rupestis musu istorija
- Marjorie, Saulius, thank you very much for your important letters, which
I'm sharing with our Lithuanian group. Andrius, ms@...
Aciu visiems kas antradieni suvaziavo i musu busta Aukstutiniame
Pavilnyje. Dalyvavo Raimundas is Kauno, taip pat George, Algis, ir
seniai matytas Zigmas.
Tikimes po truputi isjudinti musu susirasinejima lietuviu kalba. Musu
laisku ir minciu srautas yra zaliavos musu bendram darbui, tai musu
atspara, musu iseities taskai.
Anglu kalba vyksta du labai gyvi susirasinejimai
firstname.lastname@example.org ir email@example.com Aciu
Sauliui uz dalyvavima. Si susirasinejima labai padejo uzvesti dvi
moterys, Marjorie ir Annette. Kaip ne keista, Annette yra kilusi is
Lietuvos zydu, o Marjorie irgi dalinai. Tarp kitu temu kai kada iskyla
ir istorijos suvokimas ir vertinimas, ypac del to kad Marjorie dalyvauja
Ji yra sukurusi tinklalapi Svencioniu zydu atminimui:
Marjorie atkreipe musu demesi i straipsni apie Sauliau Berzinio veikla.
Jisai rasytas anglu kalba, bet as dabar jau manau, gal ir anglu kalba
(ar kitomis kalbomis) rasyti straipsniai gali buti akstinu musu
susirasinejimui lietuviu kalba (tik visada pridekime nors paaiskinima
lietuviu kalba, kuo straipsnis idomus). Kartu pridedu kelis Marjorie ir
Musu tikslas cia ugdyti rupesti mastymu. O musu ir kitu istorija vercia
mus mastyti jautriau. Siuo metu skaitau idomu vertima "Zydu Istorija",
is anglu kalbos isversta i lietuviu.
Trokstu, kad sukurtumeme kiekvieno zmogaus kurybai tinkama aplinka.
Kiekvienas kuriame apie save legendas, kas gali mums ir padeti ir
kenkti. Kada tai padeda, kada tai kenkia? Mane traukia vis nauju
poziuriu pasiziureti i musu istorija. Tai ypac aktualu, manau,
lietuviams (ar amerikieciams) nes musu rasytines istorijos ganetinai
trumpos, palyginus su zydu, kinieciu ar indu.
Laukiu jusu minciu,
Getting the Killers' and Collaborators' Faces on Film
Lithuanian Filmmaker Saulius Berzinis Records Not the Victims for
Posterity, but the Ones Who Pulled the Triggers
By BENJAMIN SMITH
In his small, brightly-lit living room in Vilnius, Lithuania, Saulius
Berzinis takes a videotape from one of several stacks and inserts it
into his VCR. With a quiet click, horrors begin to appear on the small
TV screen. A Lithuanian woman in her 70s is shown pulling back her upper
lip to reveal a gold cap on a front tooth.
"I needed a crown," she says in reply to the filmmaker's quiet question.
"They told me I could buy a tooth from [a local woman], whose husband
was a Jew-killer.... I bought one tooth, a gold one, and I didn't pay
much." Mr. Berzinis leans in, his immense horn-rimmed glasses slipping
down his nose, as his interviewee describes how the cap came attached to
a tooth and bone and how she had to detach them before using it herself.
