JERUSALEM—The Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Israel office today released the following letter from its director, Dr. Efraim Zuroff, to the mayor of Vilnius, Artūras Zuokas, concerning next week’s planned neo-Nazi march slated for the center of the city on the nation’s independence day.
The following statement appeared today on the website of the Jewish Commnity of Lithuania:
The Position of the Lithuanian Jewish Community on the Slogan Chanted by the Lithuanian Union of Nationalist Youth, “Lithuania for Lithuanians”
The Lithuanian Jewish (Litvak) Community, deeply upset and concerned by recent anti-Semitic attacks in the Kingdom of Denmark and France and by the rise in neo-Nazi tendencies all over Europe, calls upon the government institutions of the Lithuanian state to take stock of the situation in Lithuania at the current time. By identifying the problem of ethnic hate early, we can prevent possible tragedy in the future.
JERUSALEM—The Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Israel office here today released the text of a letter sent by director Dr. Efraim Zuroff to the mayor of Kaunas, Lithuania, Andrius Kupčinskas, concerning the neo-Nazi march scheduled for February 16th. See also Defending History’s correspondence with the mayor’s office and our background summary.
The text of the letter is as follows:
February 12, 2015
Meras Andrius Kupčinskas
Laisves al. 96 201 kab.
Dear Mayor Kupčinskas,
Posted in Antisemitism & Bias, Celebrations of Fascism, Collaborators Glorified, Efraim Zuroff, EU, Events, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Neo-Nazi & Fascist Marches, News & Views, Opinion
Tagged Andrius Kupcinskas, Efraim Zuroff, February 16th in Kaunas, Holocaust in Lithuania, Juozas Ambrazevicius Brazaitis, mayor of Kaunas, neo-Nazis in Lithuania, Simon Wiesenthal Center Israel Office
Posted in Antisemitism & Bias, Canada, Celebrations of Fascism, Collaborators Glorified, Human Rights, News & Views, Ukraine
Tagged antisemitism in Ukraine, glorification of Holocaust collaborators in Eastern Europe, Ukraine + Bandera, Ukraine + far right, Ukraine + Holocaust, Ukraine + neo-Nazis, Ukraine + OUP + UNA, Ukraine + politics of memory
by Roland Binet (Braine-l’Alleud, Belgium)
Isee two new important social and political trends now that have a direct bearing, first on the memory of what happened in Europe and the USSR during the Holocaust and other massacres and, secondly, on the life of the Jews presently living in Europe.
O P I N I O N
by Jacob Piliansky
Iam proud to be a Litvak, and I am proud to be a citizen of independent and democratic Lithuania. I very much enjoy walking in our city’s delightful Vingis Park, as well as downtown in the beautiful city center area.
However, I feel suddenly both sad and shocked, when I see neo-Nazi parades with swastikas and other fascist symbols along Gedimino Boulevard on our independence day repeating the yelled chants of “Lithuania for [ethnic] Lithuanians.”
Posted in Antisemitism & Bias, Collaborators Glorified, Jacob Piliansky, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Neo-Nazi & Fascist Marches, News & Views, Opinion
Tagged Antisemitism in Lithuania, Bagel Shop (Lithuania), Beigelių krautuvėlė (Vilnius), Glorification of Nazi Collaborators, Holocaust in Lithuania, Jacob Piliansky, neo-Nazi marches, Vingis Park monument
by Ivo Mosley (London)
To Vita Rose Mosley, born 21 October 2014
A good deal of today’s nationalist and right-wing antisemitism rests upon the fantasy that “the Jews” control the world through finance and banking. Nor is the same fantasy entirely absent from left-wing antisemitism, which currently tends to concentrate itself on criticism of Israel.
The fact that some Jews are very good at banking is, apparently, enough to justify race-hate in the antisemite’s mind. Of course, a number of Jews are also prominent as scientists, civil rights activists, generals, hairdressers, actors, musicians, historians, etcetera, without anyone blaming science, civil rights, theatre, hairdressing, war, music, history, etcetera on “the Jews.” This highlights one of the traditional functions of antisemitism: if something is obviously bad, “the Jews” can be reached for as a scapegoat.
