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Archive for November, 2011

Keep the good work going. I’m impressed.

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Thanks for the newsletter. It has renewed my interest in Lithuania at a time when I am more involved in other countries. Keep the good work going. I'm impressed.
Keith C. Smith, Former US Ambassador to Lithuania, Washington DC - USA

Category : About VilNews sidebar / Opinions

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Donatas Januta: Reply to Olga Zabludoff re Holocaust in Lithuania
Lithuania’s warriors

Donatas Januta

Dear Olga,

You and I disagree on a number of issues, including the contribution or non-contribution of Jews to Lithuania's economy. But please don't take that to mean that I am not willing to acknowledge real and important Jewish contributions to Lithuania. I wrote and published much of the following material in the Lithuanian language as an article in a Lithuanian newspaper a few years ago. As I send this off to VilNews, we are heading into Thanksgiving, and I wish you and your family a pleasant holiday. I will look forward to continuing our dialogue next week, including about our differences and about our common ground.


Category : Opinions

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Donatas Januta: Reply to Olga Zabludoff re Holocaust in Lithuania

Litvaks: Lithuania’s warriors

Donatas Januta

Dear Olga,

You and I disagree on a number of issues, including the contribution or non-contribution of Jews to Lithuania's economy.  But please don't take that to mean that I am not willing to acknowledge real and important Jewish contributions to Lithuania.    I wrote and published much of the following material in the Lithuanian language as an article in a Lithuanian newspaper a few years ago.  As I send this off to VilNews, we are heading into Thanksgiving, and I wish you and your family a pleasant holiday.  I will look forward to continuing our dialogue next week, including about our differences and about our common ground.

*       *       *

For 600 years in Lithuania Jews and Lithuanians lived side by side, but separate. Lithuanians were peasant farmers. Jews were urban merchants, traders, craftsmen. Of all European Jews, those of Lithuania interacted the least with the people among whom they lived.  When they met, it was almost exclusively in the marketplace. This separation allowed the Lithuanian Jews, who called themselves “Litvakes”, to develop and maintain their unique and rich culture with little outside influence.

But there were times when the two groups consciously and earnestly supported each other for the common good. One of those times was at the beginning of the Lithuanian Republic in 1918-1924.  Lithuanian Jews fought and worked for Lithuanian independence, and they also obtained significant autonomy in the country.  A Ministry for Jewish Affairs was established.  Jews had their own representatives in Lithuania’s Parliament (“Seimas”), and by law the Jewish community was given the power to impose taxes, as well full rights over education and religious matters of their community.   This article is a small glimpse into that time when Jews and Lithuanians fought and worked together to achieve all those goals.

*     *     *

Citizens! Take up arms, donate money, goods, everyting that can help the army, that can strengthen the country in battles against its enemies.

Those are the words, addressed to the Lithuanian Jewish community, in Yiddish and Lithuanian, of Ozeris Finkelšteinas, an attorney in Kaunas, an active member of the Lithuanian Jewish community, a member of the Lithuanian Founding Parliament, on October 9, 1920, after Želigowski’s Polish division invaded Vilnius and threatened the rest of Lithuania.

Jews were among those who, in the 1918-1923 wars of Lithuanian Independence, with their blood and suffering won Independence and freedom for Lithuania. In an honored place in the Kaunas choral synagogue, there used to hang a large black marble plaque, with the names written in gold letters of approximately 60 Jewish youths who had died fighting for Lithuanian indpendence.

One of those names was that of Robinzonas Leizeris, who was killed in the autumn of 1920 in battle with Poles near Druskininkai. Leizeris’ comrade, who fought alongside Leizeris and was captured by the Poles, spoke about Leizeris’ last hours. When it was suggested to Leizeris that they withdraw from the much larger Polish force, Leizeris replied: “The outcome is clear – it’s either death or captivity. . . . I’d rather die than end up in the hated Poles’ clutches.”

