Holocaust

Black Honey: A Film about Abraham Sutzkever

Black Honey: A Film about Abraham Sutzkever

The Vilnius Jewish Public Library will screen the film Black Honey about Vilnius partisan and Yiddish poet Abraham Sutzkever created by his granddaughter and actress Hadas Kalderon of Israel. She will retell stories she heard directly from him and talk about film and filming. The screening is open to the public and will take place at 7:00 P.M. on August 8. The Vilnius Jewish Public Library (not affiliated with the Lithuanian Jewish Community) is located at Gedimino prospect no. 24 in Vilnius with entry through the alley and to the right.

Register by calling (8-5) 219 77 48 or sending an email to info@vilnius-jewish-public-library.com

The film is in English, Hebrew and Yiddish with English subtitles.

Evening of Poetry and Music

The Lithuanian Jewish Community invites you to an evening of poetry and music at the Choral Synagogue in Vilnius at 6:00 P.M. on Tuesday, August 11. Sergejus Kanovičius will read selections of his prose and poetry accompanied by Boris Kirzner on violin.

US Seizes Scrolls, Manuscripts Stolen from Jews during Holocaust

US Seizes Scrolls, Manuscripts Stolen from Jews during Holocaust

A US Army chaplain examines one of hundreds of Jewish Torah scrolls, stolen from all over Europe by Nazi forces, in Frankfurt, Germany in 1945. Photo: Irving Katz/US Army Signal Corps/FPG/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Seventeen scrolls, manuscripts, and community records [pinkasim] which were stolen from Jewish communities in Eastern Europe during WWII have been recovered, the Department of Justice announced Thursday.

Why it matters: “The Scrolls and Manuscripts that were illegally confiscated during the Holocaust contain priceless historical information that belongs to the descendants of families that lived and flourished in Jewish communities before the Holocaust,” acting US attorney Jacquelyn Kasulis said in a statement.

• “This Office hopes that today’s seizure will contribute to the restoration of pre-Holocaust history in Eastern Europe.”

The big picture: The documents were found through a Brooklyn auction house which had them for sale. In addition to the 17 artifacts recovered, four more are believed to exist: three in upstate New York and one in Israel.

• The records date from the mid-19th century to World War II and were looted from Jewish communities in Romania, Hungary, Ukraine and Slovakia.

• According to an affidavit in the case, the artifacts were believed to be “lost for all time” prior to being offered for sale at the New York auction house.

Full article here.

Jewish Scouts Camping

Jewish Scouts Camping

The Jewish scouting troupe is camping beside a lake in the Trakai region, enjoying the sun, the great outdoors, friendship and scouting activities.

Scout leader Renaldas Vaisbrodas reported: “The Jewish scouts have invited me for a new adventure. Somehow naturally it has become my calling. I believe in the scouting movement and I hope Jewish young people in Lithuania would revive one of the largest youth organizations in Lithuania in the period between the two world wars. Why? Because life is stronger than death. This hike is special. For one day an artifact from 1931 will return to the town of Žiežmariai connected with local Jewish scouts. The most important thing is to have fun with a goal, no matter what the weather.”

Šiauliai Regional Jewish Community Marks Holocaust, Ghetto Anniversaries

Šiauliai Regional Jewish Community Marks Holocaust, Ghetto Anniversaries

Members of the Šiauliai Regional Jewish Community marked the 80th anniversary of the beginning of the Holocaust in Lithuania and the 77th anniversary of the liquidation of the Šiauliai ghetto on July 15.

In late June of 1941 the extermination of Jews began in Lithuania. In the second half of July the perpetrators set up the Šiauliai ghetto, which was “liquidated,” meaning all inmates were murdered, beginning on July 15, 1944.

Members of the Šiauliai Regional Jewish Community held a brief ceremony at the monument commemorating Holocaust victims where the ghetto gate once stood, remembering lost family members and friends and laying flowers and the stones at the site, as well as lighting candles in memory of the victims. A minute of silence was observed.

Josifas Buršteinas spoke of the events of that time and Ida Vileikienė, who was born in the Šiauliai ghetto, shared her memories as well.

Šiauliai deputy mayor Simona Potelienė attended the ceremony.

