Jewish-Lithuanian relationships: facing difficult questions

This is a series of events, including an academic conference, on Jewish-Lithuanian relationships:

"It is obvious that the history of the coexistence of the Lithuanians and the Jews is far from simple but the frequent desire to simplify it is also clear. One standpoint shows Lithuanian-Jewish relations as an ever-growing conflict – from the very beginnings of the Jewish community in Lithuania in the 14th c. up to World War II and the Holocaust, where according to the memories of the post-war Jewish Diaspora, Jews were killed not so much by the German Nazis as by their neighbours the Lithuanians. The opposing viewpoint focuses on the long-term peaceful coexistence of two ethnoreligious groups with the blame for the Holocaust in Lithuania being laid at the door of German racist politics.

The popularity of simplified historical interpretations has in large part been due to different approaches adopted in historiography. Soviet historians had to write the histories of social classes but not of ethnic and religious groups, and the euphemism “the killing of Soviet citizens” was a way to minimise the enormous number of Jews singled out for brutal murder during the Holocaust. Serious academic research in Lithuania on Jewish history has only been developed over the last twenty years and today the situation has changed. This has been witnessed by the quite intensive collaboration between historians from Lithuania and Israel as well as other countries, studying the history of Jews in Lithuania, and by the number of books and articles published.

At the international colloquium No Simple Stories: Jewish-Lithuanian relationships between coexistence and violence, which will take place 6-7 February 2011 at University College London, historians will discuss the topic of Jewish-Lithuanian relations in the context of the Holocaust in Lithuania, as well as long term features of Lithuanian-Jewish coexistence between the late 18th and the 20th centuries. The colloquium will offer a unique opportunity to contextualise difficult questions, which are both sensitive and important. [see program here]

The workshop will be accompanied by a programme of cultural events: the exhibitions The Synagogues of Lithuania and The Sounds of Silence, as well as the film screenings of I Leave My Child to You (Lithuania, 1999), and The World was Ours: The Jewish Legacy of Vilna (US, 2006). The Vilner Klezmorim will be reviving the klezmer music of Lithuanian and Vilnius Jews and presenting a contemporary take on this expressive music. Following the screening of the film Yitgadal V’yitkadash: Memorial Statues in the Strashun Forest (Israel, 2005), there will be an open discussion with the workshop participants on the theme of Why is it still difficult to speak about the Holocaust in Lithuania?"

Click the link below for full information on all events.

6 February 2011 - 10 February 2011
6 Feb 2011
10 Feb 2011