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Archive for October, 2011

- Posted by - (1) Comment

Other responses to the 26 October comment from Mr. Januta

Alexander's avatar
FROM: Alexander (26 October)
Well said. I just wish those who write about Lithuanian-Jewish relations and blame all Lithuanians for the killing of Jews, would get their true facts before writing.

fdfdg's avatar
FROM: fdfdg (26 October)·
An outrageous pack of lies.
The Jews in Lithuania were murdered by ethnic Lithuanian volunteers. Lithuanians are still trying to hide this fact after 60 years, from themselves, their children and now they are attempting to impose this false history on the world at large. Dov Levin isn't positing double genocide, there is no equals sign there. "Double genocide" is not the name the Lithuanians give to their own policy of Holocaust obfuscation, but it's an accurate name. The number of Lithuanian perpetrators is in the tens of thousands, and those are just the active shooters. If you want to get into passive support for genocide, it's much higher. There was no specifically Lithuanian Waffen SS, because the Lithuanians created their own pro-Nazi formations before the Nazis got around to it, TDA, LAF etc etc. and these forces were involved in the Holocaust in Poland, Ukraine, Belarus and elsewhere, besides their native Lithuania. The author is obviously fooling himself into thinking it's possible some Lithuanians were fooled into it at German direction, but the LAF was a Lithuanian organization, not a German one, and their underground cells of ethnic Lithuanians inside Lithuania (LAF was pretending to be the government in exile in Berlin) got the orders from HQ: prepare to slaughter your Jewish neighbors as soon as Soviet-German hostilities break out. Didier Bertin's point concerning the supposed Soviet genocide of Lithuanians was not that some Lithuanians survived, it was that not only did the vast majority survive, their population actually increased during the supposed genocide. This is an outrageous pack of lies by another Lithuanian Holocaust obfuscator.

Richard Vitkauskas's avatar
FROM: Richard Vitkauskas (26 October)·
Excellent article Donatas. Many thanks

Mr. Januta’s response

Donatas Januta's avatar
FROM: Donatas Januta (27 October)·
Dina Porat, a respected Israeli historian estimated that the total number of Lithuanians, involved directly and indirectly, in the German organized killing of Jews was up to 15,000, i.e., about 0.5% of the population
For those who may want a little perspective on fdfdg’s preceding comment. He states that my article is “an outrageus pack of lies”, and specifically he then says: “The number of Lithuanian perpetrators is in the tens of thousands, and those are just the active shooters.” Dina Porat, a respected Israeli historian estimated that the total number of Lithuanians, involved directly and indirectly, in the German organized killing of Jews was up to 15,000, i.e., about 0.5% of the population. And Arunas Bubnys, another historian, has estimated that those directly involved, i.e., what fdfdg refers to as “the active shooters”, was somewhere between 2,000 and 3,000. But according to Mr. or Ms. fdfdg, both of these historians are just liars. Judge for yourselves the rest of fdfdg’s remarks.

Category : Litvak forum / Speakers corner!

- Posted by - (0) Comment

Dr. Adizes insights:
What is wrong with “occupy Wall Street and elsewhere” demonstrations?

Dr. Isaac Adezis.

Let me start with the ‘bottom line’, with my conclusion: they are demonstrating in the wrong place against the wrong people.
Now, let me explain.
Most of the demonstrations have placards about greed, about how Wall Street companies and executives earn obscene sums of money while the country is truly suffering. American companies are awash in record profits while unemployment is at record highs. Something is genuinely not right… Right?
Yes, right, but what they are demonstrating against are the manifestations to the problem not the cause of the problem.
What is the cause?
The profit motive. That is where the problem is.
Imagine what would happen if medical doctors turn profit oriented and measure their success by profits. And medical schools taught them that profit should be their goal by which they should measure their success.
Many of us will die from unnecessary surgeries, go bankrupt from non ending medical bills or insurance premiums, and productivity of labor will go way, way down because we will be hospitalized to no end.
What does medical training say?
“Do no harm!!”
“The patient is first!”


Category : Opinions

Lithuania faces legal action over prisons set up for CIA rendition programme

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Lawyers acting for detained militant Abu Zubaydah have begun proceedings in the European court of human rights.

The Lithuanian government is facing legal action in the European court of human rights over secret prisons that the CIA established in the country as part of its worldwide "extraordinary rendition" programme.

It becomes the third European government to face proceedings as a result of its support for the agency's operations, Macedonia and Poland having already been accused of breaches of the European convention on human rights.

The Lithuanian parliament has acknowledged that the CIA established two prisons with the help of the country's own security service, the SSD. One was at a riding school in a village 12 miles north of the capital, Vilnius, while the second is thought to have been at a guest house in Vlinius. The parliamentary report failed, however, to establish whether any prisoners had been held at the sites.

Lawyers representing the militant known as Abu Zubaydah say he was detained in Lithuania, and they began court proceedings in Strasbourg on Thursday. They allege that the Lithuanian government is guilty of multiple breaches of the European convention on human rights, first by allowing the CIA to fly Abu Zubaydah to the country and detain him in one of the secret prisons, and then by failing to investigate the matter itself.

Read more:

Category : News

Historians in the West don’t think that the Baltics and their people are important

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Dominican Father David O’Rourke, one of the two priest producers of “Red Terror on the Amber Coast.” Father O’Rourke is director of The Tatra Project (, which provides educational resources and media on life under the former Soviet Union.