O P I N I O N / H I S T O R Y
Herberts Cukurs (1900-1965) had been an officer and a famous aviator during the years of the interwar Latvian Republic (1918-1940). After Nazi Germany’s 1941 occupation of Latvia, he became a significant figure in the infamous Arājs Kommando (or Sonderkommando Arajs), a notorious killing unit during the Latvian Holocaust. The Arājs group consisted of about 1,200 people, mostly local Latvians. It was established at the beginning of July 1941 within the German security services.
The Arājs Kommando carried out the killing of at least 30,000 Jews in numerous cities and towns in Latvia. The toll included the family of my grandfather in Vilani (in Yiddish Vilon), which occurred at dawn on August 4, 1941. The victims were his parents, and his sisters and their husbands and young children.
Posted in Aleksandrs Feigmanis, Antisemitism & Bias, Arts, Bold Citizens Speak Out, Celebrations of Fascism, Collaborators Glorified, EU, History, Latvia, News & Views, Opinion
Tagged Aleksandrs Feigmanis, Balticgen.com, Balticgentour.com, Herberts Cukurs, Holocaust in Latvia
M E M O I R / O P I N I O N
Note: This memoir continues the narrative started in the author’s earlier accounts of 22 May 2014, of 4 July, and of 9 July. See also our report of 22 May with image and translation of the actual summons. Evaldas Balčiūnas’s articles on Holocaust collaborators who are glorified in state-funded public settings can be found (in reverse chronological order) in the DH sections Evaldas Balčiūnas and Collaborators Glorified. See also sections on Free Speech and Human Rights. Other Lithuanian citizens disturbed by police for opposing state honors for Holocaust collaborators include Saulius Beržinis, Aleksandras Bosas, and Giedrius Grabauskas. This memoir was translated by Geoff Vasil and the final version approved by the author.
My wife told me that the police who delivered the summons on the afternoon of July 8th 2014 carried a large A4 format photograph of me. The police had serious plans… If I hadn’t told my wife to accept the summons, I might have been subject to an operation to locate or even arrest me. It was possible to laugh, but I needed to find transportation. I didn’t want to take my car. There and back entailed five hours of driving. It would be exhausting, and the experience could be expected to throw me off balance during the interrogation.
Vitas Tomkus’s daily tabloid, Respublika has, alongside its sister title, Vakaro Žinios (Evening News, also owned by Tomkus) in many views inflicted tangible damage upon Lithuania and its image. The papers leave a long trail of racist, antisemitic, and homophobic invective, not seldom in sensationalistic formats that mirror the 1930s.
The most notorious instance was perhaps the 2004 front page featuring the unseemly cartoon of the The Jew and The Gay holding up a globe under the headline “Who runs the world?” recycled (and again, on page 1), in 2009. Vakaro Žinios (Evening News) even featured a sickening photo montage of the then head of the Jewish community Dr. Shimon Alperovich, and a Soviet-era abacus, with text suggesting the Jews were conspiring to defraud the Lithuanian people. More recently, a front page was devoted to a local rabbi with a headline about Jews not having to pay taxes. The word Žydai (Jews) alone was in massive size type, as on numerous occasions, e.g. when the paper accused “The Jews” of plotting to steal the building housing the Culture Ministry. It is almost all out of a dark satire.
Posted in Antisemitism & Bias, Efraim Zuroff, Media Watch, News & Views, Obituaries, Politics of Memory, Shimon Alperovich (1928 – 2014)
Tagged Efraim Zuroff, Respublika, Simon Alperovich (Simonas Alperavicius), Simon Wiesenthal Center Israel Office, Vakaro zinios, Vytis Tomkus
Richard Howitt, British Labour Member of the European Parliament, and spokesperson for the European Parliament Human Rights Sub-Committee today issued the following text of his statement which will be read out in Riga this Sunday March 16th.
