anti-Semitism

Happy Birthday to Fania Brantsovskaya

Happy Birthday to Fania Brantsovskaya

We wish a very happy milestone birthday next week to Vilnius ghetto survivor and Jewish partisan Fania Brantsovskaya.

You were about to begin university when the Germans invaded on June 22, 1941. When they ordered your family into the Vilnius ghetto, you crossed the street, Pylimo, to the Jewish Hospital section of the ghetto between Pylimo and Ligoninės streets. You joined the FPO, carried out sabotage missions against the Lithuanian Nazis, fought in the forests and marched into Vilnius with the Red Army when the Soviets liberated the Lithuanian capital. Although the fascists murdered your entire family, you stayed in the country and continued fight for a better future. After your husband passed away, you devoted yourself to telling the truth to the younger generations about the Holocaust and how Jews didn’t go like lambs to the slaughter, but fought tooth and nail, and prevailed against their oppressors.

We salute your bravery, your decision to fight and the life you devoted to telling the truth and serving humanity in your native land.

Mazl tov. Bis 120!

Saul Kagan: Litvak, Conscience of the Claims Conference and Warrior on the Invisible Front

Saul Kagan: Litvak, Conscience of the Claims Conference and Warrior on the Invisible Front

Saul Kagan, who fled Lithuania, spent decades leading the Jewish welfare organization which was primarily responsible for restitution worth more than $70 billion to Holocaust survivors and their descendants.

Saul Kagan came the to the USA in 1940 after losing his mother and brother to the barbarity of the Nazis. In 1951 he became the director of World Jewish Congress responsible for material claims by Jews against Germany. B’nai B’rith and other Jewish organizations brought an unprecedented claim, demanding reparations from “the heirs of the state of the Third Reich,” meaning West Germany, for the Nazi genocide against the Jews of Europe.

Kagan’s agreements signed over the following fifty years demanded the governments of West Germany and Austria and a falange of fascist corporations compensate people who survived the Holocaust for the houses, homes, buildings, furniture, art and other property seized from them during the Nazi era. They also demanded the payment of pensions, stipends and aid to the elderly they otherwise would have had if they hadn’t been persecuted instead, as well as compensation for hundreds of thousands of Nazi prisoners, Jews and non-Jews, used as slave labor by Germany’s industrial giants, corporations such as IG Farben and Krupp.

Vandal Attacks Holocaust Monument near Darbėnai in Kretinga District

Vandal Attacks Holocaust Monument near Darbėnai in Kretinga District

A monument commemorating the mass murder of Jews has been vandalized near the town of Darbėnai in Lithuania’s Kretinga District.

A town resident noticed the vandalism while walking the in White Mountain Forest on Tuesday, May 10, 2022. The man reported the vandalism to the aldermanship after which the police were contacted about the incident.

The monument marked the site where about 320 Jewish women and children were shot to death in 1941. The site was recognized as a protected cultural heritage site with historical and commemorative values. Now the site contains a single stone marker, a broken stone plaque, vodka bottle shards and a swastika scratched on the commemorative stone.

Events Program for the Fifth World Litvak Congress in Vilnius

Events Program for the Fifth World Litvak Congress in Vilnius

The following is the program of events for the Fifth World Litvak Congress to be held in Vilnius from May 23 to May 26, 2022.

A PDF file of the program can be downloaded here.

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Events Program for the Fifth World Litvak Congress in Vilnius

May 23

Opening ceremony for the Fifth World Litvak Congress

The Lithuanian Jewish Community invites Litvaks living around the world to return to Vilnius May 23 to May 26, to visit the land of our ancestors and to attend the Fifth World Litvak Congress.

A Remarkable Event: Litvaks from around the World to Gather in Vilnius

A Remarkable Event: Litvaks from around the World to Gather in Vilnius

The Lithuanian Jewish Community is inviting Litvaks from around the world to come to Vilnius from May 23 to May 26, to visit the land of their ancestors and to take part in the Fifth World Litvak Congress. The four-day congress has a program which includes discussions, tours of historical sites and different cultural activities dedicated to Jewish heritage in Lithuania and achievements by Litvaks on the world stage.

Events include the opening at the Lithuanian parliament and a concert by American cantor and professor Joseph Malovany at the Choral Synagogue in Vilnius in an evening of concerts called “A Date with Vilne” which will include Lithuanian musicians and actors paying homage to the memory of the Jews who lived and worked in Lithuania.

