VMU will hold an international conference to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the liquidation of the Kaunas ghetto "Thinking about history, understanding memory"

7/4/20242 min read

July 8-9 The international conference "Considering History, Understanding Memory" will be held in the Senate Hall of Vytautas Magnus University (VMU) (S. Daukanto St. 28, Kaunas), dedicated to the 80th anniversary of the liquidation of the Kaunas Ghetto.

Lithuanian and foreign scientists will participate in the conference. The event will explore the topics of history, political science, social science, cinema and art, and discuss the life of Lithuanian Jews before and during the Holocaust.

According to one of the organizers of the event, Lisa Storer, PhD candidate in history at VMU, this conference aims to show the public what an important role the Kaunas ghetto played in Nazi-occupied Lithuania, and to remind the stories and experiences of those who were tortured there.

"The main purpose of the Kaunas ghetto was to dehumanize the imprisoned Jews as much as possible before they were sentenced to death. This year, as we commemorate the 80th anniversary of the liquidation of the Kaunas ghetto, we remember not only the reality of those imprisoned in the ghetto, their humiliation, but also the actions of those who contributed to the genocide of Jews in Lithuania," says L. Storer.

According to the historian, the title of the conference "Thinking about history, understanding memory" invites us to discuss history and gaps in collective memory - why they appear, and whether they are really talked about enough.

"Very often the collective memory ignores what is unpleasant for us - we try to erase the negative memories of our ethnic group or nation into oblivion. We need to keep talking about why some people choose to dehumanize and destroy others who are different from us."

During the conference, we will try to touch on these, often uncomfortable, topics. Speakers and discussants will raise questions about which tools or viewpoints would be the most honest and accurate way to talk about the connection between the Holocaust and Lithuanian history and memory. We will also discuss how the perception of the common past of Lithuanian Jews and Lithuanians is changing", one of its organizers describes the topics of the conference discussion.

Among the speakers of the event are scientists and artists from the USA, Great Britain, Lithuania and other countries: dr. Tobias Brinkmann (Pennsylvania State University, USA), artist Jenny Kagan, film director Saulius Beržinis, dr. Eliyana Adler and others.

Israeli Ambassador to Lithuania Hadas Wittenberg Silverstein, US Ambassador to Lithuania Kara McDonald, German Ambassador to Lithuania dr. Cornelius Zimmerman and the chairman of the Kaunas Jewish community, Gercas Žakas.

During the event, there will also be a visit to Sugihara's house, a screening of the film "Kaunas Ghetto: Buried History", as well as a visit to the Historical Presidency of the Republic of Lithuania in Kaunas. At the end of the conference, the opening of the exhibition "Kaunas ghetto: reality and memory" will take place.

After the conference, on July 10, at 3 p.m., a commemorative concert will be held in the Great Hall of VDU (Gimnazijos St. 7).

Detailed event program: (click here to download)

The conference will be held at: VDU Senate Hall (S. Daukanto St. 28, Kaunas)

The event is open to the public.

The language of the event is English

The event will also be webcast. Event link: (we will insert the event broadcast link here)

Organizers: Vytautas the Great University and the Sugihara Foundation "Diplomats for Life".

Organizing Committee: Dr. Linas Venclauskas, Dr. Ina Pukelytė, Dr. Daiva Price, Shifra Poupko, Lisa Storer.

We inform you that the event may be filmed and/or photographed and you may be seen in the photos or videos of the event, which may be published in various media.