What really happened at the Lietukis garage, 25 June 1941?

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Penn44
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Re: What really happened at the Lietukis garage, 25 June 1941?

Post by Penn44 » 02 Nov 2008 21:21

michael mills wrote:The other book is "The Final Solution: Origins and Implementation", edited by David Cesarani. It contains an essay called "The Holocaust in Lithuania" by the Israeli scholar Dina Porat. In that essay, Ms Porat says the following (p. 166):
In short, it was a combination of a complex of factors such as national traditions and values, religion (Orthodox Catholic, in this case), severe economic problems and tragically opposed political orientations. Lithuanian Jews supported the Soviet regime in Lithuania during 1940-41, being partly of socialist inclination, and in the full knowledge that 'life imprisonment [Soviet regime] is better than life {sic! death?} sentence [Nazi rule]', as in the Yiddish saying [my emphasis]. By contrast, the Lithuanians fostered hopes of regaining, with German support, the national independence that the Soviets extinguished, as a reward for anti-Jewish and anti-Bolshevik stances. During the Soviet rule of Lithuania these feelings heightened and burst out following the German invasion. One might say that the Germans provided the framework and the legitimation for the killing of Lithuania's Jews, while the national aspirations and the hatred for communism [of the Lithuanians] provided the fuel. Still this is not a full explanation for such brutality, especially as there was no tradition of pogroms in Lithuania. Not all Lithuanians took part in the killings, and one cannot depict all of them as murderers. At least one thousand Lithuanians sheltered Jews, thereby risking their own and their families' lives. A few tens of thousands took active part in the mass murders while the rest were either apathetic or aggravated the misery of the Jews in lesser ways than actual killing.
So, as you see, there is evidence for a general preference for the Soviet regime in Lithuania by the Jews of that country.
Mills:

In your on-going efforts to indict the Jews for their alleged "support" of the Soviet regime, and thereby justify the Nazi genocide of the Jews as a rational political necessity, you ironically provide a quote that you believe supports your contention, yet thoroughly undermines it. Besides demonstrating just how weak your argument is, and how well you can twist the works of even legitimate scholars for your own purpose,*** the Prof. Porat quote sheds some light on the actual historical mechanisms at work in Lithuania during 1941.

*** "The Devil can cite scripture for his purpose." Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice, Act 1, scene iii, lines 98-99, p. 103.

Prof. Porat's reveals no evidence that the Lithuanian Jews "actively" supported the Soviet regime and occupation. The quote suggests a different situation. As general European history has shown repeatedly, one's being of "partly socialist inclination" does not directly lead one to actively support a communist regime. As the quote asserts, the alleged "support" of Lithuanian Jews for the Soviet occupation arose from the fear of possible Soviet terror. Any form of "support" that arises from that kind of fear is not support that comes from heartfelt convictions of political solidarity.

The quote also asserts the motive that nationalist Lithuanians murdered Lithuanian Jews in order to accommodate and gain favor with the German occupation in the hopes that the Germans would support their national aspirations. This, too, does not lend any support to your claim the nationalist Lithuanians believed the Jews were active supporters of the Soviets. What it does support is the notion that some nationalist Lithuanians were willing to murder Jews in the hopes the Germans would grant Lithuanian independence.

Penn44

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Re: What really happened at the Lietukis garage, 25 June 1941?

Post by Jonathan Harrison » 02 Nov 2008 22:22

Porat's key sentence is the first one in the extract, where she argues for "a combination of a complex of factors". This suggests that she would oppose any reductive, singular explanation. Each individual factor in isolation - Lithuanian anti-Communist grievances, Nazi pre-invasion machinations, severe economic problems - was a necessary precondition, but not a sufficient one, for pogroms. It's the combination that matters. Each element needs to be counted as relevant but not over-counted.

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Re: What really happened at the Lietukis garage, 25 June 1941?

Post by michael mills » 03 Nov 2008 03:42

The predictable responses from Penn44 and Jonathan Harrison do not invalidate anything that I wrote.

Here again are my statements on the matter of the preference of Lithuanian Jews for Soviet rule over any other realistic alternative:
The strong anti-Jewish sentiment shown by so many Lithuanians in 1941 seems to have been mainly a result of their experience of one year of extremely oppressive Soviet rule, which had been marked by the highly visible collaboration of large parts of the Jewish minority, particularly of the Jewish youth.
Lithuanians were well aware that the great majority of the Jews living in their country had welcomed the Soviet takeover, if only because it was clearly better for the Jews than the alternative of German rule.

