Pre-Second World War Lithuanian Jewish Photographs

DestroyedDisplaced │ Re(dis)covered │ Reclaimed



As is made quite clear in the original 2023 funding application for The Untitled Catalogue, it's always been the intention that, no matter what its eventual name, the project was always going to be become an ongoing (sustainable) one.    

he first phase of the project (SEE WHERE??) will take six months to complete. A detailed schedule, including start and end dates, milestones, my specific roles and responsibilities etc., will be available after the proposal has been approved by the project funder. In the meantime, andThe first phase of the project (SEE WHERE??) will take six months to complete. A detailed schedule, including start and end dates, milestones, my specific roles and responsibilities etc., will be available after the proposal has been approved by the project funder. In the meantime, andThe first phase of the project (SEE WHERE??) will take six months to complete. A detailed schedule, including start and end dates, milestones, my specific roles and responsibilities etc., will be available after the proposal has been approved by the project funder. In the meantime, andThe first phase of the project (SEE WHERE??) will take six months to complete. A detailed schedule, including start and end dates, milestones, my specific roles and responsibilities etc., will be available after the proposal has been approved by the project funder. In the meantime, and

The production of Camera Obscura can be roughly divided into three distinct phases, although, as with any project of such complexity and with so many unknowns, overlap will be inevitable.

1Research & Data Collection

2Site Visits

3Design & Production



All of the personnel working on the project (see below) will be managed by myself, and will be paid from the project budget after the completion of their work and the issuing of an appropriate invoice. All of the personnel will be responsible for paying their own income tax, which is included in the appropriate figures below. All invoices to the project funder will be issued by my individuali veikla (self-employment business), which is registered with the Lithuanian tax office. Until such a time as is necessary, 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 , with copies of all relevant financial transactions attached, will be produced at the end of the project and sent to the project funder as part of the written Final Report. 

Project Management, Research & Production 


Covers all of my personal costs for working on the project. A breakdown of all of my roles and responsibilities will be avialable on approval of the project/budget by the project funder. The figure includes 15 percent income tax.



Including written translations, translation advice and 'dificult' conversations with institutions. Mostly Lithuanian-English translations. Translations from Russian, Polish, German, Yiddish, and Hebrew are expected to be provided almost exclusively by volunteers. It should also be mentioned that I read Lithuanian, and that Google Lens is expected to provide some translation support. 

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. 


Richard Schofield

Project Manager Researcher Editor Designer

A former professional documentary filmmaker and a resident of Lithuania for almost 23 years, I've been working with pre-Second World War Lithuanian Jewish photographs in various capacities for over a decade. Since experiencing a unnecessarily hostile meeting with a museum director in the Lithuanian city of Šiauliai in January 2022, I've become increasingly preoccupied with the provenance (and the digitial preservation) of all surviving pre-Second World War Lithuanian Jewish photograph that are held among the collections of Lithuania's publicly funded museums, archives and libraries. A 2014 Sugihara Citizen of Tolerance Award nominee for my role in securing the successful prosecution of a  Lithuanian man who I encountered drinking in a restaurant in Kaunas dressed in full Nazi officer uniform, and the founder and coordinator of the Data Brigade, I graduated with Distinction on the groundbreaking MA programme in Photojournalism and Documentary Photography at the London College of Communication in 2009. A more extensive CV that dives deeper into my history as both a photographer and as a photo historian can be read here

Dionizas Litvaitis

Translator │ Cultural Advisor

Based in Helsinki, Dionizas Litvaitis is a freelance investigative journalist and media analyst. Involved in various aspects of the project since the beginning of 2023, Dionizas will be providing the majority of Lithuanian-English translations, including searching for new archive material and helping translate wartime handwritten documents. As a native Lithuanian, Dionizas' inside knowledge of the miscellaneous peculiarities of Lithuanian culture will be invaluable to the project.  His key involvement in the recent Disputes over Access project also makes him an ideal choice for working on issues relating to freedom of information.

A small and group of unpaid specialists from Lithuania, Germany and other parts of the world will also be appointed on approval of the project/budget by the project funder. Researchers in places where relevant non-digitised archives are kept.


Alongside a widely entrenched culture of suspiciousness and casual antisemitism that can still be found among many civil servants in Lithuania, a project of this scale is bound to come up against examples of institutional resistance, a reluctance to share information and an unwillingness to cooperate in general. On a personal (and personnel) level, the misappropriation of pre-Second World War Lithuanian Jewish photographs during the Nazi occupation of Lithuania is an entirely new area of study (see Research Material for more information on this subject). Although it contradicts the Lithuanian  Constitution [??], the 1996 Lithuanian Law on the Protection of Movable Cultural Property states that every item of cultural property that was ‘misappropriated’ on Lithuanian territory during the Soviet and Nazi occupations of the country that are today held among the collections of the country’s State-owned museums, archives and libraries belongs to the Lithuanian State in perpetuity. My belief that a number of publicly funded museums, archives and libraries in Lithuania are more than likely to be in possession of pre-Second World War Lithuanian Jewish photographs whose wartime provenance is dubious may of course be entirely wrong, which is one of the reasons why the Camera Obscura project isn't only concerned with provenance research.