Amid the rush to save the stories of the Holocaust, the focus has been
on the stories of the noble and the innocent and less so on the
stories of the killers and collaborators. The biggest documentation
project, Steven Spielberg's Survivors of the Shoah Visual History
Foundation, has filmed interviews with more than 50,000 survivors,
liberators and rescuers. The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in
1996 received a $1 million grant for interviews with witnesses,
bystanders and perpetrators across Europe, but only one participant in
that project has managed to get the voices and faces of killers on film
Since first meeting a murderer in 1992, the soft-spoken, 50-year-old
Lithuanian gentile has collected 18 interviews with killers. Six of them
are sealed by contract for 50 years. The other 12, along with interviews
with people who profited from the deaths of Jews, will become part of a
film, "Ordinary Devils," to be released this fall in Vilnius by his
production company, Kopa. The stories he records are harrowing: One
includes the tale of a man who, as a 13-year-old outcast, thought
shooting Jews would gain him the acceptance of a dandyish officer. The
man recalls on film how, as his unit prepared to shoot her, he turned
his back on a Jewish girl with whom he had had a romance just months
Mr. Berzinis's work involves long days and nights of cruising the
rolling Lithuanian hills in his white Volkswagen. It takes months or
even years to convince the average subject to go on camera and 10 hours
of filming to record them. "You cannot come and say, 'Sir, tell us
please how you murdered the Jews.' You get nothing," he told the
No European country has been eager to face the issue of local
collaboration with Nazi crimes, and the truth of history has returned
slowly to the former communist world. In Poland, Jan Gross's recent book
"Neighbors: The Destruction of the Jewish Community in Jedwabne, Poland"
knocked the lid off a simmering national debate. The Jedwabne massacre
came three weeks after pogroms broke out in Lithuania.
"The work that Berzinis is doing would be important no matter where he
lived, but the fact that he does what he does in Lithuania makes his
work incredibly courageous," said Efraim Zuroff, the chief of the
Jerusalem office of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, which has met little
success in its efforts to put Lithuanian collaborators on trial.
In the days after Nazi tanks rolled in on June 21, 1941, some bands of
Lithuanian "freedom fighters" turned on their Jewish neighbors. Over the
next year, the Nazis and their local collaborators killed all but 8,000
of the 220,000 Jews in Lithuania. "A lot of people do not know what
their fathers and grandfathers did in 1941," Mr. Berzinis said.
Estimates of the number of Lithuanians who participated in the murders
range from one thousand to tens of thousands. Soviet courts convicted
some 50,000 of "war crimes," but 49,000 of those were later
"rehabilitated" by independent Lithuania.
Mr. Berzinis's obsession with recording the history of the Holocaust was
triggered by an insult: In 1990 he was at a film festival in Amsterdam,
showing what is still his best-known work in Lithuania, a documentary on
a Lithuanian recruit to the Soviet Army who went on a shooting spree.
After the screening, a Dutch Jew approached him. "I am very moved by
your film," Mr. Berzinis recalled being told, "but unfortunately I
cannot shake your hand, because I promised my father that I would not
shake hands with a Lithuanian."
The strange snub piqued the filmmaker's interest. He returned home and
decided to find out for himself what, exactly, happened during World War
II. He began by interviewing the few survivors of the Holocaust who
remain in Lithuania. Their testimony confirmed his worst fears about his
nation and made him intensely conscious of the country's Jewish
heritage. His work with survivors turned into a calling, eventually
expanding to work with Roma, or Gypsies, as well as Jews.
Mr. Berzinis's footage has been used by German production companies and
by the BBC, but his own work has reached limited audiences. His early
films on the Holocaust include an elegiac, sometimes sentimental
treatment of the life and death of Lithuania's Jews, "Farewell,
Yerushalayim de Lita," which has been shown in 28 countries but not yet
As Mr. Berzinis's understanding of the Holocaust in Lithuania deepened,
so did his interest in the killers fellow Lithuanians who had
committed unthinkable crimes. The first killer Mr. Berzinis met was a
jowly octogenarian with a broken nose and a red beret. Filmed at his
home in northeast Lithuania, the man recounts to the camera how he
served the S.S. in Belarus. Resignedly, the killer tells Mr. Berzinis
how his squad operated: Victims lined up facing a pit, and an equal
number of shooters lined up behind them, one killer for each victim.
Sometimes, the man recalls, parents stood with their children beside
"Whom did you shoot first?" Mr. Berzinis asks.
"The first time I saw a man with a child beside him I had to decide,"
the killer tells the camera. "I put myself in the place of the victim:
What would he feel if his child was shot? So I aimed first at the parent
and then at the child because the child feels nothing."
The interviewee has already served a stiff sentence in the Soviet gulag
for his crimes and is immune from further prosecution, but Mr. Berzinis
will not release his subjects' names until his film appears.