That put the Jewish minority at odds with the great majority of the Lithuanian population who, if faced with the choice, regarded German rule as preferable to Soviet.

For most Lithuanian Jews, it was a matter of passive acceptance of Soviet rule as the lesser of two evils; only a small number collaborated in way that harmed the welfare of Lithuanians, for example by joining the security police and participating in repressions. Nevertheless, the general Jewish preference for Soviet rule caused the Jewish population as a whole to be judged by the activities of those few. It was a matter of generalisation rather than misidentification.
In 1939, the continued existence of an independent Lithuania was no longer viable; the only options open to the country were domination by Germany or domination by the Soviet Union. Given that choice, most ethnic Lithuanians preferred the former, while Jews preferred the latter, for obvious reasons.
What I have said is that for most Lithuanian Jews, it was a matter of choosing the lesser of two evils, while a minority did actively support the Soviet regime by joining the security police and other parts of the Soviet apparatus of control. That position of mine is clearly supported by Ms Porat, who uses the metaphor of life imprisonment (Soviet rule) being preferable to being sentenced to death (German rule), ie the lesser of two evils.

Ms Porat also clearly supports my view that when Lithuanians participated in anti-Jewish actions, they were not merely doing what the Germans wanted, but had their own motivations, including hatred of Communism (explicitly named by Ms Porat), which Lithuanians associated with the Jewish minority.

Obviously the Jews of today are highly embarrassed by the Bolshevik skeleton in their closet, but they need to face up to its existence and deal with it. It is an incontrovertible historical fact that, in the 1920s and 1930s, Jewish leaders, even those who were strongly opposed to the ideology of Communism, saw that for the Jews of Eastern Europe, living under the rule of the Soviet Union, although not ideal, particularly for very traditionalist Jews, was preferable to any available alternative, either the rule of the new independent states (Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Romania) or of an expansionist Germany, all of which were hostile to Jews to a greater or lesser extent. Those leaders could see clearly that the ideology of the Soviet leadership was essentially philosemitic, even if hostile to all religious belief, and that the Jewish population of the Soviet Union had achieved a relatively high socio-economic status, better than that of any other ethnic group in the Soviet Union, and better than that of the Jews living in other East European countries. For that reason, they were favourably disposed toward East European Jewry's coming under Soviet rule, preferably by mass migration into Soviet territory.

But this thread is not about the fate of the Jewish minority in Lithuania as a whole, but of the 10-20 persons who were lynched at the Lietukis garage on 25 June 1941. The available evidence is that they were persons who had actively supported the Soviet regime, and had been recognised by Lithuanians released from Soviet imprisonment as persons who had participated in their repression.

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Re: What really happened at the Lietukis garage, 25 June 1941?

Post by David Thompson » 03 Nov 2008 14:37

Another post from Penn44, containing personal remarks about another poster, was removed by this moderator -- DT.

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Re: What really happened at the Lietukis garage, 25 June 1941?

Post by Sid Guttridge » 03 Nov 2008 17:21

Hi michael

You originally wrote "Lithuanians were well aware that the great majority of the Jews living in their country had welcomed the Soviet takeover, if only because it was clearly better for the Jews than the alternative of German rule."

However, your quoted source says nothing about Jews "welcoming" Soviet occupation. It says "Lithuanian Jews supported the Soviet regime in Lithuania during 1940-41, being partly of socialist inclination....."

I put it to you again that you overstated by saying "welcomed". What your source actually describes is pragmatic accommodation by some left-leaning Lithuanian Jews to an unwelcome fait accompli, not mass enthusiam by Jews for Soviet occupation. I suggest again that if Lithuanian nationalists did view Jews and Bolsheviks as indistinguishable, they were mistaken.

There may be "evidence for a general preference for the Soviet regime in Lithuania by the Jews of that country", but that is only relative to even worse prospects under the Nazis. This doesn't even address the third possible preference - a continued Lithuanian state. Nor does it imply that Soviet occupation was "welcomed".

As for the Bendinskas account, I do not dismiss it out of hand. My point was that it was not the authoritative account you were implying. Furthermore, there still remains the question: "Do we have the names of any non-Jews known to have been killed on site?" If we haven't, this looks like a typical pogrom for which post facto excuses are being offered by Bendinskas.

Cheers,

Sid.

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Re: What really happened at the Lietukis garage, 25 June 1941?

Post by henryk » 03 Nov 2008 21:08

Michael Mills said:
Obviously the Jews of today are highly embarrassed by the Bolshevik skeleton in their closet, but they need to face up to its existence and deal with it. It is an incontrovertible historical fact that, in the 1920s and 1930s, Jewish leaders, even those who were strongly opposed to the ideology of Communism, saw that for the Jews of Eastern Europe, living under the rule of the Soviet Union, although not ideal, particularly for very traditionalist Jews, was preferable to any available alternative, either the rule of the new independent states (Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Romania) or of an expansionist Germany, all of which were hostile to Jews to a greater or lesser extent. Those leaders could see clearly that the ideology of the Soviet leadership was essentially philosemitic, even if hostile to all religious belief, and that the Jewish population of the Soviet Union had achieved a relatively high socio-economic status, better than that of any other ethnic group in the Soviet Union, and better than that of the Jews living in other East European countries. For that reason, they were favourably disposed toward East European Jewry's coming under Soviet rule, preferably by mass migration into Soviet territory.
incontrovertible historical fact ????
From my message:
http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic. ... te#p844894
The remarkable thing about this FIgure is how very different the Jewish and Catholic settlements are from the Orthodox and Uniate ones. Communist support is highest in settlements where there are no Jews (or Catholics) and relatively low in settlements where there are high numbers of Jews. This is even stronger evidence that the Jews were not supporting the communists at the mass level. With the exception of a handful of probably mining settlements(on the far right of the Catholic panel, with high communist support), a similar relationship holds for the Catholics. This is in stark contrast with the Orthodox and Uniate panels, where the communists hardly ever seem to get more votes than the number of minorities in a settlement.
In central Poland only 2% of Jews voted Communist. In the East, less than 1% did.

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Re: What really happened at the Lietukis garage, 25 June 1941?

Post by michael mills » 04 Nov 2008 04:23

Sid,

It seems to me that you are quibbling over the precise meaning of words such as "welcome" and "support" as a way of avoiding the big picture, that you seem to find unpalatable.

Once again I suggest that you read some books on the situation in Lithuania in 1940.

But I will give a brief outline of the big picture as it existed in June 1940. People in Lithuania, including the members of the Jewish minority, were well aware that Germany and the Soviet Union had reached an agreement, and were dividing East Europe up between them. They could see how Poland had been divided between Germany and the Soviet Union, and how the Soviet Union had invaded Finland and seized parts of its territory.

It must have been clear to everybody in Lithuania, and in other countries in Eastern Europe, that their countries must eventually come under the control of either Germany or the Soviet Union. The only question was, which was preferable.

Obviously, for the Jews of Lithuania, coming under the control of the Soviet Union was preferable to coming under the control of Germany. Even though the Soviet Union was a Communist tyranny, and militantly hostil to any religion, it was at least not hostile to the Jewish nationality; in fact, it had recognised the Jews as a nationality, and Jews as a group had achiieved considerable socio-economic advancement, with about 40% rising to hold positions in the State and Party bureaucracies, or being the dependants of such employees, by 1939. Therefore, coming under Soviet rule, while it had its downside, was not all that bad from the Jewish point of view.

By June 1940, it was clear that Germany was expanding rapidly, and it looked as if Britain and france could do nothing to stop it. Germany had occupied Denmark and Norway in April and May, and now had defeated France and chased the British off the Continet. For Jews throughout Europe, the threat of coming under German rule, and thus falling victim to the harsh anti-Jewish policies of the German Government, must have seemed very real.

It was clear that Lithuania had been assigned to the Soviet sphere of influence; since October 1939 small Red Army forces had been stationed in the country. However, Jews must have feared that the situation could change, and that with the series of German victories, the country they were living in might well come under German domination.

For that reason, the Jews of Lithuania were relieved when the Red Army moved into Lithuania in force in June 1940. They were happoy when the country was absorbed inot the Soviet Union, since that meant that there was no way that they could now come under German rule, unless Germany launched a full-scale invasion of the Soviet Union and defeated it.

That happiness that Lithuania had come firmly under Soviet rule, and that a German takeover was now precluded, is what I mean by saying that the Jews of Lithuania for the most part welcomed Soviet rule. I do not mean that every Jew in Lithunaia, or most of them, went out into the streets and cheered widly as the Soviet armed forces marched in (although eyewitness statements show that quite a few Jewish youths did precisely that, most probably those that were leftist in political outlook). I dare say most Jews stayed in their homes, but almost all of them must have been glad that it was the Red Army that was marching in, not the Wehrmacht.

As I have stated, the Jewish preference for and willing acceptance of Soviet rule, must have been obvious to Lithuanian observers, and reagrded by the latter as treasonous, since for most Lithuanians, except those that were adherents of Communism, the Soviet occupation was a disaster, the crushing of their independence that had lasted only 20 years.

Now to the events at the Lietukis garage themselves.

Sid, I think you are setting up impossible hurdles when you say that, unless it can be proved that at least one of the persons lynched was not Jewish, and is known by name, then you are going to refuse to believe that this was not just an ordinary anti-Jewish pogrom, motivated purely by anti-Jewish prejudice.

So far as I know, no hard evidence has been produced to identify any of the lynched persons by name. Nor have I seen any coherent alternative account of how those persons came to be in the Lietukis garage on 25 June 1945, part from the account by Bendinskas, which is internally consistent and credible.

Bendinskas himselves that documents showed that most of the lynched persons were Jewish. Presumably those documents were identity papers that the persons were carrying when they went to the Lietukis garage to commandeer transport to make their escape from Kaunas; Soviet identity documents routinely showed the nationality of the holder, so if any of those persons were jewish, as Bendinskas says, then that would have been obvious from their papers. It is likely that Soviet officials going to the Lietukis garage to commandeer transport would have kept their identity documents with them, in order to give them the authority to get the transport they wanted; otherwise they might well have got rid of such dangerously incriminating material.

Another source of documents identifying the persons held at the Lietukis garage given by Bendinskas is the seizures from Government buildings carried out by Lithuanian nationalist insurgents. According to Bendinskas, documents seized from those buildings enabled the identification of persons working for the Soviet administration, and their subsequent arrest and delivery to the holding point at the Lietukis garage.

I do not know what happened to the documents referred to by Bendinskas. Perhaps they were eventually confiscated by the German occupiers (seizure of Soviet documents was after all one of the main tasks of the Einsatzgruppen), in which case they might now be sitting undiscovered in some archive in Germany, Russia, or even Lithuania. Perhaps they were destroyed. If we had them, then the persons lynched at the Lietukis garage could be positively identified, and the matter of what the lynching represented could be answered.

Although Bendinskas says that the Jewish identity of most of the persons lynched was shown by documents, we do not know whether he saw those documents himself, or whether he gained that information from reports given to him by the LAF men under his command, who had actually been at the Lietukis garage. One possibility is that only some of the men held at the Lietukis garage were Jewish, and that the LAF men in their reports exaggerated the number, ie "some" becoming "most".

Another possibility is that all of the persons held at the Lietukis garage were employees of the Soviet administration, identified as such by documents, but that only some of them were Jewish, and that those who were Jewish (again perhaps identified by their documents) were singled out and lynched.

If so, that would be similar to the aftermath of the battle of Hattin, when Salahu-d-din had the Templars singled out from among all the captured crusaders and executed, because he regarded them as having committed more sins against Muslims than the ordinary Christians.

But the upshot is that, in my eyes, Bendinskas has come up with a reasonably credible and internally consistent account of why the victims of the lynching were assembled at the Lietukis garage, why they were lynched, and who the lynchers were and their motivation. Until someone comes up with some hard evidence to show that the account by Bendisnkas is falsified, I think it can be accepted with reservations.

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Re: What really happened at the Lietukis garage, 25 June 1941?

Post by Sid Guttridge » 04 Nov 2008 12:38

Hi Michael,

You are dead right. I am quibbling over "the precise meaning of words such as "welcome" and "support" ". And with good reason? They mean different things. For example, I reluctantly support the raising of taxes, but I don't welcome paying them!

In using the word "welcome" indiscriminately you have suggested that Lithuanian Jews en masse were in enthusiastic favour of Soviet occupation, but offer no evidence for what seems to be a racial generalisation of exactly the sort that stoked anti-Semtism in the 1930s. Not even your quoted source makes the charge you base your claim on.

Now you are using the word "happy" to describe Lithuanian Jewish reaction to Soviet occupation! Again I ask, where is the evidence of this state of "happiness" of Lithuanian Jews in such circumstances? They might, as you say, have been widely "relieved" at being occupied by the USSR rather than Germany, but again, where is the evidence for such generalised racial assumptions?

You are taking a very poisonous tack with such racial generalisations. If you have a case for making them, produce some evidence. If not, withdraw to more tenable positions that (1) do not attribute a single undifferentiated attitude to all Lithuanian Jews and (2) do not attribute enthusiam to Jews collectively for a circumstance that was at best the lesser of two evils for the greater majority of them and excludes other preferable options such as continued Lithuanian independence.