Posted in Antisemitism & Bias, Celebrations of Fascism, Collaborators Glorified, Documents, EU, Events, Human Rights, Latvia, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory, Racism, United Kingdom
Tagged Holocaust in Latvia, Human Rights in the Baltics, Richard Howitt, UK Conservatives + Latvia, Waffen SS march in Riga
O P I N I O N / E Y E W I T N E S S R E P O R T
by Dovid Katz
Lithuania’s March 11th independence day is celebrated by the free world, not least by those who remember the incredible news that spread around the globe in March 1990, when Lithuania’s parliament (Seimas) voted 124 to zero to break away from the Soviet Union. The courage of the parliamentarians from a broad spectrum of parties and movements was stark; the country was still occupied by ominous Soviet forces (and blood would be spilled by Soviet forces’ violence less than a year later, in January 1991). The March 11th celebration has been anchored over the years by a record of achievement that includes the transition to democracy, the joining of the European Union and NATO, and the rapid integration with Western society, economy and mores.
Posted in Antisemitism & Bias, Celebrations of Fascism, Dovid Katz, Events, Human Rights, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Neo-Nazi & Fascist Marches, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory
O P I N I O N
The UK’s home secretary Theresa May, the Hungarian Jobbik party, and Holocaust Memorial Day have all been in the press lately. Reading how the leader of pro-Nazi Jobbik party was, in the interests of free speech, allowed to hold his rally in Hyde Park, I have to question why Ms. May allowed this man entry into the UK and hadn’t called his racist attitudes, “unacceptable” as she had in the past with, “Every Muslim should be a terrorist” Zakir Naik. What had changed?
In the Capital of European Culture: Waffen SS Calendar (Riga 2014)
Posted in Antisemitism & Bias, EU, Human Rights, Latvia, Monica Lowenberg, News & Views, Opinion, United Kingdom
Tagged Europe Secretary David Lidington, Jobbik party, Monica Lowenberg, Waffen SS marches in Latvia
The following translation, by Geoff Vasil, is of a front page article in the Vilnius daily Respublika (18 January 2014), featuring an interview with Kaunas Jewish community leader Gercas Žakas (the words superimposed on the photo roughly translate: “Perhaps someone really is provoking us and sowing discord intentionally”). The Lithuanian original is available online.
See also the the front page spread featuring interviews with Faina Kukliansky and Moshe Beirakas which appeared two days earlier, on 16 January 2014.
Kaunas Jewish Community Chairman Gercas Žakas: One Point for Discord between Lithuanians and Jews
January 18, 2014
by Olava STRIKULIENĖ
Kaunas Jewish Community chairman Gercas Žakas was initially surprised when the daily newspaper Respublika, where his son Arijus worked as a reporter, was deemed an antisemitic newspaper. And now Žakas is surprised our politicians sported a Wehrmacht symbol during Defenders of Freedom Day.
Žakas: “What symbol are you talking about?” Žakas asked. “I know nothing, I was away. Apparently someone wasn’t paying enough attention.”
Respublika: “During the commemoration of January 13 at parliament forget-me-not pins were passed out, which are really a symbol of the Nazi German Wehrmacht military.”
The following is a translation, by Geoff Vasil for Defending History, of the editorial that appeared on 17 January 2014 in the Vilnius daily Respublika (p. 4), a day after the front page story (16 Jan.) featuring photographs of Faina Kukliansky and Moishe Beirakas, and a day before the front story (17. Jan) featuring Gercas Žakas.
The following translation, by Geoff Vasil, is of a front page article in the Vilnius daily Respublika (16 January 2014). The Lithuanian original is available online. See also: Geoff Vasil’s comment on the article which may serve as an introduction to some of the local issues and nuances.
