERIES & MASS GRAVES  |  OLD VILNA JEWISH CEMETERY AT PIRAMÓNT  |  OPPOSITION TO CONVENTION CENTER PROJECT  | INTERNATIONAL PETITION  |  USCPAHA | CPJCE  |  ADMAS KODESH

JOHANNESBURG—The Chief Rabbi of South Africa, Rabbi Dr. Warren Goldstein, today added his voice to the international Litvak and wider opposition to state-sponsored desecration of the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt in the form of a national convention center surrounded by Jewish graves going back half a millennium in Vilna, the city once known as Jerusalem of Lithuania. The office of the chief rabbinate made public his letter to Lithuania’s president, Gitanas Nausėda and prime minister Saulius Skvernelis.

A PDF of his letter is available here, and follows below. Please use handles in the upper left-hand corner to turn pages.


Chief Rabbi of South Africa on Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery
Posted in Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), South Africa | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on Chief Rabbi of South Africa Calls on Lithuania’s Leaders to Move Convention Center Project Away from Old Jewish Cemetery


The Latest News

Breaking

  • Vilnius: Parliament further decimates Holocaust commemoration and study by embedding of nationalist revisionism as “national security” at state financed “Genocide Center”. Latest.

  • London: Satmar (“Aaronite sect”) grave traders issue statement of “glorious triumph” over humiliation and desecration of Old Litvak Vilna Jewish Cemetery via convention center and large annex (which they sarcastically call “saving the cemetery”). Their contract is still secret. The classic video. International petition approaching 52,000 signatures. Meanwhile, genuine Litvak rabbinic authorities including yeshiva heads of Ponevezh, Slabodka and Telz issue powerful rulingLatest


Defending History’s 12th year gets underway. . .

Founded on 6 Sept. 2009. Emailed circulars and reports from 2008-2009 were then uploaded making for a record starting in 2008, A dozen years of posts provide a unique record.

ON OUR PAGES

10 years ago.  7 years ago.  5 years ago.  3 years ago.

Contributions in the United States are now fully tax-deductible via the new nonprofit Preserving Yiddish and Defending History.


Making Heroes out of Holocaust Collaborators: Spreading to the West?

Does Vilnius Really Need ‘Convention Center in the Jewish Cemetery’?

Will an EU Member Parliament Really Name 2021 for Alleged Participant in 1941 Kaunas Atrocities?

Tragic Fate of Inspirationally Brave Lithuanian Rescuers

Lithuanian Jewish Commmunity: ‘Concern’ over Appointment of Genocide Center Deputy Head who Specializes in Whitewashing Holocaust Crimes of 1941 Hitlerist LAF and Nazi Puppet Provisional Gov.

US contributions for defending history are now tax-deductible


″The Power of the Ancient Hebrew Letters”

Arkady Kurliandchik and Dr. Andrius Kulikauskas lead a group in partnership with the Vilnius Jewish Community, in placing stones with Hebrew letters painted  in the traditional gold paint (used to highlight lettering in old Lithuanian Jewish / Litvak gravestones) at the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (Šnipiškės / Shnípeshok), site of the abandoned Soviet sports palace and a planned national convention center. Thousands of graves are still there all around the building. The new gold-lettered Jewish stones were variously placed to mark out the approximate perimeter of the cemetery.

Stone lettering and photos: Andrius Kulikauskas

 

Vilnius Jewish Community’s Pre-Tíshebov Event at the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery on 29 July. More on the event: Andrius Kulikauskas

Recent News:

Vilnius City Council rushes through decision for convention center with annex in heart of Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery.  Julius Norwilla reports from VilniusRabbi Elchonon Baron reacts from Jerusalem (video).

MERVYN SMITH MEMORIAL LECTURES

Series of webinars by Dovid Katz on Litvaks, Yiddish, the Lithuanian Holocaust (and the contemporary debates)


July 2020

Stinging Pain for Lithuanian Jews & Holocaust Survivor Families More Widely, as Seimas Names 2021 for Alleged Participant in June 1941 Kaunas Atrocities

Editor’s take. Chronology of events and publications. WJC’s Dr. Laurence Weinbaum in the Jewish Chronicle. Rare protest from AJC with LJC. But Wiesenthal Center strangely silent for first time


6 July 2020

The Defending History community wishes all our readers in Lithuania

A HAPPY CROWNING OF MINDAUGAS DAY

celebrating the Lithuanian king’s crowning in 1253. A wonderful modern holiday for all the peoples of Lithuania, and the world, and especially those with roots in the Grand Duchy…


26 June 2020

European Jewish Congress Reports on Ruta Bloshtein’s Petition to Save Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery from Convention Center Project:  51,000 Have Signed to Date 

Local, international opposition growing by the day


25 June 2020

LJC’s Video of Dieckmann-Vanagaite 25 June Book Launch

THE BACKGROUND. RECENT BOOKS IN THE DEBATE


23 June 2020

Chief Historian of State Sponsored  Genocide Center is Key Speaker at Events Glorifying June 23rd; Evening Event under Banner of Two Holocaust Collaborators

Defending History was there to monitor the events. Julius Norwilla’s photo gallery.

Dr. Arūnas Bubnys, chief historian at the state-sponsored Genocide Center in Vilnius and long-time member of the state-sponsored “International Historical Commission” proudly appears under the banner of two heinous Holocaust collaborators, J.  Noreika and K. Škirpa, at an event glorifying the day, 23 June 1941, that murder and mayhem broke out against the country’s defenseless Jewish citizens.

Škirpa with Hitler in Berlin


23 June 2020

Remembering June 23rd 1941: Why Would Anyone in the EU Want to Celebrate the Outbreak of the Baltic Holocaust under Guise of “Rebellion”?

Outbreak of mass murder, injury, pillage and humiliation of  defenseless Jewish neighbors by  the LAF (Lithuanian Activist Front) and others before arrival of first Nazi forces. Soviet forces were fleeing Hitler’s Operation Barbarossa — not the local Hitler allies. The real heroes of the day are Lithuanians (and Latvians, Estonians, Ukrainians and others) who risked everything to just do the right thing and save a neighbor from these Hitlerist organizations…

Defending History’s section on June 23rd events & issues in previous years. Background on the history. New English edition of Leyb Koniuchowsky’s compendium of testimonies now available online.

Online town hall on European Holocaust Denial is organized in the US. All welcome

Here in Vilnius: Lithuanian parliament (Seimas) schedules 10:30 AM (Vilnius time) press conference. Fears rising that this will be yet another effort to glorify June 23rd and the outbreak of the Lithuanian Holocaust at the hands of the LAF, provisional gov. and assorted other local Hitler allies. Speakers include members of Seimas, Genocide Center and Red-Brown Commission…

Far Right Will Honor Nazi Collaborators on 23rd at 6 PM in central Vilnius. Defending History will be there to monitor the event


Late Spring 2020

Who’s Gonna Welcome Folks to a Convention Center in the Middle of the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery?

Dramatic Developments for Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery, Still Slated to Become Vilnius Convention Center

Petition by Ruta Bloshtein, Vilnius native and resident, reaches 51,000 signatures. Defending History reports. Bloshtein’s articles.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo receives multifaith plea from Christian, Hindu, Jewish, and Muslim leaders and key human rights organizations.

Two new websites launched: Save Vilna (US and Israel) and Respect the Cemetery (Vilnius); Both efforts entail Christian-Jewish (& Lithuanian-Litvak) alliance. Vilnius project announces 14 June public event. Latest report by Andrius Kulikauskas.

Elected chairman of Vilnius Jewish Community, representing vast majority of Lithuania’s Jews, reaffirms VJC’s firm opposition to desecration of the cemetery.

UCSJ joins the endeavor from Washington DC.

Defending History has been on the case for “five long years” and helped inspire international opposition to a convention center that would never be sited in an old cemetery of the majority religion population. See the latest.


TThe Latest


BOOKS IN THE DEBATE


June-July 2020

Will the Lithuanian Defense Ministry add a “health warning” to its page glorifying a Nazi collaborator?

Lithuania’s Defense Ministry magazine glorifies Nazi collaborator and Holocaust cheerleader Kazys Škirpa on its front cover and in a massive article. See reactions from the Lithuanian Jewish Community and G. Gochin’s Times of Israel blog, and Defending HistorySEE OUR REPORT.

Incredibly, the Defense Ministry still flaunts the cover on its website (as PDF).


May 2020

Tale of the “Euronote Vilnius Cemetery”: See DH, JTA, AJ

Disturbing video produced by a national tourism agency


May Day in Vilnius: Three major tourism federations united to finance the covering of the old Vilna Jewish cemetery with empty chairs with symbolic 1000-euro notes pasted on (directly above extant graves), symbolizing the economic loss from not rushing ahead with a convention center in the middle of the cemetery.  The 500 year old cemetery, where thousands of citizens of Vilnius lie buried is not mentioned.

Real or photoshopped?

____

Solidarity with Minorities in Time of Pandemic?

Some use period for further glorification of Holocaust collaborators; Some tout postcrisis economic renewal from  “Convention Center in the Cemetery” Project in Vilnius

Former foreign minister calls on present FM to renounce views and support state glorification of brutal Holocaust collaborator J. Noreika (after supreme administrative court confirmed during national lockdown the “hero status” of the same collaborator). 

Also: Defense Ministry still adds no disclaimer to its page glorifying Nazi collaborator.

Meanwhile:

“You can’t make this up”: Major economist headlines construction sector revival via Jewish cemetery’s desecration as panacea for Covid-19 doldrums. Then, major national tourism units unite to place a thousand chairs with symbolic euro-notes on top of Vilnius Jewish graves.