All who retreated then continued to fight in the new location: “We fought until it was no longer possible, and so . . . we end up prisoners. They disarm and line us up. We continue to hear thunderous gunfire. Comrade Robinzonas Leizeris has not lost hope and is  still shooting. A Polish officer hit by his well-aimed shot fell at our feet. Robinzonas Leizeris was approximately 50 paces from us. Holding his rifle at his chest, his face aflame and aiming at the enemy, he yelled: one, two, three . . . . Furious Polish officers ran towards the unknown warrior yelling ‘pšiakrėv’. Our Robinzonas Leizeris was shot dead by them with their Brownings, and left to lie where he fell.”

*       *       *

Lithuanian Jews, calling themselves “Litvakes”, towards the end of the First World War, just as Lithuanians, did not wait for compulsory mobilization, but on their own initiative joined partisan groups to defend Lithuania – in the Panevėzys partisan group, 14 Jews fought against the Poles. In 1919 in Joniškis, when Lithuania still did not have its own army, the Jews themselves formed, outfitted and fed a batallion of Jewish volunteers.  When mobilization was finally announced, this already formed Jewish batallion was one of the first groups of soldiers of the Lithuanian army.

J. Šapiro, a Jew from Joniškis, in 1934 wrote about the forming of that batallion: “The joint historical fate of Jews and Lithuanians, having dragged the same czarist yoke for centuries, awakened in us Lithuania’s Jews, a consciousness of the same fate for our peoples, and a resolve to win, together, an indpendent nation. . . . I initiated a broad action to recruit Jewish volunteers. For that purpose I visited several places, explaining and persuading, and the Jewish youth came out in droves. . . . Some of those early volunteers fell in battle, and their graves are scattered throughout Lithuania’s fields.

Volfas Kaganas, distinguished in battle multiple times – against the Bolsheviks, against the Bermontists, and again against the Poles – was twice awarded the Vytis Cross for bravery.  One of his deeds is described: “On November 23, 1919, in combat against the German Bermontists near Radviliškis junior officer Volfas Kaganas, attacking the enemy in the town, was injured by artillery shrapnel, but he did not abandon the formation. Quickly, he bandaged his own wound, and continued the attack with his corps, in that manner encouraging others. The enemy was ejected from Radviliškis.

Later, Lithuanian Jews established an association of Jewish soldiers who had fought in the wars of Lithuania’s Independence, which in 1933 had chapters in 33 locations.  The association had over 3,000 members. Among them were volunteers from the very beginning and participants in the liberation of Klaipėda.   19 Jewish warriors were awarded the Vytis Cross and other medals for distinguishing themselves in battle.   Two Jewish Vytis Cross warriors, who were
cut to pieces by the Poles, rest somewhere in the Alytus cemetery.   All of Lithuania’s Jewish burials suffered during the German and Soviet occupations, and attempts are now being made to find those two warriors’ burial places. 

During the wars of Lithuanian Independence, the Lithuanian army had 9 Jewish officers.  Among the first class of graduates from the Lithuanian Military Academy were six Jews:  Goldbergas, Goniondskis. Gotlibas, Gensqas, Krisknianskis, and Mogilevskis.

Historian Dov Levin, born in Kaunas, Lithuania in 1925, and living in Israel since World War II, who is, in general, not kindly disposed towards Lithuanians, writes that after World War I, Lithuanian  Jews understood and knew that life in Lithuania was  better for them than for Jews in the neighboring countries, and for that reason “it is easy to understand their general willingness  to serve in the Lithuanian army, and such patriotic associations as the Vilnius Liberation Commettee, and why the students of  Kaunas’ Hebrew gymnasium offered themselves as volunteers to serve in the Lithuanian Riflemen’s Association (“Šauliai”) against the Polish legions which were marching towards Vilnius.”

