The annual Chanukah holiday gathering this year was held on the 24 December at the premises of our organization. In spite of the stormiest day of the year with heavy rain and strong winds our people arrived, and the celebration including the candle lighting ceremony was performed to a full house.
Our chairman, attorney Mr. Josef Melamed, opened the evening in presenting a review of our past activities and plans for the future.
The event was chaired with dignity by our entertainment committee chairman, Mr. David Levinson. Candles were blessed and lit by members of our following generations. Chanukah songs followed, accompanied by the violinist and piano duo of Mr. Leonid Rabinowitz.
Following the holiday ceremony was the presentation of scholarships to deserving and needy students of Litvak descent who presented essays relating to the Lithuanian Jewish community, its history, culture and unique character. Thirteen essays will be added to our collection and added to our extensive library to be made available to students and scholars of future generations.
Scholarships were presented in memory of loved ones or in honor of deserving members who contributed much to our common interests. Part of the scholarships were presented by a secretary of the law offices of attorney and former Knesset chairman Dov Shilansky from an endowment fund created in memory of the Tishkevitz family.
The scholarship presentation ceremony was followed by holiday songs accompanied by the Rabinowitz duo and refreshments.
It was heartwarming to see so many octogenarians and their descendents brace the nasty weather and join us in celebrating this year’s festival of lights.
December 30, 2008
(the below letter has been sent to the Lithuanian press)
To Mr. Ronaldas Racinskas
My name is Abraham Larwe, a graduate of the Siauliu Berniuku Gimnazija 1941, a graduate of Tel Aviv University, political science department 1991. Among my teachers and classmates were the infamous mass murderers Mykolas Levickas, Vytautas Ivanauskas, Kazys Domarkas Ignas Stasiulis and others. Revenge is not my goal but the truth must be told without manipulation. Your conference in its present form is a sham!
I read your intemperate response to the letter sent to you by Professor Dov Levin and am more convinced than ever that the real purpose of your organization is not to seek the truth but to whitewash the crimes committed by your countrymen during their murderous assault on the local Jewish population.
Holocaust education is a must in all progressive, truth seeking establishments, not a tool to spread inaccuracies and outright lies. An attempt to shift the blame on others, to minimize the guilt of the criminals is an age old tactic.
Education that omits the existence of Lithuanian murder battalions roaming Nazi occupied Europe whose main purpose was to murder Jews, the Lithuanian sadistic guards around the mass murder sites like Treblinka and others, the Lithuanian unit that took part in the liquidation of the Warsaw Ghetto, is trying to falsify history.
Jackus Sondeckis in his book Gyvenimas Lietuvai writes that "tokiu nieksu buvo labai nedaug". Really? I was there!
I am a still living witness to the horrors of that time committed by the murderers even before the entrance of the Nazi troops. I saw them going from house to Jewish house beating, robbing and driving their Jewish neighbors to be murdered.
We survivors don't have to be reminded of what we were made to endure during the three years of "treatment" by the local Lithuanian population.
Suffice to know that the Lithuanian government and justice department have done everything possible to shift the blame for the annihilation of the Lithuanian Jewish community on others (including Jews), to defend and give protection to thousands of local mass murderers even granting them privileges and pensions for "doing a good job".
Even the special prosecutor of the country Mr. Rimvydas Valentukevicius in answer to Mr. Zuroff, admits that since the reestablishment of independent Lithuania only 28 cases were initiated against Jew murderers with almost no convictions. This tells the true story!
Holocaust education is a must in all truth seeking societies but it must be based on facts, not manipulated, not falsified no matter how painful, no matter how unpleasant.
I hope that this letter will be distributed among Lithuanian school children interested in the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
November 24, 2008
I would like to inform you about the recent initiative of International Historical Commission in cooperation with Tolerance Education Centers to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the “Crystal night” in Lithuania. The commemorating events will take place in all Lithuania – Vilnius, Kaunas, Klaipėda, Panevėžys, Šiauliai, Alytus, Telšiai, Jurbarkas, Kėdainiai, Ukmergė and other places. In these cities dozens of Tolerance Education Centers and secondary schools and hundreds of students will participate at these events.
Please find below news bulletin about this public remembrance action.
More information on our web site http://www.komisija.lt
Executive Director, International Historical Commission, www.komisija.lt
International Historical Commission initiates commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the „Crystal night” in Lithuania
The International Commission for the Evaluation of the Crimes of the Nazi and Soviet Occupation Regimes in Lithuania (further - The International Historical Commission) together with the Tolerance Education Centers in all Lithuania organizes the commemoration of the “Crystal night” events by lightening candles beside the synagogues and other Jewish community buildings and call for good will of all Lithuanian people and organizations to contribute to this symbolic commemoration. 70 years ago, on November 9-10, 1938, the massive pogroms against the Jews in the Nazi Germany symbolized the new period of practical and physical implementation of cruel and criminal Nazi policy. These events got the name of “Crystal night” (in German “Kristallnacht”) because after pogroms on synagogues and other Jewish property the streets were full of broken glass.
This year on November 9 (Sunday) at 6 p.m. in front of the synagogues, pray houses, Jewish schools and other important buildings for the Jewish people in all Lithuanian cities the candles will be lightened by the teachers and students of Tolerance Education Centers which were established by International Historical Commission. In this way they will commemorate the events that gave the beginning for the Jewish genocide in Europe and also will show the respect for the victims of Holocaust as well as turn society’s attention to the dangers of racism, xenophobia and anti-Semitism and to what happens when the society reacts wrongly and do not stop the first manifestations.
This solidarity and memory action in Lithuania is organized at the same time and in similar way as in other countries – it is the part of big international commemoration. In this way progressive part of the society attempts to stop the expansion of racism, xenophobia and anti-Semitism virus that unfortunately has manifestations in Lithuania also. With the initiative of the International Historical Commission the commemorating events will take place in all Lithuania – Vilnius, Kaunas, Klaipėda, Panevėžys, Šiauliai, Alytus, Telšiai, Jurbarkas, Kėdainiai, Ukmergė. In these cities dozens of Tolerance Education Centers and secondary schools and hundreds of students will participate at these events.
"We ask all Lithuanian people and organizations of good will to contribute to the symbolic commemoration of "Crystal night" and in this way to express our civic position to the negative manifestations in the society as well as promoting the formation of mature historical memory", - said Mr. Ronaldas Račinskas, the Executive Director of the International Historical Commission.
"Crystal night" or the Night of Broken Glass was a pogrom in Nazi Germany on November 9–10, 1938. On a single night, more than 90 Jews were murdered and hundreds of synagogues were burned down. By damaging the Jewish property, all the streets were full of slivers that‘s why it got the name of the "Night of Broken Glass". The pretext of this event was an attempt on diplomat‘s Ernst vom Rath life - German Jew Herschel Grynszpan enraged by his family's expulsion from Germany, walked into the German Embassy in Paris and fired five shots at a junior diplomat, Ernst vom Rath. Two days later, the diplomat died. These news reached Hiltler in Munich and he order to arrange the terror action in all Germany as well as Austria and the part of Czechoslovakia that was annexed by Germany. The consequences of this violence were disastrous for the Jews – 20 000 of them were arrested and imprisoned in the concentration camps in Dachau, Buchenwald and Zachsenhauzen.
This reply to the article, attached above, circulated by Mr. Racinskas, the executive director of the International Historical Commission in Lithuania was written by Mr. Abe Larwe an only survivor of his family and a witness to the horrific events that annihilated almost completely the Jewish community of Lithuania. The purpose of this reply is to put the record straight, to point out the overwhelming participation of the local indigenous population actively and passively, with very few exceptions, in this unfathomable crime.
Professor Dov Levin
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Where do you get the gall to call the brutal, inhumane, barbaric slaughter of innocent peaceful Jewish neighbors in Lithuania Kristallnacht?
What happened in Lithuania during the German occupation and especially during the first few months beginning July 22nd 1941 has no precedent in human history.
The indiscriminate slaughter, the savage onslaught on the Jewish minority of the country in an attempt to eradicate any trace of their existence and inherit their wealth is unmatched in human history.
The murderers did not break the windows of the Jewish homes. There was no broken glass on the streets. Why should they have done it since they took over the vacant Jewish property lock stock and barrel and considered it (even to this day) their own.
Jewish life had no value but Jewish property was a bonus for their "good deeds": murder and plunder.
There is enough proof that the Nazi need for Jewish labor and experts kept the few Jewish survivors in Lithuania alive. There is enough documentation to show that the L.A.F. and local police made constant demands to the Nazi authorities to let them "solve the Jewish problem" and were refused because of the war effort.
When will you finally accept the truth, the undeniable truth that a very large section of the Lithuanian population took part actively, multitudes goaded and cheered the murderers with only a few exceptions. Only when the German defeat was apparent were some local people willing to give shelter to the few escapees from the Ghettos.
The amount of Lithuanian people honored by Yad Vashem for saving Jews speaks for itself.
No amount of tricks, manipulations, symmetrical presentations of crimes committed during the Soviet occupation of Lithuania, accusations aimed at Jewish partisans will change the historic facts.
Eternal shame will follow the Lithuanian nation. A nation that is incapable of accepting the truth, of showing remorse!
Are the Ten Commandments are still the basis of our common Bible?
November 5th, 2008
To Whom It May Concern:
For the sake of absolute clarity: I wish to confirm that I had never agreed to serve on the ‘International Commission for the Evaluation of the Crimes of the Nazi and Soviet Occupation Regimes in Lithuania’ and that any and all brochures that continue to circulate with my name represent dishonest misuse of my name, without my permission. I further confirm that I have from the start regarding this “Commission” as a cunning attempt by powers-that-be in Lithuania to continue to pursue Holocaust denial, deflection and distortion, by finding ever-new ways to perpetuate the “Double Genocide Theory” which pro-fascist and racist elements have been relying on since the Holocaust to excuse and “explain” the massive Lithuanian participation in the murder about 220,000 Lithuanian Jews, the worst pro-rata record in Europe! By once again combining Nazi and Soviet crimes in the same name (and even building in the phrase “Occupation Regimes” thereby exonerating the local authorities and population), this enterprise seeks to pretend to pursue Holocaust Studies while in fact it works hard with Lithuanian politicians (and indeed it is headed by politicians!) to dupe Europe into passing resolutions that would declare Nazi and Soviet crimes equal. The hidden agenda is to diminish and trivialize the Holocaust. I also recognize that fine individuals have been tricked into joining, and I take solace from the recent public resignation of Sir Martin Gilbert. The most sensational case is that of my old friend and partisan comrade Dr. Yitzhak Arad, who was persuaded to join to help Lithuania, before anti-semitic newspapers and prosecutors ridiculously started accusing him of “war crimes” based on passages in his book “The Partisan.” Far from exonerating him, the recent prosecutor’s statement closing the case in Sept. 2008 calls on the public to provide new “evidence” and cites an anonymous “expert historian” who claims Dr. Arad’s book is exaggerated. In the meantime, the vicious campaign by prosecutors, closely aligned to the infamous “Genocide Center” in Vilnius, continues to defame Fania Yocheles Brantsovsky, Prof. Sara Ginaite and Dr. Rokhl Margolis, all courageous anti-Nazi partisan veterans who are heralded as heroes of the free world for their participation in the liberation of Europe from Nazi tyranny. I appeal to all who wish to pay respect to the victims of the Holocaust and to search for historic truth to have nothing to do with this Commission which continues to work to distort history and to find ever new ways to blame the victims, instead of coming to terms with the historic truth as other European nations have done.
Professor Dov Levin
The House of Memory, recent publication
Three years ago we reported on the below publication. Recently our archive has received the third volume of this wonderful collection of essays by Lithuanian school children. October 2008
http://www.atmnamai.lt/Pub/default_lt.aspx, has been operating from Vilnius since 2000. It is an important and valuable contribution to the advancement of the understanding of Lithuanian Jewry, involved in a number of educational activities. Follow the above link to enter their site and read about their aims and activities. A recent publication of The House of Memory is a selection of essays of Lithuanian school students’ competition Jews - Neighbours of My Grandparents' and Great-grandparents (published in Lithuanian, Mano seneliu ir porseneliu kaimynai zydai: antrasis moksleiviu darbu konkursas, sudare Linas Vildziunas.
