R E P O R T / O P I N I O N
by Graeme Atkinson (Hope Not Hate) and Monica Lowenberg (DefendingHistory.com)
England has the most provincial intellectual class in Europe. Very few professors (unless they are foreign language teachers or specialists in say French or Italian history) will speak and read a foreign language fluently. They do not pick up Le Monde, Der Spiegel or El Pais and wait, sometime for years, for a translation of a key work published in a European language to appear in London.
Editor’s note: The following is an English translation by Geoff Vasil of an article that appeared on Delfi.lt on October 25, 2013. The images that appeared with the original Lithuanian text are not reproduced here.
In 1999, The Association of Lithuanian Jews in Israel published Crime and Punishment, compiled after many years of work, by its chairman, Tel Aviv attorney Joseph Melamed, a native of Kovno (Kaunas), Holocaust survivor and veteran of the Jewish partisan resistance in Lithuania and of the Israeli War of Independence. In the late 1990s, Mr. Melamed wrote repeatedly to Lithuanian prosecutors, explaining that some Holocaust perpetrators and witnesses were still alive and investigations could be pursued.
Delfi.lt reports that the Lithuanian Ministry of National Defense has received the results from a study they undertook to gauge prejudice among leadership and troops as compared to Lithuanian society at large.
The following is a translation of an October 2, 2013 piece published by former Baltic News Service chief Artūras Račas on his blog. For context, see some of Mr. Račas’s previous work on Holocaust related issues, e.g. his comments on state investigations of Holocaust survivors who became anti-Nazi partisans (2008) and on Prof. Pinchos Fridberg and Dr. Efraim Zuroff (2013); see also Prof. Fridberg’s reply.
The following is the text of the final program received today from the organizers:
International Conference on Anti-Semitism
on the occasion of 100th anniversary of the Beilis Trial
15-16 October, 2013, Kyiv, Ukraine
Fairmont Grand Hotel
The following is the content of a front page item that appeared on 11 September 2013:
The arts and crafts festival held on Vilnius’s central Gedimino Boulevard featured a number of disturbing swastika themes in woodwork. Here is one example:
Original 2 May 2013 report; Person identified by the media submits 13 May 2013 complaint to the Press Commission [draft English translation], citing Anarchija.lt, Balsas.lt, KaunoŽinios.lt, Lrytas.lt as well as DefendingHistory.com. He does not deny the identification but disputes the characterization of his work as in harmony with neo-Nazism.
23 July update: Zeppelinus greets Baltic Pride with a new hate image.
Dear Mr. Gustas,
Congratulations on your recent appointment as Economy Minister. May your tenure be blessed with success, wisdom and good fortune for all of Lithuania’s citizens.
We address you on the advent of your tenure on a human rights matter rather than an economic question. We feel certain you would agree that there is a demonstrable correlation between the long-term successful economies of the world and free and open democratic societies that reject all forms of state-supported fascism, racism, antisemitism, homophobia and other forms of hate and exclusionism directed at segments of the population.
One would have thought that after the destruction of millions of Jews during the war and the creation of Israel, that antisemitism would have disappeared forever from Europe, the harsh and bloody lessons of the Holocaust having been learned. Yet, now, almost seventy years later, antisemitism is still an important factor to be reckoned with, both in Eastern and Western Europe.
The leading neo-Nazi blogger in Lithuania, “Zeppelinus,” who was unmasked several months ago by a number of publications as a high official at the Ministry for the Economy and chairman of the nation’s Tripartite Commission, did not deny the identification.
Instead, quite incredibly, he complained to the press commission against those who would dare deem to be unacceptable his hateful racist, antisemitic, homophobic and pro-fascist productions.
RIGA—The following is the authorized text, in the original Russian, of Milan Chersonski’s paper delivered today at the international conference on Holocaust Commemoration and Memorials in Post-Communist Countries. See also: Milan Chersonski section.
В годы Второй мировой войны в странах Восточной Европы, оккупированных гитлеровской Германией, имело место явление, называемое коллаборационизмом, т.е. сотрудничеством граждан и организаций с нацистским оккупационным режимом. В современной историографии этих стран оценку событий того судьбоносного времени зачастую дают не историки, а преимущественно политики правой и праворадикальной политической ориентации, которые пытаются убедить общественность в том, что коллаборационизм на самом деле был ничем иным как формой борьбы за независимость, своеобразным сопротивлением нацистскому режиму.
