Holocaust

Jewish Community Remembered in Kalvarija

Jewish Community Remembered in Kalvarija

In the period between the two world wars, the Jewish population was the majority population in Kalvarija, Lithuania. The architecture of the old town, a unique synagogue complex (with a winter and summer synagogue and the Talmud school) and the only surviving Jew, Moishe Segalis–all of this stands as a testimony to that time. For four Saturdays in a row now, as spring blossoms forth, there have been readings from Icchokas Meras’s novel “Lygiosios trunka akimirką” held near the synagogues in Kalvarija and in their courtyards. Lithuanian Jewish Community executive director Renaldas Vaisbrodas attended the final reading on May 24.

Students and soloists from the Sonantem choir in Kalvarija read from the work about the life of the Vilnius ghetto and about life which can be decided by the movement of a single piece on the game board.

A youth initiative invited the local community to an informal meeting with the relatives of those who once lived in Kalvarija, with our ancestors and neighbors.

Merkel: German Synagogues, Jewish Schools Require Police Protection

Merkel: German Synagogues, Jewish Schools Require Police Protection

German chancellor Angela Merkel said Tuesday her country should remain vigilant regarding growing nationalist tendencies in Europe because of Germany’s Nazi past. “It’s clear we have to view these [nationalist movements] in a specific context, the context of our past,” she said in an interview with Christiane Amanpour on CNN. “That means we must be more vigilant than others.” Merkel condemned growing anti-Semitism in Germany and remarked: “unfortunately we have always had a certain amount of anti-Semites.”

Full description of interview in Lithuanian here.

Vilnius: Jerusalem of the North, Jerusalem of Lithuania

Vilnius: Jerusalem of the North, Jerusalem of Lithuania

15min.lt

A New, Free Tourist Route: Why Vilnius Was Called the Jerusalem of the North

With those who fled coming back and traditional Jewish holidays again becoming part of city life, Jewish culture is experiencing a renaissance in Vilnius. Now there will be another opportunity to discover why Vilnius was called the Jerusalem of the North. A free new tourist route called “Discover Jewish Heritage in Vilnius” will help tell the stories of the Jews who lived and worked in Vilnius, according to a press release from the Vilnius municipal tourism and business growth agency Go Vilnius, which has compiled this guidebook as a way to learn about the world-famous Litvaks whose humble origins were in Vilnius, to discover what traces of them remain and to learn about the history of the Jewish community of Vilnius, including the best of times and the most tragic of times.

Full story in Lithuanian here.

Small but Significant Features of Jewish History in Vilnius

Small but Significant Features of Jewish History in Vilnius


bernardinai.lt

Before World War II a large Jewish community lived in Vilnius whose cultural, religious and social traces are only recalled today in statues and commemorative plaques. It’s a rare resident of the city who knows why Vilnius was called the Jerusalem of Lithuania, who knows what an active community life bustled on the narrow streets of the Old Town and how the tragic events of World War II changed forever the face of the Lithuanian capital.

For many years Vilnius was a Jewish spiritual and academic center. Besides some faded inscriptions in Hebrew characters on buildings which were part of the Vilnius ghetto, there are more surviving traces of the history of this people. Before World War II Jews accounted for more than a third of all city residents.

Today we invite you to discover with us some small details of this history, small but important to our city.

Full text in Lithuanian here.

Victory Day Celebration Snapshots from Kaunas

Victory Day Celebration Snapshots from Kaunas

The Kaunas Jewish Community enthusiastically celebrated Victory Day marking the victory against Nazi Germany, continuing a long-time tradition. This year no World War II veterans attended, but their widows and children, who heard their stories firsthand of the battles and horrors, did.

Many of those attending were personally freed by the Allies and their victory marked the end of their inhumane suffering and degradation. For them, this day is both one to commemorate the dead, but also an opportunity to celebrate life and its joys. Vocalist Aleksandras Rave performed his own songs and Michail Javič on saxophone enlivened the ceremony which was funded by the Goodwill Foundation.

Markas Petuchauskas on the Presentation of His Book in Germany

Markas Petuchauskas on the Presentation of His Book in Germany

I’d like to expand on the information about the book presentations in Germany by talking about the topics which were discussed at the Leipzig International Book Fair and the presentation held at the Lithuanian embassy where, besides Grigorij H. von Leitis, Lithuanian honorary consul professor Wolfgang von Stetten and Michael Lahr, the executive director of the Lahr von Leitis Academy and Archive, also took part.