Lietukis:

YOUR source Bendinskas stated that not only Jews died in the garage because it was a wider massacre of Communist officials/collaborators. This is essential to his proposition it was not a racial pogrom against Jews. You may wish to accept this without asking for evidence to this effect, but I don't. If what he says is true, then presumably there will be non-Jews amongst the named dead. Alternatively, if, as you say, there are no named dead, there is absolutely nothing to support Bendinskas's proposition.

I will believe anything provided the evidence is there, but both your larger generalisations about collective Jewish attitudes and your slavish adherence to Bendinskas's non-first hand and vague account lack substance as yet.

Cheers,

Sid.

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Re: What really happened at the Lietukis garage, 25 June 1941?

Post by michael mills » 05 Nov 2008 02:45

Sid,

You are being intellectually dishonest with yoour bandying of terms like "poisonous racial generalisations".

There was nothing at all "racial" in any of the statements I made about the attitudes of Jews in Lithuania.

Jews in Lithuania, and anywhere else, were a culturally or sociologically defined group of people, which had a number of common interest and aspirations.

One common interest of Jews in Lithuania, which of course was not specific to Jews but is typtical of any group of people, was to be under the control of a government that was friendly to them, not unfriendly. There is nothing "racial" about such an attitude at all.

In the case of the Jews of Lithuania, as a group they had a common interest in not being under the control of the German government, whether directly through German occupation, or indirectly through a Lithuanian government that was already no very friendly towards Jews and might be expected to become even more unfriendly if it came under German influence.

For that reason, Jews in Lithuania had a common interest in Lithuania's coming under direct Soviet rule, which precluded Lithuania's falling under German influence or direct control. Occupation by the Soviet Union was also in the common interest of the Jews of Lithuania, since the Soviet Government was friendlier to Jews than the existing government of Lithuania, and certainly far more so than the government of Germany, which was well known to be intensely anti-Jewish.

Sid, I have already indicated to you some sources on the situation in Lithuania that you might well consult (including the article by Porat which you have apparently not read). You might also consult this book:

"The Jewish Century", by Yuri Slezkine (Princeton : Princeton University Press, c2004)

This book goes into great detail about the complex relationship between the Jews of Russia/East Europe and Communism, and shows why so many Jews saw Communism and the Communist government of the Soviet Union as providing the best solution for the situation confronting the Jewish people in the early 20th Century.

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Re: What really happened at the Lietukis garage, 25 June 1941?

Post by David Thompson » 05 Nov 2008 05:12

Everyone -- Please drop the personal comments, or watch posts be deleted.
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Re: What really happened at the Lietukis garage, 25 June 1941?

Post by Sid Guttridge » 05 Nov 2008 12:54

Hi Michael,

As long as one treats Jews as an undiferrentiated mass, one is making a racial generalisation.

If this racial generalisation is to their discredit and is not supported by any evidence, it is poisonous.

The 1930s were characterised by exactly such poisonous, simplistic generalisations about Jews and we know the result of that.

It is therefore absolutely vital that you either:

1) Substantiate your racial generalisations about the attiudes of Lithuanian Jews "welcoming" and being "happy" at Soviet occupation,

or,

2) Withdraw to more discriminating and considered positions that consider the complexity of the Jewish community, which embraced both capitalists and professionals with much to lose by Soviet occupation, and doubtless some Communists with something to gain, like some Lithuanian fellow-travellers.

and/or

3) Consider whether Lithuanian Jews might actually have preferred continued Lithuanian independence to either Soviet or Nazi rule.

I don't much mind which you do, so long as you provide some substantive evidence to support it.

What is not acceptable is to put up generalised, discreditable propositions of any sort that one cannot or will not either substantiate or withdraw from.

Cheers,

Sid.

P.S. Purely anecdotally, I asked the mother of my friend Marina, whose grandfather was Jewish doctor in Memel/Klaipeda, what she thought. She says she was too young at the time to remember details, but she was certain that her father was always hostile to the USSR. They resettled temporarily in Lithuania when Germany took over Memel/Klaipeda in early 1939 and fled to Sweden in early 1940 on an Estonian ferry after the USSR had set up bases in Lithuania but before it took over. She now lives in Oxford. She doesn't know the specific fate of any of her father's family who stayed behind.

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Re: What really happened at the Lietukis garage, 25 June 1941?

Post by michael mills » 06 Nov 2008 01:30

3) Consider whether Lithuanian Jews might actually have preferred continued Lithuanian independence to either Soviet or Nazi rule
I have never said that Jews in Lithuania specifically rejected the the option of continued Lithuanian independence.

