Filologijos Fakultetas

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Vilnius Ghetto

I didn’t notice this last year, but must have walked right by it. Went to Leičiai again, and again really enjoyed it. They don’t brew the Juodas anymore, but the stout is quite good.

Last year I noticed that this street was the heart of the ghetto.  This evening I stood ten meters from the plaque for a while, and watched dozens of tourists pass by. One group of three paused long enough to read the caption. A couple of other people glanced at it without slowing. This was the heart of the ghetto.

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Salaspils Memorial

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Konzentrationslager Riga-Kaiserwald Denkmal

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In Latvia I can watch an American comedy about an American vice president, at a time when real estate mogul Donald Trump is in the White House and creationist Mike Pence is vice president. These two won the 2016 national election over a candidate who celebrated the murder of a man bayoneted in the anus and her vice presidential candidate who believes the 2001 and 2002 AUMFs are too restrictive.

The advertising for the television show uses the motif of an iconic photograph of soldiers raising an American flag on Mount Suribachi during the WW II invasion of Iwo Jima. While known to many Americans as “raising the flag at Iwo Jima,” the photograph was of raising what was actually a second flag.

In the advertising an actor playing the character of a vice president is being raised. What is the battle represented here, and what is the war? Who is the enemy? Who or what was the earlier flag? In this comedy who is the joke on?

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“For Fatherland and Freedom” (and for Radisson?) — Riga’s Freedom Memorial is very martial and very male. Whereas in Russia I was continually struck by the extent to which war memorials showed women, grieving women especially but also women soldiers and workers, here the dozens of figures are heroic men. The only women to be seen are the armed and armored angel in the center, the celebratory figure on the plinth, and a matron around back. I’ve never personally resonated with the “motherland” motif, but I’ve got to say I think I like “fatherland” even less.

Independence is my happiness, and I view things as they are, without regard to place or person; my country is the world, and my religion is to do good.

—Thomas Paine, The Rights of Man

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Stabu Street 63, Riga

This plaque memorializes the Jews who were burnt alive July 4, 1941, when a Nazi-organized group set fire to this synogogue.

The synagogue is now a Montessori school. A happy face plaque has been carefully placed over the memorial plaque. “Darbīgās rociņas” is Latvian for “active hands”. Double-plus good, eh Winston? I think I’m going to go see the 1905 memorial and then get a beer.

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The word in Tallinn is that Steffani in Pärnu has the best pizza in Estonia. After lunching there I can definitely say Steffani’s was the best pizza I have ever eaten in Estonia.

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My Estonian friend said this was in the news when it happened a few weeks ago, on the anniversary of an event connected with the Soviet occupation. He said it wasn’t clear what remembering the Nazi murder of Jews had to do with the Soviet occupation of Estonia, but given the verbal skills evident in the vandals’ written communications it seems critical reasoning may not be their strong suit.

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Pagari 1, former KGB headquarters, now has a vegan café on the ground floor and luxury apartments above.

The tourist aspect of sites like this often prompts feelings of ambiguity.

Parliament of Estonia

At the Museum of Occupations and Freedom

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