I talked about the presentations of the Vilnius ghetto theater which have lodged themselves so colorfully in my memory, about the people who started that theater, the remarkable artists of the Jerusalem of Lithuania. Their figures loom large among the ranks of the great Litvaks of the world: Chaim Soutine, Jacques Lipchitz, Neemija Arbit Blatas, Ben Shahn, Emmanuel Levinas, Jascha Heifetz, Romain Gary and others.

Much space in the book is devoted to the branch of the Petuchovski (Petuchowski, Petuchauskai) family who in the second half of the 19th century moved to Germany and attained world-renown as active rabbis and philosophers of the Litvak persuasion.

The first of those to speak about the Vilnius ghetto theater, I demonstrated how that cramped stage was able to contain a vast cultural continent, a unique theater now widely recognized as such. Thanks to the theater, the ghetto became a symbol of spiritual resistance to the Nazis. The ideas of patience, tolerance and unity came to the fore in the spiritual resistance of the Vilnius ghetto. These ideas called out with the entire experience of the European Holocaust, urging unity against Naziism, giving form to the goal of nations recognizing the principles of Western democracy to come and join together.

Markas Petuchauskas
Author of Der Preis der Eintracht [German translation of The Price of Concord]
May 21, 2019

Markas Petuchauskas’s Book Price of Concord Presented in Berlin

Markas Petuchauskas’s Book Price of Concord Presented in Berlin

The Lithuanian embassy in Germany on May 15 hosted a presentation of Markas Petuchauskas’s memoires The Price of Concord now translated into German as Der Preis der Eintracht, published by the LIT Verlag publishing house in Germany. Mark Roduner translated the book which was originally published in English. The director Grigory von Leit, with Litvak roots, read excerpts from the book. A discussion with the author followed. The vent was organized by the embassy of the Republic of Lithuania to Germany in cooperation with the Lietis Academy and Archive and the Lithuanian Culture Institute.

This isn’t the first time the German translation of Litvak drama critic Markas Petuchauskas was presented in Germany. Back in March there were two presentations of the book at the Leipzig International Book Fair.

The Price of Concord is a compendium of more than five decades of conversation with a number of theater figures, artists and musicians in which keen observations and sudden realizations and correspondence with different well-known personalities turn into a seamless book, one of whose sections contains complex moments of a fairly diverse life. Petuchauskas goes beyond discussion of episodes remembered from childhood and loss of family members leading to the pain experienced during occupation, and recalls the goodness, understanding and help of so many people encountered in the course of life.

Musical Evening “The Sounds of Music and Janusz Korczak”

Musical Evening “The Sounds of Music and Janusz Korczak”

Time: 5:30 P.M., May 15, 2019
Place: Central Library of the City of Vilnius

The Dr. Janusz Korczak Center and the Central Library of the City of Vilnius are pleased to invite you to an evening of music entitled Sounds of Music and Janusz Korczak.

Markas Volynskij and Marija Duškina will perform Yiddish songs.

Dr. Janusz Korczak Center director I. Belienė will be master of ceremonies.

Janusz Korczak’s real name was Henrik Goldshmit and was also known as Stary Doktor (Old Doctor) and Pan Doktor (Mr. Doctor). He was born in Warsaw on July 22, 1878, and died in August of 1942 at Treblinka. He was a doctor, teacher, writer, publicist and Jewish public figure. He was the originator of children’s rights and the idea that children should enjoy equal rights.

The Central Library of the City of Vilnius is located at Žirmūnų street no. 6 in Vilnius.

Šiauliai Regional Jewish Community Commemorates Fallen Soldiers

Šiauliai Regional Jewish Community Commemorates Fallen Soldiers

The Šiauliai Reigional Jewish Community this year as in years past commemorated the soldiers who fell in World War II, laying bouquets of flowers and observing a moment of silence with bowed head at the military cemetery in Šiauliai in memory of all who died.

Community members came together to socialize and share memories and experiences of those dark times after the ceremony.

Small gifts were presented to survivors of the war and the Holocaust.

Rescuers Celebrated in Kaunas

Rescuers Celebrated in Kaunas

The Kaunas Jewish Community continued this year its spring tradition of commemorating those who rescued Jews from the Holocaust.

Rescuers and the rescued came together again in a warm celebration of friendship and humanity. Professor Saulius Kaušinis who spoke at this year’s event said it and the stories behind could serve as an example of peace and peaceful coexistence in today’s world troubled by conflict, hate and terrorism.

This year the commemoration coincided with Holocaust Day and six candles were lit in memory of the six million Jews murdered in Europe.

