Irena Veisaitė

Tolerance and involvement

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Irena Veisaitė is held in deep esteem throughout her country. This volume is an attempt to relate the difficult journey of her remarkable life against the backdrop of the complex history of Lithuania and its Litvaks (Lithuanian Jews).
After being rescued by Christian Lithuanian families and having survived the Holocaust Irena Veisaitė devoted herself to study and creative work. She was a memorable lecturer, respected theatre critic, associate film director, and also founder and chairman of the Open Society Fund (Soros Foundation) which made an invaluable contribution to the process of democratisation in Lithuania.
Irena Veisaitė made it her life’s work to speak up for dialogue and mutual understanding and believes that even in the most difficult circumstances it is possible to preserve one’s humanity. Having lived through some of the major atrocities of the twentieth century, her insistence on the need for tolerance has inspired many.
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Biographical Note

Yves Plasseraud has been a lecturer on legal matters related both to intellectual property and minorities issues at various universities (Alicante, Berlin, Bordeaux, Kaunas, Minsk, Paris, Strasbourg, Vilnius, a.o.). He is the author of numerous articles and books on intellectual property, minorities issues, the questions of identity and the problem of racism and prejudice. Yves Plasseraud is lawyer by profession and lives in Paris, France.

Table of contents

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
FOREWORD
INTRODUCTION

1. A FAMILY ON THE MOVE
A- A promising 20th century for the Veis family.
B- Irena’s parents.
C- Caught in the midst of revolutions and war
D- Becoming Lithuanians
a- Kaunas, a lively small capital
b- Jewish Kovno
E- The Lives of Irena’s parents
2 . A CAREFREE CHILDHOOD
A- A tightly knit family
B- Journeys across a troubled Europe
C- School years in the Yiddish gymnasium
D- Anguish
3- THE DARK YEARS
A- Irena’s parents’ divorce
B- A failed emigration project
C- Experiencing the dictatorship of the proletariat
D- Difficult Soviet times
E- Turning the economy and culture into a wasteland
F- Changes in Irena’s personal environment
4- THE GERMAN OCCUPATION OF LITHUANIA
A- Nazi rule
B- Assasinations of Irena’s uncle and mother
C- Living with the yellow star in Kaunas
D- In the Kovno ghetto
E- Exterminations (Aktionen)
5. TOWARDS A PRECARIOUS SAFETY
A- Escaping from the Ghetto and heading for Vilnius
B- Return of the Soviets: the second occupation.
C- Mass Deportations
D- Irena’ second mother is arrested
6. ALONE IN AN UNKNOWN ENVIRONMENT
A- Being Jewish in the post-World War II USSR
B- Trouble with the KGB: Suspicion of “cosmopolitism”
C- Moscow Lomonosov University years
D- The Annihilation of Soviet Jewish memory
7. GETTING MARRIED IN MOSCOW
A- A very private event
B- Defying Moscow’s Education Ministry in order to return to Vilnius
C- Birth of Irena’s daughter Alina, during the Khrushchev thaw
D- ‘Aspirantūra’ years in Leningrad: 1958–1960
E- Teaching freedom at the Vilnius Pedagogical Institute
F- Visiting her Father and the West
G- Crucial decisions
8. THE OPENING OF THE WORLD
A- A new life with Grigori Kromanov
B- Dramatic developments
C- Irena and the singing revolutions (1988…)
D- National Independence
E- A new national stance towards the Jewish question
9- NEW SOCIAL COMMITMENTS
A- Creation of the Open Society Foundation of Lithuania (OSFL)
B- Through the turmoil of the nineties
C- Irena’s OSF Presidency: A force for good!
D- A complex relationship with the Lithuanian Jewish community
E- Acting in favour of the Jewish community
F- The true meaning of the Holocaust
10. THE TIME OF RECOGNITION
A- A cosy and stimulating personal environment
B- An unusual public figure
C- Official Recognition
11. AT THE CROSSROAD OF CULTURES
A- Lithuanian ‘national’ feelings
B- The Russian question
C- German Culture
EPILOGUE
A- A coherent existence: Truthfulness to a few basic ideas
B- A world of friends
C- A Spiritual approach to life

CHRONOLOGY
SHEMATIC FAMILY TREE OF IRENA VEISAITĖ
THE LITVAKS
1. Lite: a refuge for persecuted Jews
D- A society of its own
E- A clash of worlds
F- Litvaks and modernity
a- Litvak culture and art
b- Spiritual Life
c- A Dynamic Social life
d- Socialism as a religion

INTERVIEW OF IRENA VEISAITĖ BY CAROLINE PALIULIS
SOME OF IRENA VEISAITĖ’S ARTICLES AND INTERVIEWS
BIBLIOGRAPHY
TABLE OF IN TEXT ILLUSTRATIONS
TABLE OF OTHER ILLUSTRATIONS
ACRONYMS
FOREIGN TERMS

INDEX OF PERSONAL NAMES

Readership

All interested in the history of the Baltic States in the 20th and 21st century, and the history of Jews in Europe.

Index Card

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