Bernard Tirva, Editor
Sandra Souveskas, Assistant Volumn I (Issue I)
Welcome to the premier issue of LABAS – THE LITHUANIAN E-ZINE. There are many web pages that have excellent Lithuanian themes as well as two discussion groups for Balts and a news group for Balts. The “missing link” is an E-Zine, which we hope to fill with the advent of “LABAS – the Lithuanian E-Zine”. In this publication, we will include articles that deal with Lithuanian topics. Unlike static web pages, LABAS will be dynamic. Unlike discussion groups, LABAS will contain articles by subscribers with letters to the editor. Unlike newsgroups, this will be monitored and edited for content.Initially, we hope to deliver monthly, more frequently if warranted, to avoid lenghly publications. We will include classified advertisments for Lithuanians Helping Lithuanians and listings for non-profit organizations helping Lithuania. If you have a business and wish to advertise, send your copy to : The Editor. Any non-profit organizations involved with Lithuania can send a description of their organization and all pertinent information to: Non-Profit Organizations. There will never be a charge for subscribing to this E-Zine. Any help with articles in any area will be greatly appreciated. If you enjoy our newsletter, tell your friends and relatives. We welcome suggestions on how to improve this newsletter. With that, enjoy your premier edition of “Labas - The Lithuanian E-Zine."
Due to the number of articles we received, our first edition will be in two parts.
By: Raimonda Mikatavage E-Mail
"Immigrants & Refugees: Create Your New Life in America" and____________________________
"Your Journey to Success" Host of Dreams In Action : Prestige Vision, Westminster, MD Melodija Books - P.O. Box 689 - Hampstead, MD 21074
(410) 374-3117 (Phone) - (410) 374-3569 (Fax)
First, why do so many immigrants come to America? Well, they often state very good reasons: a better education for themselves and their children, better job opportunities, and a better standard of living. All very good intentions. But once they get here, and find many of their expectations shattered, those intentions are often forgotten. Starting a new life creates many unexpected problems. A newcomer may become so overwhelmed with all the pressures of adapting that the intention becomes just "to make it through another day." And sadly, the great effort, organization, and persistence that went into preparing to come here is often not applied, when they actually get here. Despite all the initial hope and promise, a typical immigrant story can turn sour with the passing years. Important life choices may be made with little thought, by accident, or with the wrong intentions. Bad habits may get a strong hold on daily existence. Poor social skills may prevent meaningful relationships. Lack of knowledge about money may prevent a secure future. Our decision to come to America is not immune from becoming a potential mistake.
Even though there may not be any newcomers in this audience, I would like to ask a hypothetical question of all those Lithuanians wishing to move to America: How many surprises would be experienced by anyone trying to start a new life in Lithuania? You can expect at least as many surprises in America.
My most important recommendation to those wishing to move here would be: you need to know more than just what is immediately in front of you. Say, you have moved to America, you don't speak English well, and you found a job washing dishes in a restaurant. You think this is just a temporary position. But if you don't do anything to progress yourself, it may become a permanent position. The immigrants that have found success in America, work each day to improve their overall, general knowledge about their new life. Overall, general knowledge includes understanding the American way of life, understanding what it takes to fit in, getting the education and experience necessary to find work that not only pays the bills but also pleases you, understanding money and investments (immigrants often come here for economic reasons, but fail to learn anything about how to grow their money). Basically, immigrants need to prepare for all areas of life, before they stumble upon it. You cannot image how many immigrants, even after 5 or 10 years in this country, are declined when they apply for a credit card or when they want to buy a home. They are declined because they never took the steps to build their credit history. Or they paid their bills late, because it was common to do that in their country. Newcomers need to prepare in advance.
To make a few suggestions to these newcomers, I'm going to borrow some specific tips straight out of my book. First understand how Americans think and why they behave the way they do. To make an honest attempt to understand American culture, it helps to accept that most people around the world behave the way they have been taught. Lithuanians were taught one way, Americans another way. If you accept this from the beginning, when you are face-to-face with a confusing cultural situation, it will help you to remain more objective and calm. One characteristic of American culture is that Americans view people in parts. They have business buddies, shopping buddies, skiing buddies, relaxation buddies. They build relationships that suit their needs. This may sound cold to some newcomers, who may see friendships as total commitments. They want to know the whole person. They want to become deeply involved but find that Americans want to stick to surface conversations, look for common views, and avoid deep subjects like religion, philosophy, or politics.