*       *       *

During the Lithuanian Wars of Independence, supplying weapons to the Lithuanian Army was not an easy task.   At that time Lithuania was surrounded by enemies on all sides – Poles, Bolsheviks, Bermontiks, and, of course, Germans who were still there and were the masters of  the land.  Though Lithuania may have had funds to buy armaments, it was difficult to find anyone who would sell them to Lithuania.    Boris Šeinas, a Jew from Kaunas, agreed to support the army on credit, in other words, to risk his economic existence and his life, on the gamble that Lithuania would succeed against its enemies.  And so, he provided weapons,  horses, wagons, clothing, boots, bread.

In the beginning, the Germans prohibited the Lithuanians from establishing their own army, and a state of war existed  between Poland and Lithuania.  On one trip Šeinas illegally crossed into Poland to buy some horses for the Lithuanian army.  He was herding 25 horses back to Lithuania and the Poles caught him.  The Poles grabbed the horses, but Šeinas managed to escape – if he had not, he would have faced a military tribunal and been executed.   After hiding out for a week, Šeinas, with his helpers one dark night grabbed the horses from the Poles’ stables and eventually led them into Lithuania. They say that along the way, the Kaišiadoris pharmacist Morkunas, offered Šeinas 7,500 marks for each horse, but Šeinas turned it down and sold all the horses to the Lithuanian Army for the agreed price of 5,000 marks per horse.

One of the founding volunteers of the Lithuanian Army, genereal Vincas Grigaliūnas-Glovackis, himself  distinguished in battles, evaluated Šeinas’ and other Jewish merchants contributions to the wars of Independence:  “To keep benefical for us contacts with the Germans, to buy up weapons, to maintain secret warehouses with war material, to transport and deliver weapons .  .  .  Šeinas, Zisle, Frenkelis, Aronsonas and others carried out special assignments with true love of  their country, placing their live in danger, not  begrudging either money or labor.”

Jews also worked in the political arena in support of Lithuania’s Independence.  Simon Rozenbaum, having wide influence in  Europe’s Jewish community raised and promoted Lithuania’s Indpendence at the Versailles Peace Conference.    Also, in the 1919-1920 negotiations between Lithuania and the Soviet Union it was not a coincidence that Lithuania succeeded in getting favorable terms – representing Lithuania, one of the negotiators was Simon Rozenbaum, while the chief Soviet negotiator was the Jew Adolf Yoffe, and his superior was the Litvak Maxim Litvinov, who was from a Jewish family in Byalistok. 

The Jews of Lithuania in 1918-1920 contributed financially and politically to the re-establishment of Lithuania as an independent sovereign state.   And they also fought and they died as warriors with weapons in their hands, next to their Lithuanian comrades.    It is an enormous tragedy, and a most sad tragedy that two decades later, both groups – Jews and Lithuanians – were to suffer greatly, and separately.  But for the brief few years at the start of the 20th century, they fought and worked together, shoulder to shoulder.

Category : Blog archive

Lithuania seeks arrest of Antonov, Baranauskas in bank crash

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Lithuanian prosecutors have issued a European arrest warrant for the Russian owner of the Portsmouth Football Club in connection with hundreds of millions of dollars in assets stripped from Snoras Bank, the 5th largest in Lithuania.

Prosecutors said they Vladimir Antonov and his Lithuanian partner Raimundas Baranauskas are the main suspects in a pretrial investigation into an alleged fraud and money laundering case that is threatening to destroy two Baltic banks.



* Russian banker, with partner, suspected of embezzlement, fraud

* Follows seizure of Lithuania's Snoras bank

* Daughter bank in Latvia likely to be liquidated-regulator

* Funds missing from both banks-officials

* People queue at Latvian bank for small withdrawals allowed (Addds arrest warrant for former bank owners, share prices)

By Nerijus Adomaitis and Aleks Tapinsh

VILNIUS/RIGA, Nov 23 (Reuters) - Lithuania on Wednesday issued a European arrest warrant for the Russian businessman whose bank was seized by the state last week after regulators found a hole in the bank's assets and launched a fraud probe.

