Richard Schofield
April 24,2024

Private & Confidential

Pre-Second World War Lithuanian Jewish Photographs

DestroyedDisplaced │ Re(dis)covered │ Reclaimed



The requested funding (see below) for the initial phase of the project has been calculated to cover a six-month period. The initial phase can be roughly divided into three production stages, although it should be stressed that, as with any project with unknown variables, all three stages, and the tasks within them, are likely to feature some overlap and general order changes as the project progresses. As was made quite clear in the original 2023 funding application, it's always been the intention that Camera Obscura is an ongoing and sustainable one. In other words, this isn't a funding application for a finished project per se. The following is a rough breakdown of the main stages and tasks as they stand.


Research & Data Collection


Site Visits


Design & Production

A simple monitoring and evaluation system will be used throughout the project, including internal weekly updates between the project's key personnel. 



Richard Schofield

Project Manager

A former documentary filmmaker and a resident of Lithuania for almost 23 years, Englishman Richard Schofield has been working with pre-Second World War Lithuanian Jewish photographs for over a decade. Since experiencing an unnecessarily hostile meeting with the head of a Lithuanian museum in the city of Šiauliai in January 2022, Richard has become increasingly preoccupied with the provenance and digital preservation of all surviving pre-Second World War Lithuanian Jewish photograph that are held among the collections of Lithuania's publicly funded cultural and memory institutions. A 2014 Sugihara Citizen of Tolerance Award nominee for his role in securing the successful prosecution of a  Lithuanian man who he encountered drinking in a restaurant in Kaunas dressed in full Nazi officer uniform, and the founder and coordinator of the Data Brigade, Richard graduated with Distinction on the groundbreaking Master's degree programme in Photojournalism and Documentary Photography at the London College of Communication in 2009. Richard is the single driving force behind this project, and has, since January 2021, conducted almost all of the research for it at his own time and expense. A more extensive CV that dives deeper into Richard's history and professional achievements can be read here

Dionizas Litvaitis

Research Manager

Based in Helsinki, Dionizas Litvaitis is a freelance investigative journalist and media analyst with a special interest in issues surrounding freedom of information. Involved in various aspects of the Camera Obscura project over the last 18 months or so, Dionizas will be searching for new archive material, helping translate handwritten wartime documents, providing the majority of Lithuanian-English translations in general and working closely with the Project Manager all aspects of the project that wil involve the media. As a native Lithuanian, Dionizas' inside knowledge of the miscellaneous peculiarities of Lithuanian culture will also be invaluable to the project. His key involvement in the recent Disputes over Access project also makes him an ideal choice.


A small group of voluntary personnel, advisors and advocates will be brought on board on approval of the project/budget by the project funder. 



All of the personnel working on the project (see below) will be funded from this budget. All of the personnel working on the project will be responsible for paying their own income tax. All invoices sent to the project funder (the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany) will be issued by my individuali veikla (self-employed business), which is registered with the Lithuanian tax office, number 1300067. Until such a time as is necessary (i.e. after the completion of this particular project), the project website will be managed by myself, and hosted for free on Google Sites. Unless otherwise agreed, all outstanding money at the end of the project will be returned to the project funder. A simple financial report, including copies of all relevant financial transactions, will be produced at the end of the project and sent to the project funder as part of the written Final Report. All of the personnel working on the project will be managed by myself.

The project budget is divided into the following:

Project Manager (R.S.)


Covers all of my personal costs for working on the project. A full breakdown of all of my roles and responsibilities, including not only management, but also researching, writing, website production and other tasks, will be available on approval of the project/budget by the project funder. The figure includes 15 percent income tax.

Research Manager (D.L.)


The Project Assistant will be responsible for a number of different tasks, including research, written translations from Lithuanian to English, translation advice and 'difficult' conversations with institutions. A full breakdown of all of the Project Assistant's roles and responsibilities will be available on approval of the project/budget by the project funder.

Travel & Accommodation 


Most locations can be visited in a day.



General costs towards the wear and tear of my equipment, internet use, printing (ink, paper, archive fees), registering the project domain name (e.g. for three years etc.



Just in case. 



The 1996 Lithuanian Law on the Protection of Movable Cultural Property states 'All items of movable cultural property found on land, its surface, water, buildings, as well as structures or the parts thereof, whose owner cannot be established or has lost the right to such according to law shall be transferred to state ownership', a legal situation that almost certainly contributes towards the fact that provenance research as a discipline within museums and other cultural institutions in Lithuania is one that simply doesn't exist. 


