Local resident reported Saturday evening the statue commemorating Jewish Lithuanian industrialist Chaim Frankel in the Lithuanian city of Šiauliai had been vandalized. Male genitalia were painted on his trousers with what appeared to be white paint. This follows the appearance of a swastika at the Lithuanian Jewish Community headquarters in Vilnius in August. The male genitalia remained on the Frankel statue as of midnight as Sunday turned to Monday, October 7.
LJC chairwoman Faina Kukliansky commented on the incident: “Maybe the Frankel statue was vandalized by drunken youth, or maybe not, but this again is an opportunity to talk about anti-Semitism, especially as we prepare to participate in International Holocaust Day events in January and to mark 2020 as the Year of the Vilna Gaon and Litvak History in events around Lithuania.”
Lithuanian television channel TV3 ran the incident as their top story on Sunday with an interview with chairwoman Kukliansky, who said Frankel put Šiauliai on the map and his factory later served as a life saver for Jewish ghetto inmates who were allowed to work there, “as in Schindler’s List.”
Speaking directly to www.lzb.lt, Faina Kukliansky said: “This was just one Jewish family whose contribution to Lithuanian industry was priceless and whose memory has been desecrated so brutally just as the Jews were brutally murdered during the second half of 1941.”
She told TV3 news that while the vandals might or might not have been acting out of anti-Semitic impulses, the incident contributes to a general atmosphere of fear and growing apprehension within the Jewish community in Lithuania.
“We don’t need anything besides respect, tranquility and an end to the worst sort of public comments. Otherwise we really will stand up and demand we be assured a dignified life within the democratic state of the Republic of Lithuania,” Kukliansky told www.lzb.lt, adding that Jews in Lithuania wouldn’t be out of order in demanding special protection as a threatened minority following the major loss of the Litvak population in the Holocaust.