Memorial Service of Lithuanian Jews 28 October 2008 was held at the Diamond Theatre, * * * * * * * * * * * * * **
VILNIUS, 19 JUNE 2008
AN OPEN LETTER TO
HIS EXCELLENCY VALDAS ADAMKUS,
PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF LITHUANIA
SPEAKER OF THE SEIMAS OF THE REPUBLIC OF LITHUANIA
PRIME MINISTER OF THE REPUBLIC OF LITHUANIA
PROSECUTOR GENERAL OF THE REPUBLIC OF LITHUANIA
The prosecutors of Lithuania do not cease to persecute anti-Nazi Jewish partisans. The Prosecution Service’s claims that “hundreds of witnesses are being questioned” are belied by the fact that only Jewish names are being heard in the media: Yitzhak Arad, Fania Brantsovsky, Rachel Margolis, and others.
This enables us to conclude that efforts are being made in order to shape Lithuanian public opinion by portraying Jews as primarily responsible for the crimes of the Soviet totalitarian regime. The negative image of anti-Nazi Jewish partisans is being consciously constructed in the mass media. For example, an officer from the Prosecution Service said in public that a search for Fania Brantsovsky was allegedly announced, although this former ghetto prisoner and anti-Nazi partisan has lived in Vilnius for more than 80 years and has a permanent job.
We feel that it is our duty to remind the public that the anti-Nazi Jewish partisans were prisoners of the ghettos that had been established by the Nazis and their Lithuanian collaborators, and survived only because they fought an armed fight against Hitlerism. By fighting against Nazism they saved Lithuania’s honor in World War II, and contributed to the Allied forces’ victory against Nazi Germany. During the Nazi occupation, the Nazis and their local collaborators killed more than 220,000 Jews; they destroyed the Lithuanian Jewish community almost completely. It needs to be repeated that during eighteen years of independence, not a single Nazi collaborator was punished. What is more, the prosecutors show signs of trying to revise Holocaust history by reversing the historical emphasis.
We strongly deny the direct and indirect accusations against Jews for the crimes committed by the Soviet regime. We ask that it be kept in mind that “world Zionism” together with “American imperialism” were the greatest enemies of the Soviet empire. State antisemitism was included in the official policy of the Communist Party. Jewish citizens of Lithuania suffered a higher proportional loss than their Lithuanian neighbors during the Soviet deportations of 1941. After the war all the members of the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee were shot and mass campaigns were launched by the Soviet regime, against “doctor-killers” (the “Doctors’ Plot” — concerning medical personnel of Jewish nationality) or against “rootless cosmopolitans” (= Jewish artists). After Stalin’s death Hebrew teachers or people who wanted to emigrate to Israel were persecuted. The term “prisoner or Zion” entered into the world’s vocabulary.
It needs to be stated that the Prosecution Service feels the pressure of certain politicians. For example, Fania Brantsovsky was summoned to the investigator after an appeal by a member of the Seimas, R. Kupčinskas of the Homeland Union fraction. The fact that the the “International Commission for the Evaluation of the Crimes of the Nazi and Soviet Occupation Regimes in Lithuania,” established by the President (chaired by E. Zingeris), did not publicly defend its own member Yitzhak Arad, or the other Jewish anti-Nazi partisans, is also surprising.
It is a pity but such facts do not honor our state. This is evident from numerous publications in the foreign press and by letters that our community receives. The Lithuanian Jewish Community has been planning to organize the Third World Litvak Congress for the “Vilnius – European Capital of Culture 2009” program and to invite Nobel Prize laureates with roots here in Lithuania to the congress. Now we receive unequivocal messages from our partners that no participation is possible in any events organized in Lithuania while the persecution of former ghetto prisoners and anti-Nazi partisans proceeds apace. This forces us to think whether it is at all feasible to organize the Third World Litvak Congress in Vilnius.
We demand a halt to the persecution of Jewish anti-Nazi partisans who fought for the Allied victory in World War II. We hope that the Prosecution Service’s activities will be guided not by letters from certain members of Seimas, but by the decisions of the International Nuremberg Tribunal and the International Holocaust Conference in Stockholm.
Dr. Simonas Alperavicius (Simon Alperovitch),
Chairman of the Lithuanian Jewish Community
Chairman of the Union of Former Ghetto and Concentration Camp Prisoners