Jews Don’t Want to Wear Nazi Symbols a Second Time
January 16, 2014 by Asta MARTIŠIŪTĖ and Olava STRIKULIENĖ, Respublika reporters MEP Vytautas Landsbergis, chairman of the Supreme Soviet/Restored Parliament of Lithuania, speaking at a solemn event to commemorate January 13 , spoke in his speech about the Holocaust as well. Was it necessary to mention this at a ceremony dedicated to the 14 defenders of Lithuanian freedom who died and who hadn’t even been alive during Holocaust times? Beyond this, January 13 [commemorations] didn’t come off without yet another curiosity. A Wehrmacht symbol was used in the “Forget-me-not” campaign and MP Rasa Juknevičienė said next January it will be possible to acquire these symbols [lapel pins] throughout Lithuania, and not exclusively in the capital. Continue reading
VILNIUS—Lithuanian Social Democratic Party (LSDP) veteran Bronius Bradauskas, chairman of the parliament’s powerful Budget and Finance Committee, has sparked controversy in comments he made about whether those who rescued Jews during World War II deserve state pensions in line with “freedom fighters’ pensions” received among others by veterans of the postwar “Forest Brothers,” some of whom were recycled Holocaust perpetrators.
He told Baltic News Service (BNS):
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:
by Dovid Katz
The following are translated (and edited) excerpts from a longer letter in Yiddish received from a survivor who has asked to remain anonymous, about the Jewish gravestones that form the steps going up to the Reformed Evangelical Church at Pylimo 18 in Vilnius.
O P I N I O N
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.
Posted in Antisemitism & Bias, Dovid Katz, EU, Human Rights, LGBT Rights, Lithuania, News & Views, Opinion, Racism, Russophobia
Tagged Antisemitism, Evaldas Gustas, homophobia in Lithuania, Human Rights, human rights in Lithuania, racism, Zeppelinus
O P I N I O N
by Roland Binet (Braine-l’Alleud/Belgium)
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.
O P I N I O N
by Dovid Katz
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.
Posted in Antisemitism & Bias, Events, Human Rights, LGBT Rights, Media Watch, News & Views, Opinion, Racism
Tagged Antisemitism in Lithuania, Gay Rights (LGBT) in Lithuania, homophobia, racism, Zeppelinus
O P I N I O N
by Milan Chersonski
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.
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.
O P I N I O N
by Leena Hietanen
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.
In 2012, the United Nations’ Human Rights Committee commented publicly.
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.
O P I N I O N
by Pinchos Fridberg (Vilnius)
Editor’s note: This article was first published by Professor Fridberg in Russian in Мы здесь. The following translation, by Ludmila Makedonskaya, was commissioned by Defending History, and it appears with Professor Fridberg’s permission, and with Defending History’s sole responsibility for the translation. The original text is authoritative in any instance of doubt or nuance.
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
by Geoff Vasil
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.
Posted in Antisemitism & Bias, Celebrations of Fascism, Events, Exotic Jewish Tourism, Geoff Vasil, Human Rights, Media Watch, Neo-Nazi & Fascist Marches, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory
E Y E W I T N E S S R E P O R T / O P I N I O N
by Anna Shepherd
Photos by Anna Shepherd; they may be reproduced with accreditation to Defending History (this page) and to Ms. Shepherd.
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.
E Y E W I T N E S S R E P O R T / O P I N I O N
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.
The author and his friends and colleagues who constituted the small “anti-fascist zone” at the March 16th neo-Nazi parade in Kaunas, Lithuania on the occasion of the nation’s independence day.
Posted in Antisemitism & Bias, Bold Citizens Speak Out, Celebrations of Fascism, Collaborators Glorified, Evaldas Balčiūnas, Events, Human Rights, Neo-Nazi & Fascist Marches, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory
O P I N I O N
by Geoff Vasil
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.
See also the memoirs of Evaldas Balčiūnas, Dovid Katz (and 2nd), Efraim Zuroff
O P I N I O N
by Dovid Katz
Somebody’s idea of “tolerance education”? Extract from the official website of the “International Commission for the Evaluation of the Crimes of the Nazi and Soviet Occupation Regimes in Lithuania” (known for short as the “red-brown commission”)
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.
UPDATE of 21 February 2014:
See Chronology of a Debate and what Pinchos Fridberg actually said…
Posted in "Jewish" Events as Cover?, "Red-Brown Commission", Antisemitism & Bias, Double Games, Double Genocide, Dovid Katz, EU, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Media Watch, News & Views, Opinion, Pinchos Fridberg, Politics of Memory, United States
Tagged Holocaust in Lithuania, International Commission for the Evaluation of the Crimes of the Nazi and Soviet Occupation Regimes in Lithuania, Pinchos Fridberg, red-brown commission (Lithuania), Ronaldas Racinskas
O P I N I O N / E Y E W I T N E S S R E P O R T
by Dovid Katz
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.]
