During the performance of the “Symphony of the Jerusalem of the North” in the garden of the Presidential Palace in Vilnius, Jobst Bittner had the opportunity to share the March of Life message with a large audience. Prior to the event, on the occasion of the Lithuanian Holocaust Remembrance Day, a commemorative march as well as Veil of Silence seminars were held at various locations in Lithuania.
“Symphony of the Jerusalem of the North” tells the story of the Jewish people in Israel and Lithuania in musical form. Before the Holocaust, Vilnius was known as the “Jerusalem of the North” because of its rich Jewish life. After the German invasion in June 1941, German SS and Wehrmacht units and Lithuanian collaborators murdered over 200,000 Jews – almost 95% of the Jewish population.
Tadas Daujotas, the Lithuanian director of the March of Life, initiated the project of the symphony written by Lithuanian composer Jievaras Jasinskis for the 80th anniversary of the beginning of the Lithuanian Holocaust. At the premiere in the garden of the Presidential Palace in Vilnius, March of Life founder Jobst Bittner was able to speak about the need to deal with family histories at the time of the Holocaust and not to leave out the painful part of guilt and complicity. This is the only way to achieve reconciliation and healing for the future. Guido Kasch told of his grandfather, who, as a young Wehrmacht soldier, was deployed in Lithuania from June 1941, and asked for forgiveness for his ancestors’ participation in the Shoah. The chairwoman of the Jewish community in Lithuania, Faina Kuklianski, was deeply moved by the message in a personal conversation. She said, for Lithuania it is of utmost importance that the descendants of the perpetrators express the truth about their families as well. The event was broadcast live on Lithuanian television. The symphony, which combines classical music with Lithuanian and Jewish motifs, will now go on tour in Lithuania.
Participation in “Memory Road” in Vilnius and Veil of Silence seminars in congregations
In the morning, Jobst Bittner and international director Heinz Reuss as well as other representatives of the March of the Living took part in a commemorative march together with Lithuanian Prime Minister Ingrida Šimonytė, Member of Parliament and child of Holocaust survivors Emanuelis Zingeris, European director of the March of the Living Michel Gourary, as well as numerous ambassadors. The march led from the former ghetto to the mass execution site of Ponary, outside Vilnius.
In the days before, the team from Tübingen conducted Veil of Silence seminars in a Catholic center near the city of Plunge as well as in two Free Church congregations in Kaunas and Vilnius. Franciscan Father Gediminas Numgaudis had first heard of the message six years ago and had been waiting for such a seminar ever since. Therein lies the potential for Lithuania’s transformation, he said at the seminar in his parish. Many participants took positively to the challenge of confronting antisemitism in their own family history and raising their voices publicly in support of Israel. The best foundation for this is that the book “Breaking the Veil of Silence” was published in Lithuanian earlier this year.
For next year, Marches of Life are already being planned in Lithuania on Yom haShoah and other local days of remembrance.
Especially at a time when antisemitism and hatred of Jews is exploding around the world, we need your support to spread the message of the March of Life in many nations. With your donation, together we can raise our voices for Israel and against antisemitism everywhere!
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Watch the symphony here: https://www.facebook.com/LRT.LT/videos/4526763117380694/