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Rokiskis and its obfuscated history

The term, The Obfuscation of History, was introduced by Dovid Katz an academic who has introduced and taught Yiddish language and culture at many major universities, including Oxford, London, Columbia and Yale, published extensively and won numerous prizes including the John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship,and the Sholem Aleichem Prize.

Until recently Katz was professor of Yiddish at Vilnius University. He became very familiar with the Lithuanian government plan to rewrite the history of World War 2 in a manner which would absolve Lithuania from any guilt for the actions of so0called Lithuanian Partisans -- who murdered over 95% of their fellow Jewish citizens -- sometimes alone -- in most cases in joint actions with the German Eizengruppen murder squads. The Government scheme involved has been to slovenly adopt an elastic definition of genocide -- so that both the Nazis and the Russian (USSR) invaders actions could both be considered guilty of "genocide". Then, by equating the two rather different invaders -- it becomes possible to describe the "nationalist"partisans -- of the LAF (Lithuanian Activist Font) -- who generally opposed the Russian forces -- as heroic oponents of Genocide -- completely ignoring their active particupation in the murder of Jews. Moreover, those few Jews who escaped ghettoes and joined partisan bands -- and only Communist partisan vans would accept Jews -- can then be described as bandits supporting the genocide of the Lithuanian people.

Since Lithuania has joined the EU, it has become possible, Recently Prof Katz' professorial contract at Vilnius was not renewed because of his opposition to the Lithuanian government's adoption of the Prague Declaration of 1998 which equates the crimes of Communism with the genocide perpetrated by Nazism. In Lithuania, this opposition can result in a 2 year prison sentence, and in Hungary a 3 year sentence. The Prague Declaration has resulted in the downgrading of the Holocaust, with the activities of antiSoviets (the LAF and others) being presented as nationalism and resulted in a witch-hunt among Holocaust survivors whom the Lithuanian authorities now consider to have acted against Lithuanian national interests when they fought the Nazis.

For example, recently, ladies in their late 80's who escaped the ghettos and fought against Nazism have had to deal with armed police action against them and are too scared to return to their homeland for fear of being called war criminals.

Rokiskis Mansion Prague Declaration Synagogue Street

In this interview Dovid Katz explains the Prague declaration that seeks by equating Nazism with Communism, to whitewash the activities of those Baltic groups whose participation with the Nazis in the holocaust lead to a 95% death rate amongst Baltic Jews in WW2, the highest murder rate outside Germany/Austria in WW2. The programme features Yiddish songs and begins with a short discussion of Yiddish and the atlas of the Yiddish language of the Baltic that Prof Katz has produced after extensive research.

Rokiskis and its obfuscated history

Dovid Katz's term, the "obfuscation of history" is well exemplified by looking at the case of the small town of Rokiskis, north of Vilnius/Vilna. This is a town with a Jewish population for more than four hundred years, but bereft of Jews today.

First step in the obfuscation of the history of the Baltic has been to define genocide so as to cover any period when full freedoms were not enjoyed, and to proceed then to the Second Stage. where Nazism and Communism are equated; Inside the State Museum of Rokistis (about 80 km from Vilnius) a display has been set up with well-matched portraits of Stalin and Hitler to make the point of their equivalence. In Stage 3 of Holocaust Obfuscation, the oponents of the Soviet are lauded and the Holocaust is discounted. Thus in the Rokiskis museum adjacent to the portraits of Hitler and Stalin is a gallery dedicated to the Heroic Partisans of WW2, many of whom worked with the Eizengruppen.(*)

In the Fourth Stage of obfuscation the cultural contribution of Jews to the nation is discounted and given only token recognition. Thus the only mention of Jews in the Rokiskis Museum is a pair of silver rimonim in a display case. Rokiskis still has a Synagogue Street but no Jews. In the Jewish cemetery many graves -- most damaged or part covered. In 1939 the Jewish population was 3,500.

On the 15 and 16th August 1941, 3,200 Jewish residents of Rokiskis were murdered (along with 7 non-Jews) by the Eizengruppen aided by "partisans" in nearby woods (just north of the tiny village of Bajorai) where this memorial stands over the mass grave.(*)

The inscription in Russian, Lithuanian and Yiddish reads: Here rest those killed by Lithuanian-German nationalists on 15-16 of August, 1941. The market square features a notable building -- the pre-WW2 home of a local Jewish industrialist (now a hotel):

vRokiskis town square is a statue of Russian Air Force General Smuskievich, born in Rokiskis in 1902, he is the only Jew memoralised in any way in the town. An amazing Soviet ace in Spain 1936-7, he successfully lead the Soviet Airforce against Japan in Mongolia. Twice a Hero of the Soviet Union.

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