Judith Leister reports in Neue Zürcher ZeitungJulius Norwilla in DH.

_____


 

For news in Lithuanian, see VieningaLietuva.com

5 YEARS AGO IN DH


March 2020

BALTIC FAR RIGHT’S “MARCHING SEASON” AGAIN GLORIFIES HITLER’S COLLABORATORS

VILNIUS + KAUNAS ON 16 FEB: DH eyewitness report on 16 February march in Vilnius. Organizers again targeted DH staff; 16 Feb in central Kaunas.

VILNIUS 11 MARCH: DH’s report on the run-up.  DH’s eyewitness report of the event.

RIGA 16 MARCH:  West silent as central Riga again gifted for worship of Latvia’s wrtime Waffen SS on Monday March 16th;  Coronavirus ban on rallies results in individuals laying wreaths for Waffen SS at city center’s Liberty Monument


February-March 2020

Linas Vildžiūnas, Lithuania’s Leading Humanist, For Decades Key Educator (and Truth Teller) about the Holocaust, Wins Donskis Award for Tolerance


16 February 2020

Defending History Alone Monitored Torchlit Vilnius Old Town Far-Right March that Glorified Nazi Collaborators J. Noreika and K. Škirpa


9 February 2020

Doyen of Litvak Rabbis Signs Impassioned Decree on Saving Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery from “Convention Center in the Cemetery” Project


BOOKS IN THE DISCUSSION

Alexander Gendler: Khurbm: 1914-1922

Leyb Koniuchowsky & Jonathan Boyarin: The Lithuanian Slaughter of its Jews: Testimonies of 121 Survivors of the Holocaust in Lithuania

Dan Rabinowitz: The Lost Library

Ruta Vanagaite & Efraim Zuroff: Our People: Discovering Lithuania’s Hidden Holocaust

Ruta Vanagaite & Christoph Dieckmann: How Did It Happen? (Our People, Part II. Understanding the Holocaust in Lithuania)



January 2020

Far Right Again Granted Central Vilnius on Feb. 16 Independence Day

They plan to glorify Nazi collaborators ŠkirpaNoreika and Brazaitis

Scene from their 2018 march in the heart of Vilnius (featuring on front banner six Nazi collaborators)…

2018 march in central Vilnius. Photo © DefendingHistory.com

 


January 2020

European Foundation for Human Rights: Progress in Case for Equal Minority Rights for Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery

For the first time a member of the Lithuanian parliament challenges the wisdom of glorifying (and reconstructing) an ugly Soviet dump that was built on Jewish bones of the centuries. See  Kęstutis Masiulis’s new piece in the Lithuanian media. Also, progress in the Vilnius court case is reported in the media, citing comments from Prof. Josif Parasonis. In the report, Turto Bankas (the state’s “property bank”) falsifies history, claiming the unsightly Soviet ruin is outside the cemetery. In fact, the American Embassy confirmed years ago (see point  5) that it “The Sports Palace property indisputably rests in the middle” of the historic cemetery.

Don’t the people of Lithuania (and Europe) deserve a sparkling new and morally clean Vilnius convention center rather than a Soviet-era structure surrounded by five centuries of Jewish graves?


Clemens Heni in Times of Israel on recent Yad Vashem furore

Matt Rubenstein iThe Battleground EU“Changing the Historical Record” 

David Pugliese in the Ottawa Citizen on East European Glorification of Holocaust Collaborators

Julius Norwilla in Vilnius’s 7MD on Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery

Clemens Heni in Times of Israel on dissident thinkers in Germany

Anna Shternshis in Canadian Jews News on Yivo Librarian Debacle (see also DH’s take; list of items approved by “In geveb”)


23 January 2020

VIDEO: Major Litvak Rabbis in Israel and American Christian Evangelist Meet with Lithuania’s Ambassador to Israel to Plea for Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery 

Late Jan. 2020 meeting follows “day of shame” in Vilnius in Dec. 2019, and “hateful libel” against Orthodox Vilnius Jewish woman (Jan. 2020) who launched the international petition; Prof. Shnayer Leiman’s response.


23 January 2020

JTA on Scandal Emanating from Lithuanian Parliamentarian Gumuliauskas’s Proposed Bill to “Fix” Holocaust History

PEACEFUL DEMO PLANNED AT LITHUANIAN EMBASSY IN TEL AVIV ON FRIDAY 24 JAN, 11 AMFBHEBREW POSTER

SEE DEFENDING HISTORY’S TAKE

 


13 January 2020

Defending History Joins Lithuania in Mourning the Fourteen Unarmed Pro-Independence Protesters Murdered by Soviet Forces on 13 Jan. 1991 


10 January 2020

from Dr. Andrius Kulikauskas’s post in BNS and Vakarų Ekspresas

LRT’s “Panorama” runs report on the Soviet sports palace building (timecode: 21:25—25:20), envisaging “hundreds of millions of euros” and “a bag of gold”


2 January 2020

Israeli and Polish Ambassadors to Ukraine Issue Joint Letter Protesting New State Glorification of Holocaust Perpetrators (T.O.I. report by Sam Sokol)


1 January 2020

Antanas Zubrys and Dr. Matilda Zubrienė: Defending History’s Persons of the Year (2020)

Antanas Zubrys and Matilda Zubrienė

A Lithuanian hero of the War of Independence in 1920, one hundred years ago, who went on in 1941, with his wife, to risk their lives and their families and  just do the right thing and save innocent neighbors from the racial genocide underway and supported by their own nation’s “nationalist leaders”… “Someone has to honor Lithuania’s real World War II heroes.” See background on current practice by some East European governments to honor Nazi collaborators (e.g. Lithuanian parliament’s 2018 decision; DH section). See DH’s Person of the Year awards for 201420152018, and 2019.

Updated Litvak One-Stop Shop for 2020

Year of 300th Birthday of the Gaon of Vilna: novel critical approach of Andrius Kulikauskas’s brand new website on calendar of events. Our editor’s papers & articles.

“7 Kingdoms of the Litvaks” is free online


19 December 2019

A “Day of Shame” in Post-Holocaust East European Jewish History?

The upshot? The state owned property bank claims “Jewish support” for “the convention center in the old Jewish cemetery” via the alleged collusion of some London rabbis from the “CPJCE” and the head of the government sponsored Jewish community… But what about the opinion of all the others?


December 2019

Lithuania, a Genuine, Robust Democracy, Continues to Struggle with Free Speech when it Comes to the Holocaust

See Efraim Zuroff in the Jerusalem PostArkadijus Vinokuras in Times of IsraelInstances from the past decade monitored by DH; Section on free speech and democracy. Dovid Katz’s new paper on the (ab)use of law to “fix history” in the Baltics.


Dr. Andrius Kulikauskas founds major new initiative dedicated to Lithuanian-Jewish friendship and sense of common purpose for future of the Grand Duchy heritage by way of open, free and respectful dialogue and inspiring new projects

Program of 16 Dec. Bar Ilan Univeristy conference on Zuroff-Vanagaite book on the Lithuanian Holocaust; Conference report & photos


Nov.-Dec. 2019

Litvak World Shocked by New “Year of Gaon” 10 Euro Coin that Plonks a Symbol Beloved of Far Right onto a Mutilated Jewish Menorah

Defending History has followed the saga for three years

Ruta Bloshtein in Lithuanian in 7md (6 Dec.2019) [PDF of print edition]

Vilnius’s Jewish satirist Motke Chabad shares his own perspective

Ruta Bloshtein (2 Dec.) and Ben Cohen (28 Nov.) in the Algemeiner Journal

Dovid Katz (15 Nov. and 22 Nov.) and Ruta Bloshtein (26 Nov.) in DH

Grant Gochin in The Times of Israel on other painful issues evoked by “Year of Gaon” plans (also on LJC website); See DH’s Seven Simple Solutions on Lithuanian-Jewish issues

More coverage by Algemeiner JournalArutz ShevaEnlace JudíoHaaretzIsrael National NewsJewish ChronicleJTAYNetYNetEspanol, Times of Israel (ToI French edition)

Is it perhaps an opportune moment for the government to abandon plans for a convention center in the heart of the old Vilna Jewish cemetery, where hundreds of the Gaon’s ancestors and descendants still lie buried? International petition continues to grow.


Autumn 2019

AP on Streets Newly Named in Kiev for Nazi Collaborators

Clemens Heni in Portal for Political Science

Justin Ward in Medium on History Revisionism in Hungary

Andrius Kulikauskas in Bernardinai on Vilnius Jewish Cemetery Saga; Chief Rabbi of South Africa Weighs In; But NY Yivo stages PR event for government’s positions only

Aleksandr Kuzmin in DH on Latvian Defense Minister’s Glorification of Waffen-SS; Jewish Voice on History of Latvian Holocaust

Cnaan Liphshiz in Times of Israel (French) on Holocaust Museums 

George N. Tzogopoulos at Begin-Sadat Center on Israel’s Role; See DH’s Israel Page


23 Sept. 2019

International Coverage of Vilnius’s Day of Prayer, Plea & Protest for the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt

Dr. Andrius Kulikauskas’s keynote address; Report (+ photo gallery) in Lithuania’s 15min.ltLRT evening news (from timecode 4:56). European Foundation for Human Rights

Letter from South Africa’s chief rabbi to Lithuania’s president

London CPJCE “Jewish grave traders” are called to face charges at the Jerusalem rabbinical court. In London, a “Serious Incident” report is filed with the United Kingdom’s Charity Commission. Background on CPJCE’s Vilnius outrage. The video.