The half-page article on the “Business” page of the Baltic Times (dated 4-17 April 2013 but widely available this week here in Vilnius) carries at its end the words “This is a paid advertisement.”
But these words do not succeed in mitigating the moral responsibility of the increasingly ultranationalist, far-right newspaper in disseminating hate material against any minority, least of all of in an EU / NATO member state. The inherent equality of peoples and their races and languages and national and personal identities are an inseparable component of what the European Union and NATO are all about.
Estonian ultranationalists traditionally celebrate Hitler’s victory on the Sinimae Hillls in eastern Estonia annually at the end of July. This year is no exception. The festivities are slated to start on the 27th of July at Sinimae.
As usual, the Estonian government is quietly giving its blessing to the proceedings. Old Estonian Waffen SS Legionaries gather on the hills to commemorate their participation on the Second World War on the side of Nazi Germany. In the battles of Sinimae Hills during the spring and summer of 1944 Estonian Waffen SS soldiers together with their fellow pro-Nazi combatants from Scandinavia, Belgium, Holland and Germany halted the progress of the Allied/Soviet front for half a year in the Eastern part of Estonia postponing the collapse of Nazi-Germany and condemning untold civilians to ongoing Nazi atrocities. Almost half of a million Hungarian Jews lost their lives in Auschwitz thanks to Estonian Legionaries. They would have survived had the Soviet advance not been tied up the Germans’ prime allies among the Estonian fascists. Continue reading
Since 2010, when a Lithuanian court proclaimed public swastikas legal and included in its ruling the “historical wisdom” that it only a harmless ancient Baltic symbol, swastikas have proliferated at public events sponsored by the far right, with police looking on listlessly. Most painfully for the dwindling numbers of Holocaust survivors here and abroad, swastikas and other fascist symbols, along with glorification of local Holocaust collaborators, have figured in sanctioned independence day marches in Kaunas on February 16th each year, and in the capital city Vilnius, each March 11th.
Lrytas.lt today published an article by Martynas Čerkauskas, “Lithuanian Economics Ministry Accused of Nationalism” which follows this week’s exposés in Antifa.lt, Baltas.lt, and Kauno Žinios, which all imply or claim that the neo-Nazi internet “hero” who calls himself “Zeppelinus” is actually director of the Economic Ministry’s Expansion of Human Resources Department and a member of the Tripartite Council (labor, business and government), where he is the chief representative of the government’s interests.
A sampling of images attributed to “Zeppelinus” is provided here.
A paste-in of the Facebook discussion to date on the upcoming Global Forum conferences in Jerusalem is available at:
Reporting in today’s Lrytas.lt (Lietuvos rytas), Dovydas Pancerovas describes the parliamentary honors bestowed on organizers of last Monday’s March 11th neo-Nazi march on the main boulevard, Gedimino, of the nation’s capital, Vilnius (DH eyewitness reports by Anna Shepherd and Geoff Vasil; see also page 1 report). The following translation from the original Lithuanian is by Geoff Vasil.
On December 13th, 2012, the portal Zman.com published my article (in Russian) “Instead of the Truth About the Holocaust — Myths About Saving Jews.” It was republished by a number of websites including Newswe.com. I sent a picture and added one important phrase specifically for your site. The fundamental point: the article was republished (in Russian and in English) by the official site of the Lithuanian Jewish Community (LJC).
Instead of an immediate public apology for providing unreliable information and closing the matter, they started looking for a way to discredit me personally. You will ask why? My answer is because the article ends with three not very convenient questions. I should pay tribute to the Lithuanian journalist Račas who did not remain in the background, but answered very straightforwardly and simply:
E Y E W I T N E S S R E P O R T / O P I N I O N
This March 11, the day in 1990 when the Supreme Soviet of the Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic declared Lithuania sovereign and separate from the Soviet Union, was celebrated in Vilnius in the usual manner: neo-Nazis, skinheads, their young and naive followers and a gaggle of elderly politicians—both serving MPs and has-beens—assembled and marched up the main boulevard chanting nationalist and anti-minority slogans, scaring children and generally making the streets unsafe for normal activities.
An unsanctioned neo-Nazi march took place today on Gedimino Boulevard, the main avenue of central Vilnius, as Lithuania celebrated its 1990 declaration of independence from the Soviet Union. It had an estimated three thousand participants, the largest number ever.
