Vilnius Sports Palace, built over the territory of the old Šnipiškii Jewish cemetery, will be turned into a memorial space for Lithuanian Jews.
“Now we are considering what type of memorial space this building could be and what to do with the territory, how to express respect for those who were buried” said Director of the Lithuanian National Art Museum Arūnas Gelūnas.
He said that the demolition of the building is not under consideration.
“It cannot be demolished because of its architectural features, but the cultural history is also important, because the Sąjūdis rallies were held there, and the Rock marches, and the victims of January 13 were honored” said Gelūnas.
“Not to mention that it stands in the center of a Jewish cemetery and has been ignored for a long time. Now Lithuania, I think, is ready to express respect,” he added.
A working group is headed by A. Gelūnas, its members are the director of the Vilnius City Museum Rasa Antanavičiūtė, the playwright Marius Ivaškevičius, the journalist Rytis Zemkauskas and the President of the Lithuanian Jewish (Litvaks) community Faina Kukliansky, among others.
The working group is tasked with preparing and submitting to the Government proposals and a concept for the memorialization of the old Šnipiškii Jewish cemetery and memorial site in the current Vilnius Concert and Sports Palace.
The concept should include both the functional purpose of the Vilnius Concert and Sports Palace building, as well as the perpetuation and proper protection of the territory of the old Šnipiškii Jewish cemetery, paying special attention to the synergy of the exterior and interior.
Prime Minister Ingrida Šimonytė spoke to members of the working group about the contribution of Lithuanian Jews to the creation of a common state, fighting for its independence.