[UPDATE of 25 Feb: See now the memoirs of the same march by Evaldas Balčiūnas, Geoff Vasil and Efraim Zuroff, and my own later article in Algemeiner.com.]
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].
O P I N I O N
by Eleonora Groisman
The author is president of The Ukrainian Independent Council of Jewish Women, and edits the newspaper Jewish Kiev. Authorized translation into English provided by the author is by Mr. Valery Novoselsky (executive editor of Public Diplomacy Network and of Roma Virtual Network). See:
Appeal to the representatives of international governmental and non-governmental organizations by a group of social organizations and citizens of different countries concerned about the growth of antisemitism in Ukraine:
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.
Posted in "Red-Brown Commission", Antisemitism & Bias, Collaborators Glorified, Double Games, Events, Human Rights, Monica Lowenberg, News & Views, Opinion, UCL Manipulated?, United Kingdom
Posted in 70 Years Declaration, Antisemitism & Bias, Double Games, Double Genocide, Human Rights, Litvak Affairs, Monica Lowenberg, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory, UCL Manipulated?, United Kingdom
Tagged Asta Skaisgirytė-Liauškienė, East-Central Europe, Fania Brantsovsky, Holocaust in Lithuania, Joseph Melamed, Lithuanian-Jewish relations, Monica Lowenberg, Post-Communist Europe, Post-Communist views of the Holocaust, Prague Declaration on European Conscience and Communism, Rachel Margolis, Seventy Years Declaration, Yitzhak Arad
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.
Posted in "Red-Brown Commission", Antisemitism & Bias, Collaborators Glorified, Double Games, Double Genocide, Events, Free Speech & Democracy, Genocide Center (Vilnius), Human Rights, News & Views, Politics of Memory, Yad Vashem Manipulated?
Tagged Emanuelis Zingeris, International Commission for the Evaluation of the Crimes of the Nazi and Soviet Occupation Regimes in Lithuania, Red-Brown Commission, Ronaldas Racinskas
O P I N I O N
by Per Anders Rudling
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.
AT THE LONSKY MUSEUM: JEWISH HOLOCAUST VICTIMS PHOTOSHOPPED OUT. A woman has just recognized a loved one among the victims of the NKVD killings in 1941. In the background of the original photo one also sees groups of Jewish victims of the massacre which followed within days of the NKVD murders (Jews were forced to carry and rebury these victims). Thousands of Jews were killed as Soviet crimes were blamed on them and used to incite antisemitic violence and murder. In this photoshopped version on display at the Lonsky Museum, the nationalists’ Jewish civilian victims are literally covered by the circular insertions of Soviet crime statistics, implicitly ethniziced as Ukrainian suffering.
The original image, before photoshopping at the Lonsky…
The lecture tour includes some of the most prestigious universities in Canada — the universities of Alberta, Toronto, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Ottawa — as well as Harvard University’s Ukrainian Studies Institute in the United States. 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.
Posted in Antisemitism & Bias, Bandera, Canada, Collaborators Glorified, Events, Free Speech & Democracy, Museums, News & Views, Opinion, Per Anders Rudling, Politics of Memory, Ukraine
Tagged Askold Lozynskyj, Harvard University Ukrainian Studies Institute, Lonsky Museum in Lviv (Ukraine), Per Anders Rudling, Ruslan Zabily, Stepan Bandera, Ukrainian ultranationalism in Cnada
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:
Holocaust Distortion/Inversion (blaming of victims, honoring of perpetrators, defamation of historians)
As of today, both Vilnius University and the Central Post Office are still featuring the “historic envelope art” of designer Antanas Šakalys, though neither of the prestigious venues publicly includes any samples of his antisemitic, Holocaust-distorting and homophobic output.