Canadian Govt. Officials “Duped” into Participating in Honors for Ukraine’s OUN / UPA Hitler Collaborators

Reports in National Post and Ottawa Citizen

Defending History’s Take: “Canada, a bastion of enlightened liberalism in today’s world, has blundered into a moral mouse-trap. Hopefully its highest leaders will now rapidly correct the error and join all those around the world who condemn the Nazis and their collaborators’ rampages of ethnic-based mass murder and genocide in World War II era Eastern Europe.”


23 September 2019

Monday September 23 in Vilnius

Day of Prayer and Respectful Challenge to Spare Old Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (Šnipiškės) from Plans to Site a Convention Center in its Heart

Sign Ruta Bloshtein’s Petition       See the International Support       DH Section


Sept. 2019

A Decade of Defending History

Defending History marks its 10th anniversary in Sept. 2019

9 years ago7 years ago.  5 years ago3 years ago.

Come and browse old issues; first post; mission statement; Samples of coverage over the years by Ricky Ben-David in the Jerusalem Post; Arne Bengtsson in Baltic World; Daniel Brook in Slate; Bernard Dichek in Jerusalem Report; Jonathan Freedland in the Guardian; Avi Friedman in Mishpacha; Cindy Mindell in the Jewish Ledger; Rod Nordland in the New York Times; Wendy Robbins on BBC World Service. 

Documentary films: Danny Ben-Moshe’s Rewriting History; Richard Bloom’s Defending Holocaust History

PLEASE SUPPORT DH’S CONTINUED PUBLICATION


9 Sept. 2019

Vilnius is Shamed by Brand New Noreika Plaque Glorifying a Holocaust Collaborator

Calls for government to rapidly “do the right thing: take it down”

Thursday 5 September:  Crowd glorifying Holocaust collaborator screams “Noreika” as new plaque is affixed on public space in central Vilnius. Photo: J. Stecevičius/LRT

Reports in Delfi.lt;   Lrt.lt;   15min.lt

Vilnius mayor calls plaque “illegal”Faina Kukliansky issues powerful statement of protestBNS; Baltic Times reports that sciences library is quite happy with its new plaque; JTA report

So far, a wall of public  silence from the “Yiddish-loving culture minister“, from  Yivo, and from the Western and Israeli embassies in Lithuania

Defending History’s take: “A very sad day for Lithuania and its proud ages-old  tradition of Grand Duchy tolerance and its current record as a successful democracy. Ten years after Defending History published images of the plaque honoring Noreika, seven years after Evaldas Balciunas brought the issue to the English speaking world, and one month after Vilnius’s bold mayor boldly had the plaque removed, a mob of antisemites who celebrate the Holocaust’s perpetrators have put up an even shinier plaque, rapidly declared to be illegal by the mayor. The text of the new plaque is rather worse from the viewpoint of historic honesty, by referring to Noreika’s imprisonment by the Nazis at one point (the phenomenon of “Holocaust envy”), as if that makes a hero of a brutal Holocaust collaborator. Lithuania’s great people deserve better! Hopefully, the nation’s highest powers will remove the plaque without further delay, in the name of the rule of law, the nation’s standing, and basic human decency. See DH’s sections on:  J. NoreikaCollaborators Glorified; the 2019 midsummer events that presaged the latest events.  


August 2019

Bravo to Hizzoner Vilnius Mayor Remigijus Šimašius


Sam Sokol in JTA

Jillian Deutsch in Politico

Deutsche Welle

Vilna Jewish Cemetery Petition Hits 46,000 Mark

Lithuanian Jewish Community Reports on State Investigation of “Red-Brown Commission” Chief (background; video)

Vilna-born Holocaust survivor Prof. Pinchos Fridberg’s “enormous courage” in challenging “perpetrator whitewashing” by nationalist icon V. Landsbergis

Prof. Pinchos Fridberg  ©DefendingHistory.com

See Pinchos Fridberg section; DH’s 2012 take on LandsbergisMeanwhile, controversial official head of gov. sponsored Jewish community, eminent attorney Ms. Faina Kukliansky, wins acclaim for (finally) standing up to Landsbergis, after he used crude anti-Jewish ethnic slur on FB; Baltic Times features a rude reply with no pretense of evenhanded journalism. EU Health Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis speaks out (see DH’s Andriukaitis section, and his classic statements on the Seventy Years Declaration and the reburial of wartime Nazi puppet prime minister in 2012).

Polish government glorifies unit that fought for the Nazis

Prominent Vilnius historian publishes article in mainstream media complaining that too many “foreign Jews” have been included in the state-sponsored history commission


9 Aug. 2019

Ten years after Defending History published images of the plaques. Seven years after DH’s Evaldias Balčiūnas brought the case of J. Noreika to the English speaking world. Four years after Dr. Andrius Kulikauskas‘s classic DH essay on K. Škirpa: 

Vilnius Mayor Remigijus Šimašius Leads City Council Decision to Rename “Škirpa Street” and Personally Orders Removal of Noreika Plaque in 4 AM Raid

Official Lithuanian Jewish Community Closes Premises and Synagogue on  6-8 Aug. in View of Threats, Citing Conservative Party’s Ongoing Campaign to Glorify Holocaust Collaborators

At Aug. 7 central Vilnius rally in support of continued glorification of Holocaust collaborators. Sign at left: “Stop Judaeophile vandalism”. Poster at right asks if it is still Lithuania or already the Northern Jerusalem…

Media coverage: AFPAJ,  AP/WAPOA7BBCBS,  EJCIHJNS,   JTA,  TOI 

Statement issued by Vilnius Jewish Community;  JTA reports of 6. Aug; 7 Aug; 8 Aug (+TOI); LJC’s circulated reply to VJC

Baltic Times gives big-time coverage to Landsbergis’s attack on official Jewish community leader Kukliansky. Will they provide equal space for the community’s response?

Aug. 7 rally demanded restoration of public space plaques and street names that glorify Holocaust collaborators held at Mindaugas Monument; Baltic Times’s “shamefully one-sided” report in far right spirit of trivializing glorification of Holocaust perpetrators

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Poster advertising Aug. 7th rally blasts mayor who took action against glorification of collaborators, shows Jewish and gay pride symbols as the culprits

Photoshopped version of painting by F. Reshetnikov depicts several boys observing what seems like a Jewish-LGBT event from around the corner. Text at top reads “Škirpa and Vėtra [Noreika] are heroes of Lithuania”. The lower text depicts a rooster (“gaidys” in Lithuanian, used as a homophobic slur) and is labeled “Šimašius”, i.e., the current Mayor of Vilnius Remigijus Šimašius who recently led efforts to remove public glorification of two Holocaust collaborators.  Text at bottom: “Let’s defend the heroes of Lithuania! Rally under the Mayor’s windows, by the monument of King Mindaugas. August 7 (Wed.), from 18:00 to 19:30.”

Question: Will the Roskies & Fishman “Yiddish PR conference” financed to deflect attention from the painful issues, publish a morally clear statement of protest (and support for the Jewish community)? Do conference participants appreciate concerns they are being used as “useful Jewish idiots” (UJIs) in the wider effort to rewrite Holocaust history and cover for blatant antisemitism?

Are they aware of the systematic exclusion from their conference of all the local Jewish scholars in this field who have expressed disagreement with the glorification of Holocaust collaborators (including Holocaust survivors who have written about Jewish Vilna)? Will they consider signing Ruta Bloshtein’s petition on the old Vilna Jewish cemetery?

BACKGROUND: See DH sections on collaborators glorifiedNoreika saga; Ramanauskas saga; seven Lithuanian-Jewish issues that could be easily resolved; academic background. the Seventy Years Declaration (SYD). signed by 71 European parliamentarians including eight valiant Lithuanian MPs and MEPs.


1 August 2019

“It Pays to Defend History”

Vilnius Mayor Remigijus Šimašius Orders Removal of Memorial Plaque for Holocaust Collaborator J. Noreika

According to reports, city’s removal squad came 4 AM on 27 July; see now: the nationalist backlash (2); new president falls back on “more discussions needed” ignoring years of such discussions.  JTA report. Vilnius prosecutors considering challenges to mayor’s action. Vilnius’s Prof. Pinchos Fridberg takes the battle  over glorifying Hitler collaborators right to Vytautas Landsbergis. Meanwhile, Conservative Party’s Landsbergis Jr. hits back and official Jewish community exposes antisemitic slur on his FB page.

Vilnius mayor Remigijus Šimašius

A seven year saga since Defending History’s Evaldas Balčiūnas brought the Noreika case to the English speaking world in 2012

Lithuanian author & ethicist Evaldas Balčiūnas

For years Mr. Balčiūnas was hounded by police, prosecutors and kangaroo hearings (scroll down to May 2014)

Over the years, Defending History’s campaign won support from the Simon Wiesenthal Center; the Rambam Mesivta High School that staged a peaceful demonstration at Lithuania’s consulate in New York; Noreika’s granddaughter, American author Silvia Foti; and Californian Litvak scion Grant Gochin, who took Vilnius’s “Genocide Center” to court. The GC’s public statement revealed its true view on the Holocaust. Dr. Andrius Kulikauskas is curator of online Captain Noreika Museum.

Follow the mayor’s impressive personal trajectory on these issues over the years

Marble Noreika stone continues to mar capital’s central boulevard

NEXT QUESTION:

The mayor will hopefully soon speak out on fate of Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery, slated to become a convention center, that would damage Vilnius’s brand for generations  to come. Vilnius native Ruta Bloshtein’s petition now has over 46,000 signatures from every part of the world.


