Rewriting History is a contemporary political story about taking action in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds – a David Vs Goliath tale that bears testament to the power of conviction and the importance of fighting for the historical truth.
From the streets of Vilnius, the one time Jerusalem of the North, to a University office in Melbourne Australia, Rewriting History follows two eccentric professors, Danny Ben Moshe and Dovid Katz, as they take on the might of the Lithuanian government to try and prevent a dark and inconvenient historical truth from being obliterated – that it was Lithuanians themselves who murdered their Jewish neighbors, starting prior to the arrival of the Nazis.
In an economically vulnerable Europe where the rise of Ultra-Nationalism and anti-Semitism is a sobering reminder of the socio-economic fabric that gave rise to World War II, the Lithuanian agenda to change Holocaust memory is gaining traction. The EU Parliament has voted in favor of a single day that commemorates both the victims of Nazism and Stalinism as equal crimes – a policy dubbed as “Double Genocide” which would effectively remove Holocaust Remembrance Day from the European calendar. To bolster this campaign, octogenarian Lithuanian Holocaust survivors, who aligned themselves with the Soviets in order to escape death, are now being investigated by Lithuanian prosecutors for war crimes.
Trying to stand in their way are Danny and Dovid, two unlikely heroes determined to prevent this malicious rewriting of history and the resultant slur to the Holocaust survivors. Septuagenarian historian Rachel Kostanian, the longstanding and beleaguered head of the Green House Holocaust Museum in Vilnius, supports their quest even as she decides to give up her position due to intimidation. Feisty 88-year-old Jewish Partisan Fania Brantovsky, who survived the war only to be threatened now by a bogus prosecution for alleged war crimes, fearful as she is, also adds her voice. It is her defiance that is the catalyst for Dovid and Danny’s campaign.
It’s a quest that takes them out of cloistered academia to the shtetls of Lithuania. They will be accused of becoming zealots as they challenge apparatchiks in the Lithuanian Prime Minister’s office, take on the State Prosecutor, and tread the corridors of power in Vilnius and the European Parliament.
Yet the campaign is also virtual, and in this twenty first century political story, the struggle for the historic truth also occurs online as Dovid and Danny use websites, online petitions and social media to try and set the historic record straight and counter the Lithuanian Government’s policies.
The personal stakes are high. To win this battle Dovid and Danny risk breaking a newly passed Lithuanian law designed to prevent any questioning of this menacing and dangerous “Double Genocide” campaign that seeks to obfuscate some of the most difficult facts about humanities’ most terrible and unprecedented genocide. In so doing two academics put their reputations and livelihoods on the line in the pursuit of truth and justice.
Rewriting History is a story about discovering the past and recognizing the way it is remembered in the present shapes the future. It is a story about the frontline of the battle for the memory of the Holocaust in contemporary Europe.