What I have said is that in 1939 and 1940, the option of continued Lithuanian independence, free of the domination of either the Soviet Union or Germany, was no longer available. It was clear to anybody with eyes to see that Lithuania would fall under the domination of one or the other of those two powers, either as a satellite state or by being totally absorbed.

Given those two options, Jews in Lithuania as a group clearly preferred the option of domination by the Soviet Union, since its governing ideology was Jew-friendly in theory, and in practice had allowed Jews to achieve a higher socio-economic status than before the First World War, whereas the governing ideology of germany was thoroughly hostile to Jews, and so was its practice.

That preference put Lithuanian Jews at odds with the great majority of the inhabitants of the country, for whom Soviet domination brought no benefits whatever, since the alternative of German domination did not pose a threat to them, in the way that it did to the Jews of Lithuania.

Once Lithuania came under Soviet domination, a substantial section of the Lithuanian population, particularly the more nationalistically-inclined population elements, looked to Germany as the only power that could overthrow Soviet power and give Lithuanians the chance of a life free of Bolshevik tyranny, even if only as a satellite of Germany, which was not all that palatable to nationalist Lithuanians, but for them the lesser of two evils.

Those Lithuanians who looked to Germany as their potential saviour from Soviet domination could see that the Jews of Lithuania were totally opposed to a German takeover, because of the danger it posed to them, and wanted the status of Lithuania as a part of the Soviet Union to continue (at least as long as Germany posed a threat to them), not because they liked the Bolshevik social and political system (except for a minority of the youth who were revolutionary socialists by inclination), but because being part of the Soviet Union kept Lithuania from coming under German domination.

It was the impression of the Jews of Lithuania wanting to retain Soviet rule and opposing its overthrow by Germany, ie the exact opposite of what was desired by nationalist Lithuanians, that caused the latter to resent and hate the Jews living in their country, and to regard them as traitors and collaborators who deserved to be punished.

That is what Dina Porat meant when she talked about "tragically opposed political orientations". It was not just a matter of impressions, false or true, but real differences in vital interests between two population groups, one constituting the majority and the other a minority.

Sid, you need to try to grasp the essential meaning of what Porat is saying, rather than quibbling over individual words.

I can well accept that many Jews of Lithunania did not like some of the essential features of Soviet rule and the accompanying bolshevisation of the social and economic systems, for example the loss of personal liberty and wealth, and of freedom of economic activity, even though they could see that Soviet rule was the lesser evil for them than German. Under the circumstances, I can understand why many wanted to avoid both Soviet and German rule by emigrating, and did so if they had the opportunity and means. But most could not emigrate, but had to stay in Lithuania, and in that situation their only chopice was to continue to support Soviet rule and oppose its overthrow by germany, which as stated brought them into direct conflict with the aspirations of Lithuanian nationalists, and probably of most Lithuanians who would have preferred German rule to Soviet.
The 1930s were characterised by exactly such poisonous, simplistic generalisations about Jews and we know the result of that.
It was not "poisonous, simplistic generalisations", which implies some sort of falseness and unreality, that led to the massacre of millions of European Jews, primarily in Eastern Europe, between 1941 and 1944, but very real conflicts of national interest.

Those conflicts were very apparent to observers in 1919, in the context of the Paris Peace Conference that was underway, and led some of them to predict a disaster for the Jews of Eastern Europe if the conflicts were not resolved. The conflict was particularly apparent between the Polish delegation to the Conference, led by the judeophobic and germanophobic Polish nationalist Roman Dmowski, and an unofficial East European delegation led by the orthodox Jew and General Zionist leader Menachem Ussishkin (who had come to the conference as part of a Ukrainian delegation, with the function of representing Ukrainian Jewry, but had left it to set up the unofficial delegation of all East European Jewry).

The main clash was over the political status that Jews were claiming for themselves in the new states such as Poland, essentially as a separate nation with extraterritorial rights. So heated did those clashes become that the chief adviser to the British delegation, James Headlam-Morley, went to the Anglo-Jewish leader, Lucien Wolff, who was at the Conference with the official group of Jewish observers from the western countries, to ask if he could do anything to hose Ussishkin down. When Wolff replied that Ussishkin was out of control, Headlam-Morley commented; "Then they will all be murdered".

The above conversation is known from Wolff's Peace Conference Diary.

Headlam-Morley got it right; the clash between Jewish nationalism and that of the emerging East European peoples, including the Lithuanians, was not resolved but grew worse, and as a result the Jews were all murdered, as Headlam-Morley had predicted.

The above-mentioned Menachem Ussishkin later got involved in an incident that is highly revelatory of the complex relationship between Jews and Bolshevism. After the conclusion of the Paris Peace Conference, Ussishkin emigrated to Palestine, where he became Acting Chairman of the Zionist Commission.