Sergejus Kanovičius: Why the LAF Didn’t Invite My Grandfather to the June Uprising

Sergejus Kanovičius: Why the LAF Didn’t Invite My Grandfather to the June Uprising

by Sergejus Kanovičius, poet and essayist

I always find it difficult to talk about the subject of the Holocaust in Lithuania. And not just talk about it – it is difficult for me to think about it, too. It is the biggest crime ever committed on the Lithuanian soil. We all play our part in history, we all–from historians to history fans, political figures, the general public–have our own interpretation of it. I am a writer, a descendent of Lithuanian Jews and Holocaust survivors, a child of Lithuania.

And I am honestly confused. And I don’t think I am the only one. The cautious statements that the Holocaust in Lithuania was a tragic page in our history, the popular expression of pseudo-empathy when fallen Lithuanian Jews are referred to as fellow citizens; but at the same time, no one is ever mentioning–even at the parliament–who their executioners were, and the list of people who have been identified as collaborators in that crime, remains hidden.

Lithuanian Media Report US, Israeli, Danish Ambassadors Attend Road of Memory March in Šiauliai

Lithuanian Media Report US, Israeli, Danish Ambassadors Attend Road of Memory March in Šiauliai


Lrytas.lt

The Lithuanian daily newspaper and news website Lietuvos rytas reports the Road of Memory march on Sunday to mark the 80th anniversary of the beginning of the Holocaust in Šiauliai was attended by the US, Danish and Israeli ambassadors as well as Lithuanian members of parliament.

Besides members of the Šiauliai Regional Jewish Community, MPs Emanuelis Zingeris and Rima Baškienė, US ambassador Robert Gilchrist, Israeli ambassador Yosef Avny-Levi, Danish chargé d’affaires Jakob Greve Kromann, Lithuanian Jewish Community executive director Michailas Segalis, Vilnius Religious Jewish Community chairman Simas Levinas, Kaunas Religious Jewish Community chairman Mauša Bairakas, a representative of the Vilnius Jewish Community and others.

The event was staged by Lithuania’s International Commission to Assess the Crimes of the Nazi and Soviet Occupations Regimes in Lithuania as part of their “Road of Memory 1941-2021” project.

Šiauliai Regional and Klaipėda Jewish Communities Commemorate Holocaust Victims in Ylakiai

Šiauliai Regional and Klaipėda Jewish Communities Commemorate Holocaust Victims in Ylakiai

Members of the Šiauliai Regional and Klaipėda Jewish Communities attended an event to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the Holocaust in Ylakiai, Lithuania, on July 6. The town center hosted an exhibit called “The Homes They Lived In” about Jewish families, businesses and activities. During the commemoration opera soloist Olga Šardt-Žarova sang “Our Father” and other works in Hebrew. After a minute of silence, a procession set off for the mass murder site and the old Jewish cemetery. Candles were lit and flowers placed at the site of the former synagogue, as were stones as well at the mass murder site, where kaddish was also performed.

According to the census at the end of the 19th century, 57% of the town’s population were Jews. Before World War I there were 150 Jewish families there. The town was heavily damaged during that war and many buildings include the synagogue burned to the ground. The town was rebuilt with large contributions made by Jews and in 1923 Jews constituted 41% of the population then. Many Jewish residents engaged in trade, light production and even agriculture before World War I. There were two mills with Jewish owners. Commerce took place at the weekly market and the large fair held once every five years. According to a government survey in 1931, there were 20 shops there, of which 17 belonged to Jews.

Jewish Sacred Cultural Heritage: The Telz Rabbis Seminary Yeshiva and Synagogues

Jewish Sacred Cultural Heritage: The Telz Rabbis Seminary Yeshiva and Synagogues

Bernardinai.lt

Telšiai became an important economic and cultural center in the late 19th century. The large Jewish community which had lived there since ancient times had great influence on the growth and success of the city. Its members harmoniously merged with the city’s cultural, economic and political activity and were active participants in it.

In Telšiai as in other Lithuanian towns and cities Jews mainly engaged in mercantilism and traditional trades; there were also many Jewish doctors and dentists as well as Jews offering other services. Services and light industry were an important source of income for the Jews of Telšiai. For many others, however, the Jewish spiritual seminary–the yeshiva and its synagogues where hundreds of students from all over the world studied–became the way of making a living.