I lived and worked on and off in Vilnius, from 2000 until about 2009.  Part of my work involved research in the film and photo archives that led to the documentary film, Red Terror on the Amber Coast.  I was the writer and producer.  I have only one point I want to make here, but I think it is important. 

From the  time that the Soviets first occupied the Baltics after the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact until the fall of the Soviet system, essentially all the information about life in the Baltic Republics came from the occupying governments – Soviet and Nazi.  Occupiers have their own agenda.   Telling the truth about what they were doing in the countries they occupied was not one of them.   To the contrary, both the Soviets and the Nazis were expert in producing self-promoting propaganda.  So I believe it is both naïve and foolish to look to news and information reports produced by either of these regimes about the occupation years  as though they were reliable.  My own view is that relatively little concerning life during these years is known today outside these countries and their several diasporas.  And very little is known because historians in the West don’t think that  the Baltics and their people are important enough to their own studies to worry about.   

David O'Rourke
California, USA.

Category : Litvak forum / Speakers corner!

- Posted by - (2) Comment

Olga Zabludoff: Reply to Donatas Januta re Holocaust in Lithuania

I love and respect Lithuanians no less than I do my American friends, both Jews and non-Jews

Olga Zabludoff

Dear Donatas,

Thank you for your gracious opening paragraph to our discussion. I will try to comment on the points you raise in your letter.

I do not dispute Dina Porat’s finding that 99.5% of the Lithuanian population was neither directly nor indirectly involved in the killing of Jews. I would not dispute the findings of any reputable researcher/historian. But what I wish to point out is that one-half of 1% of the 1941 Lithuanian population equaled about 15,000 persons. Looking at the Jewish population of about 200,000 at the time, the ratio between killers and victims was 1: 13.
That can account for high efficiency. The real problem was that the other 99.5% of the population chose to close their eyes.

"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." This quote from Edmund Burke is the painful truth in the story of the Holocaust as well as other major tragedies. But to ask in hindsight why good men did nothing means not to comprehend the climate and the terror of the times.

No one is blaming innocent Lithuanians. I think the anger and the constant memory stem from the distortion of the history of what really took place. If only the true history were presented by teachers and texts, if only the Lithuanian people accepted the truth, I think the healing process would begin and an honest reconciliation would follow. Again I am not claiming that all Lithuanians do not accept the truth. There are certainly many notable exceptions.

Regarding the contributions of the Jews to the economy of Lithuania, if you choose not to believe Professor Dov Levin’s claims that Jews were an integral part of the economy, then let’s take a common-sense approach to the subject. The Jews were mainly merchants, traders, shopkeepers, craftsmen. They stimulated the economy with their businesses and provided a marketplace for farmers and others who needed to sell their produce and wares. Lithuania was one country and one economy. All of the participants in that economy made contributions, whether they were Jews, Lithuanians or other ethnic groups. They lived side by side, and even though the various groups carried on their individual traditions, there were still all part of one whole.

Contrary to what you are implying about my reaction to Bloodlands, I think it is an excellent book and everyone should read it. I went to Timothy Snyder’s presentation at George Washington University shortly after the book came off the press. It was extremely interesting and impressive to hear him speak and answer the myriad questions from the audience. I bought the book right there and later read it. Why would I have quoted from the book if I believed it is not a valuable work?

As for the Kazys Skirpa radio broadcasts reported in Bloodlands, if you say that this reference proved to be incorrect and has been deleted from subsequent printings of the book, I take your word for it. But that in itself doesn’t change the fact that there were bloody pogroms in Lithuania even before the Germans had arrived. This has been reported countless times in survivor testimonies and historical accounts. It ushered in the Holocaust in Lithuania. Another fact that has been reported for 70 years by survivors, witnesses and historical accounts is that the Germans received all the help they needed from Lithuanian locals who were eager accomplices.

I find it very sad when you say, “I still don’t know why the Lithuanians can’t simply grieve their own tragedy, and the Jews grieve  theirs.” All people should grieve over tragedies that involve the loss and suffering of others and should mourn the victims, regardless of their nationality or race. It seems cold and indifferent to separate out who should be mourned by whom.

During my three lengthy trips to Lithuania, I have made deep and lasting friendships with a good number of Lithuanians. I love and respect them no less than I do my American friends, both Jews and non-Jews. I cannot imagine that my Lithuanian friends could ever live in a different compartment of my heart.

In your final sentence you write, “The Lithuanians and the Jews both suffered greatly during World War II – or do you disagree with this as well?”

How could I possibly disagree with the truth? You can even go further and say the Lithuanians suffered beyond World War II during the second Soviet occupation that lasted almost fifty years. But there is one major difference: the goal of the Nazi regime was total annihilation of European Jewry – genocide. They came close to succeeding in Lithuania. The Soviet regime imposed deportations, imprisonment, death and suffering on the Lithuanian nation, but the majority of the Lithuanian population survived. While many perished in Siberian gulags, larger numbers eventually returned home to Lithuania. Both the Nazi and the Soviet regimes were heinous, but there was only one genocide. That fact should be acknowledged so that the history of World War II will not become distorted.

Olga Zabludoff

Category : Blog archive

- Posted by - (2) Comment

Donatas Januta: Reply to Olga Zabludoff re Holocaust in Lithuania

Why can’t the Lithuanians simply grieve their own tragedy, and the Jews grieve theirs?

Donatas Januta

Dear Olga:

Of the numbers of Lithuanian Jews that were killed in 1941-1944 I have seen several numbers, all of which were around 90% or more.   If you feel more comfortable with 95-96%, I won’t quarrel with you.   The fact is that any such number is an enormous number, and it was and is a great tragedy.   If there was anything that I could do to undo it, I would.   

But you don’t seem to dispute the Israeli historian Dina Porat that 99.5% of the Lithuanian population was neither directly nor indirectly involved.

As for your claim that the Jews contributed “enormously” to Lithuania’s economy and culture, you quote that wealthy Jews lent money to the “Lithuanian authorities” when they got into financial trouble.   But that was in centuries past, and those Lithuanian authorities were either individual warlords, or the Polish kings of the joint commonwealth, who got into personal financial trouble due to their extravagant lifestyles.   And all those Jewish loans then went into their own private pockets.  And, of course, the Jewish lenders did not act solely out of a sense of charity; they received more than a quid pro quo. The Lithuanian nation, i.e., the people of Lithuania, however, did not benefit at all from letting those same “Lithuanian authorities” continue living their extravagant lifestyles, at, ultimately, the people’s expense.    That's why those Jewish "contributions" to the Lithuanian nation's economy were, as I said, either ziltch, or perhaps less than ziltch.

And what about the “enormous” Jewish contributions to Lithuanian culture that you mentioned.   I am waiting to be enlightened on what it is you think they were.

Regarding your criticism of my “interpretation” of Timothy Snyder’s “Bloodlands”, all that I said was that it is a very good book, and everyone should read it.   So, are you saying that it is not a very good book, and people should not read it?  

As for your quote from “Bloodlands” (pp. 191-192) regarding Kazys Skirpa and his so-called radio broadcasts urging bloodshed, I understand that the author has acknowledged that that is incorrect, that he was relying on someone else’s research, who was either mistaken or simply falsified it.   The author has advised that in subsequent printings of the book, that reference has been deleted.   If you like, check with him yourself. 

I still don't  know why the Lithuanians can't simply grieve their own tragedy, and the Jews grieve theirs.  I did not start this dialogue, but was merely replying to Didier  Bertin and yourself.   As I said, before, the Lithuanians and the Jews both suffered greatly during World War II - or do you disagree with this as well?

Category : Blog archive

Lithuania welcomes EU’s last ditch deal, saying the resolve finally showed by EU heavyweights should stop the debt crisis from spreading

- Posted by - (1) Comment

Angela Merkel and
Dalia Grybauskiate

Lithuania Thursday welcomed a last-ditch deal to shore up the currency bloc, saying the resolve finally showed by EU heavyweights should stop the debt crisis from spreading.

"We've witnessed much more resolve from major EU countries," Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius said in a radio interview.

"Now we see much more political effort to find solutions to problems that have not been solved for almost one and a half years," he added.

Leaders from the 17-nation eurozone meeting overnight in Brussels reached a deal early Thursday to fix their festering debt crisis, boosting a bailout fund to a trillion euros, pledging new money for Greece and pushing banks to take a 50-percent loss, or "haircut", on Greek debt.
They acted amid raging concerns that the crisis could spiral, with Italy in the spotlight.

Lithuania's President Dalia Grybauskaite -- who attended Wednesday's summit of all 27 EUnion members held before the eurozone talks -- said she expected the deal to provide a buffer.

"These decisions, if implemented swiftly, are very useful, as the problems will be stopped in southern Europe and will not spread north," Grybauskaite, the EU's former finance commissioner, told the Baltic News Service.

Lithuania aims to adopt the euro by 2014.

Category : News

- Posted by - (7) Comment

Mr. Januta twists facts and figures
to suit his arguments

Olga Zabludoff

By: Olga Zabludoff
Washington, DC, USA

Mr. Januta’s article goes right to the heart of the problem: the tendency of critics like him to accuse others of being misinformed and of misstating facts. Indeed it is Mr. Januta who twists facts and figures to suit his arguments. Even when his facts are “correct,” they are simply half-truths.

For example: Yes, there is a Holocaust Museum in Vilnius, but to compare the pitiful little hidden building (the Green House) with the state-of-the-art Museum of Genocide located on a major street is like comparing a mouse to an elephant.

It hardly pays to argue with Januta because his reasoning is obviously skewed and his facts distorted. For example: 95-96% of the Lithuanian-Jewish population was murdered in the Holocaust in Lithuania. His figure is 90%.

In his book Professor Dov Levin speaks of two evils -- but of only one genocide, another confusion in Mr. Januta’s mind. Furthermore, his ridiculous claim that the Jews of Lithuania contributed “zilch” to the economy and culture of the country is contradicted by Dov Levin in his book: “The majority of the Jewish population worked at every possible trade, serving not only their own community but also the population at large.” (Introduction, p. 11)  Even going back to the Middle Ages, Dov Levin writes: “On more than one occasion, when the Lithuanian authorities got into financial (or other) difficulty, the country’s wealthiest Jews came to their aid with generous loans or grants of credit.” (p. 44) “The Jews’ deep penetration into the Lithuanian economy also created extra employment for the general population.” (p. 50)

Januta’s interpretation of Timothy Snyder’s Bloodlands is an injustice to the author’s careful research and articulate writing. Here is an excerpt that Mr. Januta obviously missed:

“The Germans arrived in Lithuania with their hand-picked nationalist Lithuanians and encountered local people who were willing to believe, or to act as if they believed, that Jews were responsible for Soviet repression. The Soviet deportations had taken place that very month, and the NKVD had shot Lithuanians in prison just a few days before the Germans arrived. The Lithuanian diplomat Kazys Skirpa, who returned with the Germans, used this suffering in his radio broadcasts to spur mobs to murder. Some 2,500 Jews were killed by Lithuanians in bloody pogroms in early July.

“As a result of trained collaboration and local assistance, German killers had all the help they needed in Lithuania.”  (pp. 191-192)

No need to say any more. fdfdg says it all in his Comments.

Category : Blog archive

So-called ‘double genocide’ and other red herrings

- Posted by - (7) Comment


By Donatas Januta

Mr. Didier Bertin is either woefully misinformed or intentionally misstates facts in his “reply” to Yves Plasseraud’s article “Lithuania and the memory of the Shoah (Holocaust)”.   

He refers to the crimes of Hitler and Stalin as the “Double Genocide” theory, states that the comparison of the two is initiated by Lithuania and/or its government, and that the reason for it is to somehow minimize the tragedy which the world’s Jews suffered during the Second World War.   But the comparison between the tragedies brought by those two psychopaths, Hitler and Stalin, is not of Lithuanian origin or usage at all.  

Mr. Bertin chooses not to give credit where credit is due.  The comparison between Hitler’s and Stalin’s crimes was first made and thoroughly analyzed by the prominent Israeli historian Dov Levin, in his book “The Lesser of Two Evils”.   Three things are clear to anyone who has read Dov Levin’s treatise:   (1)  Levin was definitely and scrupulously comparing the two, as he inevitably had to do to arrive at his conclusion which of the two was the lesser evil.   (2)   He was evaluating the two evils solely from the Jewish perspective, and in his conclusion he uses the word “lesser” not in the universal sense, but only with respect to the effect upon Jews.    (3)   Because Levin, even in the title of his book acknowledges, that there was not one but two evils – if there was only one, there would have been nothing he could have compared it to –  that still leaves two for analyzing their effect on the rest of the world.  

Levin did not use a modifier to describe  the effect of the two evils on non-Jews i.e., he did not state whether as to non-Jews the two evils of Hitler and Stalin were or were not equal, or similar, or equivalent.   But neither does Lithuania.   I have not run across the Lithuanian government or Lithuanians using the term  “Double Genocide”. 

Lithuania’s position is simply – you grieve for your tragedy, and we will grieve for ours.  Just as every person, every family, so every nation, every ethnic group, is entitled to grieve for their own separately from the grief of others, so are the Jews, the Ukrainians, the Cambodians, the Armenians, and others.  So are the Lithuanians.  

Bertin further states that Lithuanians are not entitled to use the word “genocide” at all in reference to their own tragedy  because “Lithuanian people still exist and are active in Lithuania”, i.e., that Hitler’s, and Stalin’s,  attempts to wipe them out were not successful.  Yet, he refers to the killings of Armenians, Rwandans, and Cambodians as being “real genocides”.  But  Armenians in Armenia, Rwandan’s in Rwanda, and Cambodians in Cambodia also still exist and are active in their countries, are they not?   (Bertin conveniently forgot to mention the genocide of the Ukranians, which, of course was perpetrated by that “lesser” of the two evils.)

Yes, 90% of Lithuanian Jews were killed during World War II.   And, yes, there were some German-organized Lithuanian militias or “Lithuanian auxiliaries” who participated in some of those actions.   But how many Lithuanians were in those “Lithuanian auxiliaries”?    The Soviets during that period also had a Division, the 16th Rifle Division, which they referred to as the “Lithuanian 16th Rifle Division.”    But because most soldiers in this “Lithuanian” division did not speak Lithuanian, the commands were given not in Lithuanian, but in Yiddish and Russian.  So, just how “Lithuanian” was this 16th Soviet Division were commands were given not in Lithuanian but in Yiddish and Russian?    And how “Lithuanian” were those “Lithuanain auxiliaries” which partook in German-organized and German-led killing of Jews?

Here is a quote from testimony of an ethnic Pole,  a member of one of those “Lithuanian Auxiliaries”, also referred to as “Special Detachments”, which testimony is in the possession of the US Justice Department’s “nazi hunting” department, the Office of Special Investigations (OSI):  

The Pole, Jan Borkowski, testified how the Russian Dolgow recruited him into the German organized “Lithuanian Auiliary”:    „Dolgow and I entered the building through Wilenska Street and went to the second floor... In my presence [someone] personally filled out my name in the questionnaire in Lithuanian and I signed it after Jan Dolgow had translated it to me. My name in the questionnaire was written in Lithuanian as Jonas Barkauskas, son of Ignas. The questionnaire also included my date of birth, rank in the Polish army, and similar information. That day I also received a certificate stating tha I was employed in the Special Detachment and that I had a right to possess a firearm... I received an identification card, filled in Lithuanian.”  (Protocol of Interrogation of a Suspect – Jan Borkowski, 29 January 1973, U.U. v. Dailide, Document 580–655, Bates No. 07821–07823.”

Borkowski further admitted that he participated in executing Jews at Ponary, that he has no remorse in having participated, but he expressed regret for having worn a Lithuanian uniform while doing so:  „I was ashamed, however, that I was a Pole and had to put on the uniform of the bourgeois Lithuanian army.” (Bates No.07882).

And should the fact that Lithuania was one of the few, and perhaps the only, German occupied country where the Germans, despite repeatedly trying, did not succeed in establishing a local ethnic SS, should that not give pause for thought as well?

Just a bit more of statistics.   According to Israeli historian, Dina Porat, about 0.5%, i.e., half of one percent, of the entire population of Lithuania was involved directly and indirectly, i.e., whether prison guards, drivers, etc., in the killing of Jews. (And how many of your French, Mr. Bertin, were involved in rounding up France’s Jews and shoving them into railroad cars heading straight for Auschwitz?) Porat does not however state how many of that 0.5% were Jan Borkowski, Jan Dogow, and similar “honorary” Lithuanians.    The number of Lithuanians who have been identified as having, at the risk of their own lives, saved Jews from the Holocaust, is on the same order of magnitude.

Bertin’s statement that Lithuania is the sole country that “tries to prosecute Holocaust Survivors and members of the resistance against Nazis” flatly contradicts the facts. In 2007, the Polish government  forwarded information and asked the Lithuanian government to investigate the slaughter, on January 29, 1944, by Soviet partizans/bandits of Polish and Lithuanian civilian villagers at Kaniukai (“Koniuchy”).  Those partizans/bandits were not just anti-Nazis, their main goal was to bring Stalin’s communism, with its demonstrated terror, back into Lithuania.

Here is testimony of two of those “anti-Nazi” Soviet Jewish partisans regarding their actions at Kaniukai.  Abraham Zelesnikow:  “Partisans came around the village, everything was torched, every animal, every person was killed.  And one of my friends, acquaintances, a partisan, took a woman, put her head on a stone, and killed her with a stone.”    Zalman Wylozni:  “the entire village of 80 farmsteads was burned to the ground and its inhabitants were murdered.”

The villagers were slaughtered because they defended their and their families’ lives and livelihoods, as the partizan/bandits have themselves admitted:  Joseph Harmatz:  “We came in like bandits and, after all, we were robbing the local peasants of their livelihood.  .   .   .   Gradually the villagers ...  became our enemies.”  Rakhil Margolis:   “I could not stomach going to [these “requisitioning”  expeditions].  I was so ashamed of entering a cottage and demanding from the peasants potatoes, flour, especially livestock – sheep, cows.  The women cried, the men cursed.  .  .  .   there were many “underworlds” types in our detachment – former thieves and swindlers for whom robbery was an habitual thing.”

So, on the basis of Poland’s request and this type of information, the Lithuanian government sought to question, not to prosecute, but merely to question as witnesses,  some of the admitted witnesses in that indiscriminate slaughter of civilian villagers.   The result was an almost hysterical reaction from Efraim Zuroff and his followers, claiming that Lithuania was persecuting Holocaust survivors.

If someone wants to learn historical facts, and not just listen to political polemics based on red herrings like the so-called “Double Genocide” theory,  you should read professor Timothy Snyder’s “Bloodlands” about the conditions in Lithuania and Easterm Europe during World War II.   Or better yet, start with Israeli historian Dov Levin’s “The Lesser of Two Evils.”

At the end of his article, Bertin, reminds us that many Russian soldiers died fighting the Nazis, as if Lithuanians should be thankful to the Russians.   But if Russia’s Stalin had not signed the infamous non-aggression treaty with Hitler in 1939, where Stalin gave Hitler free hand to invade and occupy Poland, and to thus start World War II, those Russians would also not have needed to die.   And the tragedy of the Holocaust might not have occurred either.  So, go ahead, Mr. Bertin, do thank the Russians.

There are other incorrect and misleading claims in Didier Bertin’s, as well as in Olga Zabludoff’s, “reply” to Yves Plasseraud.  Like the simple fact that in addition to the Genocide Museum of the Lithuanian tragedy, there is also nearby in Vilnius a Jewish Holocaust Museum, which is funded by the Lithuanian government and administered by the Lithuanian Jewish Community, and which covers exclusively the Jewish tragedy of World War II.  

And, please, Olga, spare us your crocodile tears under your fancied claim that the “contributions” of Jews “to Lithuania’s economy and culture were enormous” and that the Lithuanian government is ignoring it.  The contribution of Jews to Lithuania’s economy and culture, over the 600 years that they lived in Lithuania, was either zilch or less than zilch.   Let me explain.

Lithuania, on the eve of World War I, was as backward a country as the rest of the Russian Empire.  Due to the Czarist Russian empire’s occupation and oppressive colonialism policies for over 100 years, Lithuania’s economy was depressed, it was an agricultural economy, but with Lithuanians being barely more than subsistance farmers.   Its culture was marked by almost total illiteracy, due to Russia’s restrictions on the use of the Lithuanian language.  I have no idea what Olga Zabludoff has in mind when she refers to the “enormous” economic and cultural contributions of the Litvaks to the Lithuanian nation.  There were none.  Lithuania was economically and culturally exploited and oppressed.     

For 600 years Litvaks lived side by side with, but separate from, Lithuanians.   Indeed, Jewish historians have noted that of all of Europe’s Jews, those of Lithuania interacted the least with the ethnic people among whom they lived.   And they have further noted, that this self-insulation allowed the Jews to maintain, preserve and develop their unique culture with the least amount of outside influence.  A number of Jewish scholars note that the Jews in Lithuania were able to do this, because they considered the Lithuanians inferior to them.  

Zabludoff also laments that Lithuanians are striving to preserve and extol their own history without simultaneously extolling the history of its Jews.  And how much time do Jews devote to preserving or extoling Lithuania’s history when they extol their own?    If the small country of Lithuania doesn’t beat its own drum, there is noone else who will do it for them.   

Litvaks, are certainly neither unknown, nor ignored, nor hidden from the world, nor do they lack anyone to beat their drums.  Litvaks’ vast contribution to world knowledge, science and the arts over the last 100 years probably has no parallel in any other group.  And we have all benefited from their talents and intellect.    But this has happened in the last 100 years in the West.  It was not the case in Lithuania for the 600 years up to World War II.  Lithuanians were peasant farmers, Jews were urban merchants and tradesmen.   Their cultures did not intermix. 

And certainly it should not be surprising if the small country of Lithuania, as Zabludoff says, cannot appease far-right extremists, if such a prominent scholar like professor Timothy Snyder is unable to do so.  Just look at the attacks by Efraim Zuroff and his followers on Snyder’s book “Bloodlands”, which otherwise has received an extremely favorable reception throughout the world.

The Jews of Lithuania and the ethnic Lithuanians both suffered terribly during World War II.  But, just as they had lived for 600 years, side by side but separate, so they suffered their tragedies separately.  Thus, it may be that Lithuanians and Jews will never agree on the events of World War II, because they are each viewing them from a separate reality.    But that should not be cause for playing fast and loose with historical facts, as Diedier Bertin and Olga Zabludoff, have done.  

Category : Blog archive

- Posted by - (0) Comment

Good news for Lithuania!

1) Now ranked ahead of France and Belgium

Lithuania is ranked 27th out of 183 countries in the global business environment ranking "Doing Business 2012" recently published by The World Bank.

Lithuania is ranked higher than Belgium, France, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Spain, Greece, Austria and Italy.

Lithuania has been rated particularly high in the Property Registration category (7) and the Contract Enforcement category (15).

Moreover, Lithuania has stepped even by 28 positions up to the 65th rank in the Protecting Investors category. It has been also noted in the report that Lithuania facilitated tax administration over the year as well as improved conditions for trade across borders by reducing the time spent at customs.

Category : News


Have your say. Send to:

By Dr. Boris Vytautas Bakunas,
Ph. D., Chicago

A wave of unity sweeps the international Lithuanian community on March 11th every year as Lithuanians celebrated the anniversary of the Lithuanian Parliament's declaration of independence from the Soviet Union in 1990. However, the sense of national unity engendered by the celebration could be short-lived.

Human beings have a strong tendency to overgeneralize and succumb to stereotypical us-them distinctions that can shatter even the strongest bonds. We need only search the internet to find examples of divisive thinking at work:

- "50 years of Soviet rule has ruined an entire generation of Lithuanian.

- "Those who fled Lithuania during World II were cowards -- and now they come back, flaunt their wealth, and tell us 'true Lithuanians' how to live."

- "Lithuanians who work abroad have abandoned their homeland and should be deprived of their Lithuanian citizenship."

Could such stereotypical, emotionally-charged accusations be one of the main reasons why relations between Lithuania's diaspora groups and their countrymen back home have become strained?

* * *

Text: Saulene Valskyte

In Lithuania Christmas Eve is a family event and the New Year's Eve a great party with friends!
Lithuanian say "Kaip sutiksi naujus metus, taip juos ir praleisi" (the way you'll meet the new year is the way you will spend it). So everyone is trying to spend New Year's Eve with friend and have as much fun as possible.

Lithuanian New Year's traditions are very similar to those in other countries, and actually were similar since many years ago. Also, the traditional Lithuanian New Years Eve party was very similar to other big celebrations throughout the year.

The New Year's Eve table is quite similar to the Christmas Eve table, but without straws under the tablecloth, and now including meat dishes. A tradition that definitely hasn't changes is that everybody is trying not to fell asleep before midnight. It was said that if you oversleep the midnight point you will be lazy all the upcoming year. People were also trying to get up early on the first day of the new year, because waking up late also meant a very lazy and unfortunate year.

During the New Year celebration people were dancing, singing, playing games and doing magic to guess the future. People didn't drink much of alcohol, especially was that the case for women.

Here are some advices from elders:
- During the New Year, be very nice and listen to relatives - what you are during New Year Eve, you will be throughout the year.

- During to the New Year Eve, try not to fall, because if this happens, next year you will be unhappy.

- If in the start of the New Year, the first news are good - then the year will be successful. If not - the year will be problematic.

New year predictions
* If during New Year eve it's snowing - then it will be bad weather all year round. If the day is fine - one can expect good harvest.
* If New Year's night is cold and starry - look forward to a good summer!
* If the during New Year Eve trees are covered with frost - then it will be a good year. If it is wet weather on New Year's Eve, one can expect a year where many will die and dangerous epidemics occur.
* If the first day of the new year is snowy - the upcoming year will see many young people die. If the night is snowy - mostly old people will die.
* If the New Year time is cold - then Easter will be warm.
* If during New Year there are a lot of birds in your homestead - then all year around there will be many guests and the year will be fun.