On 13 April 1920 there was a conversation between Ussishkin and Sir Ronald Storrs, British Governor of Jerusalem from 1917 t0 1925, that is recorded in the Central Zionist Archives: L/3/256: April 13, 1920, and is quoted on page 146 of the 1986 book "The Siege: The Saga of Israel and Zionism" by the Zionist sympathiser, the late Conor Cruise O'Brien.

This is what Cruise O'Brien wrote:
Later in the course of his long an increasingly emotional speech, Ussishkin said: "........Czar Nicholas also did not interfere with the pogroms, he also oppressed us. Yet does Your Honour see what befell him? In his place sits Trotsky. All our enemies in the world and in the land of Israel will also meet such an end".


Here Ussishkin was making a veiled threat to Storrs. He was complaining about the latter's failure to prevent Arab anti-Jewish riots in Jerusalem at the beginning of April 1920, in which small number of Jews (and Arabs) had been killed. He was comparing Storrs' attitude to that of Tsar Nicholas, who had similarly failed to prevent the pogroms in pre-Rovolutionary Russia, and implying that the same thing would happen to Storrs as happened to Nicholas.

Ussishkin's words reveal a number of significant features of the ideology of this Orthodox Jewish Zionist (definitely not a Bolshevik, or any other sort of Jewish leftist):

1. The Russian Revolution was retribution for the anti-Jewish actions and policies of the Tsar, and the Russian ruling class as a whole;

2. The Russian Revolution was a Jewish action (significantly, Ussishkin names the Jew Trotsky as the successor to the Tsar, as the man with the real power, not the non-Jew Lenin);

3. The Russian Revolution, and the overthrow of the Tsar and the previous ruling class, was a model for what the Jews wanted to do to all those in the whole world whom they regarded as their enemies.

I have no doubt that the views of the Zionist leader, Menachem Ussishkin, were representative of those of a large number of nationalistically-inclined Jews, particularly in eastern Europe. Given those attitudes, it is easy to see why there was such conflict between Jews in Eastern Europe and the peoples among whom they lived, including the Lithuanians, and why that conflict had such a violent and murderous resolution.

Sid, I doubt that we will see eye to eye on this issue. However, I urge you to read the books I have recommended to you, and try to get some information about the persons I have mentioned, and their ideas and actions. That will help you to gain a more nuanced view of the fate of the Jews in eastern Europe in the first half of the 20th Century, rahter than the simplistic back-and-white view that you seem to have now.

Sid Guttridge
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Re: What really happened at the Lietukis garage, 25 June 1941?

Post by Sid Guttridge » 07 Nov 2008 15:54

Hi Michael,

Thanks for a long and complex post. I will have a look at the second part in detail when I have more time.

However, the first part is a more considered analysis expressed in better chosen language than hitherto and I see no strong reason to take further issue with you on it. Words have definitions and should be used with precision.

Cheers,

Sid.

Sid Guttridge
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Re: What really happened at the Lietukis garage, 25 June 1941?

Post by Sid Guttridge » 07 Nov 2008 17:49

Hi Michael,

The second part seems to revert to over generilisation from a narrow base. Clearly Ussishkin was not Jews generally, and most Jews were not Zionists. The first choice of most Eastern Jews was emigration to the USA. However, this was not available to most of them. Israel picked up much of its Jewish population by default. It still does, as the recent migration by Russian Jews indicates.

Now I don't know anything much about Ussishkin, just what you quote. However, this does not match what you claim he says.

1. Yes, he does pretty much say that "The Russian Revolution was retribution for the anti-Jewish actions and policies of the Tsar." However, he does not mention "the Russian ruling class as a whole". That is your addition. Nor does he attribute the fall of the Czar to any particular agency. If he was a believer, is he not as likely to have attributed it to the work of God?

2. Where does Ussishkin say anything to the effect that "The Russian Revolution was a Jewish action"? He doesn't. That is your interpretation. And why is Trotsky so significant? Five years later Ussishkin might well have named Stalin as being in the place of the Czar. He was a Georgian. The reference to Trotsy may have been a reflection of the times, not ethnicity. What, exactly do Zionists and Trotsky have in common? Was Trotsky anxious to migrate to Palestine? Was Ussishkin a devoted adherent of the Worker's Paradise? Hardly! And even if Ussishkin intended the impression you perceive, who is to say it wasn't just for effect?