Since Mr. Berzinis began his work a decade ago, a small, devoted group
of Vilnius intellectuals have joined him in making Holocaust memory
their cause. Most, like him, are ethnic Lithuanians, haunted by the
guilt of their own people. One film critic, Linas Vildziunas, has
founded a "House of Memory," a library, film studio and educational
center that pushes to bring the Holocaust into the Lithuanian
consciousness. The center sponsors projects, for example, that ask
school children to record their grandparents' memories.
Thanks in large part to these efforts, politicians have for the first
time openly condemned anti-Semitic statements and articles. Holocaust
education is making its way into the schools. And this year, Mr.
Berzinis said, Lithuanian National Television has signed a contract to
show some of his films for the first time. Lithuania "has done a lot of
homework in the last 10 years, a lot of very hard, very unpopular
homework," said Emanuelis Zingeris, who served through the 1990s as
Lithuania's only Jewish parliamentarian.
In the meantime, Mr. Berzinis continues to crisscross his country,
driven by an overwhelming need to confront his nation's guilt. "If the
next generation is not brave enough to talk about the guilt of their
parents, then it shares responsibility for the crime," he said. "But if
they tell the truth about the guilt of the parents, it washes the guilt
Mr. Smith covers the Baltic States for the Wall Street Journal Europe.
nelabai þinojau kuris ið "Laisvosios Europos redaktoriø atsakingas uþ
ðià temà, tai siunèiu jums. Ði tema yra ypatingai skaudi; bûtø gerai,
jûsø radijas tai objektyviai pakomentuotø (o tai jûs tikrai mokate).
Tai man atsiuntë paþástama 71 m. moteris þydë ið JAV Marjorie
Rosenfeld, kurios ðaknys yra Lietuvoje.
Thank you; it is interesting, and very sorrow.
I've forwarded it to cultural newsletters "7 Days of Culture", "North
Athens", and to "Radio Free Europe - Lithuanian Service"
http://www.rferl.org/bd/li/ , which I consider very objective source
considering such difficult questions.
I'm not expert on this topic, but after hearing what is said by various
experts - have some opinion. I think, to consider Lithuania as a
country of killers of Jews is not truthful (despite so much of them
were killed during Nazi period): since Middle ages until 1940 in
Lithuania lived much Jews, and there were _no_one_ case of
repressions agains them (differently than in other Europen
countries). Unfortunately, in 1940-41 Lithuania was not free; mass
repressions were organised by Nazis; and they acted so that the world
would thing: Jews were killed by Lithuanians _themselves_.
As in all nations, Lithuanian has both collaborators with evil (who
were killers), and with good (who saved Jews). In a time distance it is
very difficult to conclude: what part was dominating then. But I don't
think that prevailing attitude of Lithuanians then was anti-Jewish.
With best regards,
My statistics may not be exactly right, but Israel has awarded something
like 420 Lithuanians "Righteous Gentile" status. And a Jewish
in Lithuania has collected the names of more than 2,000 Lithuanians who
helped Jews during the Holocaust. As in other countries, there were
undoubtedly also some who tried to help that we'll never know about
their attempted rescues didn't succeed, leaving no one to testify for
Unfortunately, there were also many Lithuanians who collaborated with
Nazis (just as there were many Ukrainians who collaborated, many Poles,
etc., in addition to helpers and rescuers), so it was a mixed picture.
Jews also collaborated in their destruction by handing some of their own
people over to the Nazis in the hope that others could survive.
It was a terrible time, and it's very hard to judge anyway forced to
under such conditions. Had I been there myself as an adult Lithuanian
not a Jew, I very seriously doubt that I would have been brave enough to
to help Jews. I also doubt, though, that I would have become a shooter
Jews. It's important to try to understand what makes people rescuers or
killers. Thus, it's important to tell the stories of people who were at
both extremes, the rescuers and the killers. It's far easier, though,
tell the stories of the rescuers. Thus, I applaud Saulius Berzinis for
integrity and his bravery in traveling through Lithuania to interview
film people who have the very best reasons for keeping their wartime
activities secret. This good Christian man is taking large risks and
important and valuable work.