Archive for the ‘Holocaust Denial’ Category

Denial: Holocaust History on Trial: Deborah E. Lipstadt …

In her acclaimed 1993 book Denying the Holocaust, Deborah Lipstadt called David Irving, a prolific writer of books on World War II, one of the most dangerous spokespersons for Holocaust denial. The following year, after Lipstadts book was published in the United Kingdom, Irving filed a libel suit against Lipstadt and her publisher.

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Denial: Holocaust History on Trial: Deborah E. Lipstadt …

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September 24, 2018  Tags:   Posted in: Holocaust Denial  Comments Closed

Holocaust Denial: Demographics, Testimonies and Ideologies

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Holocaust Denial: Demographics, Testimonies and Ideologies

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August 30, 2018  Tags:   Posted in: Holocaust Denial  Comments Closed

Facebook Search promotes Holocaust denial groups …

Mark Zuckerberg defended the presence of Holocaust deniers on Facebook this week despite widespread criticism, arguing that the company’s algorithm will punish misinformation to restrict its circulation on the social network rather than deleting it outright.

But Facebook has still been prominently showcasing groups that promote Holocaust denial at the top of its search results, Business Insider has found.

If a user searches for “Holocaust” on Facebook, some of the top results are for user-created groups that falsely claim the Nazi murder of millions of Jews was fabricated. These appear on the first page of the search results, as well as on the dedicated Groups tab of the search results.

The prominence of these groups in Facebook’s search results reveal a gaping hole in Facebook’s defenses to stop the spread of falsehoods on its service and raise new questions about the effectiveness, and seriousness, of Facebook’s policies.

In contrast to Facebook’s search results, if a user searches for “Holocaust” on Google, the first-page results are a mixture of news articles, legitimate informational websites, and other results, none of which suggest the Holocaust did not occur. The same is true of Yahoo, Microsoft-owned search engine Bing, and privacy-centric search engine DuckDuckGo.

Reached for comment, a Facebook spokesperson said they made a mistake: “Our goal is for Facebook search results to be relevant and useful to people. That did not happen in this case and we have corrected the issue.”

“We find Holocaust denial to be repugnant and ignorant,” a spokesperson said earlier. “Mark [Zuckerberg] has made that clear – and we agree that we ‘find Holocaust denial deeply offensive.’ We don’t allow people to celebrate or defend or try to justify the Holocaust. We also remove any content that mocks Holocaust victims or survivors.”

Unlike other major search engines, the first page of Facebook’s search results for “Holocaust” includes a group that promotes Holocaust denialism, “The Open Holocaust Debate.” BI

On Wednesday, technology news site Recode published a wide-ranging interview with CEO Mark Zuckerberg. It came on the back a furor over conspiracy theory website Infowars’ use of Facebook, and Zuckerberg argued that the company did not feel comfortable restricting the “voice” of its users, even if they were clearly wrong.

Instead, he said, Facebook penalized hoaxers and misinformation spreaders with its algorithm, which ensures that such posts get far less traction and views in the News Feed. Zuckerberg cited Holocaust denialism as an example of content that was penalized but not banned.

“I’m Jewish, and there’s a set of people who deny that the Holocaust happened,” the Facebook founder said. “I find that deeply offensive. But at the end of the day, I don’t believe that our platform should take that down because I think there are things that different people get wrong.”

But the News Feed is not the only way Facebook users can find and consume information on the social network. Holocaust denial groups rank highly in Facebook’s Search results, mixed in alongside non-conspiracy-theorist groups.

The Groups search results for “Holocaust” includes two groups in its top ten promoting Holocaust denial material, “The Open Holocaust Debate” and “Holocaust Revisionism.” BI

The groups vary slightly in their search ranking position from user to user. One such group, “The Open Holocaust Debate,” has more than 1,600 members and frequently ranks in the top three search results. Billed as a “study group,” its users frequently post anti-Semitic messages and deny that the Holocaust occurred.

Another in the top-ten results is the 1,000-member “Holocaust Revisionism,” which has a description that reads in part: “many people are starting to wake up, and find out that the official story which we have been told about the Holocaust may not be 100% true … the truth of the matter is that Hitler was a Zionist puppet from start to finish… and that the whole Holocaust thing was part of a Messianic agenda in order to fulfill a Sabbatean Frankist version of prophecy.”

One of the posts in “The Open Holocaust Debate” disputing the existence of the Holocaust. BI

In an emailed statement, a Facebook spokesperson said that search results are unique to each user: “They’re ordered algorithmically based on a combination of many factors. A few of the factors that determine what Groups appear in the Groups module on the search results page include relevance to what you type into the search bar, if you are connected to members of the Group and the activity level of the Group. ”

However, Business Insider tested the “Holocaust” search with four different users, and Holocaust denial groups appeared highly every time indicating this is likely a widespread issue. For two of the users, “The Open Holocaust Debate” was ranked third, and “Holocaust Revisionism” was ranked sixth. For one user, the former was ranked second and the latter was ranked eighth. And for another, “The Open Holocaust Debate” was ranked sixth.

The spokesperson added that Facebook blocks Holocaust denial content in countries where it is illegal, and takes down groups if they “[devolve] into threats or statements of hate.”

The prominence of Holocaust denial groups in Facebook’s search results risk misinforming users seeking more information about the historic atrocity, especially as Facebook increasingly encourages the Groups feature as a way to make connections on the platform.

A recent survey by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany found that 11% of US adults were not sure if they had heard of the Holocaust and that 2 out of 3 Americans between 18 and 34 years of age could not identify Auschwitz.

While Facebook has begun taking greater steps to stop the spread of misinformation in its NewsFeed, it’s not clear to what extent the company is policing the other corners of its 2-billion member internet service.

With its engineering resources and capital, Facebook should be capable of solving the problem with technology.

After all, no other major search engine promotes Holocaust denial material on its first page of results for “Holocaust.”

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July 21, 2018  Tags:   Posted in: Holocaust Denial  Comments Closed

Zuckerberg clarifies: I personally find Holocaust denial …

I just got this email from Facebook CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg, clarifying remarks he made in a Recode Decode podcast interview I did with him yesterday.

First, read it in its entirety:

I enjoyed our conversation yesterday, but theres one thing I want to clear up. I personally find Holocaust denial deeply offensive, and I absolutely didnt intend to defend the intent of people who deny that.

Our goal with fake news is not to prevent anyone from saying something untrue but to stop fake news and misinformation spreading across our services. If something is spreading and is rated false by fact checkers, it would lose the vast majority of its distribution in News Feed. And of course if a post crossed line into advocating for violence or hate against a particular group, it would be removed. These issues are very challenging but I believe that often the best way to fight offensive bad speech is with good speech.

I look forward to catching up again soon.

Mark

For those who dont know the back story, Zuckerberg talked about a range of things in the 90-minute interview, from privacy to news to China to who is responsible for the Russian election meddling on the powerful social media platform he created (he is!).

But one series of remarks he made to illustrate how he and the company think about controversial and false content that is allowed on the platform has attracted some criticism. After I asked about what Facebook should do about false news, such as some of the content that is published on a site like Infowars, Zuckerberg gave an unprompted example of Holocaust deniers to make his point about allowing hoaxes to be published on the site.

Here is the whole exchange between us:

Okay. Sandy Hook didnt happen is not a debate. It is false. You cant just take that down?

I agree that it is false.

Okay.

I also think that going to someone who is a victim of Sandy Hook and telling them, Hey, no, youre a liar that is harassment, and we actually will take that down. But overall, lets take this whole closer to home …

Okay.

Im Jewish, and theres a set of people who deny that the Holocaust happened.

Yes, theres a lot.

I find that deeply offensive. But at the end of the day, I dont believe that our platform should take that down because I think there are things that different people get wrong. I dont think that theyre intentionally getting it wrong, but I think …

In the case of the Holocaust deniers, they might be, but go ahead.

Its hard to impugn intent and to understand the intent. I just think, as abhorrent as some of those examples are, I think the reality is also that I get things wrong when I speak publicly. Im sure you do. Im sure a lot of leaders and public figures we respect do too, and I just dont think that it is the right thing to say, Were going to take someone off the platform if they get things wrong, even multiple times. What we will do is well say, Okay, you have your page, and if youre not trying to organize harm against someone, or attacking someone, then you can put up that content on your page, even if people might disagree with it or find it offensive. But that doesnt mean that we have a responsibility to make it widely distributed in News Feed. I think we, actually, to the contrary …

So you move them down? Versus, in Myanmar, where you remove it?

Yes.

Some on Twitter found Zuckerbergs point that Holocaust deniers do not intend to impart false information and cause damage was, um, problematic.

Heres just one from longtime tech entrepreneur Mitch Kapor, for example:

In any case, its clear the contentious debate about the power and responsibility of Facebook around what content the world sees and does not see on its massive network is not going away soon.

Sign up for our Recode Daily newsletter to get the top tech and business news stories delivered to your inbox.

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July 20, 2018  Tags:   Posted in: Holocaust Denial  Comments Closed

Mark Zuckerberg’s remarks on Holocaust denial …

Mark Zuckerberg has been criticised by Jewish groups and anti-racism organisations for suggesting Holocaust denial should be allowed on Facebook because it could be unintentional.

In an interview on Wednesday, the Facebook founder said he found Holocaust denial deeply offensive, but added: I dont believe that our platform should take that down because I think there are things that different people get wrong. I dont think that theyre intentionally getting it wrong Its hard to impugn intent and to understand the intent.

Zuckerberg, who is Jewish, later retracted his remarks, issuing an update that said: I personally find Holocaust denial deeply offensive, and I absolutely didnt intend to defend the intent of people who deny that.

But his comment came too late to stop criticism from Jewish groups, both for the specifics of his statement and the general practice of allowing Holocaust denial to thrive on his platform.

Stephen Silverman, director of investigations and enforcement at the Campaign Against Antisemitism, told the Guardian: Mark Zuckerbergs remarks are deeply irresponsible. There is no such thing as benign Holocaust denial.

It is solely a means of inciting hatred against Jews by claiming that we fabricated the genocide of our people to extort money in the form of reparations. It is utterly abusive and Mark Zuckerberg must take responsibility for excising it from Facebook.

Jonathan Greenblatt, chief executive of the US-based Anti-Defamation League, said: Holocaust denial is a wilful, deliberate and longstanding deception tactic by antisemites that is incontrovertibly hateful, hurtful and threatening to Jews. Facebook has a moral and ethical obligation not to allow its dissemination.

ADL will continue to challenge Facebook on this position and call on them to regard Holocaust denial as a violation of their community guidelines.

Matthew McGregor, campaigns director of HOPE not hate, told the Guardian: The Holocaust is one of the great evils of history, an industrial genocide levelled against the Jewish people. It did happen and it is more than just deeply offensive: it is incredibly dangerous to give any credence or platform to those who deny it.

Facebook, as a publisher of content, has a responsibility to ensure that the violence inherent in the message of Holocaust deniers must not be able to flourish without being challenged or held in check. This is not about getting it wrong, it is about not enabling dangerous people to spread a vile message of hate.

Facebooks community guidelines, published in detail in April, a year after the Guardian obtained the then secret documents in a leak, ban hate speech because it creates an environment of intimidation and exclusion and in some cases may promote real-world violence.

But the companys definition of hate speech requires violent or dehumanising speech, statements of inferiority, or calls for exclusion or segregation, which it says does not cover Holocaust denial.

Facebook removes Holocaust denial in some countries, such as Germany, where it is illegal. Monika Bickert, Facebooks head of global policy, explained the distinction in May, telling an event at Oxford University that something might be illegal in 10 countries, but if only two countries say this is important to us, its illegal, remove it, we will do it. And if the others dont, we will not remove it.

Sometimes countries may have laws on the books this is certainly true in the United States, I can say as an American lawyer that are really out of date with how that culture thinks about speech, that are no longer enforced. So we wait for that government to make a request about it.

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Mark Zuckerberg’s remarks on Holocaust denial …

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July 19, 2018  Tags:   Posted in: Holocaust Denial  Comments Closed

Mark Zuckerberg Seeks to Clarify Remarks About Holocaust …

Mark Zuckerberg, the Facebook chief executive, said in an interview published Wednesday that he would not automatically remove denials that the Holocaust took place from the site, a remark that caused an uproar online.

Mr. Zuckerbergs comments were made during an interview with the tech journalist Kara Swisher that was published on the site Recode. (Read the full transcript here.) Hours later, Mr. Zuckerberg tried to clarify his comments in an email to Recode.

In the interview, Mr. Zuckerberg had been discussing what content Facebook would remove from the site, and noted that in countries like Myanmar and Sri Lanka, the dissemination of hate speech can have immediate and dire consequences. Moments earlier, he had also defended his companys decision to allow content from the conspiracy site Infowars to be distributed on Facebook.

[Facebook plans to remove misinformation that could lead to physical harm.]

The principles that we have on what we remove from the service are: If its going to result in real harm, real physical harm, or if youre attacking individuals, then that content shouldnt be on the platform, he said.

Theres a lot of categories of that that we can get into, but then theres broad debate.

Ms. Swisher, who will become an Opinion contributor with The New York Times later this summer, challenged Mr. Zuckerberg.

Sandy Hook didnt happen is not a debate, she said, referring to the Connecticut school massacre in 2012, which Infowars has spread conspiracy theories about. It is false. You cant just take that down?

Mr. Zuckerberg countered that the context of the remark mattered.

I also think that going to someone who is a victim of Sandy Hook and telling them, Hey, no, youre a liar that is harassment, and we actually will take that down, he said.

Thats when Mr. Zuckerberg brought up the Holocaust.

But over all, lets take this whole closer to home, he continued. Im Jewish, and theres a set of people who deny that the Holocaust happened. I find that deeply offensive. But at the end of the day, I dont believe that our platform should take that down because I think there are things that different people get wrong. I dont think that theyre intentionally getting it wrong.

Ms. Swisher interrupted him: In the case of the Holocaust deniers, they might be, but go ahead.

Mr. Zuckerbergs response was somewhat muddled.

Its hard to impugn intent and to understand the intent, he said, adding that he also gets things wrong when he speaks publicly, and other public figures do as well.

I just dont think that it is the right thing to say, Were going to take someone off the platform if they get things wrong, even multiple times, he said.

Instead, Facebook would allow the content to exist on its site, but would move it down in the News Feed so that fewer users see it, he said.

In his follow-up statement, the Facebook chief executive tried to clarify his remarks.

Theres one thing I want to clear up. I personally find Holocaust denial deeply offensive, and I absolutely didnt intend to defend the intent of people who deny that, he wrote in the email.

If something is spreading and is rated false by fact checkers, it would lose the vast majority of its distribution, he wrote, adding that any post advocating for violence or hate against a particular group would be removed.

These issues are very challenging, he added, but I believe that often the best way to fight offensive bad speech is with good speech.

But the interview had already set off a reaction from online commenters and drew widespread news coverage.

Benjy Sarlin of NBC News seemed baffled by Mr. Zuckerbergs choice of words.