It wasn’t just the residents but the entire atmosphere of the community which demonstrated the spirit of the Jews of Telšiai. Here the ancient past the present lived alongside one another, proponents of tradition and of the Enlightenment, the orthodox and the secular and social activists. There were Torah sages and highly-educated people among the Jews of Telšiai. The city was filled with creative energy and spirituality and materiality merged into a perfect whole there. The crooked narrow streets and the old buildings were miraculous, a world filled with enchantment where thousands of Jewish families lived.

Utyan Jews Speak about Holocaust and Post-War Years in Lithuanian Translation of Zakhor Book

Utyan Jews Speak about Holocaust and Post-War Years in Lithuanian Translation of Zakhor Book

The A. and M. Miškiniai Public Library in Utena (Utyan in Yiddish), Lithuania, hosted a presentation of the only Lithuanian translation of a zakhor or memorial book in Yiddish about the city and region of Utena (the region includes Molėtai, Anykščiai, Vyžuonos and other locations. Incredibly, it took the book 42 years to reach the Lithuanian reading public: it was published in Tel Aviv by Nay Leben in 1979 under the title “Yishker-bukh Utyan un umgegnt.”

The translation and publication was the initiative of cultural historian Sandra Dastikienė as part of her project “Old Neighbors” to educate the public about the Jewish community, Jewish culture and the Litvak legacy in the Utena region.

“The old neighbors return to their towns in different ways–as works of art on the streets, through live appearances–but we are really missing the authentic history. This book fills that gap. It’s not an academic work, not an historical study, but the real memories of Jews who survived the Holocaust or left Lithuania before it. It raises more questions and presents a lot of answers,” Sandra Dastikienė said.

The recollections were collected into a single zakhor book from 1945 to 1979 in Israel. Roma Jančauskienė has long been interested in the history of the Utyan Jews and when she learned of the existence of this book tried over an extended period to buy a copy on the internet, unsuccessfully. About four years ago she finally did buy a copy on eBay, in Yiddish of course.

Photos from the Road of Memory Procession in Jurbarkas

Photos from the Road of Memory Procession in Jurbarkas

The Road of Memory procession to mark the 80th anniversary of the extermination of the local Jewish community took place in Jurbarkas, Lithuania, on July 4. The event is one in a series of “Road of Memory 1941-2021” events by Lithuania’s International Commission to Assess the Crimes of the Nazi and Soviet Occupational Regimes in Lithuania and the Tolerance Training Centers founded by this commission, and other partners.

Photographs by Ignas Skridla here:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/ignas2/sets/72157719493108108/with/51289725584/

Faina Kukliansky Re-Elected Head of Lithuanian Jewish Community

Faina Kukliansky Re-Elected Head of Lithuanian Jewish Community

ELTA, July 8, 2021

A general meeting of the members of the Lithuanian Jewish Community held Wednesday voted for a third time to elect Faina Kukliansky the chairwoman of the organization. Twenty-six members of the LJC’s executive board were elected at the same time.

The chairperson of the Community is elected for a four-year term by a majority of the regional Jewish communities and associate members constituting the LJC. Of the 32 organizations under the LJC umbrella, 31 representatives took part in Wednesday’s ballot. Kukliansky received 30 votes out of the possible 31, according to a press release from the LJC.

Kukliansky said her most important task as chairwoman is to inspire unity among the different Jewish communities in Lithuania. She said the LJC’s other priorities haven’t changed, but life is changing: the generation which experienced the horrors of World War II is growing old and dying, and so caring for them is becoming even more crucial.

“We are continuing to strengthen the activity of our social center, taking care of those requiring support, employing people with disabilities and engaging them in Community activities. Another important priority is preservation and putting to use the surviving Jewish cultural heritage: we have wonderful examples of restored synagogues being used as cultural activity centers,” Faina Kukliansky said.