24 July 2019

Vilnius City Council Finally Decides to Change Name of Škirpa Street

Vote is  20 to 16

Defending History brought the issue to the international community in 2010

See Dr. Andrius Kulikauskas’s classic 2015 Defending History paper on Škirpa; Vilnius City Council efforts by Mark Harold

Report by JTA

Prof. Pinchos Fridberg and Ruta Kaplinskaya concerned by report that new street name will be accompanied by new plaque glorifying Škirpa yet again

Škirpa is in the middle (Berlin, 1941)

Changing toxic street names that glorify Hitler collaborators is high on the list of the very easy things Lithuania needs to do to achieve justice on the irksome history issues that will just not go away. See DH’s seven solutions compiled with the help of the late Dr. Shimon Alperovich.

But what about Škirpa Street in Kaunas, which is slated to be “Capital of European Culture” in 2022?


July 2019

Ukraine’s Constitutional Court Affirms “Red Equals Brown” Law

Radio Free Europe (Radio Liberty) report fails to inform readers of the Double Genocide issues and abuse of history to further far-right Holocaust revisionism that includes glorification of Holocaust collaborators

LEV GOLINKIN IN THE WASHINGTON POST

EFRAIM ZUROFF IN THE JERUSALEM POST

ROBERT ROZETT IN ISRAEL JOURNAL OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS

GRANT GOCHIN IN THE TIMES OF ISRAEL

IVAN KATCHANOVSKI ON UKRAINE’S UPA & OUP  


June-July 2019

More Lithuanian Government Glories & Medals for “Useful Jewish Enablers” of Baltic Holocaust Revisionism


June 2019

California Resident Grant Gochin Appeals Vilnius Court Ruling that Whitewashed Notorious Holocaust Collaborator Jonas Noreika

IHRA weighs inMore reaction.  For first time (?), Lithuanian TV presents both sides.

The Question: Will an EU/NATO democracy continue to sink government funds into  glorification of Holocaust collaborators? Don’t the Lithuanian people have higher values and causes into which to invest their hard-earned taxpayer money?

FOLLOW THE SEVEN YEAR NOREIKA SAGA IN DEFENDING HISTORY


23 June 2019

Kaunas (Slated to be 2022 “Capital of European Culture”)  Hosts Far-Right (/Neo-Nazi) City Center Jamboree Honoring June 23 “Uprising” that Unleashed the Destruction of Lithuanian Jewry in 1941

In Vilnius, the parliament (Seimas) hosts a one-sided conference on the LAF (Lithuanian Ativist Front) Hitlerist militias that unleashed violence on Jewish neighbors before German forces even arrived.

Meanwhile, a naive article in National Review accepts the distorted history of Vilnius’s “Genocide Museum” (see our critique of the museum), that calls the Hitlerist  “Lithuanian Activist Front” (LAF)’s outbreak of violence against Jewish neighbors a  rebellion against the Soviets. The brutal Soviet occupation forces were fleeing Hitler’s invasion (the largest in human history), not the LAF Jew-killers.

These killers didn’t fire a single shot against the Soviets when they were in power. You can’t “rebel” against someone who is in panic running away from someone else. . . The Holocaust is being rewritten by the East European far right (in part to make heroes out of the Eastern European collaborators) even as leaders of major Jewish organization in the US and elsewhere remain silent.


16 June 2019

The Good Old Pattern Continues in Biržai (Birzh), Northern Lithuania:

A magnificent new memorial to thousands of Holocaust victims at the mass grave in the forest.

Honors, medals and photo-ops for the foreign donors and enablers.

The official museum in the city center continues to honor Holocaust collaborators and perpetrators as “national heroes”, an issue not mentioned at any of the public events.


June 2019

State Glorification for Chaplain of a Holocaust-era Mass Murder Unit;  Simon Wiesenthal Center Speaks Out

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Chone Leibovich of Vilnius Jewish Community appeals to National Coalition Supporting Eurasian Jewry (scroll down for English)


May-June 2019

A Sad Story for Chicago and Lithuania

that is ‘not going away’

UPDATE OF JUNE 1: Head of Jewish Agency calls for  monument to Nazi collaborator to be removed “as soon as possible”

In Vilnius, Defending History staff get more death threats

First monument on American soil glorifying a wartime Nazi collaborator who is also a prime icon for his country’s neo-Nazis today was inaugurated last month (May 4) in the presence of the visiting Lithuanian foreign minister

LATEST MEDIA: Algemeiner; BBC; GrayzoneIndependent; Simon Wiesenthal CenterTelegraph. And—Defending History’s take.

On Ramanauskas’s Holocaust-era role see courageous, pioneering articles of Lithuanian ethicist Evaldas Balčiūnas in 20142017 and his latest that has just appeared. For years after starting his series of articles “Why does the state commemorate murderers?” Balčiūnas was hounded by prosecutors and police (scroll to May 2014).

UPDATES: HOW THE “OFFICIAL JEWISH COMMUNITY” WAS USED AND ABUSED

RAMANAUSKAS: A FIVE YEAR SAGA

WAS THE US EMBASSY AGAIN DRAGGED INTO THINGS THAT DON’T REFLECT AMERICAN VALUES?

Beyond the debates over Ramanauskas’s role in the early days of the Lithuanian Holocaust, he is today  a major icon for Neo-Nazi parades and events.

From left to right on the neo-Nazis’ “We know our national heroes” banner (torchlit neo-Nazi parade of Feb. 2018): Adolfas Ramanauskas-Vanagas,  Jonas Noreika,  Povilas Plechavičius,  Kazys Škirpa,  Antanas Baltūsis-Žvejas, and Juozas Ambrazevičius-Brazaitis

Latest far-right death threats  against DH editor appear on Facebook (as PDF; transl.). They were apparently instigated by the  neo-Nazis’ top blogger in Lithuania, “Zeppelinus”  (PDF; part transl.) who is said to work in the Ministry of the Economy. These threats came in response to DH’s opinion that Lithuania’s interests are not best served by a monument in Chicago to an alleged Holocaust collaborator who is also a prime icon for today’s neo-Nazi parades here. Samples of Zeppelinus’s racist, misogynistic, homophobic, antisemitic output of hate. Some of his earlier “artwork” on DH editor. 

This monument, honoring Adolfas Ramanauskas (Vanagas), who boasted in his memoirs of leading an LAF unit of fascist Hiterlist militia during the first weeks of the Holocaust (June-July 1941) in southeastern Lithuania, was overwhelmingly rejected for placement on public land by New Britian, Connecticut one year ago.  But on Saturday, 4 May  it was inaugurated by Lithuania’s foreign minister on the private property of the Lithuanian World Center in Chicago, Illinois. The English news release casually omits the reference to the Holocaust  issues cited in the original BNS Lithuanian report

On the legacy of Ramanauskas, see Evaldas Balčiūnas (in 20142017 and 2019); Efraim Zuroff and the Simon Wiesenthal Center; and Dovid Katz. Defending History documented the entire 2017-2018 New Britain, Conn. saga. Sampling of survivor testimony on “what it was that the LAF was doing” in the last week of June 1941.  SEE DEFENDING HISTORY’S SECTION ON ADOLFAS RAMANAUSKAS.

Defending History’s take: “The people of Chicago, and its proud Lithuanian and Litvak communities, should not have foisted on them a monument glorifying an alleged Holocaust collaborator who led a Hitlerist militia in the early days of the Holocaust, a monument that was overwhelmingly rejected by the New Britain, Connecticut city council one year ago. And, most certainly not without a free, public and transparent process of dialogue and consultation including Holocaust survivors and their families, as well as scholars and institutions representing a diversity of opinions. A one-year moratorium is called for to enable such a process to proceed with dignity.”


3 May 2019

Latest on State Honors for Holocaust Collaborator J. Noreika in Lithuania

HUNDREDS OF JEWISH HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS PROTEST OUTSIDE LITHUANIAN CONSULATE IN NEW YORK CITY

TRACK THE SEVEN-YEAR OLD NOREIKA SAGA HERE

DEFENDING HISTORY’S SECTION ON COLLABORATORS GLORIFIED


28 April 2019

EUROPEAN FOUNDATION FOR HUMAN RIGHTS PROTESTS EU FUNDING FOR VILNIUS MUSIC JAMBOREE ON WEEKEND  OF 27-28 APRIL IN THE HEART OF CITY’S OLD JEWISH CEMETERY

PDF OF NEW STATEMENT

As addendum to EFHR’s  case filed; international opposition; petition reaching 46,000 mark

Recent coverage in the Algemeiner Journal; English Delfi.lt (Lithuania Tribune); Jerusalem Post;

INCREDIBLY, M. K. ČIURLIONIS HOUSE & MUSEUM ARE PARTNERING

Protest letter from Julius Norwilla, chairman of the Vilnius Committee for Preservation of Piramont (Snipiskes) Cemetery to the Director of the Čiurlionis House and Museum

DEFENDING HISTORY MONITORING TEAM WAS ON THE SCENE FROM 12 TO 3 PM ON 28 APRIL 2019

Thousands (in groups of 25) were misinformed by guides’  prepared text assurance that convention center is with permission of “European Jewish Community in 2016” (!). Soviet kitsch was praised effusively in latest ruse to turn hated Soviet dump into “a national treasure”. Rabbi S. J. Feffer confronts one of the groups with a heartfelt speech of protest informing visitors of the “wanton theft of our forefathers’ graves” and blessing those who will help stop the travesty from moving forward.

MORE IN DEFENDING HISTORY

Meanwhile in London, a Serious Incident Report has been filed with the UK’s national Charity Commission requesting an investigation of the role of the CPJCE in the destruction of the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery.