Jonathan Greenblatt, the chief executive of the Anti-Defamation League, said in a statement that Holocaust denial is a willful, deliberate and longstanding deception tactic by anti-Semites.

Facebook has a moral and ethical obligation not to allow its dissemination, he wrote.

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Lithuanias Museum of Holocaust Denial Tablet Magazine

This past winter here in Vilnius, the charming capital of Lithuania, was much like any other. During long solid weeks of subzero temperatures, as the flow of tourists and roots-seekers slowed to a trickle, I adjusted the route of my daily walk to pass by up to a dozen top tourist sights. Day after day, there was one constant: The most popular, winter-defying must-visit for foreigners is The Museum of Genocide Victims. Perhaps there is something grotesquely sexy about genocide. Maybe the promise of (real) former KGB interrogation rooms and isolation chambers in the basement is less run-of-the-mill and more strikingly authentic than much usual museum fare. Estimates obtained from the museums administrators suggest about a million visitors total to date.

Called The Genocide Museum for short, the citys premier attraction is housed on the central boulevard in an elegant Russian imperial building completed in 1899 that was formerly used for the courthouse of the empires Vilna Province. The museums current headquarters are located in an annex dating to 1914-1915, just prior to World War I, which brought that empire tumbling down. Vilna would then change hands (depending how you count) around seven times through to 1920, when it came under the stable rule of the interwar Polish Republic, a rule that lasted until the Hitler-Stalin pact brought on Polands dismemberment in September of 1939. Then came little over a month of Soviet rule of the city (Sept.Oct. 1939), a little over a half-year of Lithuanian rule (Oct. 1939June 1940), a year of Soviet rule (June 1940June 1941) three years of Nazi rule (June 1941July 1944), 46 or 47 years of Soviet rule, and since 1990 or 1991, depending from when you prefer to reckon, the beginning of close to three decades of modern democratic Lithuanian sovereignty. Somewhere around the halfway mark of this modern period, in 2004, the country, along with a number of neighboring states that had been freed from Soviet yoke and became successful democracies with growing market economies, joined NATO and the European Union, cementing their firm and proud anchorage within the West.

This particular building had a starkly macabre function during two of its signal incarnations. It was the German Nazi Gestapo headquarters, with its own interrogation rooms, prison cells, and death chambers. Then for decades, it was a Soviet NKVD/KGB central facility used to coordinate terrorization of the undesired part of the population, particularly dissidents and resistance figures, who were incarcerated, interrogated, and tortured in its cells and shot on its premises during the Stalin years and beyond.

***

It is all the more eerie, painfully so, to have to say that this building now mars the pleasant Vilnius ambiance of the delightful, freewheeling city center in a raw, soul-destroying sort of way. Not because it tells the story of dark and brutal chapters of history. Those stories must be told. They are told in major museums in city centers around the world.

Moreover, there is no country on the planet without major blots on its history. It is a sign of maturity when for example the United States has museums dedicated to the national crimes of slavery, horrors against Native Americans, and commemorative sites for many others who were victimized and mistreated. Though far from perfect, these efforts indicate an elementary sense of national honesty, in dealing with the past that is, whether we like or not, very much part of our present. The reconciliation part of this effort has a lot to do with tolerance for minorities who may not see the mainstream historical narrative or its foundational heroes quite the way the standard schoolbooks like to have it, but who are nevertheless patriots who serve their country just like everyone else. America got some small echo of a taste of all that last summer in Charlottesville, Virginia. The proximate cause of discontent was the fate of a long-standing statue of Confederate States General Robert E. Lee.

So let us try a little thought experiment: Imagine not a statue of General Lee in Charlottesville, but an elaborate state-sponsored museum in the nations capital, in which the Confederate forces are depicted as pure heroes of independence and freedom, fighting off the central government of tyranny, and African Americans turn up only occasionally as evil collaborators with the Northern tormenters who came to destroy their beloved civilization. An American constitutional scholar might well explain why such a counter-historical museum, founded on intellectually and academically filtered racial hatred, could well be legal on someones private property as their own private realm but must not occupy public space. In the hands of specialists, it can all be made to look rather convincing to the proverbial outsider from Mars.

In Lithuania, the murder rate of around 96 percent of the Jewish population during the Holocaust was among the highest in Europe, which incidentally makes the bravery of those who did the right thing and rescued someone all the more inspirational. They were regarded as betraying their own nationalist cause. They are the people who should be honored throughout the land starting with a museum in the capital.

In todays incarnation of the Genocide Museum, a stones throw from the nations parliament, there are no longer individual human victims in the flesh. The victim here, in the 21st century, is the truth. The point of the museum is to persuade all comers that Soviet crimes were the genocide that took place in this part of the world and that those groups to which most of the museums space is dedicated to glorifying were indeed humanitarian lovers of truth, justice, and multi-ethnic tolerance. The sad truth is, however, that many of those honored were collaborators who participated in, or abetted, genocide. There lies the heart of the title Museum of Lies, which Holocaust survivors here (now mostly gone) would use over these last decades to describe the project.

But there is one theme in this museum that is very honest, and necessary, and if it is one day disentangled from the Fake History componentsand those components discardedit would make a truly excellent Museum, namely a cabinet of KGB Crimes and Stalinist Horrors such as one finds in numerous other cities. These exhibits expose Soviet crimes against humanity, particularly in the Stalin period, including mass deportations, imprisonments and harsh punishments, including torture and barbaric murder, of supposed enemies, suppression of human freedoms including speech, religion, emigration and political beliefs, and, pervasive from morning to night for all those decades, a cruel forced occupation of ones country by a larger empire with the resultant loss of freedom, identity and myriad basic human rights.

If the ghosts of KGB tormentors still linger in those cellars, they can only be giggling that their own cruelty is presented as part of a twisted tale in which the legitimacy of anything and everything sinks into some murky postmodernist mush under the inane heading of Everything is Equal.

The LAF Rebellion

The first major dynamic historical episode encountered in the Genocide Museum is a series of exhibits lavishly dedicated to the 1941 Lithuanian Activist Front (LAF) white-armbanded fascists whose pre-Nazi invasion central planning came from Berlin, and included a group of high-level Lithuanian Nazis, adherents of ethnic cleansing (to put it politely) stationed there in the months before the Nazi invasion of the then Soviet Union on June 22, 1941. But as the Soviet occupation collapsed in disarray on the day of the Nazi invasion, and especially the following day, Monday, June 23, 1941, many nationalist young men rapidly joined the LAF militias, often by donning a white armband and just becoming LAFers or joining related militias and gangs at will. With or without the armband, with or without documentary affiliation to the LAF, they have all come to be known as the White Armbanders in the local languages (Lithuanian Baltaraiiai, Polish Biae opaski, Russian Bielorukavniki, Yiddish Di Vyse rembendlakh, and so forth). Accompanied by a sham radio-address declaration of independence (that included the oath of loyalty to Adolf Hitlerwoe to such independence), they took over post offices, police stations, and town halls vacated by the fleeing Soviet forces for several days before turning them over, unctuously and with sumptuous servitude, to the arriving Germans.

The museums exhibits tell a very different story, which is not rooted in historical fact. A tall tale: that this was all a rebellion of the Lithuanian people against Soviet rule. That story is shameless nonsense. While the Soviets were in power, these White Armbander and LAF folks did not fire a single shot at any Soviet official or military installation. When the Soviets were fleeing for their lives from the Nazi invasion, the local militants fired at their backs and took over some freshly-vacated installations. (To be clear, the KGB and its affiliated organs did brutally murder many political prisoners and others in their last hours on the soil of the lands they had occupied in 1939 or 1940 all along the front of the arriving Nazi invasion forces.)

Put simply, you cannot rebel against an authority that has collapsed because of someone elses attack, the less so when the folks you are rebelling against are already fleeing. Nor do you have much moral authority when your main activity during those days was butchering your Jewish neighbors. In other words, there was no rebellion. And, it goes without saying that the Soviet army was fleeing Hitlers invasion, Operation Barbarossa, the largest invasion in human history. As surely as water is wet, the Soviet Army was not fleeing the local Lithuanian White Armbander Jew-killers.

For that is, alas, what the White Armbander Lithuanian nationalists were doing in the final week of June 1941. They initiated the first phase of the Lithuanian Holocaust, murdering Jewish civilians, particularly younger women and older rabbis, often in macabre city-center shows of victory, such as the teenage Jewish girl cut in half in the center of iauliai (in Yiddish: Shavl), or Rabbi Zalmen Osovskys head put in a shop window in Kaunas (Kvne). The late Professor Dov Levin, historian of the Lithuanian Holocaust, documented 40 locations in Lithuania where the actual murdering began before the arrival of German forces. If we add violence causing serious injury, plunder of property, humiliation, degradation and dehumanizing treatment, it is hundreds of places, not 40. And if we add the places where many of the same murderers continued on under German administration, the kill rate grows exponentially. But this is not about numbers, though the numbers of Jews killed by the LAF-affiliated White Armbanders is in the thousands, with the biggest single concentration in Kaunas itself. Kaunas was the interwar de facto Lithuanian capital and center of the rebellion. (Vilna, prewar Wilno, in Yiddish forever Vlne, was still a largely Polish city at the time, and there were vastly fewer instances of pre-German lethal violence in the city and its area, that Stalin had given to Lithuania in October 1939 when it became Vilnius.)

But what does the Genocide Museums exhibit tell us about these LAFers deeds? Not a word about their rampage of murder that unleashed phase one of the Holocaust in the country. Instead, the story told is illustrated by this key panel:

This text (which like all, appears bilingually in Lithuanian and English) has caused such anguish to local Holocaust survivors and their families over the years that many found it too painful, or too enragingor bothto even set foot in the place. Survivors are unanimously quick to point out, incidentally, that in addition to occupying the just-vacated post offices and police stations, murdering and humiliating Jewish neighbors, the LAF actually did something else too. On the roads crisscrossing the country, outside hundreds of towns, they created a ring of armed militants who prevented the flight of Jewish people who were attempting to flee eastward to Russia (the only hope for survival for a Jew in this part of the worldthere were no American or British forces around). Fleeing Jews were sent back into the Nazi choke-hold until the Germans could arrive to organize it all properly (which took the form of organized mass shootings at around 230 major mass grave sites that dot the country today). Holocaust memoirs contain hundreds of eyewitness statements about the white-armbanders and their cohorts preventing Jews from escaping even when all their property was left behind for the taking. These then are the LAF white armbanders celebrated in this museum as heroic rebels.

Needless to say, it is nowhere mentioned that the LAF masterminds in Berlin in the preceding months had published leaflets and entire works calling for the removal of Jewish citizens from Lithuania. These were no street thugs. They were educated people who knew their history. One infamous leaflet declares the charters of toleration issued by the Lithuanian Grand Duke Witold (Vytautas) in the 14th century to be completely and finally revoked. That Lithuanian leaders charters of tolerance were a highpoint of European civilization in the middle ages, and he became known as The Cyrus of Lithuania to many generations of Litvaks, or Lithuanian Jews. I am proud in my home to follow a tradition of hundreds of years of Jews here of having a portrait of Witold near my front door.

Before going any further, however, let us be very clear that the launch of the 1941 genocidal phase of the Holocaust by the White Armbanders, and by their fellow partisans in Latvia, Estonia, and western Ukraine, among other places, does not mean that any of these nations are bad. The guilty alone are responsible, and their supporters and enablers. All these nations had, as noted, inspirational rescuers who risked everything to save a neighbor in danger (the Righteous Among the Nations). All these nations have their storied poets, statesmen, military heroes, scientific geniuses, architects, artists, and much more.

So why would anyone in the 21st century, much less anyone fortunate enough to be in the NATO and European Union area, choose to falsify the history of these first days of the Holocaust in order to turn Holocaust-initiating thugs into national heroes to be featured in museums as rebels, partisans, and freedom fighters? That question requires serious study, a task that has been shirked by many historians in these recent days of The New Cold War.

But just scratch a historian, diplomat, or political PR person involved with such things in this part of the world and youll get an answer, one that is probably part of the answer. Ultranationalist elements, consumed with (understandable) resentment against the many crimes of the Russian and Sovietempires over the centuries, will go to any length to make heroes out of all anti-Soviet and anti-Russian manifestations in history, including Hitlerism andto hell with the detail of the extermination of a national minority. The problem here is that virtually all of the many thousands of actual East European Holocaust murderers were anti-Soviet. If that makes them heroes, ipso facto, heaven help European civilization.

During the genocidal phase of the Holocaust, from June 22, 1941 onward, the Soviets were of course in the Alliance with Great Britain and the United States, where they remained until wars end. But there are also many subtly local aspects in play. For example, many ultranationalist historians in all three Baltic states are ashamed that their people barely fired a shot against the peaceful Soviet annexation of their countries in 1940, and a revolt in 1941 seems like a darned good idea for stitching up a patriotic narrative of resistance. Again, these nations all have grand patriotic histories, which in the Baltics includes the magnificent rise to independence of democratic states in 1918, and then again in 1991.

Double Genocide and Holocaust Envy

The post-Soviet East European nationalist decision to glorify Hitler collaborators is situated very near the conceptual core of the current set of Holocaust issues in Europe and beyond. The far-right jewel in the crown is the Genocide Museum in Vilnius. The other regional museums infected with the same virus are more in the dressed-up-for-export mode of Double Genocide, the theory that Nazi and Soviet crimes are in principle equal and that that equality must guide the study and application of European History. That theory has come to be, in effect, the 21st century respectable-in-high-society successor to the previous centurys classic Holocaust Denial. It came to its fullest expression in the 2008 Prague Declaration. (Disclosure: I was privileged, in 2012, to co-author, with Danny-Ben Moshe, the European parliamentary rejoinder known as the Seventy Years Declaration, signed by 70 European parliamentarians, including eight particularly courageous ones from Lithuania, all incidentally Social Democrats.)

Unlike Vilniuss Genocide Museum where Soviet crimes are presented in fact as The Genocide, the others follow the model of equality of the Prague Declaration, that insists on equality as the absolute principle of European history and the point of departure for all else. For example, the House of Terror Museum in Budapest, founded in 2002, features on its outside roof-corner display both the arrow cross (the local fascist wartime symbol) and the Soviet star side by side in an exposition of equality, echoed by two huge panels with the same symbols in the welcoming hallway (in case someone missed the message outside). The Museum of Occupations in Tallinn, Estonias capital, founded in 2003, welcomes visitors with an elaborate piece of Double Genocide modern art, with the Soviet star and the swastika atop equal commanding pillars. Much older than both is Rigas Museum of the Occupation of Latvia, founded in 1993, where recent revisions have taken harsh Western criticism into account, though the system of red (Soviet) and brown (Nazi) panels gives the immediate impression that the Soviet issue is the main one, as it is in space dedicated. But to be fair, this is called a museum of the Occupation, not of Genocide. The most recent addition to Eastern Europes macabre litany of anti-Holocaust museums (in the sense of negating the Holocausts place in history and consciousness) is the Lonsky Street Prison National Memorial Museum, founded in 2009 in Lviv (former Lvov, Lemberg, Yiddish Lmberik), which has prominently featured a photoshopped photograph of a woman looking for her murdered Ukrainian relatives in 1941 with the piles of Jewish corpses in the image covered over by circles indicating numbers of Ukrainian victims far and wide.

