Skip To Content
JEWISH. INDEPENDENT. NONPROFIT.
Forward 50 2011

Dovid Katz

Image by richard schofield

When the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research in New York City broached a plan to establish a “YIVO room” at the Lithuanian National Library in Vilna, passions were ignited among a small but significant group of scholars, historians and Holocaust survivors. Leading the charge was 55-year-old Dovid Katz, a former professor of Yiddish language, literature and culture at Vilnius University who, through his website, defendinghistory.com, has established himself as a one-man clearinghouse for all things Lithuanian.

Occasionally prone to hyperbole, Katz, who divides his time between Lithuania and the United Kingdom, has spent years fighting what he perceives to be Lithuanian doublespeak. On the one hand, the Baltic nation has launched pro-Jewish initiatives, such as making 2011 the “Year of Remembrance for Holocaust

Victims.” On the other hand, Katz argues, it has whitewashed Lithuanian complicity in the Holocaust while agitating to equate crimes committed by Soviets in the Baltics with Nazi atrocities.

YIVO, which was founded in 1925 in Vilna, is intimately tied up with this history. A portion of its treasured archive was hidden from the Nazis and then from the Soviets until just before the fall of the Soviet Union. Today, the Lithuanian government claims ownership of that collection. For YIVO’s executive director, Jonathan Brent, establishing a room at the Lithuanian National Library is a pragmatic solution to a decades-long quandary. For Katz, who has led a months-long campaign against the move, leaving the archive in Vilna is nothing short of capitulation.

I hope you appreciated this article. Before you go, I’d like to ask you to please support the Forward’s award-winning, nonprofit journalism during this critical time.

Now more than ever, American Jews need independent news they can trust, with reporting driven by truth, not ideology. We serve you, not any ideological agenda.

At a time when other newsrooms are closing or cutting back, the Forward has removed its paywall and invested additional resources to report on the ground from Israel and around the U.S. on the impact of the war, rising antisemitism and the protests on college campuses.

Readers like you make it all possible. Support our work by becoming a Forward Member and connect with our journalism and your community.

Make a gift of any size and become a Forward member today. You’ll support our mission to tell the American Jewish story fully and fairly. 

— Rachel Fishman Feddersen, Publisher and CEO

Join our mission to tell the Jewish story fully and fairly.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.