O P I N I O N
A recent report, also available as PDF, suggests sudden and deep involvement of the World Jewish Congress in the Lithuanian government’s repeatedly documented use of Yiddish, Judaic studies and even Holocaust studies as means to advance — or cover for — state-sponsored Double Genocide revisionism with respect to the essential narrative of the Holocaust. The report has proven to be disturbing for the wider Holocaust survivor community and its supporters.
The report, which also implicates ORT, includes reference to a murky secret donor and implied reference to a proposed plan to appoint a director and academic teaching staff in the absence of openly advertising these positions and making appointments via a fair and transparent process, as called for by European Union law. There is no reference to the fate of the long-standing academic Yiddish staff dismissed several years ago at the demand of right-wing elements in the government themselves deeply involved in the Holocaust-revisionism (“Double Genocide”) campaign and the government-financed “red-brown commission.”
Put differently: Will those whose decades of work created these positions now be allowed to apply for them? Or, will there be an effective “Baltic government veto” dictated by the same government elements that organize state reburials with full honors of Nazi collaborators, allow city-center neo-Nazi marches on independence days, and prosecute Lithuanian citizens tho try to tell the truth about the Holocaust? The main state-funded institutions promoting Holocaust distortion are its Genocide Center, Genocide Museum, and, directly related to the Yiddish institute’s troubling role, the “red-brown” commission.
“Let’s hope that the WJC don’t fall into the trap of cooperating with the Lithuanian Holocaust distortion industry.”
Some see a pattern in investments in “Jewish projects” that cover for Holocaust revisionism. In recent years, Dr. Efraim Zuroff, director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Israel office, has critiqued events sponsored by the Lithuanian government in London (in the Jewish Chronicle), New York (Times of Israel), and Jerusalem (Haaretz) among others. Other voices have included Professor Dov Levin and the late Elan Steinberg.
While the Double Genocide movement (and its corollary of glorifying some local Nazi collaborators and perpetrators as “national heroes”) has been actively supported by government elements in Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, and Ukraine, units of the Lithuanian government have gone further and sponsored defamation of Holocaust survivors. The two major forms of defamation have included “war crimes” and “libel” and have led to robust international responses. Survivors themselves frequently stress that the Lithuanian people are not to be blamed for this. Many Lithuanian citizens of various backgrounds continue to speak out vigorously for truthfulness in the remembrance of the Holocaust. Defending History hosts a section dedicated to their writings in English translation.
“We have obtained some funding from an anonymous donor who doesn’t want his name to be mentioned.”
The new report confirms rumors that the World Jewish Congress is involved with the Vilnius Yiddish Institute, whose non-Yiddish-speaking director is a member of the state’s “International Commission for the Evaluation of the Crimes of the Nazi and Soviet Occupation Regimes in Lithuania.” Known informally as “the red-brown commission,” it is a major international supporter of the 2008 Prague Declaration and Double Genocide politics. Holocaust survivors and scholars have alerted the outside world to the commission’s troubling aspects. Dr. Yitzhak Arad, Sir Martin Gilbert and Professor Konrad Kwiet are among those who have resigned on principle over the years. The commission’s purposes have been analyzed by Yitzhak Arad, former director of Yad Vashem and one of the world’s foremost scholars of the Holocaust in Lithuania.
The Yiddish institute continues to organize the lucrative annual summer course, moved from Oxford in 1998 by the institute’s founder, this website’s editor, who was dismissed as the Vilnius Yiddish Institute’s professor of Yiddish after supporting the accused Jewish partisans and opposing the Prague Declaration. The institute’s board, deeply manipulated by Lithuanian government operatives, never replied to a 2009 letter from six NATO ambassadors. Most of the board, including Zane Buzby, Prof. Sidney Rosenfeld and S. Chic Wolk resigned years ago over the state-dictated purges of the institute’s Yiddish studies personnel. More recently, in late 2013, Dr. Daniel Berg of Bloomington, Indiana, resigned after the institute’s director used an American speaking tour to trash the institute’s founder.
The institute’s website is purged, in the classic Soviet style, of those of its former professors and scholars who have spoken up against the defamation of Holocaust survivors and the covering up of state-enabled antisemitism, notwithstanding their combined contributions of decades of dedicated service. “We’re told they never existed,” said a member of the office team.
According to rumors in the Yiddish world, it is once again Soviet-born Yiddish hired-guns who are lined up to reap income, honors and fun-and-games trips to Vilnius from “Yiddish” projects supported by the government, and to participate in professional destruction, in some cases, of the careers and livelihoods of their own former teachers and mentors. The pattern of Soviet-born Yiddishists easily taking over, largely for self-advancement, the weak remnants of secular Yiddish culture has been most pronounced to date in the United States.
Why are the generous donors to the cause of public Yiddish and Litvak education in Vilnius keeping their names secret?
The wider issue of abuse of Judaic studies for Holocaust revisionism in Eastern Europe is itself being academically studied by a number of researchers in Israel, Europe and the United States. The potential first-time involvement of the World Jewish Congress (and ORT) is regarded as disturbing, assuming the published reports are accurate.
Defending History has written today to the high official of the World Jewish Congress who visited Vilnius in April to plan the new Yiddish expansion, to ask that any new or renewed positions in Yiddish Studies be openly and fairly advertised, and appointments made via a transparent process in accordance with European Union law and international good practice. The decimated culture of the annihilated Jewry of Eastern Europe is clearly entitled to the same standards of professionalism, transparency and probity as any other field of education and research.
Would anyone in the WJC be opposed to new Yiddish Studies positions in Vilnius being publicly advertised and filled by a fair and transparent process?
The very manipulable language and culture of the destroyed civilization of the Litvaks continues to appear attractive to some government operatives as a means of generating international Jewish enthusiasm, especially when coupled with honors and happy times in the attractive Lithuanian capital. This takes place concurrently with pursuit of Double Genocide which entails significant apologetics for the Nazi annihilation of the Yiddish speaking civilization of Eastern Europe (see e.g. the reviews of Cassedy’s recent book by Katz, Nadler, Zabludoff and Zuroff).
Local Jewish survivors speak with pain about the “dead Jew business” which generally avoids at all costs appointing Jewish personnel of genuine Litvak descent.
As one Yiddish speaking survivor put it in Vilnius this week: “There’s a nice looking plaque for a Yiddish writer on one street, for the benefit of foreigners who enjoy the honors they get here, while another street is named for one of the prominent Nazi collaborators of 1941 who supported the killing of our families. We won’t remain silent. Our language is not a nice tsátske for lying about the Holocaust or covering for the city-center neo-Nazi marches that continue to be allowed on independence day.”
In 2009, World Jewish Congress president Ronald S. Lauder spoke out eloquently against the Holocaust distortion promulgated by the then justice minister of Lithuania. The WJC website appropriately titled its report: “Ronald Lauder criticizes revisionist theses of Lithuanian justice minister.”
It is feared that he is not aware of the degree to which the WJC is being manipulated, in 2014, to cover for those same “revisionist theses.”