3. NO! "The Russian Revolution, and the overthrow of the Tsar and the previous ruling class, was" NOT "a model for what the Jews wanted to do to all those in the whole world whom they regarded as their enemies." Presuming they are accurate, these are merely the words of one man who was senior in a minority stream of Jewish thought at the time. If you had presented these words as such, I would have no problem. However, you present them as though they were the undifferentiated collective desire of all Jews without any evidence whatsoever.

You write: "I have no doubt that the views of the Zionist leader, Menachem Ussishkin, were representative of those of a large number of nationalistically-inclined Jews, particularly in eastern Europe." I am sure you don't! However, whether you have doubts or not is irrelevant unless you are some sort of acknowledged expert on the subject.

Interestingly you narrow the focus in this section to "a large number of nationalistically-inclined Jews, particularly in eastern Europe". This is a formulation that might well be tenable. Why not stick to that rather than lapsing into untenable racial generalisations about Jews as a whole?

Cheers,

Sid.

michael mills
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Re: What really happened at the Lietukis garage, 25 June 1941?

Post by michael mills » 08 Nov 2008 02:59

However, you present them as though they were the undifferentiated collective desire of all Jews without any evidence whatsoever.
Now, now, Sid, don't twist my words.

Here is what I wrote:
Ussishkin's words reveal a number of significant features of the ideology of this Orthodox Jewish Zionist (definitely not a Bolshevik, or any other sort of Jewish leftist):
It is quite clear that the three points made my me were an analysis of Ussishkin's ideology. I did not say that every single Jew in the world, then or now, shared that ideology, in whole or in part.

However, the concept that those who are considered enemies of the Jewish people will eventually come to a sticky end is found quite widely in Jewish writings, both religious and secular. Ussishkin was merely expressing that concept in a rather extreme way, using the downfall of Tsar' Nicholas (and by implication his death) as an example. Whether the sticky end is inflicted by divine intervention, a common theme in Jewish religious thought, or by Jews taking action themselves, an ideal promoted by secular jewish thinkers, is irrelevant.

For your information, in the decade leading up to the First World War, Tsar' Nicholas II occupied a place in the Jewish public mind much the same as that occupied by Hitler now, ie as the supreme enemy of the jewish people, as the modern Haman. If you care to read anything about the Yiddish press in the United States at that time, you will see that he caricatured as a total monster. His overthrow was hailed byJewish publications throughout the Western world, traditionalist and secular, socialist and non-socialist, as the end of an enemy of the Jewish people.

Sid, you need to understand that the way of thinking of Jews in eastern Europe in the early 20th Century, a rather extreme variant of which is expressed in ussishkin's words, was not the same as that of most modern Jews living in a place like the United States, where they are fully integrated into the mainstream society. Jews living in places like Poland, Ukraine, Lithuania, could be just as nationalistic, just as prejudiced, just as bloody-minded, as the gentile populations of those countries. Only if you realise that will you be able to understand the conflict between Jews and non-Jews in a place like Lithuania, and why that conflict became so intense as to end in a huge massacre.

I would like to conclude by saying something more about Lucien Wolff, the leader of Anglo-Jewry, whom I referred to in my previous post. In 1919, he resolutely opposed the Anglo-French intervention in Russia and their attempt to help the Whites overthrow the new Bolshevik regime. The reason for that was not that he in any way was sympathetic to the Bolshevik ideology or its social and political systems; he was very much against them, being a typical English bourgeois. The reason was that he feared that if the Bolshevik regime were overthrown, there would be a huge massacre of jews in Russia, the like of which had never been seen before.

Thus. Lucien Wolff desired the continuation of the Bolshevik regime, not because he liked it, but because in his view it presented the best possible outcome for the Jews of Russia, it was the regime that would provide the best protection and conditions of life for that large Jewish population. Indeed, in 1919 he expressed the view that once the civil war then raging in Russia had ended, the Jews of the West should facilitate the mass migration into Bolshevik Russia of the Jews who would find themselves living in the new states of Eastern Europe, eg places like Poland and Lithuania, which Wolff rightly suspected would fairly hostile to their Jewish minorities, certainly less friendly than the Bolshevik regime in Russia.

As can be seen, Wolff's pragmatic attitude toward the Bolshevik regime in 1919, as the best one for the Jews of Eastern Europe to live under, was essentially the same as that of Jews in Lithuania in 1940. Furthermore, Wolff's fear that the overthrow of the Bolshevik regime in Russia would lead to the greatest massacre of Jews the World had ever seen came true just over 20 years later, in 1941, when that regime was temporarily overthrown in parts of the Soviet Union by the German invasion.

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