The collapse of Lithuanian bank Snoras has also led to the suspension of its Latvian daughter company, Krajbanka. A Latvian regulator said the bank would likely be liquidated.

Category : News

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NASA Would Like to Cooperate with Lithuanian Scientists and Businesses

NASA and Lithuania could cooperate, said Simon P. Worden, Director of the NASA Ames Research Center, paying a visit in the Government of Lithuania last week.
According to Worden, the country's science potential would allow a successful contribution to the projects of NASA.
"Traditionally, NASA cooperates with Russian, European and Japanese space agencies. Yet now, implementing the new space policy of the U.S. President Barack Obama, we are looking for ways to cooperate with non-traditional and technologically advanced partners. Lithuania is known for advanced technologies, especially in the field of small satellites. We are considering cooperation with different universities and companies and we expect to implement joint projects," NASA official said after the meeting with Lithuanian Prime Minister.

Category : News

We really needed something like this long ago

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Let me express my warmest greetings for such a wonderful job. I’m sure it will contribute a lot to creating a better image of Lithuania in the world. We really needed something like this long ago.
Kristina Lukošiūtė, Lithuanian Business Confederation | ICC Lithuania
Director of Corporate Affairs

Category : About VilNews sidebar / Opinions

Bringing out different points of view

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I very much enjoy reading VilNews and appreciate your efforts at bringing out different points of view and including viewpoints not normally considered by ethnic Lithuanian society such as non-Lithuanians living or working in Lithuania or other interested parties.
Rimantas Aukstuolis, Vice President, Fifth Third Bank, Cleveland, Ohio

Category : About VilNews sidebar / Opinions

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Post by Aage Myhre, M.Sc. of Architecture, VilNews Editor-in-Chief:
Grybas House in the Old Town of Vilnius

Click to see the picture in big format.

I was the architect for this Vilnius Old Town hotel back in 1994-1995; Grybas House. Lithuanian building products were still very Soviet, so I had to import windows, doors and much more from my home country Norway. But the hotel still looks fantastic, doesn't it? The hotel's web page is

Category : Hotels & restraunts sidebar

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Didier Bertin: Reply to Yves Plasseraud re Holocaust in Lithuania
No more excuses for the policies and provocations of the Lithuanian authorities!

By Didier BERTIN
President of the Society for the Promotion of the European Human Rights Model 

I want to thank my (French) compatriot, Yves Plasseraud for taking the time to reply to me. He also mentions in his reply that he had helped the organization of Lithuanian-Jewish events in the early 1990s, a most laudable achievement for which we are all in his debt. But being rooted in an earlier milieu can truly rob one of the perspectives needed to see when unwanted changes occur.


Category : Opinions

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Donatas Januta: Reply to Olga Zabludoff re Holocaust in Lithuania
Embracing history between Lithuanians and Jews can’t be a one way street

Donatas Januta

Dear Olga,

You are very eloquent in stating your position. But even people of good will and good intentions can have honest differences of opinion, and sometimes are simply wrong. I am glad that you and I agree on the very basic matter of our debate, i.e., that the Holocaust was the worst genocide in European history, and that Jews and Lithuanians both suffered terribly during World War II and its aftermath.


Category : Opinions

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Didier Bertin: Reply to Yves Plasseraud re Holocaust in Lithuania

No more excuses for the policies and provocations of the Lithuanian authorities!

20 November 2011

By Didier BERTIN
President of the Society for the Promotion of the European Human Rights Model

I want to thank my (French) compatriot, Yves Plasseraud for taking the time to reply to me. He also mentions in his reply that he had helped the organization of Lithuanian-Jewish events in the early 1990s, a most laudable achievement for which we are all in his debt. But being rooted in an earlier milieu can truly rob one of the perspectives needed to see when unwanted changes occur.

What Yves Plasseraud saw at conferences in the early 1990s does not harmonize with what has been happening in Lithuania in the last few years.