A number of antisemitic and fascist-sympathizing ads have recently appeared in the course of the campaign for the Lithuanian parliamentary elections to be held in two rounds on 14 and 28 October 2012.
It does not help that public swastikas were legalized in Lithuania in 2010. That year a group of ambassadors in Vilnius got toegether to write a letter to the nation’s leaders on various Jewish and Holocaust issues, including the swastika issue. The United Nations Human Rights Committee finally commented this year on the attempted rehabilitation of the swastika.
One parliamentary candidate’s campaign uses a photo of him sporting a swastika-decorated tie. Another is a vulgar caricature of a Jew getting money from the state and threatening to take more (a reference to this year’s restitution bill providing communal compensation for confiscated property). A third expresses the wish for a “Third Republic” state with a Nazi-like logo.
DefendingHistory has not been able to confirm the circumstances of the allegedly violent antisemitic attack that took place on 24 September in the port city of Klaipeda (the former Memel) in western Lithuania. According to a the website of CFCA (Coordination Forum for Countering Antisemitism), the attack was clearly antisemitic. A full reprint of the CFCA report (original here) follows below.
The head of the small Jewish community in Kleipeda was not so sure, however. He commented to DefendingHistory: “Тhis incident took place, but the age of the victim is strongly underestimated. To state that this is a case of antisemitism I have no reason, rather it could be due to the lifestyle of the victim.
Text of the CCFA report of 24 September 2012:
Just as Vilnius University put up a sign in Lithuanan and English, defending as “humanistic” its exhibition of a collection of envelopes by the antisemitic and homophobic designer Antanas Šakalys, the VU employee who had first provided the offensive images to DefendingHistory, which we published on 21 September 2012, provided another, at 2PM today, to coincide with the time of the scheduled gala opening of the exhibition, cancelled after our article and the 25 Septenber Delfi.lt report by Eglė Samoškaitė. The 2PM slot was then symbolically taken up at the university by a group of nine dauntless protesters against the glorification of an antisemitic and homophobic designer.
Ironically the envelope released today, a production of the same designer, also refers to “humanism”…
O P I N I O N
A dedicated Facebook page provides facts and photos on today’s dignified and courageous demonstration by a small group of young Lithuanian human rights advocates against Vilnius University’s proceeding with an exhibition of an envelope designer whose work features flagrant antisemitic, homophobic and racist material (larger selection here).
Fiokla Kiure’s images of the event are available here; a small selection follows this article.
Posted in Antisemitism & Bias, Bloomington-Borns Program Manipulated?, LGBT Rights, Lithuania, News & Views, Opinion, Racism, Russophobia, Vilnius Yiddish Institute
Tagged Anna Shepherd, Antanas Sakalys, Antisemitism in Lithuania, Dan Opatoshu, Daniel Berg, Fairbank Maslin, FM3, homophobia in Lithuania, Richard Maullin, Tina Lunson, Vilnius University, Vilnius University Library, Vilnius Yiddish Institute, Vilnius Yiddish Summer Program
O P I N I O N
by Pinchos Fridberg
Straipsnis / Article / Статья
Prisimenant žydų atminimą, Vilniuje ir Kaune bus skaitomi gete kalėjusiųjų vardai
EN: In memory of the victims of Jewish genocide in Lithuania, the names of Ghetto Prisoners will be read in Vilnius and Kaunas.
RU: В память о евреях в Вильнюсе и Каунасе будут читаться имена узников гетто.
ir kai kurių komentarų kopijas / and copies of some comments / и копии некоторых комментариев
According to Vilnius University’s website, a ceremony to open an exhibition of “envelope art” by Antanas Šakalys will be held in the White Hall of the university’s main library on 27 September at 2 PM. Mr. Šakalys’s antisemitic postcards were on sale for many years at the capital’s main Post Office, and were exposed in 2008 by the Jewish community’s newspaper, Jerusalem of Lithuania.
RIGA—Text of the letter released today follows (background here).
To the President of the Republic of Latvia Mr. Berzins
Copy to: Minister for Environmental Protection and Regional Development Mr. Sprudzhs
Dear Mr. President: