On Saturday, Belarus marked Holocaust Victims Memorial Day. On 2 March 1942, the Nazis killed more than 5,000 Jews from the Minsk Ghetto (which had 80,000 to 100,000 residents) at the “Pit”. Later, in 1947, the USSR erected a monument to Holocaust victims at the place of this tragedy. This Saturday, Belarusian Jewish groups came to the memorial to commemorate the victims of that massacre.
2 March 2013
Voice of Russia World Service
Minister of Culture Vladimir Medinsky said that Russia has solid legal grounds to keep the Schneerson Library in its possession. The American-based Hasidic movement rejected President Putin’s proposal to place the collection of books and religious documents in the European Tolerance Centre in Moscow. The situation has only deteriorated since the dispute over the Schneerson Library first broke out in the late 1980s. The Agudas Chasidei Chabad, the umbrella organisation for the worldwide Chabad-Lubavitch movement, rejected Moscow’s compromise on offering free access to the books and manuscripts of the Schneerson collection. Actually, they’re already available at the Russian State Library. The Hasidic movement wants the entire collection in its ownership.
In January 2013, a US Federal Court in Washington DC ruled that Russia should pay 50,000 USD (1.534 million Roubles. 38,300 Euros. 33,100 UK Pounds) per day in fines unless it returns the collection. In response, President Putin suggested placing the archive in the Jewish Museum and Tolerance Centre in Moscow. He also expressed his regret over the dispute reaching the point of confrontation, adding that the library doesn’t belong to a particular Jewish community, noting, “If we allow this national asset to go to anyone, we’d open a Pandora’s Box. If Russia started to comply with such lawsuits, claims would start streaming in”.
The Schneerson Library is a collection of old Jewish books and manuscripts gathered by Rav Yosef Yitzchok Schneersohn in the Russian Empire at the end of the 19th century. The Bolsheviks nationalised part of the collection in 1918 and eventually became part of the Russian State Library collection. Schneersohn managed to take the other part of the collection out of the USSR during his emigration in the 1930s. Later, the Nazis seized about 25,000 pages of manuscripts from the collection, then, the Red Army captured them and handed them over to the Russian State Military Archive. Rav Schneersohn died in 1950; he left no instructions on the disposition of the library after his death.
In August 2010, the issue came to the forefront again when Judge Royce Lamberth in a US District Court in Washington DC ruled that Russia should hand over the Schneerson archive to the American-based Hasidic movement. Two years later, the District Court issued a ruling assessing a fine against Russia for not turning over the library. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MID) rejected all claims made by Hasidic organisations, describing the decision of the American court “legally unfounded”. The MID also recommended that the Russian State Library to fine the Library of Congress for not returning seven books from the Schneerson collection loaned to Washington in 1994. Meanwhile, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York cancelled plans to send 35 works by the early-20th century designer Paul Poiret to an exhibition in the Moscow Kremlin. Russia isn’t going to organise any exhibitions in the USA, either. There’s no progress in the talks over the Schneerson library, but a scandalous battle in courts is already under way.
26 February 2013
Voice of Russia World Service
As I’ve noted before, you can’t sue for ownership of property that you never owned in the first place. The library was nationalised; that’s the end of the story. Remember WHY the Hasids want the books… they want to restrict access to them and hog them for themselves. Why do I dislike Hasids? All too often, they live up to the stereotype of the insular, greedy, and grasping Jew… increasing the level of anti-Semitism in the world. That’s sad… innocents suffer for their nastiness. President Putin’s right in this one… the Schneerson Library is a precious resource for ALL of us… it’s not the plaything of a narrow-minded and intransigent little sect. It’s enough to make one hurl in disgust…
By the way, Judge Royce Lamberth is a fanatic appointed by Slobberin’ Ronnie… an old Cold Warrior living in the past, but feeling his oats in having an opportunity to kick “those godless commie Rooshians” (is he one of Potapov’s pals? Perspirin’ minds wanna know…).
President Vladimir Putin said that Russia couldn’t hand over the Schneerson Library to the USA. However, he said that we could display it at the European Tolerance Centre in Moscow, and make accessible to all who wish to use it. On Tuesday, Putin said at a meeting of the Ethnic Relations Council, “Unfortunately, I can only say that the discussion of this issue has reached a point of confrontation, which, in my opinion, is due to illegal decisions made in another country”. Putin said that the library originated in 19th century Russia, and part of it was nationalised shortly after the October Revolution, saying, “This is a significant part of the problem. If we allow this national asset to go to anyone, we’d open a Pandora’s Box. Almost 100 years have passed since the library was nationalised. If Russia started to comply with such lawsuits, claims would start streaming in. No one can predict how far they might go. We’re not going to deal with this. It’s impossible”.
Putin remarked that another part of the library was brought to Russia as a war trophy. He added that that he’d like to propose a solution “that’d benefit people drawn to these cultural values in the first place. We’re at the Jewish Tolerance Centre now. We could think about this idea. I’m prepared to put together an order to the government and Minkultury to display this library at the Russian Jewish Tolerance Centre. All who’re interested could be given full access to this library”.
The Schneerson Library is a collection of old Jewish books and manuscripts gathered by Rav Yosef Yitzchok Schneersohn in the Russian Empire at the end of the 19th century. The Bolsheviks nationalised part of the collection in 1918 and eventually became part of the Russian State Library collection. Schneersohn managed to take the other part of the collection out of the USSR during his emigration in the 1930s. Later, the Nazis seized about 25,000 pages of manuscripts from the collection, then, the Red Army captured them and handed them over to the Russian State Military Archive. Chabad-Lubavitch has sought the ownership of the Schneerson Library since the end of the 1980s. Reports posted on 17 January 2013, said that a US Federal Court in Washington DC ordered a fine of 50,000 USD (1.52 million Roubles. 38,000 Euros. 32,800 UK Pounds) per day if Russia failed to transfer the Schneerson Library to the Chabad-Lubavitchers. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs found the court order offensive.
19 February 2013
Voice of Russia World Service
Let’s keep this simple. The Hasids have NEVER owned the library. NEVER. NO WAY. NO HOW. They don’t have title to it. Therefore, they can’t sue in court to “regain” property that they never owned in the first place. In any case, whether they like it or not, a country has a right to nationalise property. This was done, and in due legal order. That is, the library belongs to the Russian state, to preserve it in perpetuity as part of the Russian national patrimony. The real reason that the Hasids want the books is that they wish to restrict the usage of them only to those who agree with their oddbod notions. All decent people must oppose that. I’ll be honest… I don’t like Hasids and I don’t care for their company. I won’t harm them… or be anti-Semitic because of their noisome shenanigans. I’m much more comfortable with Modern Orthodox Jews and Conservative Jews (Jewish groups to the left of the Conservatives don’t bother me… I simply don’t agree with many of their premises, but they’re NOT a royal pain in the arse as the Hasids are). However, I agree with most of my Jewish friends… the Hasids are offensively-arrogant and off-putting in their assumptions of religious superiority over all other Jews. Such people shouldn’t be harmed, but they shouldn’t be coddled either. They belong in a corner along with Islamists, Moonies, Hare Krishnas, Mormons, Pentecostalists, JWs, and Evangelicals… all sorts who give believers a “bad name”. I have plenty of company in thinking that…