As Yves Plasseraud knows Lithuania from period after the end of Communism he had probably witnessed the fact the Lithuanian citizens expelled from USA from the years 1990 because they were war criminals were all left free when they went back to Lithuania after having being stripped of US citizenship. I read and was told that many received hero’s welcomes. What did Yves Plasseraud think of these events?

What does Yves Plasseraud think of the defamation campaign that started from 2006 and proceeds until now against Holocaust survivors? On August 30th 2011, Interpol was sent by Lithuanian authorities to disturb an 86 year old Holocaust survivor and veteran of the anti-Nazi resistance.

I am glad to learn that there exist museums making reference to the Holocaust other than the green house, but the Holocaust was unknown for the Genocide museum when I visited it. And now, there is just one little cell in the basement opened last month after the very campaign by human rights experts that so upsets Plasseraud. The new basement “Holocaust cell” (unannounced on the main floor from any visible place) does indeed mark the Holocaust while distorting or denying completely the important local complicity that led Lithuania to have the highest extermination of all Europe (more than 95%).

Yves Plasseraud tries to excuse the Lithuanian authorities in pretending that the situation is worse in neighbouring countries in the region; this is not accurate and Lithuanian authorities have generated a unique phenomenon on seven lamentable counts:

1―No other countries in the EU have sent the police or Interpol to chase Holocaust survivors because they wrote what they saw during the war and what they wrote in their memoirs or published books.
2―No other countries in EU have sent prosecutors or police to look for Holocaust survivors because they survived by joining the anti-Nazi (i.e. Soviet) resistance during the years of the alliance against Hitler in World War II.
3― No other countries in EU have legalized the Swastika as Lithuania did in 2010.

4―No other countries of the EU threaten of two years of prison for those who do not share its opinion on the Holocaust and on the so called “Soviet genocide of Lithuanians”. This threat is more typical of such dictatorial States as the former the communist countries. Even Hungary, now ruled by a far-right government, will limit in 2012 the threat for similar reasons to the exclusion of educational systems.
5―No other countries of the EU have discontinued or fired professors at university as Lithuania did because they did not agree with the opinion of the government.

6―No other countries of the EU have declared a year of commemoration and honour for members of militias who participated in the perpetration of the Holocaust (let alone for groups like the Lithuanian Activist Front that began the butchery in many locations before the Germans even arrived).
7―No other countries of the EU authorize neo-Nazi parades on the main boulevards of their capital during their National Day.

Yves Plasseraud, as a friend of Lithuania owes to the fine people of this country to abandon apologetics and hold this country to the same high standards he would desire for our own country –France – or any other European country.

Membership of the EU involves rights ― in particular the European subsidies and duties ― in particular in respect of its Charter of Fundamental Rights especially since the treaty of Lisbon signed in 2009.

The European Union is still under construction and has not yet the bodies, which would permit it to efficiently monitor the harmony of the application of democratic rules in each of its numerous member states, but we do think it will come soon. It is vital for the EU to be not only an economic association. Human rights must remain high on the agenda.

For more information on these topics, please see,, and WWW.EURO-SOCIAL-HR.ORG.

Category : Blog archive

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Donatas Januta: Reply to Olga Zabludoff re Holocaust in Lithuania

Embracing history between Lithuanians and Jews can’t be a one way street

Donatas Januta

Dear Olga,
You are very eloquent in stating your position.  But even people of good will and good intentions can have honest differences of opinion, and sometimes are simply wrong.  I am glad that you and I agree on the very basic matter of our debate, i.e., that the Holocaust was the worst  genocide in European history, and that Jews and Lithuanians both suffered terribly during World War II and its aftermath.  

I sincerely try hard to find common ground on the issues under discussion, until I finally have to admit that perhaps on some of them, it is not possible.  As I said in my first post in this series, there are some details that we may never agree on, because Lithuanians and Jews each view those events from separate experiences, from a separate history, from a separate reality.  Over the years, there has also been inaccurate information disseminated on both sides – some intentionally, some perhaps unintentionally due to inevitable human biases, and some as wishful thinking.