Unique study in body language: “blockbuster video” of London CPJCE staff allegedly morally selling other people’s graves against the rulings of all the rabbis of Vilnius and of the planet.  In fact, when the then chief rabbi of Lithuania, Rabbi Chaim Burshtein, spoke up in 2015, he was fired for expressing his views. Views of Rabbi S.J. Feffer (leading Litvak religious authority in the country) and Rabbi S.B. Krinsky (official rabbi of the synagogue / Chabad Lithuania).

The Wikileaks cable that just will not go away (jump to end of point 8)

Ruta Bloshtein’s petition approaches 46,000

Overviews by  Shnayer Leiman, Juris KažaMichael Maass, Dovid Katz, and Vilna-born Holocaust survivor Pinchos Fridberg; Statements by elected head of Vilnius Jewish Community Simon Gurevich

SEE MORE


24 April 2019

Granddaughter of Holocaust perpetrator J. Noreika, the American author and educator Silvia Foti launches a bold international petition calling on Lithuania’s gov. to stop glorifying him.

LATEST CHAPTER IN A SAGA OF SEVEN YEARS  

HOW DOES A  JEWISH CITIZEN OF LITHUANIA FEEL ABOUT IT?


23 April 2019

“The rights of minority cemeteries are human rights”

Legal Action Underway on Attempts to Pilfer Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery for National Convention Center

NEWS RELEASE FROM EUROPEAN FOUNDATION FOR HUMAN RIGHTS

REPORTS IN ENGLISH DELFI (LITHUANIA TRIBUNE); IN THE ALGEMEINER (NY);  BNS/LRT; THE JERUSALEM POST

UPDATE OF 24 APRIL: EUROPEAN UNION FINANCES MUSIC FESTIVAL ON CEMETERY GROUNDS THIS WEEKEND


8 April 2019

Vilnius Plaque Glorifying Holocaust Collaborator J. Noreika is Smashed by Maverick Candidate for the European Parliament, Attorney Stanislavas Tomas

All on film, streamed live Monday morning 8 April 2019, from candidate’s bilingual statements through to his calling the police and their eventual arrival to make the arrest

VIDEO ON YOUTUBE

(plaque smashing at 14:30; English segments at 04:10; 22:40)

Defending History’s comment:

“We unequivocally condemn violent acts against any property. Plaques can and will be replaced, and acts of property violence are totally illegal, inherently unethical, and utterly counterproductive to the noble cause of ridding Europe of glorification of Nazism. There needs to be dignified, peaceful and lawful civic and international pressure for the removal of all state-sponsored, public-space glorification of Holocaust collaborators, not least in Lithuania where some 96% of the Jewish population was massacred with massive local collaboration and participation. The real heroes are the amazing Lithuanians who risked everything in 1941 to just save a neighbor and we pray for the day when plaques and streets for them will abound across the land. See our own Person of the Year for 2018 and 2019.”

On Jonas Noreika’s Holocaust activities, see Evaldas Balčiūnas and Andrius Kulikauskas

Samples of other monuments and street names glorifying Holocaust collaborators.  DH section on glorification of collaborators. The major Noreika monument in Vilnius is actually the engraved marble stone on the city’s central Gedimino Boulevard outside the Genocide Museum:


8 April 2019

Andrius Kulikauskas calls on Lithuanian Parliament to Stand Up to State-Sponsored Genocide Center’s Glorification of Holocaust Collaborators

Dovid Katz interviewed by Stan Tomas (video)

World Jewish Congress Replies to Vilnius Genocide Center; Stops Short of Mentioning Government’s Financing of Street Names and Honors for Holocaust Perpetrators; Official Jewish Community Breaks Long Silence on GC’s Antisemitism


3 April 2019

Eyewitness Report: A Verdict is Read in a Vilnius Court

Case was over the state’s glorification of a cruel Holocaust collaborator and purveyor of racial hate. First time a court in an EU/NATO country ruled in favor of the government glorifying Holocaust collaborators with street names and majestic public plaques, reducing the Holocaust to a detail not worthy of interfering with its perpetrators’ “heroism”…

Verdict came down on 27 March. Since then: utter silence from the US, UK and Israeli embassies in Vilnius, and from the “Red-Brown” Commission (which has affiliations with the Genocide Center) and its foreign members representing Yivo and the American Jewish Committee. But on April 3rd, the World Jewish Congress issued a major statement, to some extent avoiding the current issue of state glorification of Holocaust perpetrators via street names and plaques.

At 1 PM on Wed. March 27th, a Vilnius Administrative Court judge read out the court’s ruling dismissing the query of US resident Grant Gochin over Lithuania’s state glorification of Nazi collaborator Jonas Noreika, active during the Holocaust in the region where Gochin lost around 100 relatives. The court said Mr. Gochin had no material interest, ruled that the state-sponsored Genocide Center had answered his query completely, without bias, and without abuse of power, in effect further enshrining in law an EU/NATO state’s glorification of Holocaust collaborators and perpetrators via the financing of ultranationalist and far-right history centers and departments determined to preserve the national hero status of Holocaust collaborators. Whenever government or municipal officials are asked about the numerous street names and plaques honoring collaborators, the invariable answer is that it is all in fact a matter for the experts at the Genocide Center.

Mr. Gochin’s academic specialist, Dr. Andrius Kulikauskas was on hand along with attorney Rokas Rudzinskas. Of the Genocide Center’s staff, only historian Dr. Arūnas Bubnys turned up, sitting in the small gallery surrounded in part by first and second generation Holocaust survivors who turned out to hear the verdict that the Western embassies, human rights organization and official (state-sponsored) Jewish community thought not worth sending an official representative to hear. By contrast the local Vilnius Jewish Community had two observers on hand.

UPDATES: Genocide Center releases statement; official Jewish community issues reply.

JTA report is picked up by some Israeli papers but not one major American media outlet, general or Jewish… Why is that?

A moment before the courtroom clock strikes 1 PM: Genocide Center’s chief historian Dr. Arūnas Bubnys (front row third from right) was the only GC official to come and hear the verdict.

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SEE FULL REPORT


26 March 2019

Vilnius Court’s Verdict Awaited on Wednesday March 27th

Public welcome at the reading of the verdict at 1 PM at Vilnius Regional Administrative Court, Žygimantų 2 in the city center

Will a court in an EU/NATO country uphold a far-right Holocaust-obfuscating institution’s decision to make a national hero of a documented Holocaust collaborator?

See: Background. Report on 15 Jan. Report on 5 March.

Meanwhile, Bizarre Decision from EU Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg is in Spirit of Far Right’s “Double Genocide” Revisionism

“The New Holocaust Denial is based on a postmodernist mush that confounds victims and perpetrators and tries to write the Holocaust out of history (without denying a single death) via an array of ruses emanating from Eastern Europe’s ultranationalist New Far Right.”

BACKGROUND

DH’s take. Report on 15 Jan. hearing. Report on 5 March hearing. Evaldas Balčiūnas’s 2012 article that brought Noreika to the attention of the English speaking world. Balčiūnas’s DH section.


25 March 2019

Michael Mostyn in the Toronto Sun

Reports on pro-Nazi marches in Vilnius and Riga; Canada condemns Riga’s Waffen SS celebration

English original of part of Lithuanian TV’s interview with Dovid Katz


20 March 2019

Vilnius Jewish Community Invites People of All Backgrounds to Purim Celebration with Traditional Reading of the Book of Esther

Wednesday evening, 20 March, at 7 PM, at the Vilnius Jewish Community & Jewish Cultural and Information Center at Mesiniu 3 in Vilnius Old Town

VJC’s additional family event features the traditional costume party competition on Thursday evening 21st

Just for Litvaks: Translation of the Book of Esther into Lithuanian Yiddish


16 March 2019

AROUND 1000 TAKE PART IN 16 MARCH CENTRAL RIGA PARADE GLORIFYING LATVIA’S WARTIME NAZI WAFFEN SS

DPA;  HaaretzJerusaem Post;  Jüdisches Forum (video)Times of Israel

Detail from the day

Petition against annual event approaches 7,000 signatures

Background: Monica Lowenberg’s blog; DH coverage of previous years’ marches; Lowenberg’s articles in DH; Latvia section. Can people peacefully protest this march? A disturbing court ruling 

Latvian participant in last month’s torchlight march in Vilnius on 16 Feb.


13 March 2019

More Double Dealing by US Taxpayer Supported “Commission to Preserve America’s Heritage Abroad” (USCPAHA)?

Is it Washington DC’s most corrupt federal agency?

Are they really in cahoots with the allegedly corrupt bodies (CPJCE in London, “Admas Kodesh” or “AK” in NY) who gave “permission” for a convention center in the heart of the old Vilna Jewish Cemetery against the views of all other rabbis and ethicists? The NY branch (AK) has published crude personal invective against scholars who hold other opinions, including Prof. Bernard Fryshman (who has now taken USCPAHA to the courts).

VIDEO: Herbert Block’s formal new presentation to a major rabbi cites only USCPAHA’s partnership with these two bodies. No mention of the international petition (which he himself signed…) or the vast international opposition.

Tale of two videos: The CPJCE with the prime minister of Lithuania, and USCPAHA’s Herbert Block explaining his commission’s work to the rabbi in Israel . . . See also earlier Admas Kodesh photo gallery of USCPAHA “reporting to Satmar Rebba in Monroe”… (Note: Leader of the opposing Satmar dynasty has himself condemned the convention center project in Vilnius).

BACKGROUND:

The basic story (DH’s section). International opposition to date. The USCPAHA. The CPJCE.


