From the perspective of the Holocaust, the story of Lithuania is one of the worst – 95% of the Jewish population perished, many killed by the local population – the first genocide of World War II took place here in 1941, leading to the adoption of the Final Solution.
But this is not another Holocaust story.
DOVID KATZ - Professor of Yiddish, Vilnius University
In one day alone, before the German arrival in 1941, 10, 000 Jews were rounded up by locals, and murdered. 70 years later this story is being erased in Lithuania.
RACHEL KOSTANIAN - Holocaust survivor, Deputy Director Vilnius Jewish Museum
The Lithuanian national narrative places itself as the ultimate victim of history – at the hands of the Soviets. To acknowledge the genocide against the Jews would cast a stain on a nascent nation establishing its identity.
FANIA BRANTSOVSKY - Jewish Partisan (1943-45) under investigation for war crimes
“It is very painful to see this place disappearing, but while I have any strength in my body I’m going to show that the Jews didn’t go like sheep to the slaughter. They resisted slaughter here.”
When British Australian Danny Ben-Moshe stumbled across the story in 2005 he was researching the death of his grandparents during WW2. While visiting the gravesite in Lithuania he was shocked at the lack of acknowledgement of the bald, hard truth about the annihilation of Lithuanian Jewry, and the lack of even the most basic acknowledgement of the rich cultural heritage. This qas the opposite of what has occurred in Poland and Germany.
But mostly he was appalled at the emergence of ultra nationalist revisionists, and their campaign, coordinated by the Prime Ministers office. This was having success across the European Union but was somehow evading public attention and criticism.
DANNY BEN-MOSHE - Academic and film maker
“If mankind’s first industrial genocide is written out of history, it opens the door to other racists not only to rehabilitate Nazism but also to rewrite other histories they find inconvenient”
In 2004 Lithuania became part of the European Union. Their acceptance into the international community provided a safet place for them to advance their campaign. Politically adept, and highly educated, today’s protagonists are not skinheads. Today’s ultranationalists are sophisticated and charming, using the political system to achieve their ends.
Passionate that history shouldn’t repeat itself, Danny set about to find a mechanism to keep the truth alive, and finds himself inextricably linked to Dovid, Fania and Rachel. This is their story.