Tenth-grade Art Gymnasium student Patricija Pugžlytė performed a piece from Schindler’s List on cello. Actress Kristina Kazakevičiūtė, herself the daughter of a rescuer, helped create an atmosphere of reflection and at the same time joy, and after all the point of the ceremony was to celebrate life. The saxophonist Michail Javič also performed.

It was sad to note the dwindling ranks of both the rescuers and the rescued, but at the same time it was a great joy to see their children and grandchildren there who were eager to share their family stories.

Panevėžys Jewish Community Marks Victory Day

Panevėžys Jewish Community Marks Victory Day

The Panevėžys Jewish Community kicked off commemoration of Victory Day, the day Nazi Germany capitulated to the Allies, at the Monument to the Unknown Soldier at the Ramygala cemetery, then moved on to the monument on Krekanavos street in Panevėžys where veterans and the public gathered. Among the fallen soldiers there are thousands of Jewish surnames of infantry, sergeants and officers who sacrificed their lives during World War II in Lithuania.

Panevėžys Jewish Community members attended all of the events and laid wreaths. They held an additional ceremony at the monument marking the former gate of the ghetto in the city where they remembered Holocaust victims.

A group of religious Jews from South Africa (mainly Cape Town and Johannesburg) led by Rabbi Moshe Saltzman attended the latter. Many had relatives who died in the Holocaust in Lithuania. In the first year of WWII about 13,000 Jews were killed in Panevėžys. The South Africans are visiting cities and towns around Lithuania to commemorate victims of the Holocaust. Kaddish was performed and extracts from the local yizkor were read during the ceremony.

Why Does the Founder of an International Corporation Talk about a Small Lithuanian Town?

Why Does the Founder of an International Corporation Talk about a Small Lithuanian Town?

by Romas Sadauskas-Kvietkevičius, DELFI.lt

According to Felix Zandman, the founder of the famous semiconductors producer Vishay International, whenever a new company client asked what the name of the corporation means, he told them about his grandmother and the mass murder of the Jews of Veisiejai.

Vishay is the Jewish name of Veisiejai used from the 18th century to the Holocaust. Survivors scattered around the world carried with them memories of their town and local placenames. The large Jewish population of the small town migrated before the war as well, and by the end of the 19th century of the 1,540 local inhabitants, 974 were Jewish. The Jewish population was rounded up and shot with other Jews from the Lazdijai district at Katkiškė village. The town of Veisiejai was probably best known for Ludovik Zamenhof, or Dr. Esperanto, who lived there in 1886 and 1887.

Felix Zandman passed away in 2011. His company had turnover in earlier years of $2.6 billion and employed over 20,000 people, or about 10 times the population of Veisiejai today.

Full story in Lithuanian here.

Irena Vesaitė Awarded Polish Prize

Irena Vesaitė Awarded Polish Prize

Kauno diena

The Borders ethnic, cultural and art foundation in Sejny, Poland, awarded its “Person on the Edge” prize to Lithuanian professor Irena Vesaitė Thursday.

“Her intellectual courage and active community work has made Vesaitė a true moral authority in Lithuania and Europe. The path upon which she found meaning and her goal is the path of the teacher who understands life itself as art,” foundation director Krzysztof Czyżewski said in a press release from the Ministry of Culture.

The press release said the professor was awarded the prize for her practice of the ethos of the marginalized, her art and her philosophy of life which were an inspiration to all recipients of the prize and a pillar of support in moments of doubt.

Full story in Lithuanian here.

Victory Day at the LJC

Victory Day at the LJC

The world marks Victory Day, the end of World War II, on May 8 and 9, and every year the Lithuanian Jewish Community has honored the veterans and the fallen. This year Victory Day coincided with Israel’s national holidays to honor fallen Israeli soldiers and victims of terrorism as well as the anniversary of the founding of the state of Israel. This year Israeli veterans also attended the LJC ceremony.

As in prior years, veterans were singled out and congratulated and thanked, including this year Fania Brancovskaja, Riva Špiz, Tatjana Archipova Efros, Borisas Berinas and Aleksandras Asovsky.

LJC chairwoman Faina Kukliansky greeted veterans as did executive director Renaldas Vaisbrodas and Israeli ambassador Amir Maimon, himself a military veteran. Žana Skudovičienė moderated the ceremony.

Heritas: Special Focus on Litvak Heritage

Heritas: Special Focus on Litvak Heritage

The second Heritas International Exhibit on Heritage Recognition, Maintenance and Technologies held May 3 and 4 focused on Lithuanian Jewish or Litvak heritage.

In cooperation with the Lithuanian Jewish Community attendees had the unique opportunity to visit the Zavl synagogue currently undergoing restoration at Gėlių street no. 6 in Vilnius.

The seminar portion of the exhibit discussed a topic proposed by LJC heritage protection specialist Martynas Užpelkis, “Litvak Heritage: A Matter for the Jewish Community and/or Local Communities?”

Ceremony to Commemorate Ghetto Fighters and Murdered Ghetto Children

Ceremony to Commemorate Ghetto Fighters and Murdered Ghetto Children

Lithuanian Jewish Community members gathered at the Jewish cemetery on Sudervės road in Vilnius May 8 to commemorate those who fell fighting the Nazis and the victims of fascism.

They assembled at a monument to Vilnius ghetto FPO (Fareinikte partizaner organizatsye) leader Yitzhak Vitenberg and partisan Sheyna Madeisker.

LJC chairwoman Faina Kukliansky recalled the number of Jews living in Lithuania before the Nazi occupation and the horror and tragedy of the majority who were murdered. Jewish partisan Fania Brancovskaja spoke in Yiddish about the painful experience of the war and the loss of family. “Do not forget those who were murdered, they fought for your freedom,” she said.

Lithuanian Jewish Community Lays Wreath for Veterans on May 9

Lithuanian Jewish Community Lays Wreath for Veterans on May 9

The Lithuanian Jewish Community laid a wreath at the base of a memorial to the soldiers who died during World War II at the cemetery in the Vilnius neighborhood of Antakalnis on May 9, Victory Day in Russia, correspond to May 8, Victory Day in Europe, in Western Europe, the United States and Canada. It was just after midnight Moscow time on May 9,1945, that Nazi Germany surrendered to the Allies. In Western Europe it was still May 8. About 500 people including veterans and their family members assembled at the cemetery this year to mark the 74th anniversary of the end of World War II.

Artist Adasa Skliutauskaitė Records the Sincerity of Being

Artist Adasa Skliutauskaitė Records the Sincerity of Being

Photo: Lilija Valatkienė: Skliutauskaitė’s canvasses enchant with their freedom of improvisation and virtuosity

Today we visit painter, graphic designer and puppeteer Adasa Skliutauskaitė. Life hasn’t spared her pain, loss and disappointment. As if in response to that, as if to ransom that guilt, destiny has given her talent, optimism, a great sense of humor and longevity. On May 5 Adasa turned 88.

“To a genial artist, a good friend and an incomparable utterer of profanity, with the the most profound appreciation and gratitude,” the dedication of Grigoriy Kanovich’s book Candles in the Wind reads in praise of that book’s illustrator, Adasa Skliutauskaitė.

Full story in Lithuanian here.

LJC Statement on Adolfas Ramanauskas

LJC Statement on Adolfas Ramanauskas

The Lithuanian Jewish Community in response to a difference of opinion regarding a monument commemorating Adolfas “Vanagas” Ramanauskas unveiled in Chicago underlines our support for the struggle by the Lithuanian nation for an independent Lithuanian state. The LJC does not question making monuments to honor those who fought for Lithuanian freedom so long as the facts don’t testify to more controversial facts implicating such fighters as Holocaust perpetrators. In the cases of Jonas Noreika, Krištaponis and Kazys Škirpa such facts are known. At the present time the LJC has no reliable information implicating Lithuanian partisan leader Adolfas Ramanauskas in Holocaust crimes.

Lithuania Monument for “Nazi Collaborator” Prompts Diplomatic Row

Lithuania Monument for “Nazi Collaborator” Prompts Diplomatic Row

by Paul Kirby, BBC

A monument to a Lithuanian hero in the US city of Chicago has prompted a row over World War Two after criticism from Russia and the Simon Wiesenthal Center.

Adolfas Ramanauskas-Vanagas commanded Lithuania’s resistance to Soviet occupation after World War II.

But the Simon Wiesenthal Center, which researches the Holocaust, says he also led a vigilante gang which persecuted Jews after the 1941 Nazi invasion.

Lithuania has accused Russia of making false statements.

The Lithuanian Foreign Ministry said Tuesday it had summoned the Russian embassy representative in Vilnius in protest and called on Moscow to stop spreading disinformation about Ramanauskas’s “impeccable reputation.”

It has also accused the Simon Wiesenthal Center of making false accusations.

But Efraim Zuroff, the Center’s head in Jerusalem, said that Lithuania had to confront its history. “They’re not telling the people the truth and they’re not facing the truth,” he told the BBC.

Full story here.