Lithuanian parliamentary speaker Viktorija Čmilytė-Nielsen is the official patron of the Fifth World Litvak Congress. She said: “This Litvak Congress is happening while aggression is running wild in the Ukraine, when war fever has infected the entire region, which is significant to Lithuania historically and today, and to the entire world of Yiddish culture. In the face of blind brutality and violence it is always important to emphasize humanitarianism, empathy, the highest spiritual values from which the long Litvak tradition has always taken strength. This is especially urgent today when in the east of Europe an aggressive and imperialistic anti-Semitism has again raised its head, distorting historical facts and manipulating peoples’ emotions. We must oppose this.”

Film Getas Shown after Yom haShoah Ceremony

Film Getas Shown after Yom haShoah Ceremony

Following the commemoration of Holocaust victims at the Ponar Memorial Complex outside Vilnius on Yom haShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day, on April 28, a screening of Julius Dautartas’s film Getas [Ghetto] took place at the Lithuanian Jewish Community.

This feature film is based on true events. The location is the Vilnius ghetto set up by the Nazis. It tells the story of the ill-fated, illegal and completely unequal love between Austrian SS officer, amateur musician and true psychopath Bruno Kittel who was placed in charge of the Vilnius ghetto and later the Kaunas concentration camp, and Jewish songstress Khaya. It is claimed that the theater which was established in the Vilnius ghetto was the result of Kittel’s love for Khaya.

Hermann Kruk in his Vilnius ghetto chronicle records some of the consternation ghetto inmates felt about the creation of the new cultural institution in their place of torment. Kruk records the phrase “whistling in the graveyard,” meaning while mass murder was taking place, the people were distracted with the spectacle of plays and drama.

The idea overcame resistance, however, and the cultural life of the Vilnius ghetto became a force for resistance and ultimately survival.

Full interview with the director in Lithuanian here.

New Lithuanian Play Introduces Holocaust to Children

New Lithuanian Play Introduces Holocaust to Children

A new play called Jokūbo dienoraštis [Jacob’s Diary] intended to introduce young audiences to the topic of the Holocaust premiered at the Kaunas State Puppet Theater Sunday evening, May 8, 2022.

What Remains When, after the War, Nothing Remains
lrytas.lt

“This is the story of the fate of a small town during World War II,” director Milda Mičiulytė said.

Full story in Lithuanian here.

Arkadijus Vinokuras: Beat the Jews to Save Russia?

Arkadijus Vinokuras: Beat the Jews to Save Russia?

The morally ruined, degenerate Putin regime, having driven itself into a corner, is seizing upon an anti-Semitic call used numerous times in Russia’s history: “Beat the Jews, save Russia!” Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov puts it this way: “So what if Vladimir Zelensky is a Jew? Even Hitler had Jewish blood, and the biggest anti-Semites are Jews.” Of course, hatred of Jews has overflown during historical cataclysms not just in Russia.

Today, because of the well-founded criticism of the Putin regime’s war against the Ukraine, one can take offense at this anti-Semitic statement exaltedly. But if someone thinks this ejaculation by Lavrov is just for domestic consumption, they are profoundly incorrect. In Lithuania more than one and more than two news websites have published similar anti-Semitic conspiracy theories. For instance, in articles by Česlovas Iškauskas, never mind Vitas Tomkus’s anti-Semitic rants in his garbage paper.

Full editorial in Lithuanian here.

Lithuanian Parliament Bans Symbol Commemorating Soviet Liberation from Nazis

Lithuanian Parliament Bans Symbol Commemorating Soviet Liberation from Nazis

In late April the Lithuanian parliament adopted and the Lithuanian president signed into law legislation banning the public display of the ribbon of St. George, usually worn on Victory Day in Lithuania to mark the liberation of the country by the Red Army from Nazi Germany in 1944.

According to Lithuanian parliamentarians it symbolizes Russian aggression in the Ukraine and is now banned along with hammers, sickles and swastikas.

The draft legislation had included bans on the public display of the letter Z, but this was apparently removed from the final draft with the parliament’s Cultural Committee pointing out Z is a common company logo and that Russian troops in the Ukraine are also using the letters V, O, X and A. The Cultural Committee also said use of letters by Russian troops appeared to be arbitrary and subject to change as the campaign continues.

David Harris’s Speech at Ponar on Yom haShoah

David Harris’s Speech at Ponar on Yom haShoah

American Jewish Committee chief executive officer David Harris spoke at the Ponar Memorial Complex and at a reception afterwards held in Vilnius on Yom haShoah, Holocaust Day, on April 28.

Harris announced his intentions last summer to leave the post in which he has served for 32 years now, with the current month of May as the target date for his retirement.

“For the past 31 years as CEO, David has built AJC into the leading global Jewish advocacy organization it is today,” wrote AJC president Harriet P. Schleifer in a letter to AJC’s leadership. “A tireless visionary and a passionate advocate for world Jewry, the State of Israel and democratic values, David’s leadership has been a gift to AJC and to the Jewish people.”

EJC Condemns Russian FM Lavrov’s Statements

Tuesday, May 3, 2022–The European Jewish Congress has condemned statements made by Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov in which he claimed that the “most ardent anti-Semites are usually Jews” and that Adolf Hitler had “Jewish blood.”

EJC president Ariel Muzicant said: “These comments are not just inaccurate and offensive, but harm the memory of victims of the Holocaust. Blaming Jews for anti-Semitism is never acceptable. Jewish communities recall that it was the Red Army that liberated Auschwitz and that millions of Soviet soldiers died fighting Nazism. With this in mind, we call on foreign minister Lavrov to retract these statements and to refrain from making inflammatory comments that can have very serious consequences for Jews in Russia and elsewhere.”

Text here.

Yom haShoah Commemoration at the Ponar Memorial Complex

Yom haShoah Commemoration at the Ponar Memorial Complex

Lithuanian Jewish Community chairwoman Faina Kukliansky spoke at the gathering at the Ponar Memorial Complex near Vilnius April 28 marking Yom haShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day.

“The scars left by the tragedy of the Holocaust go deep not just in the memory of the Jewish people. These are also unhealing scars for Lithuania which the passing years serve in no way to diminish. This nightmare took place on the streets and squares of Lithuania’s cities, in the suburbs and at the margins of forests,” she said.

“Today we must look at the tragedy of the Holocaust with open eyes and combat arising expressions of anti-Semitism through specific actions,” she continued.

She said attacks on the Ponar Memorial Complex would not be tolerated and that they dishonor the memory of the Lithuanian Jews who were murdered. In April vandals painted the letters V and Z on several signs and monuments at the memorial complex, letters associated with the Russian invasion of the Ukraine.

“”We will not stand silent and we will not tolerate these sorts of actions. History has taught us that silence and bowed heads only encourages the criminals to go further. That will not happen,” Kukliansky said.

Historian Ruth Leiserowitz to Present New Publication on Jews from Klaipėda

Historian Ruth Leiserowitz to Present New Publication on Jews from Klaipėda

Ruth Leiserowitz, an historian from Germany, has researched the dramatic forced migration out of Klaipėda, also known as Memel, before World War II. She will present her newest book on the subject called “Žydai Klaipėdoje (Mėmelyje)” [Jews in Klaipėda (Memel)] at the Ieva Simonaitytė Public Library in Klaipėda at 5:00 P.M. on April 29.

The publication is intended to coincide with the 770th birthday of the port city.

Leiserowitz’s father came from Memel and she worked at Klaipėda University after Lithuanian independence, and helped organize the Thomas Mann festival in Nida, Lithuania. She got interested in her research topic because of her Jewish father-in-law who was born in Šilutė, then known as Heydekrug. In 1923 his family left Memelland when it was annexed by Lithuania. She decided to look into the fate of Jewish families forced to leave the region. She says her research is often something like a detective novel.

LJC Calls on Government, Institutions to Stop Repeated Vandalism at Ponar Memorial

LJC Calls on Government, Institutions to Stop Repeated Vandalism at Ponar Memorial

The Lithuanian Jewish Community is upset by continuing attacks at the Ponar Memorial Complex mass murder site. We do not understand the apathy demonstrated by the institutions responsible and have written Lithuanian prime minister Ingrida Šimonytė and interior minister Agnė Bilotaitė demanding rapid action to stop these repeated attacks and to bring the perpetrators to justice.

Lithuanian Jewish Community chairwoman Faina Kukliansky said:

“The continuing attacks at the Ponar mass murder site transgress all bounds. This is a holy site for the entire Lithuanian Jewish community and the Lithuanian state. We all understand what is signified by the letter Z which was written on the memorial commemorating Holocaust victims.

“State institutions can no longer pretend this is not Lithuania’s responsibility because, despite the nice words, nothing is happening. The representatives of the state likely think it’s sufficient to attend a commemoration once per year at Ponar and the rest of the year the memorial complex can swim in garbage, and host drinking parties. Although the Lithuanian state took the memorial complex under its protection back in 1991, it apparently sees no need up to the present time to actually maintain it. The infrastructure there is lacking and security there is best illustrated by the events of recent days. Is it so difficult to set up even a minimal security system there, even just video cameras? Is the state saving money this way? What sort of signal does this send about the state’s attitude towards the Holocaust in Lithuania and the tragedy of the Jews of Lithuania? We will not stay silent and look on passively as swastikas and the letter Z are drawn at sites which are sacred to us. We will not stay silent because we know what kind of signal this is sending to us as a community. The entire Lithuanian Jewish Community is disgusted, insulted and hurt, and we will not allow this to go on.”

LJC Condemns Vandalism at Ponar, Demands Quick Response by Authorities

LJC Condemns Vandalism at Ponar, Demands Quick Response by Authorities

The Lithuanian Jewish Community condemns the recent cynical vandalism at the Ponar Memorial Complex mass murder site. Institutional and public apathy regarding such attacks is unacceptable.

We demand the responsible institutions this disgusting vandalism as quickly as possible. We are convinced that this practice of never finding anyone responsible for anti-Semitic crimes in Lithuania cannot go on. This is on the same scale as the recently reported bombing of the Babi Yar Holocaust memorial in the Ukraine.

Grant Gochin Takes Case against Jonas Noreika to Parliament

Grant Gochin Takes Case against Jonas Noreika to Parliament

Grant Gochin has taken his case against two findings of history concerning WWII-era Lithuanian Holocaust perpetrator Jonas Noreika to the Human Rights Committee of the Lithuanian parliament. The two findings of history released by the Center for the Study of the Genocide and Resistance of Residents of Lithuania in 2015 and 2019 claim among other things Noreika was in charge of a resistance movement which actually rescued rather than exterminated Lithuanian Jews in Šiauliai and Telšiai. Gochin has been disputing the two findings since they were published in the Lithuanian courts and elsewhere without result.

Letter to the parliament’s Human Rights Committee:

LJC and Partners Begin S4Change Project

LJC and Partners Begin S4Change Project

The Lithuanian Jewish Community in concert with the Lithuanian Human Rights Institute and the Padėk Pritapti organization are carrying out a project called S4Change which will assess anti-discrimination policies in Lithuania, present comprehensive recommendations and increase resistance among teachers and young people to anti-Semitic, anti-Roma and xenophobic narratives. Besides assessing the state of anti-Semitism and Romophobia and providing recommendations to legislators and national institutions to encourage a strategic response the discrimination and xenophobia, the project will work to increase Roma resilience to hate narratives in society and will hold workshops for Roma children, young people and women. The project will work with teachers and students in the majority population to encourage critical thinking regarding anti-Semitism, Romophobia and xenophobia with teaching workshops and an additional “inconvenient cinema” class for educators to acquire teaching methods and aides. The project will hold an international conference intended to strengthening the state’s strategic response to anti-Semitism, Romophobia and xenophobia and will include a public education campaign.

The full name of the project is “S4Change: Strategy for a Change in Anti-Discrimination Policies in Lithuania” and is financed jointly by the EU’s Citizens, Equality, Rights and Values Program. The project will run from February of 2022 to January of 2024.

Grant Gochin Brings New Suit against Genocide Center

Grant Gochin Brings New Suit against Genocide Center

South African born Los Angeles-based Litvak Grant Gochin is bringing another lawsuit against Lithuania’s Center for the Study of the Genocide and Resistance of Residents of Lithuania, or Genocide Center, over the latter’s mendacious claims Lithuania Nazi collaborator Jonas Noreika actually let an underground anti-Nazi network to rescue Jews. Gochin says Noreika was directly responsible for the murder of his relatives in Šiauliai and calls Genocide Center apologies and equivocations Holocaust denial.

Lithuanian Parliamentary Speaker Visits Israel

Lithuanian Parliamentary Speaker Visits Israel

Lithuanian speaker of parliament Viktorija Čmilytė-Nielsen toured Yad Vashem and opened an honorary Lithuanian consulate in Netanya Monday. During her visit she met with Israeli president Isaac Herzog and Knesset speaker Mickey Levy.

She plans to visit Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas and prime minister Mohammed Shtayyeh in the occupied territories as well, and to attend a round-table discussion with Palestinian women’s organizations. The trip to Israel and the occupied territories is scheduled from February 6 to 10.

She pledged Lithuanian support to Israel in the international arena.