WJC President Ronald Lauder: Jewish Community Should Reevaluate Relationship with Polish Government

WJC President Ronald Lauder: Jewish Community Should Reevaluate Relationship with Polish Government

WJC president Ronald Lauder calls Polish legislation a “slap in the face” to what remains of Polish Jewry

World Jewish Congress president Ronald Lauder called on the Jewish community worldwide to rethink its relationship with the Polish government over the weekend after the country’s lower house of parliament passed a draft law which would severely limit any ability by Polish Jewish Holocaust victims to recover their stolen property.

“This law is a slap in the face to what remains of Polish Jewry and survivors of Nazi brutality everywhere. It also sets a terrible precedent throughout Europe as survivors and descendants continue to seek justice,” said Lauder, who’s WJC represents Jewish communities in 100 countries. “It pains me to say this, but I think that the time has come for the international Jewish community to reevaluate our relationship with a government that is behaving with unimaginable callousness and is emulating the worst traditions in Polish history rather than the best and most uplifting ones.”

While most post-Communist countries have sought to right historical wrongs and address the issue of stolen Holocaust-era Jewish property, Poland has lagged behind. The Sejm’s new legislation will make it impossible for Jewish claimants or their descendants to recover or be compensated for what was taken from them in Poland.

Association of Lithuanian Jews in Israel Letter on 80th Anniversary of the Beginning of the Extermination of Lithuanian Jewry

Association of Lithuanian Jews in Israel Letter on 80th Anniversary of the Beginning of the Extermination of Lithuanian Jewry

Association of Lithuanian Jews in Israel

 

Letter to friends on the 80th anniversary of the beginning of the extermination of Lithuanian Jewry

Eighty years ago, on June 22, 1941, the Germans invaded Lithuania. The Lithuanians immediately declared independence and formed a “temporary government” consisting of members of the “Lithuanian Activists Front”–an underground group headquartered in Germany and composed of nationalist elements who prepared plans for the extermination of Jews and waited for an opportunity to act. The opportunity came on June 22, 1941, with the start of Operation Barbarossa. Before the Nazi army entered the cities and towns of Lithuania, the extermination of Lithuanian Jews began–a 600 year history of coexistence ended in the great tragedy that has no precedent in human history.

Within the first 10 days of the invasion thousands of Lithuanian Jews were murdered. During the Nazi occupation 95% of Lithuanian Jewry were brutally murdered.

Lithuanian Jews were the first victims in Europe against whom the German policy of mass extermination was applied. The suddenness of the German invasion, the frightened retreat of the Red Army, the outburst of Lithuanian animal hatred towards Jews and the beginning of mass killings by thousands of Lithuanian murderers who were organized ahead of time and the lack of Jewish leadership (eliminated during the Soviet era) led to the eradication of most of this great community.

We must remember and remind all about the great tragedy of Judaism during World War II, a memory is more durable than time. Many of our fathers fought bravely, heroes against the Nazis, to the bitter end. They fought on the hardest fronts, and some sacrificed their lives, but they knew there was no different way – they chose the way to victory!

The state of Israel today receives unprecedented admiration, especially from those countries whose lands are soaked in the blood of our brethren.

We, the generation born after the war, have a duty to build a new world based on dialogue, understanding, cooperation and other recognitions, and all this is subject to the strict preservation of the historical truth.

We commemorate this day with the memory of the six million, remember them, and their memory motivates us to be strong and determined in the face of all haters of Israel.

Arie Ben-Ari, chairman
Associaton of Lithuanian Jews in Israel

Jerusalem
June 22, 2021

Lietūkis Garage Massacre 80 Years Ago Commemorated in Kaunas Schoolyard

Lietūkis Garage Massacre 80 Years Ago Commemorated in Kaunas Schoolyard

Kauno diena

The 80th anniversary of the Lietūkis Garage massacre, one of the most brutal mass murders in Lithuanian Holocaust history, was marked in what is now an athletics pitch in the courtyard of two schools in Kaunas. The court in the yard shared by the Startas athletics school and the Steponas Darius and Stasys Girėnas Gymnasium was locked Monday symbolically. Athletes including basketball players and swimmers neither warmed up nor played. Instead Lithuanian actress Kristina Kazakevičiūtė recited a poem by Aleksandras Bosas about the site of the mass murder.

