Its Only Now We Begin
“The Baltics” are often lumped together as one single geographic unit, comprising Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Geography and ideology are vastly different from one another.
Ideologically, Estonia is far closer to Finland. It is a technology powerhouse, an advanced society.
Latvia is a progressive nation, also technologically advanced, where the previous Foreign Minister was openly and proudly gay, and the Prime Minister is Jewish.
Their neighbor, Lithuania, remains ideologically stuck in the 1940s.
Latvian Consulate in Los Angeles:
Given the differences in ideology and truth, it was no surprise that the Latvian Consulate in Los Angeles, and the Latvian Society in Los Angeles voted unanimously to show their own community a documentary about the victimization of Latvian Jews, at the hands of their own Latvian citizens. This showing was endorsed and supported by the Estonian Community. When I asked Consul Bunkis why he was showing this on a Saturday, he replied that it was for the education of Latvians. Most Jews are already familiar with the facts.
As a participant in the documentary Baltic Truth, I was informed by the Latvian movie producers, that the Latvian Consulate had asked them if they could show Baltic Truth. I was delighted when the producers agreed. And then, the heavy hand of Orwellian ideology presented itself.
My next communication was that the Lithuanian Ambassador had made contact with the Latvian government to state that Baltic Truth was financed with Russian money. I was horrified at the thought. I stand in total opposition to Russia. I find Russian disinformation and propaganda as insidious and malevolent as that of Lithuania; truly, they are “two peas in a pod”.
I performed my own due diligence on funders of Baltic Truth, mostly to ensure that I had not been ensnared by any nefarious Russian plot. Funders were entities such as the Claims Conference, the Israeli-American Civic Action Network, and the Ruderman Family Foundation. No Russian money anywhere. A completely dishonest statement by Lithuania. If Lithuania was not so assiduously boycotting Baltic Truth and pretending it does not exist, they would see the full list of funders in the documentary credits. But as with most things by the Lithuanian Government, research and facts are not terribly relevant. Accusations and conspiracy theories prevail.
The next Lithuanian objection came that Eugene Levin’s co-producer is himself a “Russian Agent”. The Government of Lithuania has often-times called me a Russian Agent, so I know the usual utter absurdity of that claim. Levin’s co-producer is a Latvian citizen, living openly in Riga. Apparently, he was once a paid stringer on a Russian TV News Show, and according to the Government of Lithuania, that makes him a “Russian Agent”. Their standard is so poorly defined, that anyone who has eaten black bread, drunk vodka, or watched Dr. Zhivago might as well then be termed a “Russian Agent”.
The Latvian Consul, Dr. Juris Bunkis, contacted me to say that due to regional sensitivities (i.e. Lithuanian pressure), he was going to change the selected documentary. With Michael Kretzmer’s authority, I offered J’Accuse! instead. It took only a few days for a vociferous response – NO!!!!! It was apparent to me that the Lithuanian Government applied maximal pressure on Latvia not to show any factual documentaries about the Holocaust.
The Latvian Community and the Latvian Consulate finally showed “It’s only Now we Begin”, a truly masterful piece of history, addressing Latvia’s own complicity in the Holocaust. An act of bravery by Latvia in telling the truth. Attendance at the showing reaped a full house. It was recorded and posted here.
Consul Bunkis presented a transformative speech, which I have transcribed and attach here:
The following is only one excerpt from his electrifying speech: “It is to the eternal shame of Latvia and Latvians that any Latvian participated in murdering and persecuting their co-citizens. The Holocaust and the Soviet deportations to Siberia happened in Latvia with the willing participation of numerous Latvian citizens. The actions of collaborators with the Bolshevik and Nazi occupiers will stand as our eternal shame. Latvians who murdered other Latvians were monsters. They were traitors to our nation and must be condemned for eternity. No Latvian who murdered another Latvian can ever be a hero of our nation, for they destroyed Latvia from within. Yes, there are gaps in Latvian memory. Latvia is by no means perfect! As we learn of gaps, we will sincerely do our best to address them. I offer my personal commitment that I will work towards full transparency and truth. The victims deserve nothing less. A society can only heal from within when truth is told and accountability exists. I unreservedly condemn those that caused irreparable harm to Jews, and any Latvian citizens, and pledge to work with Latvia to make any needed reforms, reveal any unrevealed truths and work towards education.”
The recording allowed me to transcribe some quotes, and other comments:
My own speech is here.
Consul General of Israel, Hillel Newman said: “The truth must be safeguarded”. “We see cases where people engage in Holocaust revisionism or denial, which we see as a manifestation of antisemitism”. “It takes courage sometimes to recognize the past and to face the truth of the past”. “I come today to pay respects to Latvia for facing the truth of their past”.
Chief of Protocol of Los Angeles County, Lourdes Saab, representing ten million residents in eighty eight cities said: “As citizens of the world, it is important to continue to examine history and not be afraid of telling the truth, no matter what that truth is”.
Consul General of Romania, and Dean of the Los Angeles Consular Corps, Cosmin Dumitrescu said: “It is our responsibility to educate the future generations, to know about that dark part of the history so that they will be able to avoid that history from being repeated”.
Consul General of Germany, Stefan Schneider, said: “In the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s, we had teachers, judges, politicians, with a Nazi past”. Mr. Schneider faced Germany’s past with brutal honesty and genuine compassion. It is through this truthfulness that Germany and Jews have reconciled.
Beverly Hill Council-member and past Mayor of Beverly Hills John Mirish stated: “It’s easy to just blame the Nazis and the Bolsheviks and the Communists”. Mayor Mirish also said “The truth will set you free”, and “reconciliation can only be based on truthful remembering”. He also said: “Holocaust trivialization is different from Holocaust denial, and is different from Holocaust revisionism”.
Mayor Mirish proudly announced that Silvia Foti has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. Foti is the granddaughter of an apex mass genocidal murderer of Jews in Lithuania, Jonas Noreika. She bravely exposed her grandfather’s crimes and Holocaust fraud by the government of Lithuania. Foti is the first non Jewish Lithuanian in history ever to be nominated for the most prestigious Peace Prize in the world.
Representative of Congressman Brad Sherman, Sean Regan, said: “Gochin worked very closely with Congressman Sherman to bring to light the actions of the Lithuanian Holocaust perpetrator Brazaitis”.
CEO of the Israeli American Civic Action Network, Dillon Hosier, presented Consul Bunkis with an award for standing up in strong support of Holocaust truth.
CEO of Jewish Life Television Channel, Brad Pomerance said: “Your words before the film were absolutely stunning — so heartfelt, so emotional, so valued.”
Director of Simon Wiesenthal Center and the world’s Last Nazi Hunter, Dr. Efraim Zuroff, sent a statement: “I applaud your courage in presenting the movie “Baltic Truth” to the public. Despite the fact that more than 80 years have passed since most of the Holocaust crimes in the Baltics were committed, the governments of both Lithuania and Latvia have still not been able to admit the truth about the fates of their Jewish citizens and the role of local Nazi collaborators. I am sure this was not an easy decision and you faced pressures of all sorts, but what you did was the right thing, the patriotic decision for the good of your country and its Baltic neighbour.”
West Coast Director of Friends of ELNET (European Leadership Network) and Board Member of JIMENA (Jews Indigenous to the Middle East and North Africa) Siamak Kordestani, said: “If we do not acknowledge the truth, then we have learned nothing from the past. It was gratifying to see the Latvian-American community unite to affirm the facts of the Holocaust. I want to thank the Latvian Honorary Consul, Dr. Juris Bunkis, and the Latvian Community Center for their role in this powerful event.”
Statements by a Lithuanian diplomat:
Facts expressed so forthrightly by the Government of Latvia, elevates Latvia into the realm of truth-tellers alongside Germany and Austria. It is an act of strength, dignity, self-respect and reconciliation.
This is in pure contrast to Lithuania. Ambassador Laima Jurevičienė, Consul General for Lithuania in Los Angeles, boldly boycotted the Latvian event. Instead, Lithuania’s Honorary Consul, Daiva Čekanauskas (Navarette) attended.
To further shed light on this subject – I met Daiva’s father, Vytautus in 1989. By that time, he had already served Lithuania as their Consul for twelve years. When I explained to Vytautus that I wanted to learn more about my Lithuanian heritage, he told me emphatically: “A Jew cannot be a Lithuanian, and a Lithuanian cannot be a Jew”. I reported this in my book, Malice, Murder and Manipulation”.
When Vytautus died, the Government of Lithuania appointed his daughter, Daiva Čekanauskas, as their new Honorary Consul in Los Angeles. When Lithuania opened their full Consulate in Los Angeles, they then appointed Daiva as their Honorary Consul in the California Central Coast region. i.e. Lithuania has been represented by the Čekanauskas family for over 45 years.
Daiva’s parents’ home was clearly Catholic. Today, Daiva represents that she is Jewish, but refuses to explain how this could be possible.
The Embassy of Lithuania recently honored the memory of Vytautus. Having known him, I further researched his history. Vytautus and his father left Lithuania in 1944 for Germany. His father stated that he “retired to Germany”. No Jew “retired” from Lithuania to Germany in 1944 because, at that time, Jews were simply being hunted down and murdered wherever they were found in both Lithuania and Germany. He could not have had a “job” from which he could have genteelly retired, and Germany was obviously not a “retirement” destination for any Jew.
1944 was the year that Lithuanians realized they had lost their war against the Jews. Many Nazi collaborators (and some innocent people) escaped oncoming Soviet forces by running away to Germany where they were safe among their ideological brethren. Apparently, Daiva’s father and grandfather chose this moment to “retire to Germany”. I am unable to comprehend the context of that statement. Certainly, there is zero possibility that Daiva’s Jewishness comes from her Father’s side.
At the conclusion of Latvia’s event, Daiva approached Consul Bunkis. I was standing a few feet away. Daiva appeared to be shaking with rage. With approximately ten people within earshot, Daiva screamed at Consul Bunkis: “You are a liar”. “You should never have put this event on”.
I have never heard a diplomat from one country publicly scream such obscenities at another diplomat. Spectators were turning their heads. Is this diplomatic conduct?
People within earshot of her attempted theatrics were horrified. For me, the spectacle put on by Lithuania, eclipsed the Latvian event.
So many dignitaries and Latvians put such extraordinary effort into building bridges, telling the truth and creating reconciliation. They were united in support of Dr. Bunkis’s message. It is my sincere hope that the Lithuanian Consul’s unprofessional conduct, in no way eclipsed this extraordinary event for anybody else.
Among the estimated one hundred and sixty attendees included:
- Lourdes Saab – Chief of Protocol – Los Angeles County
- John Mirish – past Mayor of Beverly Hills and current member of Beverly Hills City Council
- Sean Regan – Representing Congressman Brad Sherman
- Cosmin Dumitrescu – Consul General of Romania and Dean of the Los Angeles Consular Corps
- Michael Postl – Consul General of Austria
- Stephan Schneider – Consul General of Germany
- Video message from Hillel Newman, Consul General of Israel
- Ramiz Dashdamirov & Gasmin Shirinli – Consulate of Azerbaijan
- Steve Chucovich – Honorary Consul of Montenegro
- Grant Gochin – Honorary Consul of Togo
- Dr. Olga Popel – Ukrainian Holodomor Committee
- Dr. Peter Cowe, the Dean of the Near Eastern Languages and Cultures at UCLA
- Nare Mkrtchyan, Oscar shortlisted director and producer of a documentary about the Armenian genocide
- Dillon Hosier – Chief Executive Officer of the Israeli American Civic Action Network
- Siamak Kordestani – West Coast Director of Friends of ELNET and Board Member of JIMENA, Jews Indigenous to the Middle East and North Africa
- Brad & Tina Pomerance from Jewish Life Television
Only one among the attendees objected to truth being told. Her objections pertain only to herself and her country. They are in no way a reflection of Consul Bunkis nor of Latvia. The question to be asked of Honorary Consul Daiva Čekanauskas Navarette, is, if she is somehow, magically Jewish, why would a Jew represent an openly Holocaust revisionist country?. (That same question should be asked of any Jew presented as a shill for Lithuania).
My respect to Latvia and to Dr. Bunkis, and to all those who attended and were eager to learn the truth. The documentary “Its Only Now We Begin” tells us exactly where we are, and where we need to go.
Dr. Bunkis proves that truth is the path to nation-building and reconciliation. This is the definition of statesmanship.