* * *

* * *
Christmas greetings
from Vilnius

* * *
Ukraine won the historic
and epic battle for the
By Leonidas Donskis
Philosopher, political theorist, historian of
ideas, social analyst, and political

Immediately after Russia stepped in Syria, we understood that it is time to sum up the convoluted and long story about Ukraine and the EU - a story of pride and prejudice which has a chance to become a story of a new vision regained after self-inflicted blindness.

Ukraine was and continues to be perceived by the EU political class as a sort of grey zone with its immense potential and possibilities for the future, yet deeply embedded and trapped in No Man's Land with all of its troubled past, post-Soviet traumas, ambiguities, insecurities, corruption, social divisions, and despair. Why worry for what has yet to emerge as a new actor of world history in terms of nation-building, European identity, and deeper commitments to transparency and free market economy?

Right? Wrong. No matter how troubled Ukraine's economic and political reality could be, the country has already passed the point of no return. Even if Vladimir Putin retains his leverage of power to blackmail Ukraine and the West in terms of Ukraine's zero chances to accede to NATO due to the problems of territorial integrity, occupation and annexation of Crimea, and mayhem or a frozen conflict in the Donbas region, Ukraine will never return to Russia's zone of influence. It could be deprived of the chances to join NATO or the EU in the coming years or decades, yet there are no forces on earth to make present Ukraine part of the Eurasia project fostered by Putin.

* * *
Watch this video if you
want to learn about the
new, scary propaganda
war between Russia,
The West and the
Baltic States!

* * *
90% of all Lithuanians
believe their government
is corrupt
Lithuania is perceived to be the country with the most widespread government corruption, according to an international survey involving almost 40 countries.

* * *
Lithuanian medical
students say no to
bribes for doctors

On International Anticorruption Day, the Special Investigation Service shifted their attention to medical institutions, where citizens encounter bribery most often. Doctors blame citizens for giving bribes while patients complain that, without bribes, they won't receive proper medical attention. Campaigners against corruption say that bribery would disappear if medical institutions themselves were to take resolute actions against corruption and made an effort to take care of their patients.

* * *
Doing business in Lithuania

By Grant Arthur Gochin
California - USA

Lithuania emerged from the yoke of the Soviet Union a mere 25 years ago. Since then, Lithuania has attempted to model upon other European nations, joining NATO, Schengen, and the EU. But, has the Soviet Union left Lithuania?

During Soviet times, government was administered for the people in control, not for the local population, court decisions were decreed, they were not the administration of justice, and academia was the domain of ideologues. 25 years of freedom and openness should have put those bad experiences behind Lithuania, but that is not so.

Today, it is a matter of expectation that court pronouncements will be governed by ideological dictates. Few, if any Lithuanians expect real justice to be effected. For foreign companies, doing business in Lithuania is almost impossible in a situation where business people do not expect rule of law, so, surely Government would be a refuge of competence?

Lithuanian Government has not emerged from Soviet styles. In an attempt to devolve power, Lithuania has created a myriad of fiefdoms of power, each speaking in the name of the Government, each its own centralized power base of ideology.

* * *
Greetings from Wales!
By Anita Šovaitė-Woronycz
Chepstow, Wales

Think of a nation in northern Europe whose population is around the 3 million mark a land of song, of rivers, lakes, forests, rolling green hills, beautiful coastline a land where mushrooms grow ready for the picking, a land with a passion for preserving its ancient language and culture.

Doesn't that sound suspiciously like Lithuania? Ah, but I didn't mention the mountains of Snowdonia, which would give the game away.

I'm talking about Wales, that part of the UK which Lithuanians used to call "Valija", but later named "Velsas" (why?). Wales, the nation which has welcomed two Lithuanian heads of state to its shores - firstly Professor Vytautas Landsbergis, who has paid several visits and, more recently, President Dalia Grybauskaitė who attended the 2014 NATO summit which was held in Newport, South Wales.

* * *
Read Cassandra's article HERE

Read Rugile's article HERE

Did you know there is a comment field right after every article we publish? If you read the two above posts, you will see that they both have received many comments. Also YOU are welcome with your comments. To all our articles!
* * *

Greetings from Toronto
By Antanas Sileika,
Toronto, Canada

Toronto was a major postwar settlement centre for Lithuanian Displaced Persons, and to this day there are two Catholic parishes and one Lutheran one, as well as a Lithuanian House, retirement home, and nursing home. A new wave of immigrants has showed interest in sports.

Although Lithuanian activities have thinned over the decades as that postwar generation died out, the Lithuanian Martyrs' parish hall is crowded with many, many hundreds of visitors who come to the Lithuanian cemetery for All Souls' Day. Similarly, the Franciscan parish has standing room only for Christmas Eve mass.

Although I am firmly embedded in the literary culture of Canada, my themes are usually Lithuanian, and I'll be in Kaunas and Vilnius in mid-November 2015 to give talks about the Lithuanian translations of my novels and short stories, which I write in English.

If you have the Lithuanian language, come by to one of the talks listed in the links below. And if you don't, you can read more about my work at
* * *

As long as VilNews exists,
there is hope for the future
Professor Irena Veisaite, Chairwoman of our Honorary Council, asked us to convey her heartfelt greetings to the other Council Members and to all readers of VilNews.