8 March 2019

After ‘Hearing Both Sides’ at Trial of March  5th, Vilnius Court Sets Verdict for 27th

Dr. Andrius Kulikauskas, moments before his historic address before the Vilnius court on state-funded Genocide Center’s policy of glorifying Holocaust collaborators. The center’s “decisions” are cited by high officials as “justification” for street names, university hall plaques and other public-space state-funded glorifications of Holocaust collaborators. Around 96% of Lithuanian Jewry was massacred in the Holocaust.

Defending History was there. Our take:

Andrius Kulikauskas will go down in history not only as the hero of the day but as the true patriot of Lithuania whose love for his country is not infected by Holocaust obfuscation and the glorification of Holocaust perpetrators but by a pursuit of simple historic truth. By contrast, the Genocide Center’s shameful performance illustrated, as ever, why the government should not be using taxpayer or EU funds for a far-right ultranationalist Holocaust-obfuscating entity that disparages the freedom of Lithuanian citizens to have diverse opinions (by dictating fake history as per the Soviet playbook) and continues to damage Lithuania’s name in the world (East European democracies need state glorification of Holocaust collaborators like a hole in the head).

Evaldas Balčiūnas, whose 2012 article brought the case to international attention, was in attendance. Icing on the cake was the Genocide Center’s demand that the videographer leave at the outset. So much for government sponsorship of an open and transparent operation. There were close to 20 observers, mostly Vilnius Jewish personalities there in an individual capacity, including Prof. Pinchos Fridberg, who figured in a New York Times article on the subject last September. Elected Vilnius Jewish Community head Simon Gurevich, committed elsewhere, nevertheless made two brief appearances to show moral support for those who stand up to glorification of collaborators and to the community members in attendance. The VJC hosted Dr. Kulikauskas on Jan 14th.

“It had the air of a 21st century Lithuanian version of America’s Scopes Monkey Trial.”

Eyewitness reports and opinions by Evaldas Balčiūnas and Gershon Taic (Geršonas Taicas)

Finally, reports began to appear in mainstream Lithuanian media: BNS/Diena.lt; LRTDelfi; Alkas.lt; Arkadijus Vinokuras in Delfi.lt. Official information on the court’s website.

Background: Run-up to eve of the trial

California Financial Planner Takes Lithuania’s State-Sponsored “Genocide Center” to Court on March 5th for Enabling Gov. Glorification of Holocaust Collaborator J. Noreika

   Proceedings are open to the public (Tuesday March 5th, 10 AM at Vilnius Regional Administrative Court at Žygimantų 2 in central Vilnius). Media to date includes the BBC World ServiceChicago TribuneJTA. The plaintiff is California wealth advisor Grant Arthur Gochin whose family lost around 100 relatives in the Holocaust in the area where Noreika operated. He will be represented in Vilnius by attorney Rokas Rudzinskas and specialist Dr. Andrius Kulikauskas, author of the Query that launched the case. He has a compelling letter of support from Noreika’s granddaughter, American educator and author Silvia Foti. See Ms. Foti’s remarkable 2018 essay in Salon, and the recent takes by Grant Gochin, Dovid Katz, Andrius Kulikauskas, and Efraim Zuroff.

  The case of J. Noreika was brought to the English speaking world in 2012 by journalist and ethicist Evaldas Balčiūnas of Šiauliai (Shavl), Lithuania, as part of a series of articles asking why his government honors alleged Holocaust collaborators. He was “rewarded” with years of prosecutorial and police harassment and kangaroo trials. Please scroll down to May 2014 in DH’s Balčiūnas section. In some opinions, Lithuania is a totally free-speech country with the marked exception of Holocaust history.

UTTER SILENCE FROM THE GOV. FUNDED “RED-BROWN COMMISSION” (ONE OF WHOSE MEMBERS IS ACTIVELY SOLICITING 10,000 EUROS IN CROWDFUNDING FOR NEW BOOK ON LITHUANIAN HOLOCAUST; CROWDFUNDING PAGE)

WILL THE AMERICAN, BRITISH, CANADIAN, FRENCH, GERMAN, IRISH, ISRAELI, NORWEGIAN & SWEDISH EMBASSIES (AMONG OTHERS) AND HUMAN RIGHTS ORGANIZATIONS BE SENDING OBSERVERS TO THE TRIAL ON TUESDAY?

BACKGROUND: Collaborators glorified; street names and university lecture halls; the Genocide Center in Vilnius; the Genocide Museum; academic background to the “Double Genocide” movement for Holocaust revisionism


March 2019

Lev Golinkin in The Nation on Ukraine’s issues with adulation of fascism and Holocaust collaborators

David Pugliese in the Ottawa Citizen on Latvian and Ukrainian projects to revise history

Petition against Waffen SS March on March 16th in Riga; Background: Monica Lowenberg’s blog; DH coverage of previous years’ marches; Lowenberg’s articles in DH; Can people peacefully protest this march? A disturbing court ruling in 2017

Euronews report on far right’s march in central Tallinn, Estonia

Julius Norwilla attends meeting of Lithuania’s state property bank that plans convention center in heart of the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery

Vilnius: LRT TV interviews Dovid Katz


20 February 2019

VILNIUS ALERT WED. 20 FEB. 2019

Fania Yocheles Brantsovsky, Legendary Jewish Partisan who Fought the Nazis in the Forests of Lithuania, Currently Major Yiddish Culture Educator, Will be Guest of Honor at Today’s Yiddish Reading Circle

Fania Brantsovsky (left) with the late Dr. Rokhl Margolis (1921-2015) in Vilnius in 2007

SPECIAL SESSION IN HONOR OF THE NEW BILINGUAL YIDDISH-LITHUANIAN EDITION OF THE LATE AARON GARON’S ESSAYS ON JEWISH VILNA EDITED BY LINAS VILDŽIŪNAS, WHO WILL BE ATTENDING THE EVENT, ALONG WITH THE AUTHOR’S CHILDREN, TAMARA AND EVGENY GARON.

Photo gallery of the event

6 to 7:30 PM AT THE VILNIUS JEWISH COMMUNITY, MESINIU 3 IN VILNIUS OLD TOWN. ALL ARE WELCOME!


16 February 2019

“IT PAYS TO DEFEND HISTORY”

“Once again, it becomes clear how Defending History is the true friend of Lithuania and other democratic states in the Eastern EU that need glorification of Holocaust collaborators like a hole in the head”

DH’s Vilnius monitors, observing the event for a decade, report on “significant progress”: For the first time in many years, the far-right February 16 march, though at times noxious (e.g. when a group reveled in a “Noreika plaque photo-op”), had no visible banners glorifying local Holocaust collaborators and no visible swastikas on flags, and no organized chants of “Lietuva Lietuviams” (Lithuania for Lithuanians). By contrast, a few Latvian visitors wore jackets emblazoned with “Waffen SS”. At its conclusion, two of the march’s organizers approached our team for a civil discussion which turned to the participation of “non-Catholic & non-ethnic Lithuanians” in the war of independence leading to the rise of the democratic interwar Lithuanian Republic on 16 Feb. 1918.


Vilnius Authorities Again Gifting Capital’s Storied Old Town for Far-Right March on Cherished Independence Day

Are they celebrating the Holocaust and the massacre of Lithuanian Jewry?

Last year’s neo-Nazi event featured front banner glorifying a series of local Holocaust collaborators; it was addressed by a high Catholic Church official and “honored guest” neo-Nazis from abroad

2018 lead banner: “WE KNOW WHO OUR NATION’S HEROES ARE”. The “sanitized” event in central Vilnius featured a lead banner glorifying six Nazi collaborators, five of them deeply implicated in the Lithuanian Holocaust. The torchlit march, the day’s final event, made its way from Vilnius’s most sacred Catholic shrine down through the Old City, culminating at a street named for one of the collaborators who had advocated “only” ethnic cleansing of the country’s Jewish minority in 1941. PHOTO: © DEFENDING HISTORY.

Come and join Defending History’s monitoring team. Event scheduled to start Saturday 16 February 6 PM at Aušros Vartų. Facebook details; website.

See Defending History’s decade-long eyewitness coverage of far-right marches in Vilnius, Kaunas, and Riga.

and

A Short History Lesson:

All of interwar Lithuania’s 239 Jewish communities (massacred in 1941) cherished and celebrated February 16th with heart and soul. They were proud Lithuanian citizens. It was also their Independence Day. See the 2013 letter from the late Joe Melamed, longtime elected leader of the Association of Lithuanian Jews in Israel, and any of countless records and pictures. Here, a photo (with bilingual Hebrew and Lithuanian handwritten captions) of the Jews of Dorbyán (Darbėnai) celebrating February 16th 1928, the tenth anniversary of independence:


30 January 2019

AP Report on Netanyahu Government’s Alleged “Sale of Holocaust History” in Eastern Europe is carried by New York Times, Washington Post, & Israel’s Haaretz & YNet

See Israel Chronicle summary page; Israel section; Sam Sokol’s new paper.

Related: Matti Friedman’s New York Times op-ed on the politicization of Yad Vashem. Cf. Danny Ben-Moshe’s earlier op-ed in Jerusalem Report. See Defending History’s Yad Vashem section.

Highpoints of Israeli diplomacy on the Holocaust in Eastern Europe: Ambassador Chen Ivri Apter in 2009; Ambassador Joel Lion in 2018.

Lowpoint: Ambassador Amir Maimon in 2017 (his performance made it into the academic literature before he was even transferred to his next posting).


