Arkadijus Vinokuras: Why Is Genocide Center Defending a Lie?

Arkadijus Vinokuras: Why Is Genocide Center Defending a Lie?

by Arkadijus Vinokuras

At 10:00 A.M. on Tuesday, March 5, at Žygimantų street no. 2 in Vilnius, the Vilnius District Administrative Court undertook a special case. Lithuanian citizen Grant Gochin petitioned the Vilnius District Administrative Court to render a decision on whether the Center for the Study of the Genocide and Resistance of Residents of Lithuania is, in the plaintiff’s words, “blindly defending Jonas Noreika who has the blood of his fellow Lithuanian citizens, Jews, on his hands.”

The Genocide Center stands accused of lying, falsifications and down-playing obvious facts in its refusal to review newly-discovered documents showing Noreika participated in crimes of genocide against Lithuanian citizens.

How does Genocide Center director Teresė Birutė Burauskaitė respond to these accusations made againt her institution? On November 16, 2015, she posted a statement on the Genocide Center’s facebook page: “Neighbors from the East are organizing the desecration of Lithuania’s patriots. They are being aided not just by certain Jews, but a sufficiently large number of Lithuanians as well; their surnames are signed under requests to revoke medals and take down plaques and are the by-lines in libelous articles in the press… Some of them do this intentionally, others out of foolishness…”

Leaders, Ambassador Send Condolences on Death of Tobijas Jafetas

lzinios.lt, BNS

Lithuanian Jewish Community chairwoman Faina Kukliansky told BNS Tobijas Jafetas was “a highly respected, active and refined person of the community” who had met her father when World War II began. “As I recall his father had a business in England and came to Kaunas just before the war started. It so happened that Jafetas and my father were at a [children’s summer] camp in Palanga when the war broke out. Neither was able to flee and they were taken to an orphanage in Kaunas,” Kukliansky said.

Israeli ambassador to Lithuania Amir Maimon expressed condolences over Jafetas’s loss on facebook.

Jafetas and his mother were imprisoned in the Slobodka ghetto in Kaunas in World War II. He told the story of how he escaped the ghetto in 1944 after hiding in an attic. The Katinskai family in Vilnius rescued him.

LJC chairwoman Kukliansky said Jafetas spoke German and English and maintained close contacts with survivors of ghettos in Europe.

Monument to Icchokas Meras to be Unveiled in Kelmė

Monument to Icchokas Meras to be Unveiled in Kelmė

A monument to Litvak writer Icchokas Meras (October 8, 1934 – March 13, 2014) is to be unveiled on the fifth anniversary of his death on Icchokas Meras Square in his hometown of Kelmė, Lithuania, at 1:00 P.M. on March 13, 2019. Meras, a Holocaust survivor, wrote in Lithuanian and won numerous awards in Israel and Lithuania. His work has been translated into over 25 languages including Yiddish and Hebrew. He moved to Israel in 1972 and passed away in Tel Aviv in 2014 at the age of 79.

The monument is the fruit of cooperation between the Lithuanian Jewish Community, the Jakovas Bunka welfare and support fund, the Lithuanian Jerusalem Vilnius Jewish Community and the Kelmė regional administration.

Those wishing to attend are invited to send notice of their intention to renginiai@lzb.lt because the LJC plans to provide free transportation to and from the event if there is sufficient interest. Please send an email by March 11 or call 8 673 77257 for more information.

Paying Last Respects to Tobijas Jafetas

Paying Last Respects to Tobijas Jafetas

Those wishing to pay their respects to the late Tobijas Jafetas and to sit with his family members are invited to come to the Nutrūkusi styga funeral home at Ąžuolyno street no. 10 in Vilnius (next to the Sudervės road cemetery) from 3:00 P.M. to 10:00 P.M. on Wednesday or from 8:00 Am till 12:30 P.M. on Thursday when his mortal remains will be laid to rest.

Limmud 2019 March 15-17 in Druskininkai, Lithuania

Limmud 2019 March 15-17 in Druskininkai, Lithuania

The educational and entertaining conference on Judaism Limmud 2019 will be held in Druskininkai, Lithuania, from March 15 to 17. The program includes the weekend in the scenic Lithuanian spa town, activities, valuable lectures, seminars on academic excellence, screenings of films, excursions, a special Sabbath and much more.

The three-day conference will be held at the Europa Royale hotel at Vilniaus alley no. 7 in Druskininkai.

For more information, call +370 67881514 or send an email to zanas@sc.lzb.lt

Registration is now closed.

Speakers to include:

Granddaughter Silvia Foti Talks about General Storm, Lithuanian Partisan, Nazi

Granddaughter Silvia Foti Talks about General Storm, Lithuanian Partisan, Nazi

Growing up in the United States, Silvia Foti couldn’t have been more proud of her Lithuanian heritage, in particular her grandfather. Silvia’s family had crossed the Atlantic after the Second World War but she always knew that, back in Lithuania, her grandfather was seen as a war hero. She’d been told that he’d been executed at the age of 37 for standing up to the Soviet regime and trying to lead a rebellion against their occupation of Lithuania. Silvia tells Emily Webb how a chance conversation on a trip to Lithuania made her question everything she’d learnt about her past.

Image: Jonas Noreika Credit: Courtesy of Silvia Foti

Silvia Foti and Grant Gochin speak on BBC Outlook:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/w3cswl6b

Condolences

Frida Sima Alesina passed away March 4. She was born July 12, 1942. Our deepest condolences to her son Ernestas and all her family members and friends.

Tobijas Jafetas, Chairman of Union of Ghetto and Concentration Camp Prisoners, Dies

Tobijas Jafetas, Chairman of Union of Ghetto and Concentration Camp Prisoners, Dies

The Lithuanian Jewish Community has learned with great sadness of the loss of chairman of the Union of Former Ghetto and Concentration Camp Inmates Tobijas Jafetas. Born in 1930, he was still a child when World War II came to Lithuania. He often said he only survived because of help from Righteous Gentiles.

Although he was from Vilnius, he was with his mother Berta and uncle Lazeris in Kaunas when the Nazis arrived. Other relatives were imprisoned in Latvia. All of this family was murdered and he was the only survivor.

He, his mother and the other Jews of Kaunas were forced into the Slobodka ghetto.

“Life in the ghetto was very hard and one of the biggest problems was figuring out how to get enough to eat,” Jafetas said one year ago. “Tradition and the necessity of maintaining Jewish identity were very important to us under such conditions. In April of 1944 ghetto prisoners sensed danger and the ghetto was surrounded and the guard increased. I managed to escape death by hiding in an attic under hay for rabbits being raised there. The soldiers didn’t find me. In April of 1944 my mother told me to flee the ghetto as quickly as possible.

“I was 14 when I escaped. My aunt and uncle, from Kaunas, had moved to Vilnius at that time. My aunt’s father was a military officer from the time of Smetona and asked his sister living in Druskininkai, Kotryna Katinskaitė, to take me to Vilnius. The Katinskai family saved me. When the front approached my uncle travelled to Šilalė where my cousin was working and my aunt and I stayed in Vilnius. The front arrived and we hid from the bombardment in the St. James Church in Vilnius. That’s how we survived. After the war I lived with the Katinskai family until I finished high school.”

His experience of the Holocaust didn’t break Tobijas. Wise, sincere and always with a warm and beautiful smile–that’s how the Jewish community will remember Tobijas Jafetas as we express our shock and condolences over his loss to his daughter Judita, all his grandchildren and everyone who had the honor to encounter this sensitive and extraordinary person.

Condolences

With sadness we report Leonidas Pozinas passed away March 1 in Israel. He was born June 13, 1940. Lithuanian Jews remember him as an active participant in the restoration of the Lithuanian Jewish Community and public figure. He was the deputy chairman of the Lithuanian Jewish Cultural Association.

The Lithuanian Jewish Community offers deepest condolences to his widow Tamara, daughter Ela and son Benas.

France Calls on Warsaw to Condemn Disruption of Holocaust Conference

France Calls on Warsaw to Condemn Disruption of Holocaust Conference

French authorities have called on Warsaw to publicly condemn actions by Polish nationalists to disrupt a conference on the history of the Holocaust in Poland, Radio France Internationale reported.

French and Polish scholars met at the L’École des hautes études en sciences sociales (EHESS) in Paris for a Holocaust conference on February 21 and 22. In the run-up to the conference, organizers received a spate of threatening telephone calls and emails demanding it be canceled.

The Polish Institute of National Remembrance (the state historical and archival institution that studies the activities of the state security organs of Poland, the Third Reich and the USSR) criticized the conference on social networks on the eve of its opening, and the Polish embassy to France conveyed these criticism via Twitter.

Will Lithuanian Law Enforcement Give Due Consideration to Anti-Semitic Acts?

Will Lithuanian Law Enforcement Give Due Consideration to Anti-Semitic Acts?

The Lithuanian Jewish Community is greatly surprised by the actions of law enforcement institutions regarding Marius Ivaškevičius. This write was summoned to a police interrogation on the accusation he had incited hate against the Lithuanian people because of his public identification of the problems troubling our society using historical facts connected with the direct participation of ethnic Lithuanians in perpetrating the Holocaust.

This is extremely depressing, unexpected and troubling, especially bearing in mind that violations with a clear anti-Semitic element usually go unnoticed by law enforcement. This passive reaction by law enforcement institutions towards expressions of anti-Semitism creates a sense of impunity, leads to the application of double standards in Lithuania, erodes the rule of law and the state and recalls dangerous examples from neighboring countries.

The LJC asks government representatives, law enforcement institutions and the public to assess the situation soberly based on justice and intelligence, in order to stop the spread of information campaigns harming Lithuania’s reputation by countries which are against our state.

We thank all those who have maintained a common-sense position and we also ask attention be brought to bear on statements made by Panevėžys politician Raimondas Pankevičius during elections debates on February 22 which had the features of incitement of ethnic hate and Holocaust denial. During the debates the politician made the false statement Jews in Lithuania had killed each other, ignoring the fact of Lithuanian complicity in the Holocaust. The LJC feels the behavior of this Panevėžys mayoral candidate, famous for actions which seem to display an unapologetic and habitual anti-Semitism, has never been subject to an appropriate legal response.

Political Correctness Lithuanian Style: Busted for Not Denying the Holocaust

Political Correctness Lithuanian Style: Busted for Not Denying the Holocaust

Photo: Andrius Užkalnis, © 2019 DELFI/Domantas Pipas

Lithuanian writer Marius Ivaškevičius, winner of the title Tolerant Person of the Year for 2017 and recipient of the Lithuanian National Prize for art and literature, was recently summoned to explain to police remarks he made on Lithuanian public radio about Lithuanians engaging in ethnic cleansing of Poles and the removal and mass murder of Jews during World War II. According to Lithuanian media reports, the Lithuanian General Prosecutor’s Office instructed Lithuanian police to investigate Ivaškevičius for hate-crimes against Lithuanians. The Lithuanian Writers Union, the Lithuanian Journalists Union, legal experts and some media have come to the defense of Ivaškevičius. The following is one of many editorials which have appeared recently.

The True Fascists Are Those Who Turned In Marius Ivaškevičius
by Andrius Užkalnis


This very angry text is about the playwright Marius Ivaškevičius, but you won’t find anything here about his work or the national prize he received.

The fact they demanded he not be given the [Lithuanian national] prize and that he received it nonetheless is one of the best things to happen in 2019, and no matter how Eurovision and the elections turn out, at least one good thing has happened. This is a great start to the year.

This article is about Ivaškevičius being summoned to the police to explain what he said on the radio about Poles and Jews.

The playwright didn’t call for killing, oppressing or insulting anyone. He spoke about our people’s (and Ivaškevičius is part of that people, too) historic crime against other peoples. There were people who considered this mocking the Lithuanian people and encouraging hatred of Lithuanians.

Ąžuoliukas Anniversary Concert at LJC

The Lithuanian Jewish Community and the Ąžuoliukas Music School will hold a chamber ensemble concert to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the school and the 60th anniversary of the Ąžuoliukas Boys and Young Men’s Choir.

The concert begins at 5:00 P.M. on Thursday, February 28, at the Lithuanian Jewish Community, Pylimo street no. 4, Vilnius.

Panevėžys Jewish Community Accepting Donations as a Non-Profit

Panevėžys Jewish Community Accepting Donations as a Non-Profit

When people pay their income tax in Lithuania, they have the option of donating 2 percent to various non-profits. The Panevėžys Jewish Community is a non-profit organization, and members make use of this option annually to donate money. All Lithuanian tax-payers can do the same if they so desire, and the Panevėžys Jewish Community uses these funds for support and maintaining the Community museum it is establishing.

Local resident Egidijus Sanda is interested in Jewish history and traditions and taught himself Yiddish. He and his wife Lilijana visited the Panevėžys Jewish Community and they personally presented their 2 percent to the Community.

Community chairman Gennady Kofman invited the guests to tea and thanked them for their contributions. They discussed local Jewish history and traditions, and the Sandas left a record of their visit in the guest book. Chairman Kofman said he was so happy to receive the understanding and support of Panevėžys residents who have a desire to learn more about Jewish culture, which is a part of Lithuanian culture.

LJC’s Second Year at Vilnius Book Fair a Success

LJC’s Second Year at Vilnius Book Fair a Success

Almost 68,500 people visited the Vilnius Book Fair this year on its 20th anniversary. There were more than 550 events for visitors to chose from over four days. The Lithuanian Jewish Community had a table this year for the second year in a row presenting books published with partial support from the Goodwill Foundation.

The table was extremely popular with visitors all four days. Some came to browse, others to talk about Jewish culture and share their memories. There was much interested in Yitzhak Rudashevski’s Vilnius ghetto diary recently published in Lithuanian translation. This book was recognized by the Vilnius Book Fair as one of the best-designed books of 2018. Readers also expressed interest in and bought Uri Leviatan’s From Hand to Hand and Ruth Reches’s Hebrew dictionary in Lithuanian, among others.

Those wishing to purchase these books and others are invited to come to the Goodwill Foundation at Pylimo street no. 4 in Vilnius or to visit the foundation’s internet store at https://gvf.lt/e-parduotuve/

Bar/Bat Mitzvah Ceremony at Choral Synagogue

The Choral Synagogue in Vilnius is to hold a bar and bat mitzvah ceremony at 4:00 P.M. on March 11 for boys about to turn or already 13 and girls about to turn or already 12.

To register send an email to rabbi@jewishlita.com or call 8 685 08 550.

Conference on Interpersonal Relationships

Alfred Adler was a Jewish doctor and psychotherapist from Austria who developed the methods of individual psychology based on a holistic appreciation of the individual and the principle of equality, breaking away from his mentor Sigmund Freud. Beginning in 1912 he gave a series of lectures on the subject, published later in English in 1925. The term “individual psychology” (German Individualpsychologie) does not mean to focus on the individual. Adler said one must take into account the patient’s whole environment, including the people the patient associates with. The term “individual” is used to mean the patient is an indivisible whole.

The Lithuanian Individual Psychology Association invites everyone interested to attend their annual conference. This year’s conference is called “Relationships as a Couple: To Be or Not to Be” and is aimed at psychologists, doctors, social workers, teachers and everyone interested in interpersonal psychology. The conference is to take place at the Corner Hotel at T. Ševčenkos street no. 16 in Vilnius March 16. The conference will be multilingual with translation into Lithuania. Speakers include Rašelė Šeraitė, director of the family support section at the LJC Social Department.

To learn more and to register, see http://lipd.lt/renginiai/konferencija-2019/

Concert for Grigoriy Kanovich’s 90th Birthday

Concert for Grigoriy Kanovich’s 90th Birthday

Dear readers,

The first in a series of events to celebrate the 90th year of Litvak writer Grigoriy Kanovich will be a concert tonight, Wednesday, February 27, at 7:00 P.M. at the Vaidila Theater on Jakšto street no. 9 in Vilnius.

Lukas Geniušas will perform on piano works by Chopin and Tchaikovsky. This will also be the premiere of contemporary composer Leonid Desyatnikov’s Songs of Bukovina.

Audience members will receive a surprise gift as well.

Tickets available at bilietai.lt

Director Gintaras Varnas Tolerant Person of Year for 2018

Director Gintaras Varnas Tolerant Person of Year for 2018

kaunas.kasvyksta.lt

The Sugihara Foundation/Diplomats for Life awarded director Gintaras Varnas Tolerant Person of the Year for 2018 and presented their Leonidas Donskis prize to publicist Pranas Morkus at the Catholic Theology Cathedral of Vytautas Magnus University in Kaunas February 24, 2019.

Varnas was selected for the prize for his search for alternative language for theater and plays, especially in his latest works, Nathan the Wise and Ghetto, performed at the Kaunas State Drama Theater.

Varnas said his first reaction was complete surprise. “When I’m working I never think about these kind of things,” he said, adding he experiences a conflict in contemporary theater which often becomes nothing more than a way to make an audience laugh. “I am glad real theater is still needed, theater which discusses uncomfortable things, which speaks the truth,” Varnas said as he accepted the prize.