(Photo: Dovid Katz)

That brings us back to the mother of East European genocide museums, the Museum of Genocide Victims right here in Vilnius. While its main message is much more extreme than its sister museums in Eastern Europe, there have for many years been hints of the compulsion for comparison that must lead to some sort of equality. The ascendant phenomenon called Holocaust Envy comes to the fore at the Genocide Museum in a large bilingual chart on the main floor, toward the rear of the corridor near the restrooms, in other words away from the actual major exhibit rooms. For the foreign Jews, as a former museum employee once quipped to me. For many years, until 2011, this was the only oblique and nameless reference to the Holocaust in the entire Museum of Genocide Victims.

A lengthy analysis of this chart could be penned, a chart that contained the only mention of what happened to the Jews of Lithuania between the museums founding in 1992 and late 2011. For here a few salient points may suffice. First the use of the word losses to cover the Jewish victims of the campaign of genocide to murder every Jew in the country as well as an array of other categories of state crimes: arrested, interrogated, imprisoned, deported, prisoners who died, died in deportation, partisans and their supporters killed, for the Soviet side of the ledger; and then for the Nazi side: imprisoned and deported to concentration camps, killed and deported to Germany for forced labor. The penultimate category, killed has the addition in parenthesis: including about 200,000 Jews, which is not only lost in the list but comports exactly with what the eye first saw above, Arrested, interrogated, imprisoned with, lo and behold, also 200,000. This is all related to the inflation of the word genocide by the ultranationalist camp, which was boldly exposed by the late, lamented Lithuanian philosopher Leonidas Donskis.

Such equivalencies are no quirks of some statistical modelling. They are part of two interrelated, and weird, phenomena that represent different stages of the Holocaust revisionism tendencies of Eastern Europe. First is in fact Double Genocide, the notion that the starting point for the subject is the universal acceptance of the Nazi and Soviet regimes brutality being the same. Second is a deeper feeling, just under the surface, that in some profound sense the Holocaust must be regarded as the lesser of the two phenomena.

(Photo: Dovid Katz)

Since 1997, the Genocide Museum has been under the auspices of a state-financed institute with close ties to the highest echelons of power, called the Genocide and Resistance Research Center of Lithuania or, for short, the Genocide Center. For years its website carried a page on the two genocides that included this gem of Holocaust Envy: One may cut off all four of a persons limbs and he or she will still be alive, but it is enough to cut off the one and only head to send him or her to another dimension. The Jewish example clearly indicates that this is also true about genocide. Although an impressive percentage of the Jews were killed by the Nazis, their ethnic group survived, established its own extremely national state and continuously grew stronger. For many years, one of its chief specialists was also a leader of the neo-Nazis in Lithuania. Recently, a bold Californian-born Lithuanian scholar who settled in his ancestral homeland years ago, Prof. Andrius Kulikauskas, has boldly taken on its leadership, which frequently defends the ethnic cleansing policies of various purported national heroes.

Analogous points have been scored in visiting exhibitions. For some years it was this comparison in an exhibit on the Ukrainian famine, or Holodomor, which for years was the only word starting with h-o-l-o in a museum of genocide in Eastern Europe. The museum told its visitors that When the Holodomor eyewitnesses, even those who survived the Nazi death camps, were asked what was more frightfulthe famine or the war, they unanimously answered: [a number of quotes follow, including, under the image of an elderly woman, her quote]: In Auschwitz, we were given some spinach and a little bread. War is terrible, but famine is even worse. No mention of the fate suffered by the statistically overwhelming victims of Auschwitz or who they might have been. Such is the face of our new centurys Holocaust Denial: Talking the Holocaust out of history without denying a single death, or for that matter, fact, through rhetorical analogies and false comparisons.

The Forest Brothers

(Photo: Dovid Katz)

A vast portion of the Museum of Genocide Victims is dedicated to The Partisan War Between 1944 and 1953. Popularly known as the Forest Brothers, these were the resistance fighters from the time of the defeat of Hitlers forces in 1944 until around 1953, who opposed Soviet rule and carried out armed attacks. Not all of these fighters were recycled murderers of 1941 but a disputed number were. Most painfully, a number of their leaders are now extolled as national heroes for resisting the postwar Soviets, as if their involvement in the Holocaust is a minor, disregardable detail of history that must not spoil the heroic resistance party. The fearless Lithuanian ethicist Evaldas Balinas has published exposs using solid sources concerning the Holocaust participation of a number of the heroes extolled in the museum as martyrs for justice, freedom and democracy. Asking why his states authorities glorify murderers, Balinas went on to publish a series of articles on individual heroes extolled in the Museum of Genocide Victims who were actually collaborators with the perpetrators of the genocide that actually occurred in the country. Among those that have appeared in English translation are his pieces on Antanas Baltsis-vejas, Juozas Barzda, Konstantinas Liuberskisvainys, Vincas Kaulinis-Mikinis, Juozas Kriktaponis (Kritaponis), Jonas Noreika, Adolfas Ramanauskas Vanagas, Juozas ibaila, Sergijus Stanikis Litas, and Jonas emaitis. One of the most notorious, an actual participant in the Holocaust, Jonas Noreika, has a stone block outside the building, on Vilniuss main boulevard, dedicated to his memory.

Instead of the medal he deserves, Evaldas Balinas was hit with police visits to his place of work, summonses, and a series of nuisance court cases that finally, after a dozen 280-mile round trips from home, came to a not guilty verdict in July 2016. But the message was clear: The country is a democracy for 99 percent of topics but not for far-right choices on historical narratives related to the Holocaust, which are enforced by the power of the state. In 2011, the late Joe Melamed, longtime head of the Association of Lithuanian Jews in Israel, was visited by Interpol in his Tel Aviv office because some of the same names appeared in his 1999 book Crime and Punishment; the harassment of Melamed made it to the British Parliament. After questioning the postwar bonafides of one of these heroes a best-selling Lithuanian author known (and widely criticized) for her lurid sensationalism, Ruta Vanagaite, in late 2017 had her books banned by her own publisher, in an episode that reached the New Yorker. There is little doubt that the real reason for the ban was a 2016 book she coauthored with famed Nazi hunter Dr. Efraim Zuroff that revealed the extent of Holocaust participation by local forces.

(Photo: Dovid Katz)

Until 2015, the museums large halls dedicated to glorification of the Forest Brothers also contained three blatantly anti-Semitic caricatures that appear in a section on the Brothers underground artwork and literature. One features a jeep driven by Lenin, Stalin, and Yankelke the Jew, a second shows a coarse caricature of a Jew behind Stalin blowing economic bubbles (along with a soap dish adorned by a Star of David should someone miss the point). The third depicts an anti-Semitic caricature of a Jew serving as a Soviet torturer of Lithuanian patriots. These images all date from after the Holocaust (at right).

In 2015, after numerous complaints, these three images disappeared from the exhibit on the Forest Brothers underground art. In reply to our question for this article on whether the removal was permanent, museum director Eugenijus Peiktenis said (in a written reply): Exposition of the museum is constantly updatedone exhibit is replaced by another.

The best known free-thinking, critical book here on the Forest Brothers, one that is a great credit to Lithuania, Memorial Book for the Victims of Partisan Terror, edited by Povilas Masilionis, appeared in 2011. It comprises his introduction in three languages (Lithuanian, English, Russian) followed by a list of some 25,000 names of people, nearly all civilians, murdered by the Forest Brothers, who were notorious for killing fellow Lithuanian citizens they considered collaborators with the Soviets, including those who led or worked on collective farms and other Soviet enterprises (as if people had a choice about where to work under the autocratic and dictatorial Soviet rule). Masilionis concludes his forward to the book, aptly named Victims of the Unbrotherly Forest Brothers with the plea: Books of memory should be published in every city and every region. Even a national Memory institution could be established to defend the rights of relatives of terror victims and to defend the memory of murdered unarmed civilians.

Before that, in 2009, Lithuauanian historian, Mindaugas Pocius published his academic monograph, The Far Side of the Moon, which reported only some 9,000 innocent civilians murdered by the Brothers (including 300 children). He too became a victim of nuisance prosecution, intended to defame and to deter others more than to find guilt with someone exercising their European Union right of freedom of expression. Last year, the mayor of Vilnius fired Dr. Darius Udrys, the American-born head of the capitals Go Vilnius development agency, after he dared ask on his own Facebook page whether Lithuanians who worked for Soviet collective farms in the 1950s actually deserved to be summarily executed.

Lithuania is a democracy for 99 percent of topics but not for far-right choices on historical narratives related to the Holocaust, which are enforced by the power of the state.

The ultranationalist-controlled academic establishment at major universities plays its part too in stifling free debate, especially since a 2010 Double Genocide law made it a crime to disagree with the state model, one punishable by up to two years in prison. (Disclosure: That was the year I was myself discontinued as professor of Yiddish at Vilnius University after 11 blissful, incident-free years; I was told it was because I had published false articles in three radical left-wing newspapers, a reference to two 2009 articles in Londons Jewish Chronicle and Dublins Irish Times and the final straw, a 2010 piece in the Guardian.) Vilnius has a tiny, separate Holocaust museum, out of sight on a hill up a driveway, whose longtime fearless director, Rachel Kostanian, now retired, was repeatedly harassed for her determination to just tell the truth. On more than one occasion, the late Sir Martin Gilbert would truly play the part of the white knight who would step in to save her job. The saga became the source for much dark humor on all sides of the debate. Nobody has gone to prison, but freethinking, talented Lithuanian young historians continue to flee the country for studies abroad before even thinking about staying to face ruined careers.

Thankfully, the Lithuanian people have vastly more common sense than the far-right elite that has usurped control of the countrys official historical narrative. In 2015, there was a proposal to rename a high school in the town Obeliai (known in Yiddish as Abel), in northeastern Lithuania, in honor of a Forest Brother leader whose memoir had recently been published. The schools leaders did something very intelligent and quite simple. They organized a poll, by secret ballot. A majority of the town opposed the proposal.

But the clique of ultranationalists controlling state history keeps going further in the other direction. Another alleged Holocaust collaborator who became a postwar Forest Brother leader, Jonas emaitis, was incredibly proclaimed to be the de-facto fourth president of Lithuania by the nations parliament in 2009. And, in December of 2017, the parliament declared 2018 to be the year honoring yet another alleged Nazi collaborator, Adolfas Ramanauskas (Vanagas).

Whenever a Holocaust-tainted militant is chosen for honors, it is a de-facto message of adulation for fascism and not-so-latent glee at the greater ethnic purity rendered by the Holocaust and its related events. Believe it or not, the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry (which squanders vast sums on history and Holocaust manipulation) had arranged to pay for a monument to Ramanauskas in the Connecticut town of New Britain (where Ramanauskas happened to be born, before his parents returned to Lithuania). The mayors office was rapidly persuaded. And why notno mention was made of his Holocaust-era activity, only his postwar anti-Soviet activity. Here in Lithuania, the American monument for Ramanauskas was flaunted for months in the media in the triumphalist spirit of demonstrating how America now accepts the East European nationalist narrative of Holocaust history. Moreover, there is no (known) evidence Ramanauskas personally killed anyone during the Holocaust, though he boasted in his memoirs of leading one of those (Hitlerist, LAF-affiliated) groups of partisans in the first days of the Holocaust. Is that the kind of symbol of heroism the free world wants to bequeath to future generations?

When our Vilnius-based web journal Defending History posted an appeal to the New Britain mayor in January 2018, after writing to her office, there was no immediate response. A lively internal debate then ensued within the New Britain city council. Several weeks ago, that debate ran into the single determined force of elected city alderman Aram Ayalon, a professor in the education department of Central Connecticut State University. He rapidly launched a petition and alerted local media. The New Britain Progressive published a report on 2 April. Last Friday, April 6, Justin Dorsey of the mayors office circulated an email confirming that There will be no monument recognizing this individual. The Progressive carried the news of the cancellation. This, while the walls of (and around) the Genocide Museum in Vilnius continued to be plastered up with posters celebrating the 2018 Year of Ramanauskas.

Now 2018 is a very special year for Lithuania. It is the 100th anniversary of the rise of the modern democratic state in 1918, special too for its remaining Jewish people, because that state was founded on the principle of cultural autonomy for minorities. It included even a Jewish Affairs ministry led by the famed Dr. Max Soloveitchik in its early years. Ramanauskass link to those events? He was born in 1918 (as were so many others). After deliberation with numerous colleagues in different fields here, our small dissident band at Defending History countered by naming as person of the year for 2018 Malvina okelyt Valeikien, who was decorated by the Republic of Lithuania for her bravery in Lithuanias 1918 war of independence, and then went on during the Holocaust a generation later to save a Jewish neighbor. The point we were making by doing this was honoring a true Lithuanian hero in honor of the countrys 100th anniversary celebration, and, of course, making a wider point: Lithuania, like all the countries of Eastern Europe, has many centuries of genuine heroes in whom all humanity can rightly take pride.

Addition of a Holocaust Cubicle in the Basement

Following a number of Holocaust-related scandals, not least the attempts by Lithuanian prosecutors to target Holocaust survivors for investigation of their activities in the Jewish partisans, which I reported on for Tablet back in 2010, the Genocide Museum announced with considerable PR gusto that one of the former prison cells in the basement would be turned into a Holocaust exhibit. It was opened with fanfare in 2011, in the atmosphere of a major concession to the Jews. Yes, you heard that right, the concession was that the Holocaust would finally merit one cubicle in the basement of the citys Genocide Museum.

Although a map of the basement still lists the same 18 exhibits as before, including cell no. 3 (= item no. 5 on the list, marks on the wall made during the Nazi occupation), it suddenly came to house a contemporary museum-tech exhibit on the Holocaust. There is an emblem of the yellow Star of David outside the door and when you look inside the new room, there is a huge Star of David on the far wall near the radiator.

The problem with this one room addition is that it tells a very distorted story of the Lithuanian Holocaust. Worst of all, the perpetrators who unleashed the killing through much of the country before the Germans even arrived, the LAF and their associated killer groups, is obfuscated yet again. The Nazi puppet prime minister of the summer of 1941, Juozas Ambrazeviius (Brazaitis) whose remains were repetriated in 2012 from another Connecticut town, Putnam, for reburial with full honors in Lithuania, is presented as obliquely anti-Nazi when in fact he personally signed Lithuanian versions of the Nazi orders for Jews from his own city, Kaunas, to be sent to a murder camp, the Seventh Fort, and another for all the remaining Jews to be locked up in a ghetto within one month.

In other words, the added Holocaust Room repeats the same Fake History as in the main grand exhibit halls upstairs: covering up the murders by the LAF, and of the Provisional Government which followed it, at the start of the Lithuanian Holocaust, and sanitizing the perpetrators as some kind of freedom fighters.

Much of the Holocaust room is dedicated to the Vilna Ghetto, where it is infinitely easier to downplay local collaboration and consider it all a German deed alone, with a few odd tantalizing references to the Jewish police and Judenrat as the supposed co-authors of the Holocaust in Vilna. While far from noble in many cases, there is no moral comparison of the tragic compulsion of Jewish police and Judenrats intermingled with false hopes of saving some, vs. the massive voluntary participation in the gleeful genocide of neighbors by those in positions of power. To cite the one and omit the other amounts to Fake History par excellence.

But there is one major redeeming feature of the Holocaust cell in the basement: There is honor for those who did the right thing and saved a neighbor from the barbaric hands of the Nazis, and their LAF and other local collaborators and partners. They are the true Lithuanian heroes of WWII. They deserve an entire museum in their honor.

In addition, there have been some other welcome modifications since 2011. Some Holocaust videos have been added to the repertoire on the monitors, and the outside plaque now duly notes that the building once housed the Gestapo.

Chicanery, Context, Caveats

The nonsense of Fake History museums rises to the level of dangerous chicanery only when it is all done so well that is can fool even journalists from famous Western publications. In recent years, naive souls writing for the New York Times (in 2015) and the San Francisco Examiner (2016) were successfully bamboozled, and the front desk where you pay to buy your ticket has stickers flaunting the approval of those publications for the farce of historical denialism inside. By contrast, a well-seasoned author from the London Guardian, writing back in 2008, immediately saw that something was wrong, and another, in 2010, analyzed the Double Genocide industry. The New York Timess seasoned, Pulitzer Prize-winning foreign correspondent Rod Nordland recently did some measure of penance for his publication by writing an extended, fair article after a chance visit brought him to this shocking museum, and to some other shocks of contemporary Vilnius. These include church steps made of readable Jewish gravestones that the church has refused to remove for years, and plans to house a new national conference center in the heart of the old Vilna Jewish cemetery (reported by Tablet in 2017).

Todays Putinist Russia does indeed pose a very real and serious threat to the small, freedom-loving nations on its periphery, most dangerously the three Baltic states, Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia, which were forcibly made into Soviet republics for all those decades, not left as Warsaw Pact allied states like Poland, Czechoslovakia, or Hungary. The Western alliance, NATO, the European Union and Western civilization more generally need to stand up for these democracies against Putins (and future Russian) mischief, and make clear that the protections of NATO are real and permanent. But that loyalty must not include adopting a pro-fascist revision of history that turns Holocaust perpetrators into heroes simply because they were against the Soviets. Just about all East European Holocaust collaborators and perpetrators were against the Soviets.

Adulation of Hitlers accomplices is at odds with core Western values as is the legal crackdown, of all things, on dissident opinions about history. It is shameful that in 2017, to counter Putins disgraceful Zapad 17 military exercises right near the borders of his small, free neighbor countries, NATO produced a film lionizing the Forest Brothers without so much as a hint of a second opinion that these were largely veterans of Hitlerist fascism and mostly murderers of civilians and believers in an ethnically pure state. In recent years, American embassies in this part of the world, particularly here in Vilnius, have misguidedly participated in events to deceive foreign (particularly Jewish) groups while participating themselves in the defamation of any who challenge Baltic history revisionism as Putinist agents. The noticeable shift in State Department policy can be traced to 2009-10.

True friends of the Baltic states should be pointing out that such museums do grave damage to the countrys reputation and that those citizens who stand up with a contrary opinion should not be the victims of state-financed campaigns of defamation or prosecutorial investigations carried out to harass dissenters and deter free thought. The USSR, during the time of the Lithuanian Holocaust (1941-1944), in alliance with Great Britain and the United States, was the only force seriously fighting the Nazis and was largely responsible for there being any survivors and progeny alive today. History is history.

Still, there is a very big caveat to all this. People reading such articles might think that Lithuania is an anti-Semitic country or a country with a majority of fascism-lovers who delight in the Holocaust having taken place. Nothing could be further from the truth. I have lived for almost 19 years here in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius, where I have always felt welcome, well-treated, and blessed to have a wide and diverse circle of friends from an array of backgrounds. Heres that extra bit of proof: I am treated very well by the fine staff whenever I enter this museum that makes my local Jewish friends sick. When I bump into its director at a weekly antiquarian flea market that we both frequent, we exchange warm handshakes and pleasantries. This is not personal.

As in other parts of Eastern Europe, a small group of powerful elites, who have been able to enmesh Holocaust history into current geopolitical security, are the ones doing the damage to history, and to the freedom of their own citizens and the reputations of their own countries. History will show that the folks they are prosecuting under a series of laws are the real patriots. While there certainly is an anti-Semitic component in elite ultranationalist circles in this part of the world, it is neither pervasive nor necessarily dominant. There is moreover a special kind of East European anti-Semitism that is focused on an alleged Jewish Communist past, that despises todays tiny remnant Jewish communities who have a different narrative of history (think Charlottesville), but that has generally very positive approaches to modern Western Jews and Israelis. There is a heavily subsidized effort to enmesh Judaic studies (and particularly its fragile components like Yiddish studies), and even Holocaust Studies per se, within the project to revise the narrative of the Holocaust and WWII.

Future of the Museum

If any one feature of this museum is just too much, it is its name. This past September, an announcement was made that national powers had decided to change the name to: Museum of Occupations and Freedom Fights. Last month, the nations parliament took steps to enact the name change. As of now, the bill is one ballot short of adoption.

But in a macabre sort of way the new name is worse. The inflation of the concept genocide to cover Soviet crimes in Lithuania (and to obfuscate the Holocaust) is lost. But what is gained? The misnaming, potentially in the museums very title, of the murderous unleashing of the Lithuanian Holocaust by the LAF Hitlerist fascists as a freedom fight! Is that what is supposed to count as an improvement?

And so, without the name change, and even more so with the proposed name change, the shameful core of this museum is its permanent exhibits glorification, via fake history, of actual Holocaust killers who unleashed its first phase here in June 1941, turning them into would-be rebels and freedom fighters. That falsification needs to disappear before the next million visitors are misled. This is all a grave injustice to the delightful, hard-working, tolerant, and economically long-suffering citizens of the country, who all deserve better. Until that most foul of untruths about the Holocaust is done away with, this will remain the most dishonest and pernicious museum in the lands of NATO and the European Union.

***

Yom HaShoah, or Holocaust Remembrance Day, is observed in Israel and around the world on 27th day of Nisan, which falls on April 11-12 this year.

Dovid Katz, a Vilnius-based Yiddish and Holocaust scholar, is professor at Vilnius Gediminas Technical University. He edits the web journal Defending History and is at work on a new Yiddish Cultural Dictionary.

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Kevin Myers Holocaust denial article The Proud Zionist

As the Belfast Telegraph has now withdrawn Kevin Myers 2009 article in which he claimed to be a Holocaust denier, I have preserved it for posterity below so others can read, and perhaps judge whether he is actually denying the Holocaust.

For the record, it is clear to me he isnt a Holocaust denier, but the points he makes are so banal and without merit that they just seem to add fuel to the fire, that came to a head this weekend.

He *appears* to be nitpicking over the convenience of the number 6,000,000. The number 6,000,000 is a round number. According to Myers, if we were to somehow know the exact number of Jewish Holocaust deaths, that number would almost certainly not be exactly 6,000,000 ergo, the Holocaust did not happen. Draw your own conclusions.

In his article, Myers is leaping to the defense of Bishop Richard Williamson, who made Holocaust denial statements and then sought to defend them in full view of a video camera to give his antisemitism and stupidity an air of immortality. Clip below. There can be no doubt that someone who believes there were no gas chambers and that only 200,000 Jews died in concentration camps is a Holocaust denier.

Why Myers is so keen to defend Williamson on these points is a question for his own conscience though he defends him in abstract, ignoring Williamsons preposterous historical statements and embracing only the gist that 6,000,000 is a big round number.

Asking these types of searching historical questions does not make someone an antisemite, but often is the case that someone who wishes to deny the Holocaust happened, or chip away with banal insignificant points, or defend Nazism, or desecrate the memory of Jewish deaths, or minimalise the enormity and singularity of the Holocaust, or belittle Jewish suffering; that these types of people are motivated by antisemitism.

For Myers to be making such a boring and inconsequential point that the number was not exactly 6,000,000 can make one wonder what stokes his fire. But there isnt enough in this 2009 article to say he is either antisemitic or a Holocaust denier, despite his admission.

My verdict: It is a clumsy article. Myers is seeking to defend Williamsons right to spout counter-factual, offensive and hateful nonsense under the banner of free speech (Holocaust denial is illegal within many EU countries).

In mounting this defense of Williamsons right to free speech, Myers misses his target and inadvertently mounts a defense of Holocaust denial, an issue in which he clearly does not believe.

His original article is republished below.

[NOTE: The above article was amended after reflection and further investigation]

Let me say from the outset; Im with Bishop Richard Williamson on this. There was no holocaust, (or Holocaust, as my computer software insists) and six million Jews were not murdered by the Third Reich. These two statements of mine are irrefutable truths, yet their utterance could get me thrown in the slammer in half the countries of the EU.

Why, they could in the right circumstances even get me extradited for trial in Sweden, a country which heroically kept the Third Reich supplied with iron ore, even as the last victims of the Nazi genocide were being murdered.

What? I admit that there was murder and genocide (or Genocide, as my spell-check wants me to call it) but almost in the same breath, insist that there was no holocaust? How is this possible? Well, if you turn historical events into current political dogmas, (believed even by my computer) you are thereby creating a sort of secular, godless religion, which becomes mandatory for all who wish to participate in public life.

Yet dogmas, by definition, are so simplistic and crude that they are usually not merely wrong, but are also probably so. It is an offence in German law to say that six million Jews did not die in the holocaust. Very well then. I am a criminal in Germany. For efficient though the Nazis were, they were not so clinically precise as to kill six million Jews not a Jew more, or not a Jew less.

As it happens, the figure six million was originally a round-estimate of the total numbers of concentration camp victims of the Third Reich: this was then turned by popular perception, aided by activists such as the Simon Weisenthal Centre, into the Jewish death toll. However, there is not even a scientific or documentary basis for this number. Its enduring appeal the digit six, with the six zeros which follow it depends upon a fairly basic human predilection for numerological magic.

It is, very likely, a subconsciously appealing version of the diabolical, 666. Moreover, there certainly was no holocaust. For if the word is to have any literal validity at all, it must be related to its actual meaning, which comes from the Greek words holos, whole, and caust, fire. Most Jewish victims of the Third Reich were not burnt in the ovens in Auschwitz. They were shot by the hundreds of thousands in the Lebensraum of the east, or were worked or starved to death in a hundred other camps, across the Reich. This programme was begun informally by Nazi armies in 1941, and only took organised form after the Wannsee conference in January 1942.

Thus was born one of the most satanic operations in world history, in which millions of Jews were murdered. To be sure, you can use the term holocaust to describe these events, but only as a metaphor. However, to turn that metaphor into a political dogma, a denial of which can result in imprisonment, is to create a religio-penal code of which Torquemada would have approved.

Now, Ive done an extensive internet search on Bishop Williamson, and I truly have no idea what he actually said about the Third Reich; though he is everywhere called a holocaust denier, as if this term has some universal meaning. It hasnt. Im a holocaust denier; but I also believe that the Nazis planned the extermination of the Jewish people, as far as their evil hands could reach. And because the Nazis lost, the free-speech party won. So, this means that the bishop can believe, and even publicly state, if he wants, that Auschwitz was an ice-cream parlour and the SS was a dance troupe.

That is the nature of free speech. Any one of us should be able to declare any old counter-factual and even offensive nonsense, without being sent to jail, provided we preach hatred for no one. Its a free and equal world. Or is it? Across Europe, there are countless Islamic madrasahs, in which imams regularly preach hatred for Jews, and where the holocaust is routinely denied.

Which member-state of the EU will pursue such conveyors of hate, or seek the extradition of an imam who says that the holocaust was a Zionist hoax? None of them. We know this. For the EU has tolerated the creation of an informal historiographical apartheid. So, on the one hand, a single, eccentric (and possibly deranged) Christian bishop may be hounded for his demented historical beliefs: but on the other, there is a deafening silence over the widespread and virulent distortion of the holocaust by Islamic preachers.

If Bishop Williamson has an agenda, it is so bonkers as to rank alongside that of The Lunar Cheese Society. Yet he, and other Christian cranks like him, could even be imprisoned for their stated beliefs, as other men of God, working to an infinitely more sinister and far more politically inspired agenda, are simultaneously ignored. This disparity is now effectively an EU policy.

You can reasonably call such double-standards many things, but the words rational, wise or consistent are not among them. Suicidal and insane, however, certainly are.

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Kevin Myers Holocaust denial article The Proud Zionist

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March 2, 2018  Tags:   Posted in: Holocaust Denial  Comments Closed

Saudi-based Muslim body rejects Holocaust denial – Middle …

Mohammed al-Issa, former justice minister, head of the Muslim World League (MWL) speaks during an interview with Reuters at a hotel in Paris, France, November 23, 2017..(photo credit: REUTERS)

A Saudi-based Muslim group rejected Holocaust denial in a letter to the US Holocaust Memorial Museum.

History is indeed impartial no matter how hard forgers tried to tamper with or manipulate it, said the letter sent January 22 to the museum by Mohammad Al Issa, the secretary general of the Muslim World League, five days before International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Hence, we consider any denial of the Holocaust or minimizing of its effect a crime to distort history and an insult to the dignity of those innocent souls who have perished. It is also an affront to us all since we share the same human soul and spiritual bonds.

The letter was posted Thursday on the site of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. Al Issa suggested the letter was prompted in part by his friendship with the think tanks director, Robert Satloff, who has written extensively about North African Muslims who protected Jews during the Holocaust.

Writing separately, Satloff described meeting Al Issa last month when he led a delegation of lay leaders of his think tank to Saudi Arabia. A former justice minister, Al Issa had taken over the Saudi-funded Muslim World League in 2016. Satloff wrote that the league had been a linchpin in propagating a radical, hate-filled, anti-West, antisemitic version of Islam. Al Issa expressed a willingness to visit the Holocaust museum the next time he was in Washington.

The appointment of Al Issa appears to be of a piece with Saudi Arabias pivot westward under its new crown prince, Muhammad bin Sultan, Satloff said.

Taking his lead from Muhammad bin Salman, the current crown prince who has vowed to cleanse his country of extremism and return it to moderate Islam, Al Issa seems to have a specific mandate to transform the MWL from an organization synonymous with extremism to one that preaches tolerance, he said.

Al Issa did not specify Jews as victims of the Holocaust in his letter to the museum director, Sara Bloomfield, but instead spoke of this human tragedy perpetrated by evil Nazism and our great sympathy with the victims of the Holocaust, an incident that shook humanity to the core, and created an event whose horrors could not be denied or underrated by any fair-minded or peace-loving person.