Speaking about your perceived contributions by Jews to Lithuania’s economy, you say if Jews had not been present in Lithuania, the country’s economy may have been even worse.  True.  But if the Lithuanian’s themselves had been allowed to have a broader hand in the economy, it might have been a lot better, too.  That’s also true.  We simply don’t know.  So, I am not sure that this type of speculation is helpful.  In replying to you I was merely speaking of what was, not what might or might not have been.
Let me respond further to your “Logic 101” lesson about the rules of supply and demand.   Even in the case of  low prices due to the under-demand or over-supply that you refer to, if  there is no monopoly and no price-fixing, there is still competition and bargaining, even though it happens at low price levels.   My point was that there was no competition, no bargaining, all the buyers had agreed on the same low price.   That’s what’s called price-fixing in a monopoly. 

Please recall that when I wrote about the Jewish traders all offering the same below-subsistence  low price for farmers’ entire year’s labors, I expressly stated that I was not passing judgment on how that situation came about, meaning I was not putting blame on anyone. That would be a separate issue.  I was simply responding to your comment, by saying that it is not easy to evaluate the contribution of Jewish merchants to Lithuania’s economy, and that  it is generally accepted that monopolies have a negative impact on a country’s economy. 

You ask what has changed to alter my earlier favorable impression of  Dovid Katz.  I thought I illustrated that in one of my previous posts in this discussion, when I referred to Katz’ article with its screaming headline claiming that Lithuania’s vote on Palestinian membership in UNESCO, i.e., Lithuania’s vote in support of  Israel’s position, was, according to Katz, simply an example of Lithuania’s “duplicity”.  If anything, it was an example of Lithuania’s cowardice in succumbing to pressure from Israel and Israel’s ally the United States.  But, if Lithuania had voted against Israel’s position, Katz would then have called it an example of  Lithuania’s “anti-Semitism”. Lithuania can’t seem to do anything right, as far as Katz  is concerned.  Katz has gone from being a respected scholar and is now becoming simply another pamphleteer. 

As for Zuroff, I still remember what he said when the Los Angeles Lithuanian Community  declined an ill-conceived suggestion by a self-serving publicist to invite some non-existent “Yiddish dancers” to a folk dance festival.  Zuroff attributed it to Lithuanian anti-Semitism, and said that it was to be expected, for the Lithuanian émigré community consisted largely of  descendants of war criminals.  

So Zuroff   blames not only an entire ethnic group, but also later generations.  Demonizing entire ethnic groups - where have we seen that before?     Am I being “ultra-nationalist” when I take exception to that?       I can partially understand Zuroff.  He has a constituency to satisfy and a mission, and keeping people emotionally worked up rather than viewing things rationally and objectively, is part of his fundraising tactics.   But both,  Zuroff, and now Katz, are simply sowing more discord between peoples.

Is Irena Veisaitė, who in her post here states she agrees with what I said about Zuroff – is she one of the “far-right ultra-nationalists” in Lithuania that you refer to?   Is  Yves Plasseraud, who in his article here decries the “demonization” of Lithuania, one as well?   Or are they, intelligent, thoughtful,  rational and well-informėd people, who sincerely hope for  a reconciliation, rather than further discord, between Jews and Lithuanians?   

Consider this about the  Kaniukai village slaughter.  You say that  the Jewish partisans attacked a heavily armed village, and that there was a battle.  Some of the Jewish partisans who participated in their early memoirs did boast of a “battle” and of “house to house” fighting.  No one disputes that whatever happened there, that except for those who escaped,  the entire village was wiped out – every man, woman, child, farm animal, and dwelling.  But in a January 31, 1944 radiogram, the head of the Soviet partisan movement in that area, Genrikas Zimanas, informed Antanas Sniečkus, the head of the Lithuanian Communist Party, that the partisans had suffered no casualties.  This is confirmed by other sources as well.