Although most instances of antisemitism among staff working at Lithuanian institutions tend to be of the atsitiktinis antisemitizmas (casual antisemitism) variety, this doesn't stop it from being a genuine problem. Despite being mostly expressed as a general indifference towards the subject of pre-Second World War Lithuanian Jewish life and culture, atsitiktinis antisemitizmas can still make the research process considerably more difficult than it already is.


Further to the exasperating issue of Lithuanian antisemitism, which shows little sign of going away within the next few decades at least, a project of this scope and complexity is also bound to encounter other, more 'general' examples of institutional resistance, including a reluctance to share information and an unwillingness to cooperate in general. 


The looting and misappropriation of pre-Second World War Lithuanian Jewish photographs (and other Jewish cultural artefacts) in Lithuania during the Nazi occupation remain subjects of practically no interest whatsoever to scholars and journalists from Lithuania and abroad, meaning that there's little in the way of previous research on which the Camera Obscura project can build


To be discussed. 


Work in progress.


Published almost a decade and a half ago, and still the single most comprehensive reference source of archival material concerning all aspects of the Holocaust in Lithuania, the 184-page Lietuvos Centrinio Valstybės Archyvo Fondai—Holokausto Lietuvoje Tyrimo Šaltinis (ISBN 978-9955-767-11-4) contains theme-based lists of 1,154 Holocaust-related files that are kept in the Lithuanian Central State Archives in Vilnius. The catalogue, which includes information in both Lithuanian and English, features a short chapter listing documents that relate specifically to the expropriation of Lithuanian Jewish property (by both the Germans and the Lithuanians working under the Germans) during the Nazi occupation. The fact that the book remains unavailable in electronic form speaks volumes about the overall lack of interest in the subject in general.  


My own ongoing research has to date uncovered a number of similar documents to those that are included in the above catalogue that are located in Lithuanian archives but that for one reason or another have been previously overlooked. The other primary sources of information that will prove to be invaluable to the project are the internal records of the museums, archives and libraries themselves, which have already proved to be extremely useful for the project's development


Some of the most interesting and revealing information concerning the role of the Lithuanian population in the mass looting of Jewish property in 1941 promises to be uncovered in the surviving official documents, notes, letters etc. belonging to the former Žydų Turto Likvidavimo Komisija, or Commission for the Liquidation of Jewish Property (CLJP), the main Lithuanian organisation which, as the name suggests, and under the jurisdiction of the occupying German civil administration, oversaw the systematic theft of privately- and commercially-owned Lithuanian Jewish property throughout the country. Unfortunately, no specific CLJP archive exists, meaning that the organisation's surviving documents are scattered in various archive files around the country, and take time to be discovered


As well as the known surviving ERR records, which aren’t expected to reveal anything specific (if at all) concerning the plunder of photographs in particular, other sources include the Arolsen Archives, who have no photographs, but who may well have documents relating to their theft in Lithuania, the Bundesarchiv (ditto), the Monuments Men & Women Foundation (ditto) and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington D.C. In February 2022, I spent a few days doing some initial research in Israel, where I visited both the photo-specific and general/document archives and/or archivists at Yad Vashem, the National Library of Israel, ANU and the Ghetto Fighters' House, where I failed to find any information relating to the looting of Jewish photographs in Lithuania during the Holocaust. Access to the archives in Moscow, which are known to contain a lot of information that's relevant to the subject, isn't expected to granted any day soon.  


Concerning previous research on which to build upon, very little exists to say the least. As already mentioned, Valentinas Brandišauskas' article about the activities of the Žydų Turto Likvidavimo Komisija in Švėkšna in 1941 provides one of the few available insights into the mass Lithuanian looting of everyday Jewish possessions, although the piece makes no mention of photographs, and also doesn't include any footnotes. The 2020 academic paper 'Collecting Art in the Turmoil of War: Lithuania in 1939-1944' by Giedrė Jankevičiūtė and the late Osvaldas Daugelis' records the mass plunder of art during the first Soviet occupation of Lithuania in meticulous detail whilst barely mentioning the German/Lithuanian looting that immediately followed. Whether this historical imbalance can be blamed on a dearth of archival information concerning the latter, or whether it may have something to do with the fact that both historians are/were Lithuanian State employees, is anyone's guess. Last but not least, David Fishman's The Book Smugglers provides the only detailed account of the activities of the ERR in Lithuania, although again there's no mention of photographs anywhere in the book. At the time of writing, David is very kindly going through his own archives to see if he can find anything on the very subject. 


This document is far from polished and complete. All questions, comments etc. should be addressed to:

Richard Schofield

Avižonio 5



Tel. LT +37063016686

Tel. UK +447760920661