Holocaust

Lithuanian President Talks about What He Thinks about the Holocaust

Lithuanian President Talks about What He Thinks about the Holocaust

Lithuanian president Gitanas Nausėda visited the Litvak Memorial Garden in the Žemaitija National Park last Thursday and said we can only wonder how many generations the country lost because of the Holocaust.

“Today there might not be many people still alive who experienced the Holocaust and we can only wonder how much we have lost, how many generations we have lost who didn’t live after that, because all of them could have contributed to Lithuanian and world development,” he said at the park, adding the Litvak garden is a unique idea brilliantly executed and commemorates the Jewish communities who lived in Lithuania. “It is a unique idea, brilliantly implemented, commemorating the Jewish communities who lived in Lithuania, and it also demonstrates how much they gave us. Of those people who came from Lithuanian, I look to the left now, I see David Wolfson, who gave the name to Israel’s currency, because, as the caretaker of the garden explained to me, the membership dues of the Zionist organization was called the shekel, and when the state of Israel was founded it took over this name,” the Lithuanian president said.

“Hermann Kallenbach was Gandhi’s friend from Rusnė. Again, a person who had great influence over Gandhi,” president Nausėda said, continuing: “Truly an extraordinary community to whom I bow my head, and with whom I feel sorry, although there is probably no right word, I just feel saddened and suffer this tragedy with happened many years ago, but which perhaps today is also still like an open, bleeding wound.”

He also said Litvaks should be given greater opportunity to engage in Lithuanian life.

Full text in Lithuanian here.

Association of Lithuanian Jews in Israel Protests Lithuanian Attempt to Whitewash Holocaust

In two months the Lithuanian parliament will recess. Prior to that MP Arūnas Gumuliauskas, chair of the parliament’s Commission on the Fight for Freedom and Historical Memory, will propose a parliamentary resolution declaring Lithuania has no responsibility for the murders and extermination of Lithuanian Jews during World War II because it was occupied by the Soviets and then by Nazi Germany. His resolution is to absolve Lithuania from the horrors of the Holocaust because it was occupied by Russia and Germany!

Member of parliament Gumuliauskas is not clearly anti-Semitic (compared to those living in Lithuania), he is a professor of history. His primary research during the Soviet era showed positive impact of the Communist Party on the Lithuanian theater. Apparently in 1987 he didn’t think that three years hence everything would be turned upside down. Instead of praising Communism a change had to be made: to stand out and to pave his way to the parliament, Jews can always be accused of something. Anti-Semitism has always been popular in Lithuania at all times. In 2016 the learned professor was elected to parliament. At the end of this year there will be another parliamentary election and an opportunity for him to stand out by proposing a parliamentary resolution which releases Lithuania and Lithuanians of involvement in the Holocaust, for the murder of 95% of Jewish citizens of Lithuania who had lived as good neighbors with Lithuanians for over 400 years.

Lithuanian MP Wants It Known Lithuania and the Lithuanian People Didn’t Participate in Holocaust

Lithuanian MP Wants It Known Lithuania and the Lithuanian People Didn’t Participate in Holocaust

Photo: Jewish mass murder near Šiauliai, 1941, courtesy Yad Vashem

15min.lt
December 28, 2019

Arūnas Gumuliauskas, Lithuanian MP and chairman of the parliament’s Battles for Freedom and State Historical Memory Commission, is preparing a draft resolution stating the Lithuanian state under occupation and the Lithuanian people didn’t participate in the mass murder of Jews during World War II. The politician said separate individuals contributed to the Holocaust but that this was a matter for the courts to decide.

Gumuliauskas announced the draft resolution at the conference “2020: Global Trends and National Security: Insights, Challenges” on December 13, 2019, at the Lithuanian National Martynas Mažvydas Library.

In response to a question, the Lithuanian MP said the European Parliament had adopted a resolution on historical memory in 2009.

MP Behind Holocaust Resolution Claims He Was Misunderstood

MP Behind Holocaust Resolution Claims He Was Misunderstood

Lithuanian MP and chairman of the parliament’s Commission on the Fight for Freedom and Historical Memory Arūnas Gumuliauskas announced earlier he is drafting a parliamentary resolution saying the Lithuanian state and the Lithuanian people are guiltless in the mass murder of Jews during WWII. The announcement made in mid-December provoked public discussion and it seems the author, who said earlier Lithuania’s position on the Holocaust cannot be the same as the West’s, has changed his mind and is now citing resolutions adopted by the European Parliament in 2009 and 2019 as the foundation for his resolution.

Lithuanian Jewish Community chairwoman Faina Kukliansky refrained from any categorical comment on the planned resolution because of the lack of information surrounding it.

“We only know about this draft from the press, so it’s very difficult to judge it, because we just don’t what it really says,” Kukliansky told alfa.lt

Lithuanian Jews Concerned over Possible Holocaust Legislation

Lithuanian Jews Concerned over Possible Holocaust Legislation

Photo: Adam Jones/Wikimedia

Lithuanian Government “shares concerns” of Jewish community over proposed Holocaust law

Lithuania’s Jewish community and members of the expatriate Lithuanian Jewish community in Israel have expressed serious concern about possible legislation in the parliament in Vilnius which would declare the Lithuanian state and people didn’t collaborate in the murder of Jews during the Holocaust.

Member of Lithuanian parliament Arūnas Gumuliauskas and chairman of its State Historical Memory Committee said last month he would propose legislation declaring the Lithuanian state didn’t participate in the murder of Jews because it was an occupied nation, first by the Soviet Union and then by Nazi Germany.

The parliamentary draft resolution has not yet been submitted to the parliament. The parliament goes into recess this Wednesday.

Gumuliauskas’s resolution, which he said was being prepared by the committee, would also claim the Lithuanian people could not have participated in the murder of Jews since Lithuanians were “an enslaved people” during World War II.

Full article here.

Lithuanian President Asks Who Is Accusing Lithuanian State of Carrying out Holocaust

Lithuanian President Asks Who Is Accusing Lithuanian State of Carrying out Holocaust

Lithuanian president Gitanas Nausėda declined commenting on a parliamentary resolution promised by Arūnas Gumuliauskas which would say the Lithuanian state and the Lithuanian nation didn’t take part in the Holocaust because they were occupied at that time. The president said the draft resolution hadn’t even been registered at the parliament yet.

“Who is making the accusation that Lithuania as a state and as a nation carried out the Holocaust? Are there such accusations? Really, I have nothing further to say on this, especially since I haven’t seen any such draft resolution for the parliament’s consideration. I don’t know, maybe such a resolution will be presented some day. If it is presented, then we can talk about it, but right now there is no such draft legislation and I’m going to Israel to participate in a Holocaust commemoration. … We have to see the resolution, what the content is, what the subtext is, then we can give a reaction,” president Nausėda told Lithuanian public radio and television.

The Lithuanian Telegraphic News Agency ELTA reminded its readers MP Gumuliauskas is preparing a parliamentary resolution which will say the Lithuanian state and the Lithuanian people didn’t participate in the mass murder of Jews during World War II. The MP has said separate individuals did contribute to the Holocaust and that that was a matter for the courts to decide.

The Lithuanian president is scheduled to travel to Israel on January 22 and 23 to attend the Fifth World Holocaust Forum.

National Museum, Street Sign Vandalized over New Year’s Holiday

National Museum, Street Sign Vandalized over New Year’s Holiday

Some Lithuanians didn’t spend New Year’s Day recovering from the previous evening’s festivities and took to the streets to vandalize a street sign and the National Museum in an attempt to rehabilitate Lithuania’s leading World War II-era Nazi ideologue and activist Kazys Škirpa.

On January 1, 2020, vandals placed an adhesive sticker over the street sign for Vilnius’s small central Trispalvė (Tricolor) Alley proclaiming it K. Škirpa Alley, the name it had for a decade until the Vilnius city council changed it early last year in response to repeated requests over many years. The reason the street caused controversy was that Škirpa was the leading Lithuanian Nazi ideologue based in Berlin who created the Lithuanian Activist Front, notorious in the Holocaust in Lithuania, and its governing organ, the Lithuanian Provisional Government, with Škirpa appointing himself tin-pot dictator or “prime minister” of the pro-Nazi government in exile, the pro-Nazi underground in what was now Soviet Lithuania and the “prime minister” of a future semi-independent pro-Nazi Lithuania liberated by Nazi Germany and a belligerent fighting on the side of the Axis in World War II.

Škirpa’s proponents prefer to ignore all that messy stuff about World War II and the Holocaust and point instead to his one non-controversial action: on January 1, 1919, he and a group of Lithuanian volunteer soldiers hauled the newly-created Lithuanian flag, the tricolor, up Gediminas Hill, at the base of which the alley in question lies. It would be the moral equivalent of modern Germany erecting a sign proclaiming Alexanderplatz is now Adolf-Hitler-Platz to honor Adolf’s status as a German World War I veteran, never mind what came later. In fact the Vilnius city council in an act of very precedented obsequiousness did allow Škirpa’s apologists and would-be rehabilitators to post a plaque under the new street sign, Tricolor Alley, whitewashing Škirpa’s real biography in favor of his imaginary status as Lithuanian hero. A small group of picketers also held signs on January 1, 2020, reading: “Tauta savo didvyrius žino!” or, “The nation knows who its heroes are!”

Vilnius city administration director Povilas Poderskis told Baltic News Service the sticker was removed Thursday, January 2, and said the incident would be reported to police as an act of vandalism.

How a Geologist Dug Up Historical Findings

How a Geologist Dug Up Historical Findings

by Arkadijus Vinokuras, translated by Geoff Vasil

Lithuania’s Genocide Center has published another finding of alleged historic dimensions, transforming Nazi collaborator Jonas Noreika into a Righteous Gentile who rescued Jews from the Holocaust. The story goes, he organized a network for rescuing Jews from the Šiauliai ghetto. How many professional historians did it take, after long discussion and examination of the facts, witnesses and circumstance, to come to this stunning conclusion exactly on Christmas Eve? One. And he’s not an historian, he’s a geologist working as a public relations expert.

What do the professional historians say about this finding (it was written based on testimony by the Catholic priest Jonas Borevičius to a court in the United States)? Director and senior academic of the Lithuanian History Institute, doctor habil. of the liberal arts Alvydas Nikžentaitis and Vilnius University History Faculty professor Dr. Nerijus Šepetys appear to hold the same opinion: if this were a student’s work, it wouldn’t weather critique and would receive a very poor grade indeed. It’s appalling the director of the Center for the Study of the Genocide and Resistance of Residents of Lithuania signed off on the finding.

Before I go further, I’d like to remind my detractors as well as proponents I have never, neither in writing or orally, demeaned Jonas Noreika’s nor Kazys Škirpa’s devotion to Lithuania from 1941 to 1944. If real, reliable documentary evidence were discovered demonstrating I have made a mistake, for example, regarding Jonas Noreika, I would change my mind. My criticism was and is directed against the criteria for heroization by which the Genocide Center facilely lionizes those who are tainted with the persecution of their Jewish fellow citizens.

Israeli Ambassador Says Lithuania Experiencing Wonderful Phase in Search for Good and Bad in History

Israeli Ambassador Says Lithuania Experiencing Wonderful Phase in Search for Good and Bad in History

by Eglė Krištopaitytė, 15min.lt

Israel’s new ambassador to Lithuania Yossef Levy is enthusiastic about bilateral relations and is giving assurances the priority of the embassy under his leadership isn’t the past. Levy says Lithuania is currently undergoing a wonderful phase “when you grab a flashlight and look at your whole history, looking for both the good and the bad.”

In an interview with 15min.lt, the ambassador said discussions in recent months on historical memory are Lithuania’s internal issue which Israel is observing from the sidelines. “I am not an historian, but I sincerely believe the horrific period of World War II was a very tense moral test. Both for individuals and societies. Some passed this test, others didn’t. That goes for all the occupied territories in Europe,” Levy said.

Speaking about the conflict between Israel and Palestine, the ambassador told 15min.lt “we sincerely want to reach a peace agreement with out neighbors.”

Full text in Lithuanian here.

Old Argument Lithuania Guiltless in Holocaust Rehashed

Old Argument Lithuania Guiltless in Holocaust Rehashed

A Lithuanian MP announced December 16 he would draft and submit legislation for a parliamentary resolution declaring the Lithuanian nation or people and the Lithuanian state were not complicit in the Holocaust, since Lithuania was occupied by Nazi Germany at the time upwards of 96% of all Lithuanian Jews were exterminated, mainly at the hands of ethnic Lithuanians.

Arūnas Gumuliauskas, chairman of the parliament’s Commission on Battles for Freedom and State Historical Memory, allegedly announced his intention to introduce the legislation at an event at the Lithuanian National Library.

A press report on Lithuania’s 15min.lt website said the idea was reminiscent of Poland’s recent law making it illegal to call Nazi death camps in Poland “Polish.” Gumuliauskas refused to disclose details of the language of the resolution, saying it hadn’t been written yet, and hinted he would not reveal either who his advisors were in writing the document.

It’s My Personal Affair What I Write, Orwellian Genocide Center Historian Claims to Lithuanian Media

It’s My Personal Affair What I Write, Orwellian Genocide Center Historian Claims to Lithuanian Media

Just when the roiling waters surrounding the Noreika controversy in Lithuania started settling, Lithuania’s Orwellian Center for the Study of the Genocide and Resistance of Residents of Lithuania (abbreviated to Genocide Center among almost all vulgar mortals) has stirred the pot yet again with a new “historical finding” exonerating the Holocaust perpetrator, whom they plainly stated was a Holocaust perpetrator in their earlier “findings.”

Based on a deposition and/or court testimony allegedly made in Chicago in 1984 or 1986 by a Lithuanian Jesuit, the latest finding by Lithuania’s state-funded Holocaust distortion agency says Jonas Noreika set up a network of priests to smuggle Jews out of the Šiauliai ghetto to safety on the farms of sympathetic farmers, and that he was the leader of some mythical anti-Nazi underground resistance movement during the Nazi occupation of Lithuania.

Lithuanian Holocaust distorters in the past, including at the Genocide Center, have dismissed almost all Holocaust survivor testimony as hearsay which cannot be taken at face value without a deep review of the facts. Facts they claim only they are privy to. In actuality, when independent Holocaust researchers conducted studies on Noreika for Grant Gochin’s court case against the Genocide Center for the crime of Holocaust distortion and denial, the Center fired back on their website claiming Gochin’s research was amateurish and “might be” in violation of both the Lithuanian criminal code and the Lithuanian constitution. Gochin’s research, incidentally, turned up testimony by an eye-witness that Jonas Noreika as LAF commander in Žemaitija, the western region of Lithuania, directly issued the command to execute a group of over 1,000 Jews.

Statement by Lithuanian Jewish Community on Erroneous Information about Jonas Noreika Propagated by the Genocide Center

Statement by Lithuanian Jewish Community on Erroneous Information about Jonas Noreika Propagated by the Genocide Center

The Lithuanian Jewish Community strongly condemns irresponsible statements issuing from the Center for the Study of the Genocide and Resistance of Residents of Lithuania leading the public into error in connection with the actions of Jonas Noreika as head of the Šiauliai district during World War II.

The statement Jonas Noreika “didn’t understand ghettos were one of the stages of the Holocaust” till the liquidation of the Žagarė ghetto is an example of Holocaust revisionism and denial, committed by a state-funded institution. So-called evidence presented allegedly showing Jonas Noreika organized the rescue of Jews is not based on any facts or testimonies by Holocaust survivors. Does the staff of the Genocide Center really want us to believe they have now found a way to interview Jonas Noreika himself, and can therefore state definitively what he “knew” and “when he knew it?”

Based on Noreika’s actions just in establishing ghettos and selling the property of murdered Jews alone, the Lithuanian Jewish Community states once again, that Jonas Noreika was a Holocaust perpetrator. The LJC reserves the right to take the Genocide Center to court and to seek other legal remedies regarding their on-going speculations on the Holocaust.

If the Genocide Center’s Finding on Noreika Were Student Work, It Would Get a Failing Grade

If the Genocide Center’s Finding on Noreika Were Student Work, It Would Get a Failing Grade

by Rūta Miškinytė, 15min.lt

Following the publication by the Center for the Study of the Genocide and Resistance of Residents of Lithuania of a finding compiled by Dalius Egidijus Stancikas on Jonas Noreika’s alleged rescue of Jews from the Holocaust, Lithuanian historians have expressed dissatisfaction with the finding and its methodology. Lithuanian History Institute director Alvydas Nikžentaitis lambasted its uncritical acceptance of sources while Vilnius University History Faculty dean Nerijus Šepetys said the finding was a disgrace to the Genocide Center and highly mendacious.

The Genocide Center Wednesday published the finding claiming controversial figure Jonas Noreika Jonas Noreika engaged in rescuing Jews from the Holocaust and set up a network for doing this. The only piece of evidence offered was an oral testimony from Jesuit priest Jonas Borevičius published in the United States in 1986.

Full story in Lithuanian here.

LJC Chairwoman on New Noreika Revelations: Who Did the Shooting, Who Were the Defenders?

Following new testimony on Noreika, the Jewish leader comments: who did the shooting and who did the defending?

The Genocide Center reports they found new information Jonas Noreika rescued Jews from the Holocaust. Noreika set up ghettos and served the Nazis during the Holocaust in Lithuania. The director of Lithuania’s History Institute says the Genocide Center has made a rush to judgment in coming to a conclusion to rehabilitate Noreika based on testimony from a single source.

Full story in Lithuanian with video, click below:

Condolences

Condolences

Simonas Dovidavičius passed away December 14. He was deputy chairman of the Kaunas Jewish Community, the founding light and director of the Sugihara House museum in Kaunas, highly educated, a tour guide and a good friend. His loss is a great loss to the Lithuanian Jewish Community and the Kaunas Jewish Community. Our condolences to his many friends and loved ones.

Those wishing to bid him farewell may do so at the St. Anthony of Padua Church in Kaunas, Radvilėnų highway no. 15A, Kaunas, on Tuesday, December 17, beginning at 5:00 P.M. He will be buried at noon on December 18 at the Aleksotas Jewish cemetery in Kaunas.

Property of Murdered Jews Cannot Be Shrugged Off

Property of Murdered Jews Cannot Be Shrugged Off

by Vytautas Bruveris

How should the state and its politicians act when they come across some sort of passionate, sensitive issue, or one which causes controversy: should they stick their heads in the sand, or nonetheless speak and discuss it?

It seems as if it’s a lot more useful and clever to talk. This seemingly self-evident matter, though, seems to be a mystery to almost the complete majority of Lithuania’s political elite.

This eternal truth was again confirmed last week at a conference held by the Lithuanian Jewish Community (LJC) and the Goodwill Foundation on restitution of Jewish property stolen during the Holocaust.

How the World Discovered the Holocaust

How the World Discovered the Holocaust

by Laura Kešytė

When did filmmakers start working on the topic of the Holocaust? How did they choose to portray it? Is it possible to present the horror of the Holocaust on camera? Cultural historian Violeta Davoliūtė-Opgenorth talks about this.

Violeta Davoliūtė-Opgenorth is a senior academic at the Lithuanian Cultural Research Center and is a visiting professor at the École des hautes études en sciences sociales. In 2015 and 2016 she worked as an academic at Yale’s Whitney and Betty MacMillan Center for International and Area Studies. She defended her dissertation “Testimony: From the Poetics of Place to the Politics of Memory” at University of Toronto.

The development of the topic of the Holocaust in cinema in Western Europe, especially in the 1960s and 70s, is closely connected with the trial of Adolf Eichmann and with Hanna Arendt’s articles about the trial compiled in her book Eichmann in Jerusalem and published in 1963, and with Raul Hilberg’s research, whose book published in 1961 distinguished clearly for the first time the categories of perpetrator, observer, judge and victim.

These sparked politically painful discussions in European countries about who the collaborators, victims and observers were in World War II and what their roles were, their prototypes and how to present them properly. This was directly connected with the cinema because the cinema exerted great influence on these discussions and historical research in general: it offered new perspectives for telling the story of WWII to its audiences. In other words, the cinema didn’t just reflect but actively encouraged a shift in the narratives of history.

Full text in Lithuanian here.

Not in Our Name

by Grant Arthur Gochin

The first mass murders of Jews in the Holocaust began in Lithuania. Germany had not yet decided to annihilate the Jews of Europe; they had put forth the idea to relocate Jews to Madagascar or Uganda, but the war made this plan impossible. Lithuania proved to the Nazis that there was indeed an alternative.

Between occupations by Russia and Germany in 1941, Lithuania was governed by an interim Provisional Government, led by Prime Minister Juozas Ambrazevičius Brazaitis. The Lithuanian Provisional Government displayed to Nazis how easily a population could be enticed into perpetrating genocide.

Upon Nazi arrival, Einsatzkommando 2 of the German Security Police asserted charge of murders of Jews. Einsatzkommando 2 reported the murder of 114,856 Lithuanian Jews as early as December 1, 1941. One hundred and thirty-nine Nazi personnel, of whom forty-four were secretaries and drivers, and ninety-five were murderers, directed this slaughter. Local Lithuanians enthusiastically and voluntarily conducted the looting, raping, torture, enslavement and murders of their Jewish neighbors. Thereafter, Germany introduce the Final Solution of the Jewish problem in January 1942.

Full text here.

Presentation by Joachim Tauber at Holocaust Property Restitution Conference

Presentation by Joachim Tauber at Holocaust Property Restitution Conference

Among other notables, renowned German historian Joachim Trauber delivered a presentation at the Goodwill Foundation’s conference on Jewish property restitution held at the Lithuanian Jewish Community this week. Professor Trauber is a lecturer at the Institute for the Culture and History of the Germans in Northeast Europe of the Nordost-Institut at the University of Hamburg in Lüneburg and is a member of Lithuania’s International Commission for Assessing the Crimes of the Nazi and Communist Occupational Regimes in Lithuania as well as of similar commissions in Latvia and elsewhere. He is the author of number books and academic articles about the Holocaust in Lithuania and Northeast Europe. We are please to be able to post a copy of the slideshow presentation he gave Monday for those who were unable to attend the conference in Vilnius.

holocaust in lithuania 1941-1944_6
Presentation by International Law Expert Dirk Haupt at Holocaust Restitution Conference

Presentation by International Law Expert Dirk Haupt at Holocaust Restitution Conference

International law expert Dirk Haupt of Lund University in Sweden delivered a presentation at the conference held at the Lithuanian Jewish Community on December 2 organized by the Goodwill Foundation and dedicated to discussing Jewish property restitution in Lithuania and Europe. We are pleased to be able to share his slideshow presentation below with those who were unable to attend.

haupt dirk roland - presentation 2019-12-02 compensating for nazi injustice and indemnifying jewish victims - the german experience2