27 January 2019

Holocaust Remembrance Week 2019

In recent times, the greatest threat to Holocaust Remembrance Day is the Double Genocide Holocaust revisionist movement whose “constitution” is the 2008 Prague Declaration. Defending History is proud to have taken part in the Europarliamentary response, the 2012 Seventy Years Declaration. The relevance of all this to Holocaust Remembrance Day was made crystal clear nine years ago by Yehuda Bauer on the pages of the Jerusalem Post. See also the essay by Holocaust survivor and scholar, and former director of Yad Vashem, Dr. Yitzhak Arad,  in Defending History. Identity Films has just made available free online its 2012 documentary Rewriting History. Richard Bloom Productions has done the same for its 2013 film, Defending Holocaust History.

William Echikson’s new report on how European countries are treating their Holocaust history

Coverage of the report in Politico.eu; Grant Arthur Gochin’s blog in The Times of Israel.


26 January 2019

Vilma Fiokla Kiurė:

Why do Authorities Choose to Evict Roma in the Middle of the Baltic Winter?


ON OUR PAGES 7 YEARS AGO.    5 YEARS AGO.    3 YEARS AGO.


24 January 2019

“The rights of minority cemeteries to be left in peace are human rights”

Two Visualizations of a Convention Center in the Middle of Vilna’s  Old Jewish Cemetery

I: Lithuania’s State Bank (“Turto Bankas”) triumphantly issues its latest visualization for a national convention center  in the heart of the old Vilna Jewish cemetery, surrounded by thousands of Jewish graves. The huge new annex is “artfully” obscured (at the back).

2: Defending History issues its reply visualization. The people of Vilnius deserve a sparkling new convention center that will be a pride to all peoples everywhere, where they will be greeted by leaders of the arts, culture, music, politics, not by the tens of thousands of ghosts of the Jews of Vilna whose families purchased their burial plots in perpetuity. Join the 45,000 people who have signed Ruta Bloshtein’s international petition.


OLDER FRONT PAGE POSTS

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European Foundation for Human Rights Takes Desecration of Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery to Court



OPINION  |  HUMAN RIGHTS  |  CEMETERIES & MASS GRAVES  |  OLD VILNA JEWISH CEMETERY AT PIRAMÓNT  |  OPPOSITION TO CONVENTION CENTER PROJECT  | INTERNATIONAL PETITION  |  USCPAHA | CPJCE  |  ADMAS KODESH

VILNIUS—The European Foundation for Human Rights has today filed a lawsuit with the District Court of Vilnius City. The following is the full text of a press release issued by the group this morning, which appears on its website:

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Democratically Elected Leadership of Vilnius Jewish Community Shows Consistent Moral Clarity on Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery’s Fate



OPINION  |  VILNIUS JEWISH LIFE  |  CHRISTIAN-JEWISH RELATIONS  |  HUMAN RIGHTS  |  CEMETERIES  |  OLD VILNA JEWISH CEMETERY  |  OPPOSITION TO CONVENTION CENTER PROJECT  |  PETITION

VILNIUS—During the fiascos of recent formal visits to Lithuania by the chairperson of the US taxpayer-funded “Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad” (known for short as “USCPAHA”), a ubiquitous feature was the seemingly unending stream of photo-ops with leaders of the “official” state-sponsored Jewish community which has quite naturally supported government plans for a convention center and annex to be situated in the heart of the old Vilna Jewish cemetery. What many foreign visitors do not understand is that this enterprise does not have democratically legitimate leadership. In the middle of the last leadership election, in spring 2017, the chairperson changed the rules to disenfranchise the three thousand Jewish citizens of Lithuania in favor of a “new system” whereby “associations alone” would vote, these being the chairperson’s own board of associates. When the Vilnius Jewish Community held a very public and democratic vote, the state-sponsored official community echoed antisemitic tropes that the current Jews are some kind of Russians who say they are Jews. In November of 2018, the courts ruled her election illegal, a remarkable public demonstration followed last spring, but then, after an array of legal ruses, some quite amusing, the appeals court last month legalized her election. But not-illlegal is not moral, and being “not illegal” is a rather poor standard for Jewish and democratic legitimacy in the  small and fragile post-Holocaust space. More and more people are calling for a simple solution: new and fair elections under the aegis of an outside ombudsman or polling organization, in which every Lithuanian Jewish citizen has one vote.

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Posted in Bold Citizens Speak Out, Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Lithuania, Lithuania's Jewish Community Issues, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Opinion, Politics of Memory, Simon Gurevich (Simonas Gurevičius), US Commission for Preservation of the American Heritage Abroad | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off on Democratically Elected Leadership of Vilnius Jewish Community Shows Consistent Moral Clarity on Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery’s Fate

Incredibly, US Taxpayer-Funded Commission is HURTING instead of HELPING the Cause!



CHRISTIAN-JEWISH RELATIONS  |  HUMAN RIGHTS  |  CEMETERIES  |  OLD VILNA JEWISH CEMETERY  |  OPPOSITION TO CONVENTION CENTER PROJECT  |  PETITION

by Ruta Bloshtein

The following is the text of the petition update posted by Ms. Bloshtein on 4 January 2019 at the Change.org site of her petition to save the old Vilna Jewish cemetery, which has exceeded the 45,000 signature mark.

My Dear Friends,

Thanks to all of you who signed our petition, there have been various delays in the onset of works to erect a national convention center and large new annex on the site of a Soviet ruin that is right in the middle of our sacred Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery, where the B’er Hagola Reb Moshe Rivkes; the Chayei Adam Reb Avrom Dantsig; Reb Menachem-Manes Chayes; Reb Boruch Romm, Reb Avrom the son of the Gaon of Vilna; Reb Yitzchok the father of Chaim of Volozhin lie buried, alongside many other thousands of Jewish citizens of Vilna (today’s Vilnius, capital of Lithuania) whose families duly paid for their plots in perpetuity. This would never happen if it were a Christian or Lithuanian national cemetery where nationally beloved figures found what was meant to be their place of rest.

Now, unfortunately, imminent danger lurks again, as the government’s own bank has just announced that building is again soon scheduled to start.

We must therefore redouble our polite and civil protests to ensure that this does not happen, that the government finds ANOTHER place for its new national convention center (that will be a pride, not a “shande” for our country), and that the cemetery can be lovingly restored as has been done in other European cities. I am sorry to report that in recent times one of the main obstacles has been the (US taxpayer funded!) “United States Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad” (known as “USCPAHA” for short) that exists to preserve endangered cemeteries, not to collude with foreign governments and their agents to help with excuses and cover-ups to destroy them!

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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), Ruta (Reyzke) Bloshtein, United States, US Commission for Preservation of the American Heritage Abroad | Tagged , , , , , | Comments Off on Incredibly, US Taxpayer-Funded Commission is HURTING instead of HELPING the Cause!

Chief Rabbi of Western Wall and and Holy Sites in Israel Calls on Lithuania’s President to Cancel Convention Center Project at Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery



DOCUMENTS  |  OLD VILNA JEWISH CEMETERY  |  OPPOSITION TO CONVENTION CENTER PROJECT  |  PETITION   |  CHRISTIAN-JEWISH RELATIONS  |  CPJCE

JERUSALEM—The 1 February 2018 letter of Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, Rabbi of the Western Wall and Holy Sites in Israel to the president of Lithuania, Dalia Grybauskaitė, was released here today for publication. In it, the world-renowned rabbi who heads the Western Wall Heritage Foundation, pleads with the president of Lithuania to “cancel this plan to make this site a convention center.” He reminds her of the tens of thousands of Jews buried at the old Piramónt cemetery of Vilna, now in the Šnipiškės district of Vilnius, capital of Lithuania. His letter follows the 7 January 2018 letter from the Chief Rabbi of Israel, Rabbi David Lau, and the pleas of virtually all the world’s leading rabbis of Litvak heritage (and many others) over recent years, in addition to many people of good faith of all backgrounds.

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Posted in Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Christian-Jewish Issues, CPJCE (London), Documents, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Politics of Memory | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on Chief Rabbi of Western Wall and and Holy Sites in Israel Calls on Lithuania’s President to Cancel Convention Center Project at Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery

Malvina Šokelytė Valeikienė is Defending History’s 2018 Person of the Year



OPINION  |  BALTIC HEROES  |  HUMAN RIGHTS  |  LITVAK AFFAIRS

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Malvina Šokelytė Valeikienė (1898-1981)

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Tarptautinę peticiją už kongresų centro projekto pastūmimą nuo senųjų Vilniaus žydų kapinių pasirašė daugiau nei 41 tūkst. žmonių



VILNIAUS SENOSIOS ŽYDŲ (PIRAMONTO) KAPINĖS  |  OLD VILNA JEWISH CEMETERY  |  OPPOSITION TO CONVENTION CENTER PROJECT  |  PETITION   |  CHRISTIAN-JEWISH RELATIONS  |  CEMETERIES

Pateikiame Rutos Bloštein tarptautinės peticijos vertimą, atliktą Juliaus Norvilos. Originalią peticiją rasti galite čia (prašome pasvarstyti ir apie pasirašymą!). Nuolat atnaujinamą tarptautinio pasipriešinimo statybų projektui santrauką galite rasti čia. Daugiau straipsnių lietuvių kalba — čia.