In order to fit into American society, newcomers must first have the desire to fit in. This desire can be difficult to find, especially if you disagree with or even resist the American way of life. This resistance is often common among Lithuanians who hold great pride in their own culture and pride in themselves. To fit in as best as possible requires three things:
1. Learn to communicate in English and start talking to Americans despite your accent,
2. Conform to American-style hygiene and appearance, and
3. Adopt at least some "Americanized" behaviors. This will not happen overnight. It will take diligent observation and effort.
As difficult as it may be, I encourage newcomers to talk in English. Use your basic English skills, make hundreds of mistakes, but start talking to Americans. You will have to start first for the same reason why a foreigner in Lithuania would have to start first. Most people, in most countries, do not actively seek out conversations or friendships with foreigners. So if Americans are not talking with you, it's because you did not start first. It's not hard to talk with Americans. Ask about their families, their jobs, cultural differences, hobbies, travel experiences, just about anything. Just don't ask them about money, religion, philosophy or politics. Those subjects can be approached only when you know them very well and develop a bond or a friendship. It's always best to get the other person to talk. If you want to see that person again, ask him what would be the best way to "get a hold" of him. They may give you their business card or home number or maybe ask you for yours. The more that person has talked, the bigger chance that you will see him again. In your next encounter, concentrate on doing rather than knowing. Americans like to be doing things: "let's rent a video," "let's go shopping." With Americans you need to go slowly. If you unload your whole life story, share all your problems, brag about all your accomplishments, you will scare most Americans away.
As newcomers start to network and meet people, they will find many more opportunities available to them. Again, I would encourage them to prepare in advance as much as possible, to set goals and make plans. You may have to choose a new career. Choose one that will make you happy at least 80% of the time. Don't just learn about your paycheck, learn about money. Learn how to make it grow, how to invest it, how to shelter it from taxes. Understand that as you get older in America, a pension plan and social security will put you at a poverty level. You will need your own savings. Understand the traps of credit cards, join a credit union (there are a few just for Lithuanians), build your credit history. Know what insurance to buy and how much to buy. Learn the process of buying a home, way before you think you can afford to buy one.
There is a great deal to learn because you are starting a new life. As you are learning about America, it would be a mistake to ignore Lithuanian-American publications. Choose one or two and subscribe to them. You will find not only news about Lithuania, but also cultural explanations, job listings, credit unions, and other resources that can help newcomers.
Of course, most newcomers will strongly value and never forget their Lithuanian heritage. But at the same time, they should keep in mind their intentions for coming to America. If those intentions were to find a better standard of living, they will not find it Lithuanian-style. The energy they spent to prepare to come to America, must now be spent in becoming an American.
Order: Satisfaction In The Land Of Opportunity: Answers for U.S. Immigrants and Refugees (Pioneer Living Series) By Raimonda Mikatavage... This book provides signposts along the road to successful adjustment ... ": Patricia A. Hatch, Director of Community Relations, Foreign-Born Information & Referral Network, Learn how to fit in and understand Americans, establish friendships, look for work effectively, buy a car/insurance/home, deal with emergencies, understand taxes and social security, apply to college, build credit a credit history, make smarter decisions, adopt the habits and attitudes of success, and create a satisfying new life.
Amazon.com talks to Raimonda Mikatavage
Amazon.com: How did you begin writing? Did you intend to become an author, or do you have a specific reason or reasons for writing each book?
R.M.: When I was a little girl, I "re-wrote"; the story of Cinderella. I changed some things, drew some pictures, and thought it was a lot of fun. Aside from a few poems here and there, I then put it out of my mind. When I turned 30, I realized I have a passion for writing, for putting words together, for creating on a piece of paper. So I wrote my first book.
Amazon.com: What authors do you like to read? What book or books have had a strong influence on you or your writing?
R.M.: I like to read personal and professional development books. Books by Stephen R. Covey, Maxwell Maltz, Brian Tracy, Harvey Mackay, and many others. "A Return to Love"; by Marianne Williamson had a big impact on me.
Could you describe the mundane details of writing: How many hours a day do you devote to writing? Do you write a draft on paper or at a keyboard (typewriter or computer)? Do you have a favorite location or time of day (or night) for writing? What do you do to avoid--or seek!--distractions?
R.M.: I have an active 3-year old daughter. I must write only when she is asleep or out of the house. So I generally wake up about 4:30am and sit down at the computer until she wakes up. Then I have breakfast with my husband and daughter and go to work. Writing supplements my income, but it is not my main source of income.
Do you meet your readers at book signings, conventions, or
similar events? Do you interact with your readers electronically through
e-mail or other online forums?
R.M.: Yes. I have book signings, I speak at conventions, I correspond with my readers. I get a lot of mail from readers in Lithuania. The Lithuanian version of my first book is pretty popular there.
When and how did you get started on the Net? Do you read any newsgroups such as rec.arts.books and rec.arts.sf.written, mailing lists, or other on-line forums? Do you use the Net for research--or is it just another time sink? Are you able to communicate with other writers or people you work with over the Net?
R.M.: This question basically sums up my writing life. I do research on the Net. I correspond with other writers. I subscribe to the materials writers discussion group through TESL (Teachers of English as a Second Language). My second book - "Satisfaction in the Land of opportunity"; is for U.S. immigrants and refugees. ESL teachers are some of my best customers.
Feel free to use this space to write about whatever you wish: your family, your hometown, hobbies, favorite places, where you've lived, where you went to school, what jobs you have had, your last (or planned) vacation, your favorite color/food/pet/song/movie, what books you'd take to a desert island, what you intend to do before you die, or what you think of just about anything.
R.M.: I am a huge advocate of dream-seeking. Know what you want to accomplish, set goals to make it a reality. Even if your life is already busy, with all sorts of obligations, there is no excuse for sacrificing your dream. You will really regret it.
Kucios is the Christmas Eve celebration. There’s a big dinner, and communion wafers blessed by a priest which the family passes around as a sign of peace (although at my house we always played games like “how much of this can we give away without mom noticing”), there’s the singing of hymns, the prayer, the empty chair for absent family members… My mother was nuts for traditions. We always had the works.
The requisite “no meat” edict of the Catholic Church, left mom and memaking up thirteen dishes (one for each of the Apostles plus Christ) allmade of either fish or vegetables. The crowning glory of the Kuciostable was always “that fish”. It was basically cold flakes of cod or whitefish in tomato sauce with sautéed onions and other spices. My mother served it in a cut crystal vase which towered over the other dishes. Our family never had another name for “that fish,” and everyone knew what was meant by the term. “That fish” was the most palatable dish on the table. Other menu choices were: cold herring in sour cream, canned mushrooms in sour cream, chopped cucumbers in sour cream…basically, anything meatless could be served with sour cream and considered an entrée. Every Kucios started after grace with my mother repeating the Law: you have to have a taste of everything at the table. My brothers added a corollary to the Law: if you don’t taste everything, you will die.Kucios traditions at our house always ended ugly. When I was about nine, my mother discovered and added another “ancient Lithuanian tradition”: the straws under the tablecloth. We would drive out to a cow-field (we lived in Texas) and gather an armful of yellow straw, which my mother insisted, was identical to the straw that grew in Lietuva. Then we’d spread it on our dining room table and cover the straw with a nice linen tablecloth, rendering the surface of the table lumpy. We covered the lumps with table setting. At some point before dinner, the family would draw straws. Here was the rub - - no one could remember what the long/short straws meant. One year there was a rumor among my siblings that the short straw would die before the year was out. Another year, it was said that the long straw had to get married first. The trouble with growing up isolated from fellow nationals is that there’s no one to ask. I pulled straws each year, terrified that fate would cast me into doom, and I wouldn’t even know which one! Despite all this, the holidays were a great time to be Lithuanian-American. We would eat a huge feast while other families were wrapping presents or doing last second Christmas shopping at the mall, and then, while we digested all that sour cream, we got to open our presents. My mom’s explanation was that Christ had come at night, so we should receive our gifts at night too. I never bothered to argue with the logic of that statement, I just tore open the wrappings and the bows as instructed. After the presents, it was time for Midnight Mass, which seemed like such a luxury to a kid who had a 9:00pm bedtime until age 16. At Midnight Mass, after opening all those presents, I always felt so thankful to be Lithuanian that I sang like an angel with the choir. And the next morning, when I awoke to a Christmas stocking filled by Santa, I was just as happy to be American. About The Author:
Milda was born and lived in College Station, TX. She is presently a full time creative writing student at Columbia University and a full time actress.