Warsaw Summons Israeli Ambassador Following Statement on Restitution

Warsaw Summons Israeli Ambassador Following Statement on Restitution

Warsaw Sunday reported they had summoned the Israeli ambassador for discussion following Tel Aviv’s statement a law adopted by the Polish parliament on restitution to Holocaust victims was “immoral.” Experts say the new law would basically halt the restitution of property to Jews and others.

Polish foreign minister Pawel Jablonski said Warsaw sought to clarify the situation regarding the new law. Israeli embassy chargé d’affaires Tal Ben-Ari Yaalon “was summoned and we explained to her clearly and based on facts about all of this,” Jablonski told Polish broadcaster TV Polonia about the meeting on Monday. “We believe, unfortunately, they we have come upon a situation where some Israeli politicians seek to exploit this for domestic political gain,” he said.

Lithuanian Nazi Leader Re-Appears as Street Name

Lithuanian Nazi Leader Re-Appears as Street Name

On Wednesday [June 23, 2021] the old name of Tricolor Alley–Škirpa Alley–was pasted over the street sign there.

A video recording made around noon Wednesday appears to show a man creasing the wrinkles out of a sticker and then seems to give a thumbs-up to friends standing below him.

This has happened before and the city of Vilnius has removed the sticker. They say they will again.

“We’ll do as we’ve done the previous times, we’ll take it off,” advisor to the mayor of Vilnius Karolis Vaitkevičius told 15min.lt. In early January of last year the same thing happened and the municipality said then they had written two complaints to the prosecutor’s office.

The street sign hangs from a corner of the Museum of Applied Art at the intersection of Tricolor Alley and Arsenalo street in central Vilnius. The city of Vilnius resolved to change the name from the controversial [Lithuanian Nazi leader] Kazys Škirpa to Tricolor Alley in late July, 2019, citing Škirpa’s “anti-Semitic statements” as the reason behind the move.

Holocaust Anniversary Commemoration in Gargždai

Holocaust Anniversary Commemoration in Gargždai

The first procession in this year’s series of “Path of Memory” commemorations to mark the 80th anniversary of the beginning of the Holocaust was held in Gargždai, Lithuania, on June 23. The Lithuanian prime minister, Lithuanian Jewish Community chairwoman and the chairmen of the Klaipėda and Palanga Jewish Communities attended and spoke at the event.

“We lost many of our fellow Jewish citizens during the Holocaust and we can only imagine what Lithuania’s academic, cultural and economic life might have been if not for the Holocaust,” Lithuanian prime minister Ingrida Šimonytė told reporters the day before the event.

The commemoration took the form of a march from the site of a former synagogue to the Jewish mass murder site where a ceremony was held and speakers spoke. Some attendees carried stones with the names of murdered Jews on them, in keeping with the Jewish tradition of placing stones at a grave.

Here are some photos from the first “Path of Memory 1941-2021” commemoration held in Gargždai.

Photographs by Laima Penek, the Chancellery of the Government of Lithuania and others.

They Can’t Come Back…

They Can’t Come Back…

We all need to remember all of our innocent people who were murdered and will never return.

The Panevėžys Jewish Community has asked the Panevėžys regional administration to renew inscriptions on monuments and memorial plaques commemorating Jewish victims murdered in World War II. The inscription on the Ghetto Gates monument has already been renewed.

The Panevėžys Jewish Community is carrying out a project called “Let’s Maintain the Mass Murder Sites” to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the beginning of the Holocaust in Lithuania. We plan to visit all the mass murder sites in the Panevėžys district.

Through our work and contribution not only do we seek to remember the tragedy which began 80 years ago, but also to set an example for regional administration employees charged with maintaining Jewish mass murder sites and Jewish cemeteries under Lithuanian law. The area around the Kurganava mass murder site has been put in order this year, but saplings still need to be cut and the fence repaired.

The Panevėžys Jewish Community is grateful to our volunteers and staff, including Albertas and Virginija Savinčiai, Jurijus Grafmanas, Timūras Jerovickis, Borisas Marijampolskis, Ona Juospaitienė and others, for taking part in this project.

We are planning repair and upkeep next month as well, with Panevėžys Jewish Community members travelling to Žalioji forest, Ramygala, Raguva and other mass murder sites.