Prašome perkelti naujojo Vilniaus koncertų ir sporto rūmų projektą iš senųjų žydų kapinių į kitą vietą

Per beveik penkis šimtmečius (jau nuo 15 amžiaus), Vilniuje, Lietuvos sostinėje, senosiose Piramónto žydų kapinėse Šnipiškėse buvo palaidoti tūkstančiai Vilniaus gyventojų žydų, tarp jų ir daug iškiliausių žydų mokslininkų, kurių miestas savo laiku buvo pramintas „Lietuvos Jeruzale“. Blogu Sovietų Sąjungos valdymo metu visi šių kapinių antkapiai buvo išvežti ir sudaužyti. Pačiame kapinių vidury buvo pastatyti Sporto rūmai, kurių pamatai buvo išlieti žemėje, sumaišytoje su žmonių palaikais. Daug kapų aplink Sporto rūmus iš visų keturių pusių liko nepaliesti. Tūkstančių palaikai yra ten pat, kur ir buvo palaidoti. Tai šventa vieta, kurioje reikia atkurti kapines ir atminimo vietą, kur galima būtų grąžinti sudaužytus antkapius, kurių dalys dabar aptinkamos visame mieste.

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Vilnius TV & Radio Debates on Future of Piramónt — the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery



DOCUMENTS  |  THE OLD VILNA JEWISH CEMETERY  |  OPPOSITION TO CONVENTION CENTER PROJECT  |  INTERNATIONAL PETITION   |  CHRISTIAN-JEWISH RELATIONS  |  CEMETERIES  |  VILNIUS JEWISH LIFE  |  HUMAN RIGHTS

VILNIUS—Following Defending History’s publication last weekend of the 28 July 2017 letter to the president of Lithuania signed by twelve United States congressmen, pleading for the new national convention center project to be moved away from the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery (Piramónt, in the Šnipiškės district of modern Vilnius), the news was reported by The Weekly of Vilnius, an elite diplomatic publication on Lithuanian affairs, and then by BNS (Baltic News Service, and in English via the Lithuania Tribune), which put it into the wider Baltic domain. Last Monday, 14 August, there were at least four panel discussions broadcast on Lithuanian TV and radio. The following are full English translations of each of these broadcasts, provided by DefendingHistory.com.

(1) LNK TV: News. With Simon Gurevich (Simonas Gurevičius), Faina Kukliansky,   Rūta Leitanaitė, Daniel Lupschitz (Danielius Lupšicas),  Deividas Matulionis, Romas Pakalnis, Donatas Stundis

(2) LRT TV: Panorama. With Simon Gurevich, Skirmantas Malinauskas, Valdonė Rundenkienė

(3) LRT Radio: Lithuanian Day. With Simon Gurevich, Agnė Kairiūnaitė, Deividas Matulionis

(4) LRT Radio: 60 Minutes. With Simon Gurevich, Agnė Kairiūnaitė, Faina Kukliansky, Deividas Matulionis, passers-by and a taxi driver

LITE-Vulovak-on-national-convention-center-opening

Vulovak for DefendingHistory.com

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Posted in Cemeteries and Mass Graves, CPJCE (London), Human Rights, Lithuania, Lithuania's Jewish Community Issues, Litvak Affairs, Media Watch, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Opinion, Politics of Memory, Simon Gurevich (Simonas Gurevičius) | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Vilnius TV & Radio Debates on Future of Piramónt — the Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery

12 US Congressmen Call on Lithuania’s President to Move Convention Center Project Away from Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery



OLD VILNA JEWISH CEMETERY  |  OPPOSITION TO CONVENTION CENTER PROJECT  |  PETITION   |  CHRISTIAN-JEWISH RELATIONS  |  CEMETERIES  |  VILNIUS JEWISH LIFE

Congress Letter on Piramont

WASHINGTON—A resolute letter (facsimile below; as PDF) signed by twelve United States congressmen to the president of Lithuania, Dalia Grybauskaitė, was released here today. Dated 28 July 2017, the letter expresses American “opposition to the conversion of the old Vilnius Palace of Concerts and Sports into a convention center on the site of the old Jewish cemetery.” It asserts that “the very presence of the existing structure in the middle of the old Jewish cemetery desecrates it and conflicts with the respect for human dignity that forms the basis of Western Civilization. By contrast, moving the convention center project to another site, and permitting the dismantling of the abandoned Sports Palace it was to replace, would affirm the Lithuanian government’s commitment to basic human rights.”

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Posted in Antisemitism & Bias, Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Christian-Jewish Issues, Human Rights, Lithuania, Lithuania's Jewish Community Issues, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), United States, US Commission for Preservation of the American Heritage Abroad | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on 12 US Congressmen Call on Lithuania’s President to Move Convention Center Project Away from Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery

Summer’s Cool New Vilnius Poster to Save Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery



OLD VILNA JEWISH CEMETERY  |  OPPOSITION TO CONVENTION CENTER PROJECT  |  PETITION   |  CHRISTIAN-JEWISH RELATIONS  |  CEMETERIES  |  VILNIUS JEWISH LIFE

VILNIUS—For the first time in the history of modern Lithuania, a non-Jewish campaign initiative for a Jewish cause has seen its poster flood the streets of this city’s storied Old Town at the height of the summer tourist season. Conceived and produced by Julius Norwilla (Norvila), a former Protestant minister, using a quote from Dr. Andrius Kulikauskas, a Catholic philosopher, and based on an artistic visualization of a young Vilnius artist who supports the campaign, the poster is entitled “Vilnius Without its Ugliest Soviet Eyesore”. That is a reference to the hated ruin of the Soviet Sports Palace which stands in the middle of the old Vilna cemetery, where the city’s Jewish residents were buried in graves paid for by their families as freehold property, from the 15th to the 19th century. The poster makes reference to Vilnius native Ruta Bloshtein’s international petition, which is, at 40,000 signatures to date, arguably the largest Litvak initiative since the Holocaust. Members of Lithuania’s Jewish community who have spoken out to date include Moyshe Bairak, Ruta Bloshtein, Milan Chersonski, Pinchos Fridberg, Dovid Katz, and Josif Parasonis (more here). Current and recent rabbis in Vilnius who have taken a public stand include Chaim Burshtein, Shmuel Jacob Feffer, Kalev Krelin, and Sholom Ber Krinsky.

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Posted in Bold Citizens Speak Out, Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Documents, Human Rights, Lithuania, Lithuania's Jewish Community Issues, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Politics of Memory | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on Summer’s Cool New Vilnius Poster to Save Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery

In Reply to 40,000 Petition Signatories, Lithuania’s Chancellor Rehashes Reliance on Allegedly Corrupt Group of London Rabbis who Reject Consensus of Litvak Rabbis Internationally



OLD VILNA JEWISH CEMETERY  |  OPPOSITION TO CONVENTION CENTER PROJECT  |  PAPER TRAIL   |  CHRISTIAN-JEWISH RELATIONS  |  CEMETERIES  |  VILNIUS JEWISH LIFE

VILNIUS—Ms. Milda Dargužaitė, since December 2016 the highly respected Chancellor of the Office of the Government of the Republic of Lithuania, on 2 June 2017 issued a written reply to Ruta Bloshtein, the Vilnius-born Orthodox Jew who last December initiated a petition on the old Vilna Jewish cemetery at Piramónt, in today’s Šnipiškės (Yiddish: Shnípishek). The petition asks the Lithuanian government to move the national convention center project away from the old Jewish cemetery, and to restore the historic burial ground which dates to the fifteenth century and contains the remains of many of the greatest Lithuanian Jewish scholars. There has been a massive international outcry against plans to cite a convention center in the heart of the old cemetery where revelers would cheer, clap, do politics, sing, drink at bars and use toilets surrounded by thousands of Jewish graves. Ms. Bloshtein’s petition has been signed by 40,000 people, and has been the subject of coverage in Algemeiner.comAmi, the Jewish Chronicle, Jewish JournalTablet, and numerous other publications.

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Posted in Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Christian-Jewish Issues, CPJCE (London), Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Politics of Memory | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off on In Reply to 40,000 Petition Signatories, Lithuania’s Chancellor Rehashes Reliance on Allegedly Corrupt Group of London Rabbis who Reject Consensus of Litvak Rabbis Internationally

Lithuanian Intellectual Joins Israeli Rabbis in Plea to Ambassador Bagdonas at Tel Aviv Embassy on Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery



OLD VILNA JEWISH CEMETERY  |  OPPOSITION TO CONVENTION CENTER PROJECT  |  PAPER  TRAIL   |  CHRISTIAN-JEWISH RELATIONS  |  CEMETERIES  |  VILNIUS JEWISH LIFE

VILNIUS—In recent weeks, Lithuania’s Jewish community has been shaken by a number of vicious attacks against various of its members, apparently written by operatives out to provoke “senseless interethnic strife and division” who have infiltrated to echelons of the official community’s power structures, and published personal invective replete with “demonstrable falsehoods” under the imprimatur not of any named author but of the “Lithuanian Jewish Community” per se (examples here, here, and here). Against that backdrop many Jews and Lithuanians alike, who enjoy some of the best daily relations of any two groups in Eastern Europe, have been finding it necessary to stress that Lithuanian-Jewish relations are excellent and will not be disturbed by such mischief makers (see also today’s JTA report, and a 2015 paper by this journal’s editor). The ongoing passionate debates about the Holocaust, “Double Genocide”, defamation of Jewish partisans, glorification of local Nazi collaborators, city-center neo-Nazi marches on independence days, plans to have a new national convention center in the heart of the old Jewish cemetery, and the fair allocation of restitution funds, are not disputes between “Jews and Lithuanians”: there are, at least locally, proponents from both groups on all sides of each of these debates and various others.

Julius Norwilla’s speech at the Lithuanian Embassy in Tel Aviv: in English, in Lithuanian

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Posted in Cemeteries and Mass Graves, Christian-Jewish Issues, Events, Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, News & Views, Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery at Piramónt (in Šnipiškės / Shnípishok), Politics of Memory | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Lithuanian Intellectual Joins Israeli Rabbis in Plea to Ambassador Bagdonas at Tel Aviv Embassy on Old Vilna Jewish Cemetery