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By Mark Carl Rom____________________________
The story behind the Florida dentist accused of infecting his patients with HIV and poisoning Public Health.
Card catalog description
In Fatal Extraction, health care expert and former government investigator Mark Carl Rom presents an in-depth examination of the most compelling public health case since Typhoid Mary. The author takes readers step-by-step through the world of medical detective work, as the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) must determine whether Dr. Acer indeed infected Kimberly Bergalis and other patients and, if so, whether Acer's actions were accidents or acts of premeditated murder. In this absorbing book, Rom uses the details of the "deadly dentist" case to raise myriad public health issues that are of concern to everyone. Fatal Extraction clearly shows how the CDC - and other government agencies - respond to the Bergalis case and similar incidents, examines why government officials act as they do, and questions what they can do differently. As the book unravels the mysteries surrounding Kimberley Bergalis's tragic infection, it informs readers of the actions we can expect (and should demand) our government to take to protect the health or patients, medical workers, and all citizens.
Did she? Did he? Should we?
Did Kimberly Bergalis contract HIV from her dentist...or her own sexual activity? Did the dentist accidentally infect his patients...or murder them? And what should we do to prevent the spread of deadly diseases in medical settings? This book, I hope, answers those questions...but if your answers differ, please tell me why.
Write: Mark Carl Rom
Interested donors, or those with information on funding sources, are asked to send inquires to: Professor Knasas
"I'm still so bothered by what came out of the Simon Wiesenthal Center last summer regarding the celebration and commemoration of the Goan of Vilnius. We were told to boycott the celebration because of Lithuania's dark past in the Holocaust. We were told Lithuania has never apologized for her crimes. I don't happen to believe in the culpability of nations, nor in their preeminence over others, but that aside, let's get down to the real issue.
It is not about revisionist history except on the part of the Weisenthal people. I'm sure the people there have the very best intentions, I'm sure they are sensitive people usually. In this case, they've made a giant mistake. Lithuanians took no special glee, no special pride in being invaded by the Third Reich. Lithuanians took no special part in the Jewish genocide. Lithuanians experienced two great genocides themselves at the hands of the Nazis and Soviets which killed a comparable proportion of their population.
Lithuania was the only eastern European government which refused to capitulate to German demands to form SS troops for exterminating Jews. Lithuania has been painted with the broad brush of Soviet propaganda as being a center of fascism (read: nationalism, not bending to Soviet communism) which has continued long after the demise of the Union. Authors such as the man who wrote the Painted Bird have mythologized the Lithuanian countryside and peasantry in works of pure fiction. This is not hard fact that these charges are based on, but soft imaginings. There must have been Lithuanians who participated, there must have been bad apples and anti-Semites and worse. Just as there were Jews in the NKVD, in the Red Army who committed atrocities against Lithuanians.
I want to hear what Balt-Lers have to say about this. I don't really think it's right to talk about the Holocaust as a strictly Jewish phenomenon. What did Stalin do while Europe looked the other way? Is it less genocide when the people being massacred are not Chosen People? Lithuanian Heritage magazine, a few issues back, makes mention of a made-for-TV movie in the US that makes similar claims against Lithuania. I want the charges out ontable. Enough murky innuendo."
He raised some points about attacks on 'the dark history' made by the Simon Weisenthal center, a theme we have bumped into before over the years, and come no nearer resolving. I find it almost impossible to start dealing with all this material, because wherever one starts is the wrong place. And, wherever one starts, something else should have been discussed first, to avoid misunderstandings.
I am not looking forward to what might emerge as a response to Geoffs posting but I do have some thoughts. These aren't necessarily direct responses to Geoff, but may meet some possible comment others may have. The theme is - why, when there were so many mass murders in our region, do Holocaust hunters still focus on one (massive) round of murders?
Soviet-managed slaughters in east Europe may have killed more people over a longer time; their attempts to destroy the educated and independent thinkers But, they did not kill nearly all the peoples they targeted. At the end of the Nazi period, only a few hundred of Lithuania's Jewish citizens ( for example) remained alive. If the Nazis and Soviets had been as successful in their death policies in respect of the other peoples of Lithuania,a couple of thousand 'ethnic Lithuanians' would have survived.