The Muslim World League, which was founded in 1962, is funded principally by Saudi Arabias government. President Donald Trump, visiting Saudi Arabia in June, encouraged it and other Sunni Arab countries to combat radical Islam.

Holocaust denial has proliferated for decades in the Arab and Muslim worlds, sometimes encouraged by official government bodies, including in the past by Saudi Arabia. President Barack Obama in his 2009 speech to the Muslim world delivered in Cairo said the perpetuation of Holocaust denial was an obstruction to better relations with the West.

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Denial: Holocaust History on Trial: Deborah E. Lipstadt …

In her acclaimed 1993 book Denying the Holocaust, Deborah Lipstadt called David Irving, a prolific writer of books on World War II, one of the most dangerous spokespersons for Holocaust denial. The following year, after Lipstadts book was published in the United Kingdom, Irving filed a libel suit against Lipstadt and her publisher.

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Holocaust Denial: Demographics, Testimonies and Ideologies

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Facebook Search promotes Holocaust denial groups …

Mark Zuckerberg defended the presence of Holocaust deniers on Facebook this week despite widespread criticism, arguing that the company’s algorithm will punish misinformation to restrict its circulation on the social network rather than deleting it outright. But Facebook has still been prominently showcasing groups that promote Holocaust denial at the top of its search results, Business Insider has found. If a user searches for “Holocaust” on Facebook, some of the top results are for user-created groups that falsely claim the Nazi murder of millions of Jews was fabricated. These appear on the first page of the search results, as well as on the dedicated Groups tab of the search results. The prominence of these groups in Facebook’s search results reveal a gaping hole in Facebook’s defenses to stop the spread of falsehoods on its service and raise new questions about the effectiveness, and seriousness, of Facebook’s policies. In contrast to Facebook’s search results, if a user searches for “Holocaust” on Google, the first-page results are a mixture of news articles, legitimate informational websites, and other results, none of which suggest the Holocaust did not occur. The same is true of Yahoo, Microsoft-owned search engine Bing, and privacy-centric search engine DuckDuckGo. Reached for comment, a Facebook spokesperson said they made a mistake: “Our goal is for Facebook search results to be relevant and useful to people. That did not happen in this case and we have corrected the issue.” “We find Holocaust denial to be repugnant and ignorant,” a spokesperson said earlier. “Mark [Zuckerberg] has made that clear – and we agree that we ‘find Holocaust denial deeply offensive.’ We don’t allow people to celebrate or defend or try to justify the Holocaust. We also remove any content that mocks Holocaust victims or survivors.” Unlike other major search engines, the first page of Facebook’s search results for “Holocaust” includes a group that promotes Holocaust denialism, “The Open Holocaust Debate.” BI On Wednesday, technology news site Recode published a wide-ranging interview with CEO Mark Zuckerberg. It came on the back a furor over conspiracy theory website Infowars’ use of Facebook, and Zuckerberg argued that the company did not feel comfortable restricting the “voice” of its users, even if they were clearly wrong. Instead, he said, Facebook penalized hoaxers and misinformation spreaders with its algorithm, which ensures that such posts get far less traction and views in the News Feed. Zuckerberg cited Holocaust denialism as an example of content that was penalized but not banned. “I’m Jewish, and there’s a set of people who deny that the Holocaust happened,” the Facebook founder said. “I find that deeply offensive. But at the end of the day, I don’t believe that our platform should take that down because I think there are things that different people get wrong.” But the News Feed is not the only way Facebook users can find and consume information on the social network. Holocaust denial groups rank highly in Facebook’s Search results, mixed in alongside non-conspiracy-theorist groups. The Groups search results for “Holocaust” includes two groups in its top ten promoting Holocaust denial material, “The Open Holocaust Debate” and “Holocaust Revisionism.” BI The groups vary slightly in their search ranking position from user to user. One such group, “The Open Holocaust Debate,” has more than 1,600 members and frequently ranks in the top three search results. Billed as a “study group,” its users frequently post anti-Semitic messages and deny that the Holocaust occurred. Another in the top-ten results is the 1,000-member “Holocaust Revisionism,” which has a description that reads in part: “many people are starting to wake up, and find out that the official story which we have been told about the Holocaust may not be 100% true … the truth of the matter is that Hitler was a Zionist puppet from start to finish… and that the whole Holocaust thing was part of a Messianic agenda in order to fulfill a Sabbatean Frankist version of prophecy.” One of the posts in “The Open Holocaust Debate” disputing the existence of the Holocaust. BI In an emailed statement, a Facebook spokesperson said that search results are unique to each user: “They’re ordered algorithmically based on a combination of many factors. A few of the factors that determine what Groups appear in the Groups module on the search results page include relevance to what you type into the search bar, if you are connected to members of the Group and the activity level of the Group. ” However, Business Insider tested the “Holocaust” search with four different users, and Holocaust denial groups appeared highly every time indicating this is likely a widespread issue. For two of the users, “The Open Holocaust Debate” was ranked third, and “Holocaust Revisionism” was ranked sixth. For one user, the former was ranked second and the latter was ranked eighth. And for another, “The Open Holocaust Debate” was ranked sixth. The spokesperson added that Facebook blocks Holocaust denial content in countries where it is illegal, and takes down groups if they “[devolve] into threats or statements of hate.” The prominence of Holocaust denial groups in Facebook’s search results risk misinforming users seeking more information about the historic atrocity, especially as Facebook increasingly encourages the Groups feature as a way to make connections on the platform. A recent survey by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany found that 11% of US adults were not sure if they had heard of the Holocaust and that 2 out of 3 Americans between 18 and 34 years of age could not identify Auschwitz. While Facebook has begun taking greater steps to stop the spread of misinformation in its NewsFeed, it’s not clear to what extent the company is policing the other corners of its 2-billion member internet service. With its engineering resources and capital, Facebook should be capable of solving the problem with technology. After all, no other major search engine promotes Holocaust denial material on its first page of results for “Holocaust.”

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Zuckerberg clarifies: I personally find Holocaust denial …

I just got this email from Facebook CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg, clarifying remarks he made in a Recode Decode podcast interview I did with him yesterday. First, read it in its entirety: I enjoyed our conversation yesterday, but theres one thing I want to clear up. I personally find Holocaust denial deeply offensive, and I absolutely didnt intend to defend the intent of people who deny that. Our goal with fake news is not to prevent anyone from saying something untrue but to stop fake news and misinformation spreading across our services. If something is spreading and is rated false by fact checkers, it would lose the vast majority of its distribution in News Feed. And of course if a post crossed line into advocating for violence or hate against a particular group, it would be removed. These issues are very challenging but I believe that often the best way to fight offensive bad speech is with good speech. I look forward to catching up again soon. Mark For those who dont know the back story, Zuckerberg talked about a range of things in the 90-minute interview, from privacy to news to China to who is responsible for the Russian election meddling on the powerful social media platform he created (he is!). But one series of remarks he made to illustrate how he and the company think about controversial and false content that is allowed on the platform has attracted some criticism. After I asked about what Facebook should do about false news, such as some of the content that is published on a site like Infowars, Zuckerberg gave an unprompted example of Holocaust deniers to make his point about allowing hoaxes to be published on the site. Here is the whole exchange between us: Okay. Sandy Hook didnt happen is not a debate. It is false. You cant just take that down? I agree that it is false. Okay. I also think that going to someone who is a victim of Sandy Hook and telling them, Hey, no, youre a liar that is harassment, and we actually will take that down. But overall, lets take this whole closer to home … Okay. Im Jewish, and theres a set of people who deny that the Holocaust happened. Yes, theres a lot. I find that deeply offensive. But at the end of the day, I dont believe that our platform should take that down because I think there are things that different people get wrong. I dont think that theyre intentionally getting it wrong, but I think … In the case of the Holocaust deniers, they might be, but go ahead. Its hard to impugn intent and to understand the intent. I just think, as abhorrent as some of those examples are, I think the reality is also that I get things wrong when I speak publicly. Im sure you do. Im sure a lot of leaders and public figures we respect do too, and I just dont think that it is the right thing to say, Were going to take someone off the platform if they get things wrong, even multiple times. What we will do is well say, Okay, you have your page, and if youre not trying to organize harm against someone, or attacking someone, then you can put up that content on your page, even if people might disagree with it or find it offensive. But that doesnt mean that we have a responsibility to make it widely distributed in News Feed. I think we, actually, to the contrary … So you move them down? Versus, in Myanmar, where you remove it? Yes. Some on Twitter found Zuckerbergs point that Holocaust deniers do not intend to impart false information and cause damage was, um, problematic. Heres just one from longtime tech entrepreneur Mitch Kapor, for example: In any case, its clear the contentious debate about the power and responsibility of Facebook around what content the world sees and does not see on its massive network is not going away soon. Sign up for our Recode Daily newsletter to get the top tech and business news stories delivered to your inbox.

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July 20, 2018  Tags:   Posted in: Holocaust Denial  Comments Closed

Mark Zuckerberg’s remarks on Holocaust denial …

Mark Zuckerberg has been criticised by Jewish groups and anti-racism organisations for suggesting Holocaust denial should be allowed on Facebook because it could be unintentional. In an interview on Wednesday, the Facebook founder said he found Holocaust denial deeply offensive, but added: I dont believe that our platform should take that down because I think there are things that different people get wrong. I dont think that theyre intentionally getting it wrong Its hard to impugn intent and to understand the intent. Zuckerberg, who is Jewish, later retracted his remarks, issuing an update that said: I personally find Holocaust denial deeply offensive, and I absolutely didnt intend to defend the intent of people who deny that. But his comment came too late to stop criticism from Jewish groups, both for the specifics of his statement and the general practice of allowing Holocaust denial to thrive on his platform. Stephen Silverman, director of investigations and enforcement at the Campaign Against Antisemitism, told the Guardian: Mark Zuckerbergs remarks are deeply irresponsible. There is no such thing as benign Holocaust denial. It is solely a means of inciting hatred against Jews by claiming that we fabricated the genocide of our people to extort money in the form of reparations. It is utterly abusive and Mark Zuckerberg must take responsibility for excising it from Facebook. Jonathan Greenblatt, chief executive of the US-based Anti-Defamation League, said: Holocaust denial is a wilful, deliberate and longstanding deception tactic by antisemites that is incontrovertibly hateful, hurtful and threatening to Jews. Facebook has a moral and ethical obligation not to allow its dissemination. ADL will continue to challenge Facebook on this position and call on them to regard Holocaust denial as a violation of their community guidelines. Matthew McGregor, campaigns director of HOPE not hate, told the Guardian: The Holocaust is one of the great evils of history, an industrial genocide levelled against the Jewish people. It did happen and it is more than just deeply offensive: it is incredibly dangerous to give any credence or platform to those who deny it. Facebook, as a publisher of content, has a responsibility to ensure that the violence inherent in the message of Holocaust deniers must not be able to flourish without being challenged or held in check. This is not about getting it wrong, it is about not enabling dangerous people to spread a vile message of hate. Facebooks community guidelines, published in detail in April, a year after the Guardian obtained the then secret documents in a leak, ban hate speech because it creates an environment of intimidation and exclusion and in some cases may promote real-world violence. But the companys definition of hate speech requires violent or dehumanising speech, statements of inferiority, or calls for exclusion or segregation, which it says does not cover Holocaust denial. Facebook removes Holocaust denial in some countries, such as Germany, where it is illegal. Monika Bickert, Facebooks head of global policy, explained the distinction in May, telling an event at Oxford University that something might be illegal in 10 countries, but if only two countries say this is important to us, its illegal, remove it, we will do it. And if the others dont, we will not remove it. Sometimes countries may have laws on the books this is certainly true in the United States, I can say as an American lawyer that are really out of date with how that culture thinks about speech, that are no longer enforced. So we wait for that government to make a request about it.

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July 19, 2018  Tags:   Posted in: Holocaust Denial  Comments Closed

Mark Zuckerberg Seeks to Clarify Remarks About Holocaust …

Mark Zuckerberg, the Facebook chief executive, said in an interview published Wednesday that he would not automatically remove denials that the Holocaust took place from the site, a remark that caused an uproar online. Mr. Zuckerbergs comments were made during an interview with the tech journalist Kara Swisher that was published on the site Recode. (Read the full transcript here.) Hours later, Mr. Zuckerberg tried to clarify his comments in an email to Recode. In the interview, Mr. Zuckerberg had been discussing what content Facebook would remove from the site, and noted that in countries like Myanmar and Sri Lanka, the dissemination of hate speech can have immediate and dire consequences. Moments earlier, he had also defended his companys decision to allow content from the conspiracy site Infowars to be distributed on Facebook. [Facebook plans to remove misinformation that could lead to physical harm.] The principles that we have on what we remove from the service are: If its going to result in real harm, real physical harm, or if youre attacking individuals, then that content shouldnt be on the platform, he said. Theres a lot of categories of that that we can get into, but then theres broad debate. Ms. Swisher, who will become an Opinion contributor with The New York Times later this summer, challenged Mr. Zuckerberg. Sandy Hook didnt happen is not a debate, she said, referring to the Connecticut school massacre in 2012, which Infowars has spread conspiracy theories about. It is false. You cant just take that down? Mr. Zuckerberg countered that the context of the remark mattered. I also think that going to someone who is a victim of Sandy Hook and telling them, Hey, no, youre a liar that is harassment, and we actually will take that down, he said. Thats when Mr. Zuckerberg brought up the Holocaust. But over all, lets take this whole closer to home, he continued. Im Jewish, and theres a set of people who deny that the Holocaust happened. I find that deeply offensive. But at the end of the day, I dont believe that our platform should take that down because I think there are things that different people get wrong. I dont think that theyre intentionally getting it wrong. Ms. Swisher interrupted him: In the case of the Holocaust deniers, they might be, but go ahead. Mr. Zuckerbergs response was somewhat muddled. Its hard to impugn intent and to understand the intent, he said, adding that he also gets things wrong when he speaks publicly, and other public figures do as well. I just dont think that it is the right thing to say, Were going to take someone off the platform if they get things wrong, even multiple times, he said. Instead, Facebook would allow the content to exist on its site, but would move it down in the News Feed so that fewer users see it, he said. In his follow-up statement, the Facebook chief executive tried to clarify his remarks. Theres one thing I want to clear up. I personally find Holocaust denial deeply offensive, and I absolutely didnt intend to defend the intent of people who deny that, he wrote in the email. If something is spreading and is rated false by fact checkers, it would lose the vast majority of its distribution, he wrote, adding that any post advocating for violence or hate against a particular group would be removed. These issues are very challenging, he added, but I believe that often the best way to fight offensive bad speech is with good speech. But the interview had already set off a reaction from online commenters and drew widespread news coverage. Benjy Sarlin of NBC News seemed baffled by Mr. Zuckerbergs choice of words. Jonathan Greenblatt, the chief executive of the Anti-Defamation League, said in a statement that Holocaust denial is a willful, deliberate and longstanding deception tactic by anti-Semites. Facebook has a moral and ethical obligation not to allow its dissemination, he wrote.

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Lithuanias Museum of Holocaust Denial Tablet Magazine

This past winter here in Vilnius, the charming capital of Lithuania, was much like any other. During long solid weeks of subzero temperatures, as the flow of tourists and roots-seekers slowed to a trickle, I adjusted the route of my daily walk to pass by up to a dozen top tourist sights. Day after day, there was one constant: The most popular, winter-defying must-visit for foreigners is The Museum of Genocide Victims. Perhaps there is something grotesquely sexy about genocide. Maybe the promise of (real) former KGB interrogation rooms and isolation chambers in the basement is less run-of-the-mill and more strikingly authentic than much usual museum fare. Estimates obtained from the museums administrators suggest about a million visitors total to date. Called The Genocide Museum for short, the citys premier attraction is housed on the central boulevard in an elegant Russian imperial building completed in 1899 that was formerly used for the courthouse of the empires Vilna Province. The museums current headquarters are located in an annex dating to 1914-1915, just prior to World War I, which brought that empire tumbling down. Vilna would then change hands (depending how you count) around seven times through to 1920, when it came under the stable rule of the interwar Polish Republic, a rule that lasted until the Hitler-Stalin pact brought on Polands dismemberment in September of 1939. Then came little over a month of Soviet rule of the city (Sept.Oct. 1939), a little over a half-year of Lithuanian rule (Oct. 1939June 1940), a year of Soviet rule (June 1940June 1941) three years of Nazi rule (June 1941July 1944), 46 or 47 years of Soviet rule, and since 1990 or 1991, depending from when you prefer to reckon, the beginning of close to three decades of modern democratic Lithuanian sovereignty. Somewhere around the halfway mark of this modern period, in 2004, the country, along with a number of neighboring states that had been freed from Soviet yoke and became successful democracies with growing market economies, joined NATO and the European Union, cementing their firm and proud anchorage within the West. This particular building had a starkly macabre function during two of its signal incarnations. It was the German Nazi Gestapo headquarters, with its own interrogation rooms, prison cells, and death chambers. Then for decades, it was a Soviet NKVD/KGB central facility used to coordinate terrorization of the undesired part of the population, particularly dissidents and resistance figures, who were incarcerated, interrogated, and tortured in its cells and shot on its premises during the Stalin years and beyond. *** It is all the more eerie, painfully so, to have to say that this building now mars the pleasant Vilnius ambiance of the delightful, freewheeling city center in a raw, soul-destroying sort of way. Not because it tells the story of dark and brutal chapters of history. Those stories must be told. They are told in major museums in city centers around the world. Moreover, there is no country on the planet without major blots on its history. It is a sign of maturity when for example the United States has museums dedicated to the national crimes of slavery, horrors against Native Americans, and commemorative sites for many others who were victimized and mistreated. Though far from perfect, these efforts indicate an elementary sense of national honesty, in dealing with the past that is, whether we like or not, very much part of our present. The reconciliation part of this effort has a lot to do with tolerance for minorities who may not see the mainstream historical narrative or its foundational heroes quite the way the standard schoolbooks like to have it, but who are nevertheless patriots who serve their country just like everyone else. America got some small echo of a taste of all that last summer in Charlottesville, Virginia. The proximate cause of discontent was the fate of a long-standing statue of Confederate States General Robert E. Lee. So let us try a little thought experiment: Imagine not a statue of General Lee in Charlottesville, but an elaborate state-sponsored museum in the nations capital, in which the Confederate forces are depicted as pure heroes of independence and freedom, fighting off the central government of tyranny, and African Americans turn up only occasionally as evil collaborators with the Northern tormenters who came to destroy their beloved civilization. An American constitutional scholar might well explain why such a counter-historical museum, founded on intellectually and academically filtered racial hatred, could well be legal on someones private property as their own private realm but must not occupy public space. In the hands of specialists, it can all be made to look rather convincing to the proverbial outsider from Mars. In Lithuania, the murder rate of around 96 percent of the Jewish population during the Holocaust was among the highest in Europe, which incidentally makes the bravery of those who did the right thing and rescued someone all the more inspirational. They were regarded as betraying their own nationalist cause. They are the people who should be honored throughout the land starting with a museum in the capital. In todays incarnation of the Genocide Museum, a stones throw from the nations parliament, there are no longer individual human victims in the flesh. The victim here, in the 21st century, is the truth. The point of the museum is to persuade all comers that Soviet crimes were the genocide that took place in this part of the world and that those groups to which most of the museums space is dedicated to glorifying were indeed humanitarian lovers of truth, justice, and multi-ethnic tolerance. The sad truth is, however, that many of those honored were collaborators who participated in, or abetted, genocide. There lies the heart of the title Museum of Lies, which Holocaust survivors here (now mostly gone) would use over these last decades to describe the project. But there is one theme in this museum that is very honest, and necessary, and if it is one day disentangled from the Fake History componentsand those components discardedit would make a truly excellent Museum, namely a cabinet of KGB Crimes and Stalinist Horrors such as one finds in numerous other cities. These exhibits expose Soviet crimes against humanity, particularly in the Stalin period, including mass deportations, imprisonments and harsh punishments, including torture and barbaric murder, of supposed enemies, suppression of human freedoms including speech, religion, emigration and political beliefs, and, pervasive from morning to night for all those decades, a cruel forced occupation of ones country by a larger empire with the resultant loss of freedom, identity and myriad basic human rights. If the ghosts of KGB tormentors still linger in those cellars, they can only be giggling that their own cruelty is presented as part of a twisted tale in which the legitimacy of anything and everything sinks into some murky postmodernist mush under the inane heading of Everything is Equal. The LAF Rebellion The first major dynamic historical episode encountered in the Genocide Museum is a series of exhibits lavishly dedicated to the 1941 Lithuanian Activist Front (LAF) white-armbanded fascists whose pre-Nazi invasion central planning came from Berlin, and included a group of high-level Lithuanian Nazis, adherents of ethnic cleansing (to put it politely) stationed there in the months before the Nazi invasion of the then Soviet Union on June 22, 1941. But as the Soviet occupation collapsed in disarray on the day of the Nazi invasion, and especially the following day, Monday, June 23, 1941, many nationalist young men rapidly joined the LAF militias, often by donning a white armband and just becoming LAFers or joining related militias and gangs at will. With or without the armband, with or without documentary affiliation to the LAF, they have all come to be known as the White Armbanders in the local languages (Lithuanian Baltaraiiai, Polish Biae opaski, Russian Bielorukavniki, Yiddish Di Vyse rembendlakh, and so forth). Accompanied by a sham radio-address declaration of independence (that included the oath of loyalty to Adolf Hitlerwoe to such independence), they took over post offices, police stations, and town halls vacated by the fleeing Soviet forces for several days before turning them over, unctuously and with sumptuous servitude, to the arriving Germans. The museums exhibits tell a very different story, which is not rooted in historical fact. A tall tale: that this was all a rebellion of the Lithuanian people against Soviet rule. That story is shameless nonsense. While the Soviets were in power, these White Armbander and LAF folks did not fire a single shot at any Soviet official or military installation. When the Soviets were fleeing for their lives from the Nazi invasion, the local militants fired at their backs and took over some freshly-vacated installations. (To be clear, the KGB and its affiliated organs did brutally murder many political prisoners and others in their last hours on the soil of the lands they had occupied in 1939 or 1940 all along the front of the arriving Nazi invasion forces.) Put simply, you cannot rebel against an authority that has collapsed because of someone elses attack, the less so when the folks you are rebelling against are already fleeing. Nor do you have much moral authority when your main activity during those days was butchering your Jewish neighbors. In other words, there was no rebellion. And, it goes without saying that the Soviet army was fleeing Hitlers invasion, Operation Barbarossa, the largest invasion in human history. As surely as water is wet, the Soviet Army was not fleeing the local Lithuanian White Armbander Jew-killers. For that is, alas, what the White Armbander Lithuanian nationalists were doing in the final week of June 1941. They initiated the first phase of the Lithuanian Holocaust, murdering Jewish civilians, particularly younger women and older rabbis, often in macabre city-center shows of victory, such as the teenage Jewish girl cut in half in the center of iauliai (in Yiddish: Shavl), or Rabbi Zalmen Osovskys head put in a shop window in Kaunas (Kvne). The late Professor Dov Levin, historian of the Lithuanian Holocaust, documented 40 locations in Lithuania where the actual murdering began before the arrival of German forces. If we add violence causing serious injury, plunder of property, humiliation, degradation and dehumanizing treatment, it is hundreds of places, not 40. And if we add the places where many of the same murderers continued on under German administration, the kill rate grows exponentially. But this is not about numbers, though the numbers of Jews killed by the LAF-affiliated White Armbanders is in the thousands, with the biggest single concentration in Kaunas itself. Kaunas was the interwar de facto Lithuanian capital and center of the rebellion. (Vilna, prewar Wilno, in Yiddish forever Vlne, was still a largely Polish city at the time, and there were vastly fewer instances of pre-German lethal violence in the city and its area, that Stalin had given to Lithuania in October 1939 when it became Vilnius.) But what does the Genocide Museums exhibit tell us about these LAFers deeds? Not a word about their rampage of murder that unleashed phase one of the Holocaust in the country. Instead, the story told is illustrated by this key panel: This text (which like all, appears bilingually in Lithuanian and English) has caused such anguish to local Holocaust survivors and their families over the years that many found it too painful, or too enragingor bothto even set foot in the place. Survivors are unanimously quick to point out, incidentally, that in addition to occupying the just-vacated post offices and police stations, murdering and humiliating Jewish neighbors, the LAF actually did something else too. On the roads crisscrossing the country, outside hundreds of towns, they created a ring of armed militants who prevented the flight of Jewish people who were attempting to flee eastward to Russia (the only hope for survival for a Jew in this part of the worldthere were no American or British forces around). Fleeing Jews were sent back into the Nazi choke-hold until the Germans could arrive to organize it all properly (which took the form of organized mass shootings at around 230 major mass grave sites that dot the country today). Holocaust memoirs contain hundreds of eyewitness statements about the white-armbanders and their cohorts preventing Jews from escaping even when all their property was left behind for the taking. These then are the LAF white armbanders celebrated in this museum as heroic rebels. Needless to say, it is nowhere mentioned that the LAF masterminds in Berlin in the preceding months had published leaflets and entire works calling for the removal of Jewish citizens from Lithuania. These were no street thugs. They were educated people who knew their history. One infamous leaflet declares the charters of toleration issued by the Lithuanian Grand Duke Witold (Vytautas) in the 14th century to be completely and finally revoked. That Lithuanian leaders charters of tolerance were a highpoint of European civilization in the middle ages, and he became known as The Cyrus of Lithuania to many generations of Litvaks, or Lithuanian Jews. I am proud in my home to follow a tradition of hundreds of years of Jews here of having a portrait of Witold near my front door. Before going any further, however, let us be very clear that the launch of the 1941 genocidal phase of the Holocaust by the White Armbanders, and by their fellow partisans in Latvia, Estonia, and western Ukraine, among other places, does not mean that any of these nations are bad. The guilty alone are responsible, and their supporters and enablers. All these nations had, as noted, inspirational rescuers who risked everything to save a neighbor in danger (the Righteous Among the Nations). All these nations have their storied poets, statesmen, military heroes, scientific geniuses, architects, artists, and much more. So why would anyone in the 21st century, much less anyone fortunate enough to be in the NATO and European Union area, choose to falsify the history of these first days of the Holocaust in order to turn Holocaust-initiating thugs into national heroes to be featured in museums as rebels, partisans, and freedom fighters? That question requires serious study, a task that has been shirked by many historians in these recent days of The New Cold War. But just scratch a historian, diplomat, or political PR person involved with such things in this part of the world and youll get an answer, one that is probably part of the answer. Ultranationalist elements, consumed with (understandable) resentment against the many crimes of the Russian and Sovietempires over the centuries, will go to any length to make heroes out of all anti-Soviet and anti-Russian manifestations in history, including Hitlerism andto hell with the detail of the extermination of a national minority. The problem here is that virtually all of the many thousands of actual East European Holocaust murderers were anti-Soviet. If that makes them heroes, ipso facto, heaven help European civilization. During the genocidal phase of the Holocaust, from June 22, 1941 onward, the Soviets were of course in the Alliance with Great Britain and the United States, where they remained until wars end. But there are also many subtly local aspects in play. For example, many ultranationalist historians in all three Baltic states are ashamed that their people barely fired a shot against the peaceful Soviet annexation of their countries in 1940, and a revolt in 1941 seems like a darned good idea for stitching up a patriotic narrative of resistance. Again, these nations all have grand patriotic histories, which in the Baltics includes the magnificent rise to independence of democratic states in 1918, and then again in 1991. Double Genocide and Holocaust Envy The post-Soviet East European nationalist decision to glorify Hitler collaborators is situated very near the conceptual core of the current set of Holocaust issues in Europe and beyond. The far-right jewel in the crown is the Genocide Museum in Vilnius. The other regional museums infected with the same virus are more in the dressed-up-for-export mode of Double Genocide, the theory that Nazi and Soviet crimes are in principle equal and that that equality must guide the study and application of European History. That theory has come to be, in effect, the 21st century respectable-in-high-society successor to the previous centurys classic Holocaust Denial. It came to its fullest expression in the 2008 Prague Declaration. (Disclosure: I was privileged, in 2012, to co-author, with Danny-Ben Moshe, the European parliamentary rejoinder known as the Seventy Years Declaration, signed by 70 European parliamentarians, including eight particularly courageous ones from Lithuania, all incidentally Social Democrats.) Unlike Vilniuss Genocide Museum where Soviet crimes are presented in fact as The Genocide, the others follow the model of equality of the Prague Declaration, that insists on equality as the absolute principle of European history and the point of departure for all else. For example, the House of Terror Museum in Budapest, founded in 2002, features on its outside roof-corner display both the arrow cross (the local fascist wartime symbol) and the Soviet star side by side in an exposition of equality, echoed by two huge panels with the same symbols in the welcoming hallway (in case someone missed the message outside). The Museum of Occupations in Tallinn, Estonias capital, founded in 2003, welcomes visitors with an elaborate piece of Double Genocide modern art, with the Soviet star and the swastika atop equal commanding pillars. Much older than both is Rigas Museum of the Occupation of Latvia, founded in 1993, where recent revisions have taken harsh Western criticism into account, though the system of red (Soviet) and brown (Nazi) panels gives the immediate impression that the Soviet issue is the main one, as it is in space dedicated. But to be fair, this is called a museum of the Occupation, not of Genocide. The most recent addition to Eastern Europes macabre litany of anti-Holocaust museums (in the sense of negating the Holocausts place in history and consciousness) is the Lonsky Street Prison National Memorial Museum, founded in 2009 in Lviv (former Lvov, Lemberg, Yiddish Lmberik), which has prominently featured a photoshopped photograph of a woman looking for her murdered Ukrainian relatives in 1941 with the piles of Jewish corpses in the image covered over by circles indicating numbers of Ukrainian victims far and wide. (Photo: Dovid Katz) That brings us back to the mother of East European genocide museums, the Museum of Genocide Victims right here in Vilnius. While its main message is much more extreme than its sister museums in Eastern Europe, there have for many years been hints of the compulsion for comparison that must lead to some sort of equality. The ascendant phenomenon called Holocaust Envy comes to the fore at the Genocide Museum in a large bilingual chart on the main floor, toward the rear of the corridor near the restrooms, in other words away from the actual major exhibit rooms. For the foreign Jews, as a former museum employee once quipped to me. For many years, until 2011, this was the only oblique and nameless reference to the Holocaust in the entire Museum of Genocide Victims. A lengthy analysis of this chart could be penned, a chart that contained the only mention of what happened to the Jews of Lithuania between the museums founding in 1992 and late 2011. For here a few salient points may suffice. First the use of the word losses to cover the Jewish victims of the campaign of genocide to murder every Jew in the country as well as an array of other categories of state crimes: arrested, interrogated, imprisoned, deported, prisoners who died, died in deportation, partisans and their supporters killed, for the Soviet side of the ledger; and then for the Nazi side: imprisoned and deported to concentration camps, killed and deported to Germany for forced labor. The penultimate category, killed has the addition in parenthesis: including about 200,000 Jews, which is not only lost in the list but comports exactly with what the eye first saw above, Arrested, interrogated, imprisoned with, lo and behold, also 200,000. This is all related to the inflation of the word genocide by the ultranationalist camp, which was boldly exposed by the late, lamented Lithuanian philosopher Leonidas Donskis. Such equivalencies are no quirks of some statistical modelling. They are part of two interrelated, and weird, phenomena that represent different stages of the Holocaust revisionism tendencies of Eastern Europe. First is in fact Double Genocide, the notion that the starting point for the subject is the universal acceptance of the Nazi and Soviet regimes brutality being the same. Second is a deeper feeling, just under the surface, that in some profound sense the Holocaust must be regarded as the lesser of the two phenomena. (Photo: Dovid Katz) Since 1997, the Genocide Museum has been under the auspices of a state-financed institute with close ties to the highest echelons of power, called the Genocide and Resistance Research Center of Lithuania or, for short, the Genocide Center. For years its website carried a page on the two genocides that included this gem of Holocaust Envy: One may cut off all four of a persons limbs and he or she will still be alive, but it is enough to cut off the one and only head to send him or her to another dimension. The Jewish example clearly indicates that this is also true about genocide. Although an impressive percentage of the Jews were killed by the Nazis, their ethnic group survived, established its own extremely national state and continuously grew stronger. For many years, one of its chief specialists was also a leader of the neo-Nazis in Lithuania. Recently, a bold Californian-born Lithuanian scholar who settled in his ancestral homeland years ago, Prof. Andrius Kulikauskas, has boldly taken on its leadership, which frequently defends the ethnic cleansing policies of various purported national heroes. Analogous points have been scored in visiting exhibitions. For some years it was this comparison in an exhibit on the Ukrainian famine, or Holodomor, which for years was