Vilnius authorities had this year issued a permit for the nationalists’ march to take place on Upės Street, a venue across the river, further from the city center. Instead of the neo-Nazi march that has occurred each year since 2008, this year Gedimino was supposed to be host of “Laisves Vejas” (Wind of Freedom), a celebration of freedom and independence including music, dance, poetry and other wholesome performances.
Editor’s note: This adapted translation from the Lithuanian original, by Geoff Vasil, has been approved by the author.
On February 16 I visited Kaunas. I heard the neo-Nazis would try to desecrate the nation’s freedom, for which people of the country of all ethnicities had struggled. Sadly, the neo-Nazis are now shouting loudly: “Lithuania for Lithuanians…”
One of the organizers of the march boasted the vanguard of the march would be carrying a portrait of Ambrazevičius.
It’s worth recalling what sort of person he was. In 1941 Ambrazevičius led the Provisional Government formed by the LAF (Lithuanian Activist Front), the Provisional Government which called Lithuanian policemen to serve the Nazis, set up a concentration camp (at the Seventh Fort, where it all ended in the murder of several thousand Jews), and even while realizing the Nazis no longer needed their service, this gang went on to promulgate the “Regulations on the Situation of the Jews,” which legally deprived their neighbors of human rights, while on the ground armed people were already murdering Jews throughout Lithuania.
Readers and supporters of Defending History likely realize there is a diversity of opinion and views held by contributors (made explicit on the About us page), and in that spirit I’d like to share my own impressions of the neo-Nazi march on Lithuanian Independence Day 2013 in Kaunas (Kovno), Lithuania’s second-largest city and the provisional capital in the interwar period.
First, Kaunas was colder than expected. The breeze contributed to the chill. There seemed to be half as many police as protestors at the staging area, Ramybės Parkas, next to the bus station in central Kaunas. The police wore three uniforms: green, grey and, I was told by someone representing himself as being from Interpol, a large number of plain-clothes officers dispersed among the crowd, presumably meaning the marchers, since the number of protestors was paltry, just a handful of people.
Educators, diplomats, historians and journalists thought they had seen it all when it came to Holocaust-in-Lithuania issues in recent times. But an online attack by the state sponsored “history commission” on a local Holocaust survivor, Professor Pinchos Fridberg, who is deeply involved in honoring righteous Lithuanians who saved a Jewish neighbor, because he expressed his views against distortion of the Holocaust? That is a bit much even for here.
NOTE: A personal word of thanks to journalist Nerijus Povilaitis for graciously facilitating communication with Kaunas police to ensure the security of the small Defending History team monitoring/protesting the event, and to the Kaunas police for their excellent work.
[UPDATE of 19 Feb: I later learned from Lithuanian colleagues that this protection and respect seem to have been extended only to Dr. Efraim Zuroff and myself, not to the Lithuanian-citizen protesters.]
The estimates of the crowd ranged from five hundred to a thousand depending (in part) on whether the march’s many supporters who stood outside its bordering police cordons were counted. Following yesterday’s Vilnius press conference led by Dr. Efraim Zuroff, who flew in from Israel for the event, and the earlier denunciation of racist manifestations by the new prime minister — these being possible rather than proven factors — the event was rather milder than last year’s (eyewitness report here). The major difference was the lack this year of visible swastikas (whether “classic” or “Lithuanian with added lines”), the more perfected police performance in keeping order, and the lack of overtly racist slogans. But there was no lack of graphic ingenuity in coming up with symbols that bring to mind the swastika (which was in fact made legal in Lithuania in 2010) and there was no lack of adulation of Holocaust-era fascist icons; the lead banner glorified the 1941 Nazi puppet prime minister who was earlier this year reburied with full honors; he had signed the papers for the first murder camp for the Jewish citizens of this city, Kaunas, during his first week in office. Moreover, the Kaunas police had confirmed in writing beforehand that the 2013 march was proceeding with full authorization from the municipality. All this “patriotism” rooted in 1941 genocide of the Jews is proceeding with the blessings of the state and the silence of its foreign partners.
In response to a letter from the editor of this journal, expressing concern at various internet and other threats against those who would dare oppose the neo-Nazi march scheduled for 16 February 2013 in the center of Kaunas, a reply has been received from the police in Kaunas which does not address the direct issue of safety, but makes it clear that the march is approved by the powers that be in the municipality.This is important because of the various rumors spread by various organizations that ultranationalist youth have decided to march through central Kaunas with or without permission. The letter reads, in translation:
Artūras Račas, head of Baltic News Service (BNS), the main news agency in the Baltics, in a tweet today heaped scorn on Vilnius Holocaust survivor Professor Pinchos Fridberg and on the director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Israel office, Dr. Efraim Zuroff. The tweet is reproduced below and links to the tweeter’s article, which is also available in English translation [updates: Prof. Fridberg's reply; later report].