We lost one in eight of our (Lithuanian) population, not 99.5 percent. That is a measure of the special horror of the Jewish situation and it does no good to deny it. Its possible, of course, that if Stalin had lived five years more he might have matched, in his impact on the Baltics, Hitlers tally with our region's Jewish population. But we are blessed that we have only speculations here.
I have looked at some of the arguments elsewhere on the Holocaust and its aftermath, and I know that there are two things that shut down debate and make it impossible. It may be helpful to bear these in mind if discussing Geoff's points further. First, there is the habit of referring to 'Jews' as if they were indeed some kind of strange intrusion, in some way part responsible, just for existing, for the terrible events of that period. The sort of argument that refers to 'Jews' as outsiders, not part of local society, is a case in point. It's only too easy to slip into this game of categories. It's one of the trigger signs others use for spotting anti-Semitism and since it was indeed part of the anti-Semitic rhetoric its a dangerous habit of thought. I've not always avoided it myself.
On my part, looking at Lithuania, I try to see Lithuanian citizens. All are 'us' in a fundamental way, whatever their faith. In Lithuania it's more irrelevant than usual to talk about 'outsiders'. Forget the recent history of the Russian Pale of Settlement. Judaism was established in the Lithuanian Lands during the Pagan empire; it has as much right, if not possibly more, to be called a local religion than does Christianity. I believe that part of the reason for the intense emotional charge still felt by Jews everywhere over the fate of the Jews in Lithuania, is precisely because of this long history, the special place Lithuanian Jews played in the world, the place we played in ensuring the very survival ofover the millennia. Every village that was destroyed in the remoteness of other parts of Europe is an intense tragedy in its own right. The destruction of the Vilna community struck at the heart of the idea of Judaism itself. I said 'we' played a part in ensuring Judaism's survival over the centuries. As someone of 'ethnic Lithuanian' background with no known Jewish ancestors, I nevertheless do feel part of this great civilization that made the old Lithuania such a rich and special place. The pagan roots, the Christian and Jewish cultures, the unique groups such as the Kairaites, the links to Islam through the Tartars, all within one extraordinary society of unique potential. If it had survived to the present day, growing and learning and finding each others strengths, what a beacon Lithuania could be to the world, an unique society bringing together so many living traditions.
My protest against the Nazis and all the other gangs of butchers who roamed our lands, is to refuse to accept the 'them and us' language of so much of this miserable debate. We are all 'us'; it is our tragedies of which we speak. And looking at what happened is a matter of looking at the responsibility of people, humans who made sometimes good, but on occasion appalling, moral and practical decisions.
A second 'debate-closing' line of argument is what I have seen described as 'the sin of contextualisation'. This is a red hot trigger for tagging arguments as anti-Semitic. I think we need to be aware of it, as it complicates many things which otherwise do need to be said. We can understand 'contextualisation' as a bad thing if we look at the events of the late 1940's.
We have Soviet officials loading children into cattle trucks for a journey of thousands of miles into the Arctic. Each of those persons bears some responsibility for their actions. However dimly, each must have known that they were setting thousands of innocents on a death journey. Do we accept for them an argument that we need to see their actions in context' and that this provides some kind of excuse? Do we say about the Stribai, the collaborators who identified local people so they could be seized by deportation squads, that they were responding to previous horrors and so were in some way absolved?
I don't find that line of argument a convincing absolution. The people who participated in the deportations and slaughters of the second Soviet period, in which a greater number of Lithuanian residents died than died during the 1941-44 Nazi war years, were and are responsible for their actions and are answerable for them. We may understand from the 'context' how they came to be in that situation, we may 'understand' the horror of the choice, but we cannot offer understanding as a blanket excuse. Those who try to make understanding some grounds for excuse are practicing 'the Sin of Ommission."
Psychologist colleagues can tell us something about dealing with this kind of traumatic memory. No doubt concepts such as catharsis are relevant here. Sometime, perhaps soon, we need to deal with all of this so we can move on.
Move back a few years to the Nazi period. The people who collaborated with the Nazis in their death policies are surely in the same position as the Soviet Stribai. They have to face the moral consequences of their actions, and in a certain sense talking about contexts is irrelevant. That includes the context of the horrors of the first Soviet occupation. If one disagrees with this argument, one has to agree that the Soviet collaborators have equal excuses. I don't happen to favor handing out blanket excuses.
