An excerpt from an article published in the Jewish Chronicle in June 2008
‘The Holocaust survivors facing war-crimes trials’ - Dana Gloger
“Elderly Jews say they are outraged that Lithuania is pursuing them over their wartime role as anti-Nazi partisans.
Fania Branstovsky was just 20 when she joined the Jewish partisan movement fighting the Nazis in her home country of Lithuania. In the Vilnius ghetto, she and her fellow partisans carried out attacks against the occupying German forces. By the end of the war, almost her entire family — more than 50 people –— had perished at the hands of the Nazis. Yet now, over 60 years later, she is the one being branded unpatriotic, and is reportedly under investigation by Lithuanian authorities for alleged war crimes.
National and local newspapers and television stations are referring to the 86-year-old Holocaust survivor, who now works as a librarian at the Vilnius Yiddish Institute, as a murderer and a terrorist. Earlier this year, the Vilnius-based newspaper Lietuvos Aidas called for her to be put on trial. The allegation levelled against her is that during her time as a partisan, she committed crimes against Lithuanians. But she strongly denies that she and her partisan colleagues ever targeted groups of local people.
“It’s very upsetting and shocking,” says Branstovsky, a mother of two, with six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. “We fought against the powers of the Nazis. Not against the locals. The Nazis wanted to annihilate all Jews and all people who loved freedom, and I joined the underground partisan organisation in September 1943 to defend myself and my people. It was a matter of honour.”
Even with a possible war-crimes prosecution hanging over her, she has no regrets. “I didn’t want all Jewish people to die with no resistance. I feel very proud and I’m very glad that I had the opportunity to do something for honour and humanity.”
She vows that the prospect of being put on trial for war crimes will not drive her out of her country. “I’m very patriotic. I was born here and have always lived here. Of course I am worried, but I am not planning to leave because of this. By doing this they want to rewrite history.”
For more, go to: http://bit.ly/MsrUuO
An excerpt from Defending History – DefendingHistory.com
Fania Yocheles Brantsovsky, born in 1922, who lost her entire family in the Holocaust, escaped the Vilna Ghetto several moments before it was encircled by police preparing for its final liquidation on 23 September 1943. Together with Dobke Develtov (now of Los Angeles), she made it to this underground anti-Nazi partisan fort that was home to fighters aligned with the Soviet partisans. To the best of Fania’s memory, around 100 of its 107 residents were fellow Jewish survivors. An underground bunker like this was home until the fall of Nazi rule in July 1944.
Along with other Holocaust Survivors who resisted — including Yitzhak Arad and Rachel Margolis — Ms Brantsovsky, librarian of the Vilnius Yiddish Institute, has in recent years been the object of a campaign of defamation and harassment in Lithuania.
The antisemitic press has targeted her (January 2008). Armed police came to search for her (May 2008). Prosecutors told the press she could not be found (May 2008). The editor of Lithuania’s main news portal called for her to be tried (May 2009). The mainstream media, citing ruling-party members of Lithuania’s parliament, branded her a war criminal (Oct 2009). And one of the country’s leading associations for human rights (!) demanded that she and other Jewish partisan veterans be ‘sentenced’ for committing ‘a massive slaughter’ (Dec. 2010).
All in the absence of any charge or iota of evidence.
In the opinion of this journal, the entire charade is a ruse of the red-brown movement and its local and powerful Double Genocide Industry. This is the part of the effort to rewrite history that specializes in generating bogus paper trails of ‘equal investigation’ of perpetrators and victims in order to obfuscate the Holocaust; the ‘equality of investigation’ is then triumphantly trumpeted by diplomats and politicians in service to the red-equals-brown movement. To many in the international community it is quite outrageous, bearing in mind the dismal record of Lithuanian prosecutors in bringing to justice Nazi war criminals, not a single one of whom was ever punished, howsoever slightly, in modern, independent Lithuania.
In the meantime, representatives of the free world, from western ambassadors to Lithuania to the president of Germany have honored Ms Brantsovsky as a hero of the Jewish resistance against Nazism (see: Responses). It is verily the first occasion in the country since Soviet times that western powers have seen fit to honor individuals trashed by prosecutors and politicians.
For more, go to: http://defendinghistory.com/the-last-jewish-fort
An article published in the JPost in May 2008
‘I have fought once, I can fight again’ - Danielle Singer
Lithuania accuses elderly Holocaust survivors of committing war crimes during the Second World War.
Fania Branstovsky is a librarian at the Vilnius Yiddish Institute in Lithuania and a survivor of the Vilna Ghetto. To her government, though, she is a suspect.
Two weeks ago, two Lithuanian police knocked on the door of Rachel Margolis, a former Holocaust survivor and a fellow member of the Soviet Partisans, in hopes that they would be able to use Margolis as a witness to gain more information about Branstovsky’s “crimes” during her participation as a partisan.
For a year now, Lithuania has investigated Branstovsky and Holocaust survivor Yitzhak Arad for war crimes related to their Soviet partisan activities during World War II.
The investigations have been publicized in Lithuanian newspapers and television stations, referring to the two as terrorists and murderers of innocent Lithuanian civilians.
Arad, who lives in Israel and formerly served as chairman of Yad Vashem, has been accused of killing Lithuanian civilians and members of the anti-Soviet resistance movement.
He claimed that the Lithuanian government was twisting the story, saying that it was actually the Lithuanian civilians who had been hostile to the partisans and were given arms by the Lithuanian government to “defend themselves.”
“What they are trying to do is rewrite history,” said Arad. “The murderers of the Jews are now becoming the heroes of Lithuania and they are making [partisans] out to be criminals and murders.”
Branstovsky is also being investigated for crimes that she is alleged to have committed as a partisan. Lithuanian newspapers, such as the Lietuvos Aidas, have accused her of killing inhabitants of the Kaniukai village on January 29, 1944.
Although she refused to comment about the specific event, Branstovsky said her participation in the partisans was not to commit murder, but in self-defense. “My decision to join the group was because the group provided a desperate Jew during the Holocaust [an] opportunity for safety and to fight death,” she told The Jerusalem Post. ”A group of Jews banded with the Soviet fighters to defend our honor – so we would not just walk to our deaths.”
Branstovsky still wants to continue living in Lithuania. Though she has considered moving to Israel, she said, her family and work are in Lithuania and she doesn’t wish to leave them.
“Until it is absolutely necessary, I won’t leave,” she said. “I have fought once, I can fight again.”
Lithuania had one of the highest death tolls of the Holocaust, with an estimated 212,000 Jews murdered.
Since the Lithuanian government gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, said Dr. Efraim Zuroff, director of the Jerusalem office of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, it has done little to bring Lithuanians to justice for the murders of so many Lithuanian Jews.
“There have only been three Lithuanians who were responsible for many murdered Jews, put on trial – and all three got off unpunished,” he said. “And here we have already two Holocaust survivors who are being accused of war crimes. Where is the justice?”
The Lithuanian Embassy and general prosecutor for Lithuania declined to comment on the investigations.”