"My love and best wishes to all. As long as VilNews exists, there is hope for the future,"" she writes.

Irena Veisaite means very much for our publication, and we do hereby thank her for the support and wise commitment she always shows.

You can read our interview with her
* * *
Facing a new reality

By Vygaudas Ušackas
EU Ambassador to the Russian Federation

Dear readers of VilNews,

It's great to see this online resource for people interested in Baltic affairs. I congratulate the editors. From my position as EU Ambassador to Russia, allow me to share some observations.

For a number of years, the EU and Russia had assumed the existence of a strategic partnership, based on the convergence of values, economic integration and increasingly open markets and a modernisation agenda for society.

Our agenda was positive and ambitious. We looked at Russia as a country ready to converge with "European values", a country likely to embrace both the basic principles of democratic government and a liberal concept of the world order. It was believed this would bring our relations to a new level, covering the whole spectrum of the EU's strategic relationship with Russia.

* * *

The likelihood of Putin
invading Lithuania
By Mikhail Iossel
Professor of English at Concordia University, Canada
Founding Director at Summer Literary Seminars

The likelihood of Putin's invading Lithuania or fomenting a Donbass-style counterfeit pro-Russian uprising there, at this point, in my strong opinion, is no higher than that of his attacking Portugal, say, or Ecuador. Regardless of whether he might or might not, in principle, be interested in the insane idea of expanding Russia's geographic boundaries to those of the former USSR (and I for one do not believe that has ever been his goal), he knows this would be entirely unfeasible, both in near- and long-term historical perspective, for a variety of reasons. It is not going to happen. There will be no restoration of the Soviet Union as a geopolitical entity.

* * *

Are all Lithuanian energy
problems now resolved?
By Dr. Stasys Backaitis,
P.E., CSMP, SAE Fellow Member of Central and Eastern European Coalition, Washington, D.C., USA

Lithuania's Energy Timeline - from total dependence to independence

Lithuania as a country does not have significant energy resources. Energy consuming infrastructure after WWII was small and totally supported by energy imports from Russia.

First nuclear reactor begins power generation at Ignalina in 1983, the second reactor in 1987. Iganlina generates enough electricity to cover Lithuania's needs and about 50%.for export. As, prerequisite for membership in EU, Ignalina ceases all nuclear power generation in 2009

The Klaipėda Sea terminal begins Russia's oil export operations in 1959 and imports in 1994.

Mazeikiu Nafta (current ORLEAN Lietuva) begins operation of oil refinery in 1980.

* * *

Have Lithuanian ties across
the Baltic Sea become
stronger in recent years?
By Eitvydas Bajarunas
Ambassador to Sweden

My answer to affirmative "yes". Yes, Lithuanian ties across the Baltic Sea become as never before solid in recent years. For me the biggest achievement of Lithuania in the Baltic Sea region during recent years is boosting Baltic and Nordic ties. And not because of mere accident - Nordic direction was Lithuania's strategic choice.

The two decades that have passed since regaining Lithuania's independence can be described as a "building boom". From the wreckage of a captive Soviet republic, a generation of Lithuanians have built a modern European state, and are now helping construct a Nordic-Baltic community replete with institutions intended to promote political coordination and foster a trans-Baltic regional identity. Indeed, a "Nordic-Baltic community" - I will explain later in my text the meaning of this catch-phrase.

Since the restoration of Lithuania's independence 25 years ago, we have continuously felt a strong support from Nordic countries. Nordics in particular were among the countries supporting Lithuania's and Baltic States' striving towards independence. Take example of Iceland, country which recognized Lithuania in February of 1991, well in advance of other countries. Yet another example - Swedish Ambassador was the first ambassador accredited to Lithuania in 1991. The other countries followed suit. When we restored our statehood, Nordic Countries became champions in promoting Baltic integration into Euro-Atlantic institutions. To large degree thanks Nordic Countries, massive transformations occurred in Lithuania since then, Lithuania became fully-fledged member of the EU and NATO, and we joined the Eurozone on 1 January 2015.

* * *

It's the economy, stupid *
By Valdas (Val) Samonis,

n his article, Val Samonis takes a comparative policy look at the Lithuanian economy during the period 2000-2015. He argues that the LT policy response (a radical and classical austerity) was wrong and unenlightened because it coincided with strong and continuing deflationary forces in the EU and the global economy which forces were predictable, given the right policy guidance. Also, he makes a point that LT austerity, and the resulting sharp drop in GDP and employment in LT, stimulated emigration of young people (and the related worsening of other demographics) which processes took huge dimensions thereby undercutting even the future enlightened efforts to get out of the middle-income growth trap by LT. Consequently, the country is now on the trajectory (development path) similar to that of a dog that chases its own tail. A strong effort by new generation of policymakers is badly needed to jolt the country out of that wrong trajectory and to offer the chance of escaping the middle-income growth trap via innovations.

* * *

Have you heard about the
South African "Pencil Test"?
By Karina Simonson

If you are not South African, then, probably, you haven't. It is a test performed in South Africa during the apartheid regime and was used, together with the other ways, to determine racial identity, distinguishing whites from coloureds and blacks. That repressive test was very close to Nazi implemented ways to separate Jews from Aryans. Could you now imagine a Lithuanian mother, performing it on her own child?

But that is exactly what happened to me when I came back from South Africa. I will tell you how.

* * *
Click HERE to read previous opinion letters >

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