the only word starting with h-o-l-o in a museum of genocide in Eastern Europe. The museum told its visitors that When the Holodomor eyewitnesses, even those who survived the Nazi death camps, were asked what was more frightfulthe famine or the war, they unanimously answered: [a number of quotes follow, including, under the image of an elderly woman, her quote]: In Auschwitz, we were given some spinach and a little bread. War is terrible, but famine is even worse. No mention of the fate suffered by the statistically overwhelming victims of Auschwitz or who they might have been. Such is the face of our new centurys Holocaust Denial: Talking the Holocaust out of history without denying a single death, or for that matter, fact, through rhetorical analogies and false comparisons. The Forest Brothers (Photo: Dovid Katz) A vast portion of the Museum of Genocide Victims is dedicated to The Partisan War Between 1944 and 1953. Popularly known as the Forest Brothers, these were the resistance fighters from the time of the defeat of Hitlers forces in 1944 until around 1953, who opposed Soviet rule and carried out armed attacks. Not all of these fighters were recycled murderers of 1941 but a disputed number were. Most painfully, a number of their leaders are now extolled as national heroes for resisting the postwar Soviets, as if their involvement in the Holocaust is a minor, disregardable detail of history that must not spoil the heroic resistance party. The fearless Lithuanian ethicist Evaldas Balinas has published exposs using solid sources concerning the Holocaust participation of a number of the heroes extolled in the museum as martyrs for justice, freedom and democracy. Asking why his states authorities glorify murderers, Balinas went on to publish a series of articles on individual heroes extolled in the Museum of Genocide Victims who were actually collaborators with the perpetrators of the genocide that actually occurred in the country. Among those that have appeared in English translation are his pieces on Antanas Baltsis-vejas, Juozas Barzda, Konstantinas Liuberskisvainys, Vincas Kaulinis-Mikinis, Juozas Kriktaponis (Kritaponis), Jonas Noreika, Adolfas Ramanauskas Vanagas, Juozas ibaila, Sergijus Stanikis Litas, and Jonas emaitis. One of the most notorious, an actual participant in the Holocaust, Jonas Noreika, has a stone block outside the building, on Vilniuss main boulevard, dedicated to his memory. Instead of the medal he deserves, Evaldas Balinas was hit with police visits to his place of work, summonses, and a series of nuisance court cases that finally, after a dozen 280-mile round trips from home, came to a not guilty verdict in July 2016. But the message was clear: The country is a democracy for 99 percent of topics but not for far-right choices on historical narratives related to the Holocaust, which are enforced by the power of the state. In 2011, the late Joe Melamed, longtime head of the Association of Lithuanian Jews in Israel, was visited by Interpol in his Tel Aviv office because some of the same names appeared in his 1999 book Crime and Punishment; the harassment of Melamed made it to the British Parliament. After questioning the postwar bonafides of one of these heroes a best-selling Lithuanian author known (and widely criticized) for her lurid sensationalism, Ruta Vanagaite, in late 2017 had her books banned by her own publisher, in an episode that reached the New Yorker. There is little doubt that the real reason for the ban was a 2016 book she coauthored with famed Nazi hunter Dr. Efraim Zuroff that revealed the extent of Holocaust participation by local forces. (Photo: Dovid Katz) Until 2015, the museums large halls dedicated to glorification of the Forest Brothers also contained three blatantly anti-Semitic caricatures that appear in a section on the Brothers underground artwork and literature. One features a jeep driven by Lenin, Stalin, and Yankelke the Jew, a second shows a coarse caricature of a Jew behind Stalin blowing economic bubbles (along with a soap dish adorned by a Star of David should someone miss the point). The third depicts an anti-Semitic caricature of a Jew serving as a Soviet torturer of Lithuanian patriots. These images all date from after the Holocaust (at right). In 2015, after numerous complaints, these three images disappeared from the exhibit on the Forest Brothers underground art. In reply to our question for this article on whether the removal was permanent, museum director Eugenijus Peiktenis said (in a written reply): Exposition of the museum is constantly updatedone exhibit is replaced by another. The best known free-thinking, critical book here on the Forest Brothers, one that is a great credit to Lithuania, Memorial Book for the Victims of Partisan Terror, edited by Povilas Masilionis, appeared in 2011. It comprises his introduction in three languages (Lithuanian, English, Russian) followed by a list of some 25,000 names of people, nearly all civilians, murdered by the Forest Brothers, who were notorious for killing fellow Lithuanian citizens they considered collaborators with the Soviets, including those who led or worked on collective farms and other Soviet enterprises (as if people had a choice about where to work under the autocratic and dictatorial Soviet rule). Masilionis concludes his forward to the book, aptly named Victims of the Unbrotherly Forest Brothers with the plea: Books of memory should be published in every city and every region. Even a national Memory institution could be established to defend the rights of relatives of terror victims and to defend the memory of murdered unarmed civilians. Before that, in 2009, Lithuauanian historian, Mindaugas Pocius published his academic monograph, The Far Side of the Moon, which reported only some 9,000 innocent civilians murdered by the Brothers (including 300 children). He too became a victim of nuisance prosecution, intended to defame and to deter others more than to find guilt with someone exercising their European Union right of freedom of expression. Last year, the mayor of Vilnius fired Dr. Darius Udrys, the American-born head of the capitals Go Vilnius development agency, after he dared ask on his own Facebook page whether Lithuanians who worked for Soviet collective farms in the 1950s actually deserved to be summarily executed. Lithuania is a democracy for 99 percent of topics but not for far-right choices on historical narratives related to the Holocaust, which are enforced by the power of the state. The ultranationalist-controlled academic establishment at major universities plays its part too in stifling free debate, especially since a 2010 Double Genocide law made it a crime to disagree with the state model, one punishable by up to two years in prison. (Disclosure: That was the year I was myself discontinued as professor of Yiddish at Vilnius University after 11 blissful, incident-free years; I was told it was because I had published false articles in three radical left-wing newspapers, a reference to two 2009 articles in Londons Jewish Chronicle and Dublins Irish Times and the final straw, a 2010 piece in the Guardian.) Vilnius has a tiny, separate Holocaust museum, out of sight on a hill up a driveway, whose longtime fearless director, Rachel Kostanian, now retired, was repeatedly harassed for her determination to just tell the truth. On more than one occasion, the late Sir Martin Gilbert would truly play the part of the white knight who would step in to save her job. The saga became the source for much dark humor on all sides of the debate. Nobody has gone to prison, but freethinking, talented Lithuanian young historians continue to flee the country for studies abroad before even thinking about staying to face ruined careers. Thankfully, the Lithuanian people have vastly more common sense than the far-right elite that has usurped control of the countrys official historical narrative. In 2015, there was a proposal to rename a high school in the town Obeliai (known in Yiddish as Abel), in northeastern Lithuania, in honor of a Forest Brother leader whose memoir had recently been published. The schools leaders did something very intelligent and quite simple. They organized a poll, by secret ballot. A majority of the town opposed the proposal. But the clique of ultranationalists controlling state history keeps going further in the other direction. Another alleged Holocaust collaborator who became a postwar Forest Brother leader, Jonas emaitis, was incredibly proclaimed to be the de-facto fourth president of Lithuania by the nations parliament in 2009. And, in December of 2017, the parliament declared 2018 to be the year honoring yet another alleged Nazi collaborator, Adolfas Ramanauskas (Vanagas). Whenever a Holocaust-tainted militant is chosen for honors, it is a de-facto message of adulation for fascism and not-so-latent glee at the greater ethnic purity rendered by the Holocaust and its related events. Believe it or not, the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry (which squanders vast sums on history and Holocaust manipulation) had arranged to pay for a monument to Ramanauskas in the Connecticut town of New Britain (where Ramanauskas happened to be born, before his parents returned to Lithuania). The mayors office was rapidly persuaded. And why notno mention was made of his Holocaust-era activity, only his postwar anti-Soviet activity. Here in Lithuania, the American monument for Ramanauskas was flaunted for months in the media in the triumphalist spirit of demonstrating how America now accepts the East European nationalist narrative of Holocaust history. Moreover, there is no (known) evidence Ramanauskas personally killed anyone during the Holocaust, though he boasted in his memoirs of leading one of those (Hitlerist, LAF-affiliated) groups of partisans in the first days of the Holocaust. Is that the kind of symbol of heroism the free world wants to bequeath to future generations? When our Vilnius-based web journal Defending History posted an appeal to the New Britain mayor in January 2018, after writing to her office, there was no immediate response. A lively internal debate then ensued within the New Britain city council. Several weeks ago, that debate ran into the single determined force of elected city alderman Aram Ayalon, a professor in the education department of Central Connecticut State University. He rapidly launched a petition and alerted local media. The New Britain Progressive published a report on 2 April. Last Friday, April 6, Justin Dorsey of the mayors office circulated an email confirming that There will be no monument recognizing this individual. The Progressive carried the news of the cancellation. This, while the walls of (and around) the Genocide Museum in Vilnius continued to be plastered up with posters celebrating the 2018 Year of Ramanauskas. Now 2018 is a very special year for Lithuania. It is the 100th anniversary of the rise of the modern democratic state in 1918, special too for its remaining Jewish people, because that state was founded on the principle of cultural autonomy for minorities. It included even a Jewish Affairs ministry led by the famed Dr. Max Soloveitchik in its early years. Ramanauskass link to those events? He was born in 1918 (as were so many others). After deliberation with numerous colleagues in different fields here, our small dissident band at Defending History countered by naming as person of the year for 2018 Malvina okelyt Valeikien, who was decorated by the Republic of Lithuania for her bravery in Lithuanias 1918 war of independence, and then went on during the Holocaust a generation later to save a Jewish neighbor. The point we were making by doing this was honoring a true Lithuanian hero in honor of the countrys 100th anniversary celebration, and, of course, making a wider point: Lithuania, like all the countries of Eastern Europe, has many centuries of genuine heroes in whom all humanity can rightly take pride. Addition of a Holocaust Cubicle in the Basement Following a number of Holocaust-related scandals, not least the attempts by Lithuanian prosecutors to target Holocaust survivors for investigation of their activities in the Jewish partisans, which I reported on for Tablet back in 2010, the Genocide Museum announced with considerable PR gusto that one of the former prison cells in the basement would be turned into a Holocaust exhibit. It was opened with fanfare in 2011, in the atmosphere of a major concession to the Jews. Yes, you heard that right, the concession was that the Holocaust would finally merit one cubicle in the basement of the citys Genocide Museum. Although a map of the basement still lists the same 18 exhibits as before, including cell no. 3 (= item no. 5 on the list, marks on the wall made during the Nazi occupation), it suddenly came to house a contemporary museum-tech exhibit on the Holocaust. There is an emblem of the yellow Star of David outside the door and when you look inside the new room, there is a huge Star of David on the far wall near the radiator. The problem with this one room addition is that it tells a very distorted story of the Lithuanian Holocaust. Worst of all, the perpetrators who unleashed the killing through much of the country before the Germans even arrived, the LAF and their associated killer groups, is obfuscated yet again. The Nazi puppet prime minister of the summer of 1941, Juozas Ambrazeviius (Brazaitis) whose remains were repetriated in 2012 from another Connecticut town, Putnam, for reburial with full honors in Lithuania, is presented as obliquely anti-Nazi when in fact he personally signed Lithuanian versions of the Nazi orders for Jews from his own city, Kaunas, to be sent to a murder camp, the Seventh Fort, and another for all the remaining Jews to be locked up in a ghetto within one month. In other words, the added Holocaust Room repeats the same Fake History as in the main grand exhibit halls upstairs: covering up the murders by the LAF, and of the Provisional Government which followed it, at the start of the Lithuanian Holocaust, and sanitizing the perpetrators as some kind of freedom fighters. Much of the Holocaust room is dedicated to the Vilna Ghetto, where it is infinitely easier to downplay local collaboration and consider it all a German deed alone, with a few odd tantalizing references to the Jewish police and Judenrat as the supposed co-authors of the Holocaust in Vilna. While far from noble in many cases, there is no moral comparison of the tragic compulsion of Jewish police and Judenrats intermingled with false hopes of saving some, vs. the massive voluntary participation in the gleeful genocide of neighbors by those in positions of power. To cite the one and omit the other amounts to Fake History par excellence. But there is one major redeeming feature of the Holocaust cell in the basement: There is honor for those who did the right thing and saved a neighbor from the barbaric hands of the Nazis, and their LAF and other local collaborators and partners. They are the true Lithuanian heroes of WWII. They deserve an entire museum in their honor. In addition, there have been some other welcome modifications since 2011. Some Holocaust videos have been added to the repertoire on the monitors, and the outside plaque now duly notes that the building once housed the Gestapo. Chicanery, Context, Caveats The nonsense of Fake History museums rises to the level of dangerous chicanery only when it is all done so well that is can fool even journalists from famous Western publications. In recent years, naive souls writing for the New York Times (in 2015) and the San Francisco Examiner (2016) were successfully bamboozled, and the front desk where you pay to buy your ticket has stickers flaunting the approval of those publications for the farce of historical denialism inside. By contrast, a well-seasoned author from the London Guardian, writing back in 2008, immediately saw that something was wrong, and another, in 2010, analyzed the Double Genocide industry. The New York Timess seasoned, Pulitzer Prize-winning foreign correspondent Rod Nordland recently did some measure of penance for his publication by writing an extended, fair article after a chance visit brought him to this shocking museum, and to some other shocks of contemporary Vilnius. These include church steps made of readable Jewish gravestones that the church has refused to remove for years, and plans to house a new national conference center in the heart of the old Vilna Jewish cemetery (reported by Tablet in 2017). Todays Putinist Russia does indeed pose a very real and serious threat to the small, freedom-loving nations on its periphery, most dangerously the three Baltic states, Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia, which were forcibly made into Soviet republics for all those decades, not left as Warsaw Pact allied states like Poland, Czechoslovakia, or Hungary. The Western alliance, NATO, the European Union and Western civilization more generally need to stand up for these democracies against Putins (and future Russian) mischief, and make clear that the protections of NATO are real and permanent. But that loyalty must not include adopting a pro-fascist revision of history that turns Holocaust perpetrators into heroes simply because they were against the Soviets. Just about all East European Holocaust collaborators and perpetrators were against the Soviets. Adulation of Hitlers accomplices is at odds with core Western values as is the legal crackdown, of all things, on dissident opinions about history. It is shameful that in 2017, to counter Putins disgraceful Zapad 17 military exercises right near the borders of his small, free neighbor countries, NATO produced a film lionizing the Forest Brothers without so much as a hint of a second opinion that these were largely veterans of Hitlerist fascism and mostly murderers of civilians and believers in an ethnically pure state. In recent years, American embassies in this part of the world, particularly here in Vilnius, have misguidedly participated in events to deceive foreign (particularly Jewish) groups while participating themselves in the defamation of any who challenge Baltic history revisionism as Putinist agents. The noticeable shift in State Department policy can be traced to 2009-10. True friends of the Baltic states should be pointing out that such museums do grave damage to the countrys reputation and that those citizens who stand up with a contrary opinion should not be the victims of state-financed campaigns of defamation or prosecutorial investigations carried out to harass dissenters and deter free thought. The USSR, during the time of the Lithuanian Holocaust (1941-1944), in alliance with Great Britain and the United States, was the only force seriously fighting the Nazis and was largely responsible for there being any survivors and progeny alive today. History is history. Still, there is a very big caveat to all this. People reading such articles might think that Lithuania is an anti-Semitic country or a country with a majority of fascism-lovers who delight in the Holocaust having taken place. Nothing could be further from the truth. I have lived for almost 19 years here in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius, where I have always felt welcome, well-treated, and blessed to have a wide and diverse circle of friends from an array of backgrounds. Heres that extra bit of proof: I am treated very well by the fine staff whenever I enter this museum that makes my local Jewish friends sick. When I bump into its director at a weekly antiquarian flea market that we both frequent, we exchange warm handshakes and pleasantries. This is not personal. As in other parts of Eastern Europe, a small group of powerful elites, who have been able to enmesh Holocaust history into current geopolitical security, are the ones doing the damage to history, and to the freedom of their own citizens and the reputations of their own countries. History will show that the folks they are prosecuting under a series of laws are the real patriots. While there certainly is an anti-Semitic component in elite ultranationalist circles in this part of the world, it is neither pervasive nor necessarily dominant. There is moreover a special kind of East European anti-Semitism that is focused on an alleged Jewish Communist past, that despises todays tiny remnant Jewish communities who have a different narrative of history (think Charlottesville), but that has generally very positive approaches to modern Western Jews and Israelis. There is a heavily subsidized effort to enmesh Judaic studies (and particularly its fragile components like Yiddish studies), and even Holocaust Studies per se, within the project to revise the narrative of the Holocaust and WWII. Future of the Museum If any one feature of this museum is just too much, it is its name. This past September, an announcement was made that national powers had decided to change the name to: Museum of Occupations and Freedom Fights. Last month, the nations parliament took steps to enact the name change. As of now, the bill is one ballot short of adoption. But in a macabre sort of way the new name is worse. The inflation of the concept genocide to cover Soviet crimes in Lithuania (and to obfuscate the Holocaust) is lost. But what is gained? The misnaming, potentially in the museums very title, of the murderous unleashing of the Lithuanian Holocaust by the LAF Hitlerist fascists as a freedom fight! Is that what is supposed to count as an improvement? And so, without the name change, and even more so with the proposed name change, the shameful core of this museum is its permanent exhibits glorification, via fake history, of actual Holocaust killers who unleashed its first phase here in June 1941, turning them into would-be rebels and freedom fighters. That falsification needs to disappear before the next million visitors are misled. This is all a grave injustice to the delightful, hard-working, tolerant, and economically long-suffering citizens of the country, who all deserve better. Until that most foul of untruths about the Holocaust is done away with, this will remain the most dishonest and pernicious museum in the lands of NATO and the European Union. *** Yom HaShoah, or Holocaust Remembrance Day, is observed in Israel and around the world on 27th day of Nisan, which falls on April 11-12 this year. Dovid Katz, a Vilnius-based Yiddish and Holocaust scholar, is professor at Vilnius Gediminas Technical University. He edits the web journal Defending History and is at work on a new Yiddish Cultural Dictionary.