I am afraid that a lot of the arguments used by Baltics activists in the face of attacks by 'Holocaust investigators' never gets seriously considered. Because they use the dread word context and so get pigeon-holed aside as just another load of excuses. The problem is that in order to understand (not excuse) the events on all sides in the Europe of this period we do indeed need to look at the wider contexts. And this is a core point as I see it in the problem identified by Geoff.
This wider perspective approach is so firmly linked by some (especially some holocaust activists) to its use by anti-Semites seeking to avoid responsibility, it becomes virtually impossible to talk about important things. A closed-ear shouting match immediately develops. So, we end up with parades of competing demonologies (who was in the NKVD for example) and never actually deal with realities. Again, our psychologist friends will be thumbing their notes and talking about denial and transference other possibly relevant things.
The whole of Europe needs to take a cold look at the whole period, to understand the impossible choices facing people caught between Hitler and Stalin - to try to work though a real understanding of the events of mid-century. Of how, for example, a small country tried to survive - occupied by one horror regime and facing occupation by another.
It's not just the "affair" of one small country caught in a trap. For example, The Nederlands didn't have the 'excuse' of being caught between Hitler and Stalin but there were local anti-Semites at work. I believe the Nederlands Waffen-SS Legion ( a Volunteer Panzer Grenadier Unit the XXII SS) actually fought on Dutch soil against the British in 1944, prolonging the Nazi occupation of the North Nederlands for nearly a year. Yet, this is not widely advertised in west European histories.
I have to believe in this evidence: even without the Soviet threat and the terrors this imposed, there would still have been outrages in Lithuania under Nazi control.
asked the murky innuendoes be ended and the charges "laid on the table." It's a brave request. Are we ready for it? Many of the so-called charges will, I know, fall away when exposed to light. Some will not. Some will, I am afraid, establish acts of gross anti-Semitism, pure and simple. Do we want a short list of some of them?
As the Jewish population of Lazdijai was led off to the fields to be murdered, some Lithuanian citizens lined the roads jeering and loudly, debating how the victim's property was to be divided up.
They may not have seen Lithuanian SS units. Lithuanian authorities (uniquely) avoided military entanglement with the Reich, but there were the so-called "special police units", raised and used by the Nazis to exterminate civilians. A film made of a Lithuanian-manned unit at work was regarded as an example of thoroughness and enthusiasm and was used to train all subsequent Nazi extermination squads.
after the Soviets were expelled from Kaunas, there were sporadic slaughters of Jewish Lithuanians by local civilians. At one such slaughter, victims were one by one stoned to death. A crowd of spectators cheered a young man playing the accordion. For each death, he was playing the National Anthem. "Lithuania my fatherland, land of heroes, from your past your children draw strength..."
It's the sort of thing that is murkily under the table, hinted at in various reports. Each of these acts of gross anti-Semitism is a matter of bitter shame. For my part, I accept this shame needs to be accepted, faced and lived through. Without excuses, I accept and try to face these facts to the best of my inadequate ability.
I do not regard a single one of these acts to be excused in any way by the fact that the NKVD deportation squad which pursued my Mother through the streets of Kaunas for two days before the expulsion of the Soviets was led by a local Jew. That act is something that needs to be accounted and atoned for in its own right. He should stand condemned for his choices and actions, not his group affiliations. Nobody else can carry his guilt by association. In emerging war, he was faced with horrifying practical choices. I don't know what choices I would have made in his situation with only his knowledge of events.
To understand why these things happened, we need to know what went on 'in context' so we can understand the horrors of choices and failures. Then, we can look on the more hopeful events ... people hidden in security, people whose lives were saved by ordinary citizens making different choices. I understand this years 'Lithuanian Papers' has accounts of how Jews were saved in Lithuania - read that as part antidote to the pains of this posting.
Of course, the Soviets seized negative events and tried to tar all National Opposition with this horror. It suited their books and gave a 'context' that obscured their own new round of murder and other crimes. It is right that this set of lies was and is opposed. However this justified opposition had a bad consequence. At the start of the second Soviety occupation, Lithuania was unable to deal with their own Nazi criminals. Personally, I have no doubt some genuine War Criminals escaped detection and retribution because they managed to hide
Then there's the National Opposition efforts. It may be time for some to cease their knee-jerking automatic defense for each and every person who faces charges. Just because they were attacked using Soviet gathered evidence does not mean that genuine evidence doesn't exist, nor genuine grounds for possible condemnation.