So, how  is it that in this “battle” against this “heavily armed” group,  with “house to house” fighting, there were no casualties on the partisan side?  What kind of  battle could that have been?   Wiping out an entire “heavily armed” village and not suffering a single casualty – that’s a miracle akin to the parting of the Red Sea.

 The archival records about Kaniukai, mostly Soviet and Polish but some Lithuanian, show that this was an attack on a simple village, like any other village, where a few men might have had some old hunting rifles for self-defense.  Many of  the victims were burned to death alive in their homes.  Others were slaughtered in unspeakable ways.  The Jewish partisans who had boasted about the “battle” in their early memoirs, after being questioned about some of the facts,  even they backed off  from those early claims.  This was simply a total criminal slaughter of ordinary villagers who had in the past tried to defend their livelihood against the partisans/bandits.  So, Olga, you are simply wrong on your facts. 

In assessing the Jewish partisan movement in Rudninkai forest, from which the attack against Kaniukai came, Israeli istorian Dov Levin, a former member of one of those partisan units, explains these kinds of actions by stating that in those partisan units there was “wide-spread social anomie”, i.e., the collapse of the social structures governing society, which included “open hate and hostility towards the local population”.   How else could you explain former partisans’ Rachel Margolin’s, Abraham Zelnikow,  Zalman Wylozni’s, and Joseph Harmatz’  admitted acts that I cited in my October 26, 2011  post here.  Those were and are criminal acts against civilians.  Those were  not “battles” against Nazis. 

You say that the majority of Soviet partisans were not Jewish.  I can’t speak for the Soviet partisans on all fronts, but here are some statistics of the ones in Rudninkai forest.    The partisan group “For Victory” had 106 Jews out of a total 119 members;  “Avenger” had 100 Jews out of a total 106 members;  “Struggle” had 58 Jews out of 76 total; and “Death to Facism” had 39 Jews of a total of 60.   There were others.

Why are you against investigation of, as you put it, “unproven” crimes?   That is the purpose of an investigation – to verify or to find evidence which would either “prove” or “disprove” a crime.  If the crime has already been “proven” there is nothing to investigate.

You make the generalized statement that in Lithuania in 1941 there was “inconceivable savagery” when “hate and greed replaced love and loyalty”, as if that applied across the board to all Lithuanians.  Yet, previously you agreed that 99.5% of Lithuanians were neither directly nor indirectly involved in the killings. You previously blamed the 99.5% for standing by doing nothing.   The Germans announced that anyone harboring Jews would be killed together with their family.  And everyone had seen that the Germans were serious about killing.   It is a wonder that as many Lithuanians did risk their own lives and those of their families to shelter Jews.  What could the others of  the 99.5%  have done that would have changed the German organized  outcome?   

There are other points on which you and I disagree – the very definition of what constitutes genocide, the so-called “double genocide” red herring, the  June 1941 uprising against the Soviets,  but at this point it is not entirely clear what our discussion has accomplished.  We seem to have arrived at an impasse.
Saulius Suziedėlis, another contributor to VilNews, says that Lithuanians should embrace the history of 1941.  But which one?  Do we embrace Irena Veisate and Yves Plasseraud’s version, or Zuroff and now Katz’ version?   That’s where the disagreements lie.   I personally find a lot to embrace in Dov Levin’s version, who is not only a historian, but who also was there.

You say you want the history of the Holocaust presented truthfully.  So do I.   But it should not be a one way street.   What I would also like to see, is to have the Soviet inflicted tragedies, including the “Kaniukai” slaughter, be recognized and acknowledgment in the West for what they were,  just as the German inflicted tragedies have been, and to have their perpetrators judged as the criminals that they were and are.  And I don’t see how that is disrespectful of the Jewish dead or the Jewish survivors, or how it has anything to do with the Holocaust.

Category : Blog archive


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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