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May 13, 2018  Tags:   Posted in: Holocaust Denial  Comments Closed

Kevin Myers Holocaust denial article The Proud Zionist

As the Belfast Telegraph has now withdrawn Kevin Myers 2009 article in which he claimed to be a Holocaust denier, I have preserved it for posterity below so others can read, and perhaps judge whether he is actually denying the Holocaust. For the record, it is clear to me he isnt a Holocaust denier, but the points he makes are so banal and without merit that they just seem to add fuel to the fire, that came to a head this weekend. He *appears* to be nitpicking over the convenience of the number 6,000,000. The number 6,000,000 is a round number. According to Myers, if we were to somehow know the exact number of Jewish Holocaust deaths, that number would almost certainly not be exactly 6,000,000 ergo, the Holocaust did not happen. Draw your own conclusions. In his article, Myers is leaping to the defense of Bishop Richard Williamson, who made Holocaust denial statements and then sought to defend them in full view of a video camera to give his antisemitism and stupidity an air of immortality. Clip below. There can be no doubt that someone who believes there were no gas chambers and that only 200,000 Jews died in concentration camps is a Holocaust denier. Why Myers is so keen to defend Williamson on these points is a question for his own conscience though he defends him in abstract, ignoring Williamsons preposterous historical statements and embracing only the gist that 6,000,000 is a big round number. Asking these types of searching historical questions does not make someone an antisemite, but often is the case that someone who wishes to deny the Holocaust happened, or chip away with banal insignificant points, or defend Nazism, or desecrate the memory of Jewish deaths, or minimalise the enormity and singularity of the Holocaust, or belittle Jewish suffering; that these types of people are motivated by antisemitism. For Myers to be making such a boring and inconsequential point that the number was not exactly 6,000,000 can make one wonder what stokes his fire. But there isnt enough in this 2009 article to say he is either antisemitic or a Holocaust denier, despite his admission. My verdict: It is a clumsy article. Myers is seeking to defend Williamsons right to spout counter-factual, offensive and hateful nonsense under the banner of free speech (Holocaust denial is illegal within many EU countries). In mounting this defense of Williamsons right to free speech, Myers misses his target and inadvertently mounts a defense of Holocaust denial, an issue in which he clearly does not believe. His original article is republished below. [NOTE: The above article was amended after reflection and further investigation] Let me say from the outset; Im with Bishop Richard Williamson on this. There was no holocaust, (or Holocaust, as my computer software insists) and six million Jews were not murdered by the Third Reich. These two statements of mine are irrefutable truths, yet their utterance could get me thrown in the slammer in half the countries of the EU. Why, they could in the right circumstances even get me extradited for trial in Sweden, a country which heroically kept the Third Reich supplied with iron ore, even as the last victims of the Nazi genocide were being murdered. What? I admit that there was murder and genocide (or Genocide, as my spell-check wants me to call it) but almost in the same breath, insist that there was no holocaust? How is this possible? Well, if you turn historical events into current political dogmas, (believed even by my computer) you are thereby creating a sort of secular, godless religion, which becomes mandatory for all who wish to participate in public life. Yet dogmas, by definition, are so simplistic and crude that they are usually not merely wrong, but are also probably so. It is an offence in German law to say that six million Jews did not die in the holocaust. Very well then. I am a criminal in Germany. For efficient though the Nazis were, they were not so clinically precise as to kill six million Jews not a Jew more, or not a Jew less. As it happens, the figure six million was originally a round-estimate of the total numbers of concentration camp victims of the Third Reich: this was then turned by popular perception, aided by activists such as the Simon Weisenthal Centre, into the Jewish death toll. However, there is not even a scientific or documentary basis for this number. Its enduring appeal the digit six, with the six zeros which follow it depends upon a fairly basic human predilection for numerological magic. It is, very likely, a subconsciously appealing version of the diabolical, 666. Moreover, there certainly was no holocaust. For if the word is to have any literal validity at all, it must be related to its actual meaning, which comes from the Greek words holos, whole, and caust, fire. Most Jewish victims of the Third Reich were not burnt in the ovens in Auschwitz. They were shot by the hundreds of thousands in the Lebensraum of the east, or were worked or starved to death in a hundred other camps, across the Reich. This programme was begun informally by Nazi armies in 1941, and only took organised form after the Wannsee conference in January 1942. Thus was born one of the most satanic operations in world history, in which millions of Jews were murdered. To be sure, you can use the term holocaust to describe these events, but only as a metaphor. However, to turn that metaphor into a political dogma, a denial of which can result in imprisonment, is to create a religio-penal code of which Torquemada would have approved. Now, Ive done an extensive internet search on Bishop Williamson, and I truly have no idea what he actually said about the Third Reich; though he is everywhere called a holocaust denier, as if this term has some universal meaning. It hasnt. Im a holocaust denier; but I also believe that the Nazis planned the extermination of the Jewish people, as far as their evil hands could reach. And because the Nazis lost, the free-speech party won. So, this means that the bishop can believe, and even publicly state, if he wants, that Auschwitz was an ice-cream parlour and the SS was a dance troupe. That is the nature of free speech. Any one of us should be able to declare any old counter-factual and even offensive nonsense, without being sent to jail, provided we preach hatred for no one. Its a free and equal world. Or is it? Across Europe, there are countless Islamic madrasahs, in which imams regularly preach hatred for Jews, and where the holocaust is routinely denied. Which member-state of the EU will pursue such conveyors of hate, or seek the extradition of an imam who says that the holocaust was a Zionist hoax? None of them. We know this. For the EU has tolerated the creation of an informal historiographical apartheid. So, on the one hand, a single, eccentric (and possibly deranged) Christian bishop may be hounded for his demented historical beliefs: but on the other, there is a deafening silence over the widespread and virulent distortion of the holocaust by Islamic preachers. If Bishop Williamson has an agenda, it is so bonkers as to rank alongside that of The Lunar Cheese Society. Yet he, and other Christian cranks like him, could even be imprisoned for their stated beliefs, as other men of God, working to an infinitely more sinister and far more politically inspired agenda, are simultaneously ignored. This disparity is now effectively an EU policy. You can reasonably call such double-standards many things, but the words rational, wise or consistent are not among them. Suicidal and insane, however, certainly are. Like Loading… Related

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March 2, 2018  Tags:   Posted in: Holocaust Denial  Comments Closed

Saudi-based Muslim body rejects Holocaust denial – Middle …

Mohammed al-Issa, former justice minister, head of the Muslim World League (MWL) speaks during an interview with Reuters at a hotel in Paris, France, November 23, 2017..(photo credit: REUTERS) A Saudi-based Muslim group rejected Holocaust denial in a letter to the US Holocaust Memorial Museum. History is indeed impartial no matter how hard forgers tried to tamper with or manipulate it, said the letter sent January 22 to the museum by Mohammad Al Issa, the secretary general of the Muslim World League, five days before International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Hence, we consider any denial of the Holocaust or minimizing of its effect a crime to distort history and an insult to the dignity of those innocent souls who have perished. It is also an affront to us all since we share the same human soul and spiritual bonds. The letter was posted Thursday on the site of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. Al Issa suggested the letter was prompted in part by his friendship with the think tanks director, Robert Satloff, who has written extensively about North African Muslims who protected Jews during the Holocaust. Writing separately, Satloff described meeting Al Issa last month when he led a delegation of lay leaders of his think tank to Saudi Arabia. A former justice minister, Al Issa had taken over the Saudi-funded Muslim World League in 2016. Satloff wrote that the league had been a linchpin in propagating a radical, hate-filled, anti-West, antisemitic version of Islam. Al Issa expressed a willingness to visit the Holocaust museum the next time he was in Washington. The appointment of Al Issa appears to be of a piece with Saudi Arabias pivot westward under its new crown prince, Muhammad bin Sultan, Satloff said. Taking his lead from Muhammad bin Salman, the current crown prince who has vowed to cleanse his country of extremism and return it to moderate Islam, Al Issa seems to have a specific mandate to transform the MWL from an organization synonymous with extremism to one that preaches tolerance, he said. Al Issa did not specify Jews as victims of the Holocaust in his letter to the museum director, Sara Bloomfield, but instead spoke of this human tragedy perpetrated by evil Nazism and our great sympathy with the victims of the Holocaust, an incident that shook humanity to the core, and created an event whose horrors could not be denied or underrated by any fair-minded or peace-loving person. The Muslim World League, which was founded in 1962, is funded principally by Saudi Arabias government. President Donald Trump, visiting Saudi Arabia in June, encouraged it and other Sunni Arab countries to combat radical Islam. Holocaust denial has proliferated for decades in the Arab and Muslim worlds, sometimes encouraged by official government bodies, including in the past by Saudi Arabia. President Barack Obama in his 2009 speech to the Muslim world delivered in Cairo said the perpetuation of Holocaust denial was an obstruction to better relations with the West. Share on facebook

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January 27, 2018   Posted in: Holocaust Denial  Comments Closed


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