Jerusalem—The Simon Wiesenthal Center today praised the steps taken earlier this week by the international football federation (FIFA) to punish the Hungarian Football Federation in the wake of the antisemitic behavior of many dozens of Hungarian fans at a friendly match against Israel held this past August 15 in Budapest.
In the 2012 elections to the Verkhovna Rada the far-right nationalist Svoboda party passed. To date, the Svoboda fraction has 37 parliament members, within the total of 450 parliament members.
Several days after Monica Lowenberg’s petition was presented to the Lithuanian embassy in London, one of the petition’s points was partly acted on, at least as far as a press release goes, by a governmental agency in Lithuania, notably the Vilnius municipality.
PUBLIC PETITIONS HAVE AN EFFECT!
Point no. 4 of Ms. Lowenberg’s petition reads:
4) A commitment to disallow the neo-Nazi parades in the city centres of Vilnius and Kaunas on national Independence Day holidays in 2013 (with no prejudice to reassignment of venues on free speech grounds to sites and dates that do not heavily imply state support).
O P I N I O N
Londoner Monica Lowenberg, who has done so much, with a petition and via press coverage, to keep on Britain’s political agenda the Latvian government-blessed Waffen-SS parades in Riga each year, has in one fell swoop done a huge good for sadly analogous topics pertaining to neighboring Lithuania. By launching an international petition in advance of this month’s Lithuanian government sponsored PR conference in London, and focusing the petition on simple, virtually cost-free good-will solutions to the irksome issues in Lithuanian-Jewish relations, she has shown how easy the extant problems would be to solve if the political will were there from the state (and it is the state, not the everyday people of the country that is the cause of all these problems). A state has embarked on a foolhardy campaign to rewrite history in the direction of glorification of Hitlerist allies in Eastern Europe, precisely the opposite of the values that EU and NATO member states should be instilling in new generations of Europeans.
Ms. Lowenberg’s petition, signed by hundreds of people from a dozen countries in its first few days, begins with the simple request for a public apology by the Lithuanian government to the Holocaust survivors defamed by Lithuania’s antisemitic state prosecutors who have called the courageous Jewish ghetto survivors who joined the anti-Nazi partisans (and are heroes of the free world) — ”war criminals.” For half a dozen years, the campaign has included everything from press releases saying that these survivors “cannot be found” to police actually turning up looking for two women in their late eighties.
C O N T E N T S:
Systematic Mass Murder: German Design and Command, Lithuanian Perpetration (late July–November 1941)
The Rewriting of Holocaust History and the Double Genocide Thesis — “The Jewish Holocaust and the Lithuanian Holocaust”
In Lithuania, as in other places in Europe conquered by Nazi Germany, a thorough and comprehensive inquiry into the tragic events that occurred compels consideration of three factors:
With the recent Lithuanian elections barely out of the way, and the ruling right-wing Homeland Union Conservatives the undisputed losers, the ultranationalist right is losing no time in pressing ahead aggressively with the Double Genocide “red-equals-brown” agenda, reverting to one of the movement’s original slogans: “United Europe — United History.” For pro-tolerance and liberal forces, the profoundly undemocratic message implied is that a united Europe has to also be united (i.e. have one opinion) on questions of history, and that Double Genocide and its central document, the 2008 Prague Declaration, are inviolable truths.
Last week, a Canada-wide lecture tour by Ruslan Zabily was announced. He is the former director of the Center for the Study of the Liberation Movement and the current director of the Lonsky Street Prison National Memorial Museum (for short: the Lonsky Museum) in Lviv, Ukraine.
The lecture tour include some of the most prestigious universities in Canada — the universities of Alberta, Toronto, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Ottawa — . The lectures in Alberta and Toronto are facilitated by the Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies; the Peter Jacyk Program for the Study of Ukraine; the Centre for European, Russian and Eurasian Studies; the Harvard Institute of Ukrainian Studies and its Chair of Ukrainian Studies.
The following are among the envelopes designed by Antanas Šakalys who continues to be honored by his (other) works being exhibited at both Vilnius University and the Central Post Office in the Lithuanian capital. Details and further links.
These samples are categorized as follows: