חדשות מליטא News from Lita

Useful links regarding Jewish Lithuania:

Jewish Community of Lithuania

 http://www.lzb.lt/lt/

Jewish Museum in Vilnius

http://www.jmuseum.lt/index.aspx?Lang=LT

Jewish Museums in Lithuania

http://www.muziejai.lt/vilnius/zydu_muziejus.en.htm

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Jewish Museum in Vilnius has reopened. Read the article:

http://holocaustinthebaltics.com/green-house-reopens-in-vilnius-kostanian-is-the-star/4213

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Recent news from Lithuanian press - remembering the Holocaust:

http://www.lrytas.lt/-12852553541283683182-%C5%A1auli%C5%B3-did%C5%BEdvario-gimnazijos-mokiniai-prie-buvusio-%C5%A1iauli%C5%B3-geto-vart%C5%B3-pagerb%C4%97-t%C5%ABkstan%C4%8Di%C5%B3-nu%C5%BEudyt%C5%B3-lietuvos-%C5%BEyd%C5%B3-atminim%C4%85.htm

תלמידי תכון בשוול High school students in Siauliai

 

http://www.lrytas.lt/-12852338991284148099-seimas-tylos-minute-pagerb%C4%97-holokausto-aukas.htm

ישיבת הסיימאס בתאריך 23.9.2010 Thursday Seimas plenary one-minute silence tribute to Holocaust victims.

 

 

 

The following appeared in Lithuanian media (translation to English follows)

http://www.alfa.lt/straipsnis/10377708/?Pasaulio.litvakus.i.bendruomene.ketinama.sujungti.per.interneto.puslapi=2010-07-15_13-44

Pasaulio litvakus į bendruomenę ketinama sujungti per interneto puslapį (2)


BNS

Deividas Matulionis (Vytenio Petrošiaus nuotr., Alfa.lt)

Vytenio Petrošiaus nuotr. (Alfa.lt)

Premjeras Andrius Kubilius sudarė darbo grupę Litvakų paveldo forumui sukurti.

Pasak ministro pirmininko kanclerio Deivido Matulionio, Litvakų paveldo forumas per interneto tinklapį jungtų pasaulyje išsibarsčiusius litvakus į bendruomenę. Kanclerio teigimu, iniciatyvą steigti tokį forumą premjerui per jo vizitą JAV išsakė patys litvakai.

„Yra iniciatyvinė grupė, keletas litvakų, kurie mano, kad reikia kurti tinklalapį, daugiau informuoti apie istorinius ryšius, tai būtų tarsi bendravimo įrankis. Po to galbūt veikla išsiplėstų, būtų galima organizuoti konferencijas, renginius“, - BNS sakė D.Matulionis.

Paklaustas, kada toks tinklapis galėtų būti sukurtas, D.Matulionis sakė, jog „yra turtingų litvakų, kurie tokią idėją remia, tad gal ir gana greitai“.

Į darbo grupę Litvakų paveldo forumo koncepcijai parengti įtraukti žydų bendruomenės, Ministro pirmininko tarnybos, Užsienio reikalų, Švietimo ir mokslo, Kultūros ministerijų atstovai, Lietuvos ambasadorius Izraelyje, kiti asmenys.

Darbo grupei pavesta iki lapkričio parengti Litvakų paveldo forumo koncepciją ir su ja supažindinti Vyriausybę bei tarptautines litvakų organizacijas.

ENGLISH TRANSLATION OF ABOVE ARTICLE:

Plans to Join World Litvak into Community on Internet Webpage

July 15, 2010 1:44 PM

Lithuanian Prime minister Andrius Kubilius has formed a working group for creating a Litvak heritage forum.

The prime minister's chancellor Deividas Matulionis said the Litvak heritage forum would join the Litvaks scattered around the world into a community.  He said the initiative for creating the forum came from Litvaks themselves when the prime minister was visiting the USA.

"There's an initiative group, several Litvaks, who believe that a webpage needs to be set up, to provide more information about historical ties, this would be some kind of social tool. Later perhaps activities would expand, it would be possible to organize conferences, events," Matulionis told BNS.

Asked when the webpage would appear, Matulionis said "there are rich Litvaks, who support the idea, so maybe rather quickly."

Representatives of the Jewish community, the prime minister's council [?], the foreign ministry, the education and science ministry, the culture ministry, the Lithuanian ambassador to Israel and other people have been included in the working group for creating the concept of the Litvak
heritage forum.

The working group has been given the task of preparing the concept of the Litvak heritage forum and presenting it to the government and international Litvak organizations by November.

Litvak means Lithuanian Jew or descendants of Lithuanian Jews.

BNS

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Recent events, see: http://www.holocaustinthebaltics.com/38401.html

 

Prof. Dovid Katz sent the below on 24 May 2009:

 

For possible interest: my comment piece on the Prague Declaration appeared in today’s Jewish Chronicle (London):

http://www.thejc.com/articles/prague%E2%80%99s-declaration-disgrace

 

Here in Vilnius, the unfortunate campaign of defamation against heroic Holocaust survivors who resisted has resumed in the mainstream media with venom. While Lithuanian prosecutors, diplomats and justice ministry officials continue to assure the foreign diplomatic community and press that these Holocaust survivors were only ever wanted as witnesses, there is not the slightest attempt to counter the mainstream media’s ongoing assertions that they are wanted as suspect war criminals, that they are fugitives, and worse. Yesterday, A. Racas published his latest piece on the subject at:

http://racas.lt/holocausta-lietuvoje-lemekelniu-ir-batu-trukumas/

A draft English translation is below in Italics (note that the text contains links to two of his previous pieces). Mr. Racas is editor-in-chief and director of Baltic News Service, a former editor-in-chief of TVNET, and former head of the television news department at Lithuanian public television.

I am not one of those who say that Lithuanians killed Jews during World War II because all Jews were Communists and made lists of the ones who were to be exiled when the Soviets came.

However, I also do not feel guilty as a Lithuanian for what my compatriots have carried out in Kaunas, Paneriai and other places in Lithuania.

I also do not think that heads of the Lithuanian state need to apologize annually and to announce that the whole of Vilnius is former Jewish cemetery only because some rabbis have decided so after digging in Snipiskes for two days.

However, I believe that Y. Arad and F. Brancovskaja  needed to be tried and that only the court could decide whether they were guilty or not.

Because not just Israel and Jews, but also Lithuania and Lithuanians have a right to demand justice and amenability for crimes, notwithstanding the nationality of the perpetrators.  

Why am I talking about all of this?

I have just read a very big article in “Spiegel”. It is about the Holocaust in Europe and Hitler’s helpers. Apparently, most of them come from Eastern Europe. Not just the most of them – reading this one might even get the impression that Eastern Europe is guilty not less than Hitler, Himmler and the SS.

I suggest to everyone to read it.

And if you will be very lazy (the text is rather long), I will in any case insert here a couple of quotes on Lithuania.

The first quote is about the massacre of Jews in Kaunas: “Orgy of Murder Like a Lithuanian National Ceremony When  they all lay dead on the ground, the blond murderer climbed up on the heap of corpses and played the accordion. His audience sang the Lithuanian national anthem as if the orgy of murder had been a national ceremony.”

The second quote is about how easily Lithuanians killed Jews: “There’s also reason to doubt the assumption that the helpers were pathological sadists. If that were true, they should be easy to identify, for example within the group of 50 Lithuanians who served under the command of SS Obersturmbannführer (Lieutenant Colonel) Joachim Hamann. The men would drive around the villages up to five times a week to murder Jews, and ended up killing 60,000 people. It only took a few crates of vodka to get them in the mood.

The third quote explains why they did that: “For the Germans, 300 Jews meant 300 enemies of humanity. For the Lithuanians they meant 300 pairs of trousers and 300 pairs of boots.”

You see, everything seems to be that simple…

And me? As always, I am very curious to see if anyone in Lithuania will react to this.

And maybe again we will just throw ashes on our heads?

 

 

On a much more conciliatory note, the new volume Sounds of Silence. Traces of Jewish Life in Lithuania was launched last week at Vilnius Old Town Hall in a spirit of Lithuanian-Jewish friendship based on openness and mutual respect. A report appears on the Yiddish institute’s website at:

http://judaicvilnius.com/en/main/in_news?ID=101&8b208d1a2d113dade6b704e6589d1767=083e098d9935db36ec0445e65f1a78ed

 

 

 

5 May 2009 - received from Prof. Dovid Katz:

 

[Today] "marks one year since the Lithuanian prosecutor’s office sent armed plainclothes police to the registered address of Rachel Margolis, with a document implicating her and Fania Yocheles Brantsovsky in alleged war crimes. I have described this in print as the lowpoint of modern Lithuanian history. It is a shameless “Blame the victims” strategy for evading historic responsibility, and it is obscene beyond words.

We have all worked hard to honor both heroic veterans of the anti-Nazi partisan movement, and we will continue to do all that we can. A week ago in London, I was given a framed certificate by Lord Janner of Braunstone to present to Rachel Margolis in Rechovot.

It is important, I feel, that we continue to work to keep the issue alive, because it is the obvious strategy of the antisemitic, Holocaust-obfuscating establishment here to see to it that a bogus paper trail of “unfinished war crimes investigations of both Nazi and Soviet criminals” goes into the record unopposed, as we turn our attention to so many other important matters. But this travesty must not be allowed to stand.

Over the past year, the prosecutors have issued no charges, no subpoenas, and no indications of when their “investigation” might be concluded. Instead, they have told the press that both women are fugitives (“cannot be found”) and leaked shameful innuendo which has appeared in print and online repeatedly. Our peaceful and dignified protests should continue unabated, and the first anniversary is perhaps an appropriate moment for action. Friends in the American Embassy here suggest continued contacts with congressmen and senators who will see to it that the issues stays on the agenda during elected officials’ visits to Lithuania.

It is also relevant to the “red-equals-brown” resolutions currently sailing through the European Parliament at the initiative of the Baltic states, where the proposed “equality of totalitarian regimes” is emerging as a potent strategy for deleting the Holocaust as a historic category from European history, to be replaced by an era of supposed equal genocides. It must not stand."

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Taken from http://en.rian.ru/world/20090305/120445311.html 5 March 2009.

 

Lithuania to pay $41 million over Jewish property seized in WWII

VILNIUS, March 5 (RIA Novosti) - Lithuania is planning to pay 113 million litai ($41 million) in compensation for Jewish property seized by the Nazis during World War II and subsequently kept in the state sector.

 

According to a Justice Ministry blueprint, the compensation will be paid to a special fund from 2011 until 2021 in installments to depend on the state's "financial possibilities."

 

The draft will be submitted to three Jewish social organizations for final agreement. Simonas Gurevicius, a representative of one of them, told the BNS news agency that he was not ready to make an appraisal of the draft until the property assessment method had been studied.

"We will look and compare if everything has been done in the same manner as during the assessment of the property of other faiths," he said.

 

Over 200,000 Jews lived in the Baltic country before World War II, and Vilnius was called "The Jerusalem of the North." There are currently around 5,000 Jews in Lithuania.

 

Synagogues were returned to Jewish communities several years ago, but claims have been laid to other buildings that previously belonged to Jews.

 

SEE http://www.lithuanianjews.org.il/HTMLs/article_list4.aspx?C2014=13974&BSP=13973&BSS59=13971 FOR RESPONSE ARTICLE INSULT TO INJURY

 

Vilnius update 8 February 2009

Antisemitic attack against Prof. Donskis, see link

 http://www.vakarozinios.lt/lt/naujienos/lietuva/lietuvos_politikos_kryzkeles/vito_tomkaus_pokalbis_su_leonidu_donskiu_be_pykcio

Vilnius update 20 October 2008:

from The Jewish Advocate 6 October 2008 "Kerry Aides Lithuanian Holocaust Survivors" http://www.thejewishadvocate.com/this_weeks_issue/news/?content_id=5666

and from HaAretz 5 October 2008 "Lithuanian academic blasts war crimes probe of ex-Yad Vashem chief " http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1026542.html

25 September 2008:

http://www.prokuraturos.lt/News/tabid/244/Default.aspx

PROSECUTOR GENERAL‘S OFFICE OF THE REPUBLIC OF LITHUANIA
 
PUBLIC RELATIONS DIVISION
 
4 A.  Smetonos St., LT- 01515 Vilnius
Ph. 370 5 266 2305
Fax 370 5 266 2317
E-mail: info@prokuraturos.lt
www.prokuraturos.eu
NEWS RELEASE

 
Part of the pre-trial investigation in respect of crimes committed by the Soviet partisan squad during the WWII and related to Yizthak Arad was closed

25-09-2008
 
Last Friday Prosecutor General’s Office upon failure to collect sufficient data grounding primary suspicions closed the part of the pre-trial investigation in respect of crimes committed by the Soviet partisan squad during the WWII which was related to Yizthak Arad.  Part of pre-trial investigation was closed because only the data confirming the fact of the crime was received. The decision of the prosecutor states that after making use of all the possibilities of pre-trial investigation the collected data is insufficient to bring the criminal case in respect of Y. Arad before the court.

Pre-trial investigation conducted by the officers of the Pre-trial investigation Division, State Security Department, was initiated in May 2006 after the notification of the Director General of the Genocide and Resistance Research Center of Lithuania was received. During investigation 83 persons were questioned as witnesses, 14 of them were acknowledges as victims. None of the interviewed persons confirmed knowing anything and being able to witness about involvement of Y. Arad in the criminal act.

During investigation the conclusions by the Doctor of Humanitarian Sciences (expert-historian) we received indicating that in his book Y. Arad just like other Soviet partisans gave prominence to the activities of his own, left factual mistakes. Moreover, during pre-trial investigation further stories of persons who were allegedly involved in the criminal act together with Y. Arad was not established. „Due to the said reasons part of pre-trial investigation in respect of Y. Arad was closed “, – concluded Mr. G. Jasaitis, Deputy Prosecutor General.

Prosecutor General’s Office requests the society for assistance. People who can give evidence or have important information about the members of the partisan squad “Vilnius” which was active in the Švenčionys region and involvement thereof in the penal measures against the civil residents of Girdėnai village and other villages of the Aidutiškis district, Švenčionys Region, as well as about activities of NKVD, people’s protectors during elimination Lithuanian partisans, exile of civil residents are requested to provide such information to the Special Investigations Division, Prosecutor General’s Office of the Republic of Lithuania.

Regarding the fact that the rest part of pre-trial investigation continues, no more information about it shall be provided.

Vilnius update 7 September 2008:

Attack on the Jewish Community center in Klaipeda

 

The Jewish community center in Klaipeda was attacked with a large “JUDEN RAUS” daubing on 27 August; images at:

http://www.delfi.lt/news/daily/crime/article.php?id=18330016

and http://www.lrytas.lt/-12199081331218878515-p1-kriminalai-klaip%C4%97doje-i%C5%A1niekintos-%C5%BEyd%C5%B3-kapin%C4%97s.htm

On the current status of convicted war criminal A. Dailide in Germany, see

in the London Mail on Sunday, at:

http://www.mailonsunday.co.uk/news/worldnews/article-1051021/War-criminal-handed-Jews-Nazis-extermination-lives-openly-Germany.html and in Haaretz, at: http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1016556.html

 

The European Jewish Press report on the latest developments concerning the old Jewish cemetery in Vilnius is at:

http://www.ejpress.org/article/29943

The conclusions of the Geophysical Survey were released on 3 September. They are summarized below:

            3 September 2008

Press release

Conclusion of Geophysical Survey

Snipiskes Jewish Cemetery, Vilnius

 

The Experts Group which met in May 2007 appointed Arieh Klein, a geotechnical consultant from Israel, and Gintautas Zabiela, a leading Lithuanian archaeologist, to oversee a geophysical and archaeological research program to try to find the boundaries of the Jewish cemetery in Snipiskes, Vilnius.

In June 2008 the Lithuanian Geological Survey signed contracts with Geotec, a geophysical survey company, to conduct the geophysical survey of the cemetery, and with Arieh Klein to supervise the survey. The actual survey was carried out from June 25 – July 6, 2008.

On Sept. 3, 2008, the results of the geophysical survey were presented by Mr. Amit Ronen of Geotec to Mr. Mockevicius and his team at the Lithuanian Geological Survey. Arieh Klein also presented his summary report and conclusions at the same meeting.

The main results of the geophysical survey show graves at the correct alignment (north-west to south-east) and at the relevant depths, further south than any of the previous maps, including those of the Historical Institute. There are graves in the south-west corner, under the grass and the paved area directly to the east of the new King Mindaugas buildings. The geophysical survey also showed that there are graves in the south-eastern corner, east of the memorial, again in lines along the correct alignment and at the relevant depths.

One conclusion that arose from the geophysical survey is that the southern boundary of the cemetery runs along Olimpieciu St. This finding, when combined with the results of previous archaeological surveys (laying of pipes, etc.) strengthens the conclusion of the Experts Group from May 2007 that the King Mindaugas buildings were erected within the boundaries of the Snipiskes Jewish cemetery.

It was impossible to determine the northern and eastern boundaries of the cemetery, since that part of the cemetery is covered with reinforced concrete plates, which prevented the geophysical equipment from penetrating into the ground underneath.

The owners of the cemetery did not agree to remove some of the concrete plates, in order to find the northern and eastern boundaries. Also, the geophysical survey team was not allowed to work in the southern part of the Zalgiris Stadium, just north of the northern fence of the parking area, in order to possibly confirm that no graves exist in this area. We hope that the government of Lithuania will come to an agreement with the owners of these areas, in order to allow the completion of the geophysical survey.

Unfortunately, the archaeological survey, which was meant to support the geophysical survey by uncovering the tops of some of the graves discovered in the geophysical survey, did not succeed. This was because in the first excavation, on the grassy area to the east of the Mindaugas buildings, many human bones were uncovered in the fill above the graves. The rabbinical authorities who supervised the archaeological excavation, demanded that the excavations cease, and they have not agreed to allow the renewal of the archaeological survey.

 

The received the following from Vilnius --- recommended reading:

The primary open letter on the subject of the anti-Nazi Jewish partisans, issued by the Jewish Community of Lithuania itself, is now posted on the Survivor Mitzvah Project’s site at http://www.survivormitzvah.org/letter_to_lithuania.shtml

Translation of the above article in Lithuanian to English follows immediately below:

OPEN LETTER

Vilnius, 28 August 2008

 

To His Excellency Valdas Adamkus, President of the Republic of Lithuania

To Česlovas Juršėnas, Speaker of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania

To Gediminas Kirkilas, Prime Minister of the Republic of Lithuania

To Algimantas Valantinas, Prosecutor General of the Republic of Lithuania

 

The Lithuanian Jewish Community did not fail to notice the quite rapid reaction of the country’s President and Prime Minister, who urged law enforcement authorities and special services to find as quickly as possible the criminals and their bosses who organized the attack on the LJC building in Vilnius on August 9-10.

 

But we respectfully wish to point out that this act of vandalism is not exceptional. It should be evaluated in the context of the neo-Nazi parade on March 11, biased media publications about the Šnipiškės cemetery, restitution of Jewish property, delayed by the authorities, vandalism in Jewish cemeteries and mass murder sites, antisemitic articles in the press and on the internet. The Lithuanian Jewish Community already mentioned the serious concern and anxiety caused by all these problems in its statement of 18 May 2008.

 

On 19 June 2008 we addressed the leaders of the Republic of Lithuania in an open letter concerning the aforementioned events and anti-Nazi Jewish partisans who were being persecuted by the Prosecutor’s Office. We were hoping that the leaders of our state would politically evaluate the persecutions (which have no precedent in the post-war world) of ghetto prisoners, who are being accused of choosing the only possible means of defense in the face of mortal danger, that is, armed resistance to the Nazis and their local collaborators.

 

The fact that the persecution of anti-Nazi Jewish partisans was not evaluated politically, forces us to ask the following questions: Does Lithuania accept the victory of the anti-Hitler coalition at the end of World War II? Does the Republic of Lithuania accept the decisions of the international Nuremberg tribunal? Do the courts and prosecutors of the Republic of Lithuania follow these decisions? Can the judges and prosecutors of our state follow a different policy than that of the Republic of Lithuania? Is the persecution of partisans and ghetto prisoners a part of official policy of the Republic of Lithuania or is it an act by the will of prosecutors and judges?

 

The President of Lithuania remarked correctly that the attack against the Jewish community was a provocation against Lithuania. We think that the persecution of anti-Nazi Jewish people is an even more dangerous provocation against Lithuania than the act of vandalism against the Jewish community. It is much easier to clean the walls and windows of the building at Pylimo 4, than it will be to wash away the signs of shame from the facade of the state if the persecution of anti-Nazi Jewish partisans is not halted.

 

Dr. Simonas Alperavičius

Chairman of the Lithuanian Jewish Community

 

Tobijas Jafetas

Chairman of the Union of Former Ghetto and Concentration Camp Prisoners

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also in our English section, News and Events, the Open Letter from the Lithuanian Jewish Community to the President of Lithuania dated 19 June 2008.

Taken from Economist 21 Aug 2008

Lithuania must stop blaming the victims

IS LITHUANIA really persecuting Holocaust survivors as if they were war criminals? Not quite, but the story is still troubling. It starts with the Nazi occupation of Lithuania when the Germans, with local help, were murdering Jews (more than 200,000 Jews perished, around 95% of the pre-war population). The Nazis’ main opponent was the Soviet Union, so Jews’ only chance of survival was to fight alongside Soviet-backed partisan groups, who were fighting both against Hitler and to restore communist rule in Lithuania.

Sixty years on, independent Lithuania is still wrestling with the dilemmas of the wartime years. The Soviets condemned many Nazi collaborators (and tens of thousands of others) immediately after the war, but atrocities committed by the other side remain almost wholly unpunished. Perpetrators of dreadful crimes are still living freely in Russia and elsewhere.

AFP/Novosti A parade of war criminals?

Yet the interest Lithuanian prosecutors have shown in a handful of elderly Holocaust survivors seems to have only a tangential relationship with righting those historical wrongs. Fania Brantsovsky, now 86, is a librarian at the Vilnius Yiddish Institute in Lithuania, a survivor of the Vilna Ghetto and a former partisan. Prosecutors say they want to talk to her and another survivor, Rachel Margolis, about a partisan massacre of civilians in 1944.

Perhaps most spectacularly, a prosecutor wants to interview Yitzhak Arad, a Lithuanian-born historian and ex-head of Yad Vashem in Israel. Until recently he sat on a high-level Lithuanian commission investigating crimes perpetrated by totalitarian regimes in the country. Now he is refusing to co-operate. In a book published in 1979 he described how his partisan unit “punished” villagers who did not give them food.

No formal charges have been brought; the prosecutors say they are just following up a line of inquiry. But they claim to be “searching” for Ms Brantsovsky, as if she were a fugitive. The Lithuanian government seems embarrassed by the issue but says it cannot intervene in the justice system. It is bits of the Lithuanian media, calling for the individuals concerned to be put on trial as terrorists and criminals, who have done most to inflame the situation.

But it is still bad. Lithuania’s record on prosecuting war criminals of the other stripe has been spotty, to put it mildly. Targeting prominent local Jews looks selective, even vindictive. It also fits into a general pattern of what Dovid Katz, the Yiddish Institute’s research director, calls “Holocaust obfuscation”. This involves a series of false moral equivalences: Jews were disloyal citizens of pre-war Lithuania, helped the Soviet occupiers in 1940, and were therefore partly to blame for their fate. And the genocide that really matters was the one that Lithuanian people suffered at Soviet hands after 1944.

These arguments are as repellent as they are flimsy. Jews (perhaps 500 of them) comprised around a third of the pre-war Communist Party. But Jews also suffered disproportionately from the deportations of June 1941, aimed at the bourgeoisie of all races. The Soviet Union was profoundly anti-Semitic.

Dodging the blame for Lithuanian collaboration in the Holocaust is shameful. It also makes separating facts from Soviet-era smears (now enthusiastically repeated by Kremlin propagandists) more difficult. Lithuania suffered dreadfully under Soviet rule, but “genocide” is the wrong word. Lithuania in fact suffered less than its Baltic neighbours. It regained territory (including its historic capital, Vilnius) and a wily local Communist leader shielded it from russification.

It may suit demagogic politicians and their media hangers-on to distort history and defame Jews. But it reflects dreadfully on Lithuania, at a time when small countries in Russia’s shadow need all the help they can get.

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TRANSLATION OF:

http://www.alfa.lt/straipsnis/c85208

22 August 2008

 

THE ECONOMIST PROPOSES A DEAL: LEAVE THE JEWS IN PEACE AND THEN WE’LL DEFEND YOU FROM THE RUSSIANS!

by Artūras Račas

[Chief editor of BNS’s business division]

 

[Prime Minister] G. Kirkilas thinks that the opinion of the Economist isn’t worth anything: they know nothing, they just go ahead and copy Lithuanian media surveys and before announcing something they don’t even ask G. Kirkilas himself about it… In a free and democratic country such an opinion has a right to exist, and Lithuania is still to be held free and democratic.

However, an opinion that criticism of the Economist is not a good thing and that it can have negative consequences, also has a right to exist.

In case of Leo LT, such negative consequences have undoubtedly resulted, irrespective of how strongly the conceivers of this project would deny it.

There will be some negative consequences also with regard to the newest criticism of Lithuania in the Economist: this time for allegedly persecuting innocent Jews.

Lithuania must stop blaming the victims” is the title of the article in the latest edition of the Economist, in which not only Lithuanian prosecutors are scolded, but also the media, which purportedly is the guiltiest of all for adding fuel to the flames.

After reading this article, I wanted to fall into the footsteps of G. Kirkilas and say that they do not understand anything and that they could have asked us first…

Speaking more seriously, it is still strange that such an influential publication should suddenly rush to defend three suspects, who are not yet accused of anything by anyone.

It is stranger still that the authors of this article do not essentially deny that maybe all three, F. Brancovskaya, who was unsuccessfully searched for by the Lithuanian prosecutors, her comrade-in-arms Rachel Margolis, or the former head of the Yad Vashem museum Y. Arad, could have taken part in the crimes with which they are incriminated — that is, the massacre of civilians and Lithuanian partisans.

The Economist itself writes that Y. Arad states in his book that he took part in “punishing” (maybe we should say murdering) civilian inhabitants, who refused to feed the Red partisans.

So what is Lithuania blamed for? For the wish to find out the truth? But, after all, the truth could help to end this story. And for this all that is needed is to question the suspects, compare their evidence with the surviving documents and the evidence of other witnesses. If they were found to be innocent, one could even apologize to them.

However, for example, in order to be able to question Y. Arad, Israel’s help is necessary, and this state is for some reason not willing to help. It is strange, but the Economist too fails to suggest that Israel do so.

One of the arguments of the authors [of the article] in the Economist: it is strange that  prosecutors in Lithuania are persecuting Holocaust survivors even though its efforts to find and punish other war criminals are, according to the Economist, “spotty” (to put it mildly, “scarce”).

I would not agree. It is enough to remember the trial of A. Lileikis and the efforts to amend the law for this. And what about K. Gimzauskas, M. Dailide, A. Milius… Yes, some of them died before their sentencing, some were judged incapable of serving their sentence. But is Lithuania to blame for this? Were there no efforts invested to investigate and evaluate their crimes?

And, finally, even if Lithuania hasn’t found and sentenced one person guilty of the massacre of the Jews up to now, would this mean that the prosecutors have no right to investigate other crimes and question persons, who could have allegedly taken part in other crimes?

Maybe the criticism in the Economist should be understood in this way: having only tried all those, who are on the list of Efraim Zuroff, we should be able to start questioning and trying other criminals. In other words: an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, a Jew for a Lithuanian?

I would wish to believe that the Economist does not suggest this. I would also wish to believe that they do not suggest we indemnify all those who have survived the Holocaust. Yes, the Holocaust was a terrible thing, the Jewish nation really suffered terribly, but to survive the Holocaust really does not mean to receive a pardon for the crimes committed after surviving all this horror. Of course, if you really committed those crimes. But again, so that everything would be clear, one needs to cooperate, and not to scream that one is being harassed.

Ethnicity cannot and should not become a shield from responsibility, not for Lithuanians nor for Jews.

The Economist criticizes Lithuanians for purportedly defending themselves with arguments that Jews collaborated with the Soviets; however, the Economist itself essentially repeats the same mistake: reminding Lithuania that its citizens collaborated with the Nazis, at the same time while kind of suggesting that it takes away the right to suspect Jews of crimes.

However, the worst part of this article is not this. And not even a charge (from nobody knows where) against the Lithuanian media, that it is the most guilty for everything, because it demands that the guilty be punished. This is not true. The guilty ones, if there are any, must be punished, by the Lithuanian Constitution and the laws and essentially the whole idea of the state.

The worst in the article in the Economist is something else. It is the last paragraph of the article, which I will permit myself to quote in Lithuanian:

“It may suit demagogic politicians and their media hangers-on to distort history and defame Jews. But it casts a dreadful shade on Lithuania, at a time when small countries in Russia’s shadow need all the help they can get.”

How to understand this!!!!!

Is the Economist trying to say that if Lithuania does not stop making efforts to find out the truth and to implement justice, it will not be able to expect help from its allies if a danger arises from the Russians?

Does this mean that somebody wishes to say to Lithuania: If you continue to question Jews suspected of war crimes, you will be returned to the Russian sphere of influence?

In my opinion, this sounds not very solid. Or like blackmail.

Interesting: how G. Kirkilas would evaluate it? 

translated by ZDM / Vilnius

 

 

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