Until we face this, we will not be able to deal with the Soviet-era criminals still in Lithuania's midst. And, they need to be dealt with. It is appalling that millions of deaths in Stalin's time are somehow airbrushed away. It is an insult to those who survived this suffering and to their immediate descendants. Is this immense crime somehow a second class event in 20th Century history? I hope the emergence and recent publication of the Resistance Archives can help deal with all of this.
It is Lithuania's good fortune that the local Jewish community, and so many in Lithuania's leadership, seem to recognize the need to work on these matters. It us unfortunate that some outside campaigners make comments, not taking this into account.
My aim - and I hope others - is to work at unearthing, understanding and dealing with our difficult history. Not so we can insult each other but so we can embrace life and live it more abundantly. I apologize for the length of this response but Geoffs posting triggered lots of buried thoughts and led up some paths distant perhaps to the original point.
As this theme emerges elsewhere the ensuing debate tends to be notably sterile and unhelpful and full of slogans. I can only hope that we can do a little better here.
So reads the headline in an article in the Pottsville Republican of December 6-7, 1997. Jews in Kovno experienced a brutal ordeal. They kept a meticulous record of their destruction. Diaries and photos recorded the systematic campaign of Nazi occupiers to eliminate the 35,000 forced into a small suburb of the Lithuanian city. Only about 3,000 survived.
For the first time, the extraordinary record of the community's brutal World War II ordeal is on display at the Holocaust Museum. George Kadish, a Jewish science teacher, took 200 photos - many through a buttonhole of his overcoat - with a camera he built himself. He smuggled the pictures in a hollowed-out crutch from the German hospital where he worked an developed them with other documents of the community and escaped from the ghetto. He died in September in Florida. The record of death is there: Oct. 28, 1941, the Germans killed 9,200, including more than 4,000 children in one "Great Action"; in March 1944,1,200 died in a "Children's Action." Most of the objects are in Washington as the result of an unusual decision by the ghetto's Council of Elders early in the German occupation. They wanted to keep and to hide as complete an account of the ghetto as they, to provide a picture for a future that they knew most of them would never see. Three weeks before Soviet troops retook Kovno, the Germans blew up the ghetto. An estimated 2,000 Jews were burned to death or shot trying to escape.
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Minersville Area High School students are using the internet to hang out with teens in Lithuania. Seven students in the gifted program have linked up with Jablonskio Vidurine Mokykla, a junior-senior high school in Kaunas, Lithuania's second largest city.What do they talk about? The Minersville students are mainly interested in what it's like being a teen-ager in Lithuania, including what they wear, dating and school subjects. "They all wear uniforms, black and red," said junior Robert A. Wallace, age 16. "This will allow us to find out about aspects of life in Lithuania." "They start dating at around age 15," said eight-grader Jefferey W. Brennan, age 14. "I asked about sports," said eighth-grader Falon R. Mitsock, 13. "The sports are basically the same, except that they have national dance. That would be neat, having dance classes tight in our school." The hookup between the schools began in September when Minersville Area gained Internet access for its students to use in research projects. Rita M. Tamalavage, reading and gifted education teacher, includes Internet research in the gifted program for her seven students. In addition to Mitsock, Wallace and Brennan, the students are sophomore Kyle C. Klitsch, 16,; sophomore Jonathan B. Marazas. 15; and seniors Jessica A. Wasilewski and Christopher Murphy. The Lithuanian students begin learning English at the age of 7 or 8, and Jablonskio is primarily a language school, so the two schools are able to communicate because the Lithuanian teacher, Aurelia Motieciene, and her students are all fluent in English. While visiting the United States earlier this month, Motieciene stopped in Minersville to meet with Tamalavage and her students. Motieciene came to get some tips on installing the software from Thomas S. Slivinski of Web-Tester, Chicago, which donates equipment to Lithuanian schools to help them hook up to the Internet. Slivinski was referred to the Minersville Area School District through the Schuykill Intermediate Unit 29. The next step will be to get software to allow the students to see and speak to each other.
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