Nazi hunter to Lithuanian mayor: Stop recreational concentration camp use

Holocaust historian Dr. Efraim Zuroff slams use of the Seventh Fort heritage site for such activities as "disgraceful."

By
August 2, 2016 14:24
2 minute read.
Seventh Fort

Seventh Fort in Kaunas, Lithuania. (photo credit: WIKIMEDIA COMMONS/KAUNOFORTAS)

 
X

Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analyses from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user experience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Report and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew - Ivrit
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief

UPGRADE YOUR JPOST EXPERIENCE FOR 5$ PER MONTH Show me later Don't show it again

The Simon Wiesenthal Center has called on the mayor of Kaunas, Lithuania, to put an immediate end to recreational activities held at a former concentration camp at the Seventh Fort heritage site.

The letter comes following JTA’s report that the site is used as a wedding venue, in addition to the services offered on the Seventh Fort website which include children’s parties and camps, military themed birthday parties, and themed parties for adults.

Be the first to know - Join our Facebook page.


In a letter on Tuesday addressed to Kaunas (formerly Kovno) Mayor Visvaldas Matijosaitis, the Wiesenthal Center’s director for Eastern European Affairs, Dr. Efraim Zuroff, slammed the use of the site for such activities as “disgraceful.”

“As you no doubt are aware, the site of the mass murder of several thousand Jews in 1941 was privatized several years ago, and has now been turned into a recreation and entertainment center which violates the memory of the victims,” Zuroff wrote.

Critics say this reality is a byproduct of Lithuania’s failure to confront the country’s dark history during the genocide.

“This sad situation was revealed already several months ago in Musiskiai, the book Ruta Vanagaite and I wrote about the subject of Holocaust memory and commemoration in Lithuania,” Zuroff stated.

He urged the mayor to immediately suspend the above-mentioned activities, and to find a way to restore the site to the municipality or to an organization “whose purpose will be to honor the memory of the victims, rather than insult them.”



Zuroff expressed his outrage to The Jerusalem Post: “How do you privatize a mass-murder site?” he asked, adding that if one does so, they have an obligation to ensure it is not misused.

The remains of 5,000 murdered Jews are buried at the Seventh Fort in mass graves that are marked by a few poles and rocks. Relatives sometimes light candles in memory of the dead.

The Military Heritage Center’s website tells of the area’s Holocaust-era significance, and offers, for a fee, tours of the former killing site alongside a general tour about the fort’s military history. It also has a military history museum, but does not have a permanent exhibit about the Holocaust.

The revelation of the various uses of the site sparked widespread outrage, and Zuroff released a call on social media to join him in protesting the situation by putting pressure on the mayor.

JTA contributed to this report.

Related Content

Madonna
August 16, 2018
60 years with the queen of pop: Madonna's colorful Jewish culture

By TAMAR BEERI