In no particular order, the main solutions to the above challenges include obtaining the support of respected locals and foreigners [??], creating an exceptional Questionnaire and, at all times and under all circumstances, being polite and respectful. In the case of the latter, many civil servants working in high positions in Lithuania, especially those outside of the larger towns and cities, still maintain It's also worth mentioning that an increasing number of decision makers working at Lithuanian cultural institutions are  aware of the fact that bad publicity can have a negative effect 

##foreign only ever lost my composure once, explaining (as calmy as I could) that I was going to publish regardless of whether the institution cooperated or not. This helped the person change their mind. Although there are many stuck in Soviet thinking, most institutions at least now understand about publicity. This kind of bribery should be avoided whenever possible. And when no solution is available, it's worth remembering that insurmountable problems aren't always as bad as they first appear.


Published almost a decade and a half ago, and still by far the most comprehensive single source of archival material on the subject of the Holocaust in Lithuania, the 184-page Lietuvos Centrinio Valstybės Archyvo Fondai—Holokausto Lietuvoje Tyrimo Šaltinis (ISBN 978-9955-767-11-4) contains a total of 1,154 Holocaust-related files that are kept in the Lithuanian Central State Archives in Vilnius [??]. The catalogue, which includes information in Lithuanian and English, includes a short chapter listing documents that relate specifically to the expropriation of Lithuanian Jewish property during the Nazi occupation. 

My own ongoing research has to date uncovered a number of similar documents to those that are included in the abive catalogue, of which some are stored in the same institution, and some can be found in other State archives in Lithuania. The other major sources of information that will prove to be invaluable to the project are the internal records of the museums, archives and libraries that will be included in the finished catalogue. As I've already seen for myself during previous visits to the Alka Museum of Samogitian History in Telšiai and the Ukmergė Regional Museum, the institutions themselves are unquestionably the best sources of information concerning specific questions of provenance [??].   

Some of the most interesting and revealing information promises to be discovered in the surviving official documents, notes, letters etc. from the Žydų Turto Likvidavimo Komisija, or Commission for the Liquidation of Jewish Property (CLJP), the main Lithuanian organisation which, as the name suggests, oversaw the looting of mostly everyday Jewish property throughout Lithuania. Unfortunately, no specific CLJP archive exists, and the surviving documents are scattered in various archive files around the country [??]. The fact that these readily available documents have been almost compelete ignored by LIthuanian historians strongly suggests their usefulness to this project.    

As well as the known surviving ERR records, which aren’t expected to reveal anything specific (if at all) concerning the plunder of photographs, other sources include the Arolsen Archives (who tell me that they have no records relating to my research area), the Bundesarchiv (ditto), the Monuments Men & Women Foundation (ditto) and the United States Holocaust Memorial Musuem in Washington D.C. In February 2022, I spent a few days in Israel, where I visited the photo-specific and main 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 established 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 looting (by the Lithuanians) 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 (and the Lithuanian) looting that immediately followed. Whether this historical imbalance can be blamed on a dearth of archival information concerning the latter, or whether it might have something to do with the fact that both historians are/were 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. At the time of writing, David is very kindly going through his own archives to see if he can find anything on this very subject. 


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

Richard Schofield

Avižonio 5



Tel. LT +37063016686

Tel. UK +447760920661







former Jewish-owned photographic material that they should at least   Antanas Ingelevičius



[??] Only a few hundred copies of the catalogue were printed, and it's somewhat perplexing to discover that the extremely valuable information that it contains isn't available online. Assuming that the publisher would be willing to cooperate, this oversight is something that the Camera Obscura project could easily fix. 

[??] J. A., the custodian of the archives at the Ukmergė Regional Museum, proved to be one of the more friendly and transparent members of staff that I met during my second period of research on August 9, 2022. As well as taking me to see the fireproof metal cabinets in which all of the museum's original photographic prints are stored, she also let me see a copy of one of the museum's provenance books from the early 1980s, in which donations of individual photographs and photographic collections (such as old family albums) are meticulously recorded. These provenance books, of which copies should theoretically exist in all museums, archives and libraries throughout the country, promise to reveal some interesting information if I can get access to them. 

[??] The vast majority of the surviving Žydų Turto Likvidavimo Komisija documents that I've managed to see so far were written by hand. Considering that the organisation existed with the single purpose of looting Jewish private and commercial property, including typewriters,  this rare example of black humour in an otherwise miserable story serves as a useful insight into the general level of initiative among Lithuanian civil servants, including many of today's museum, archive and library staff who are responsible for looking after the country's few remaining pre-Second World War Lithuanian Jewish photographs.