Roland Binet

Is There Still A Breeding Ground for Ustaša in Croatia?



OPINION   |   CROATIA   |   COLLABORATORS GLORIFIED

by Roland Binet   (Braine-l’Alleud/Belgium)

 

Croatia is a nation that has been bathed in blood during numerous conflicts, as the victim of the odious Serbian aggression during the recent civil war, and for its football team proudly wearing the red and white checkered reproduction of the national flag. Happily, it is nowadays chiefly known as a tourist destination.

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We Shall Never Forget Kazimierz Sakowicz’s “Ponary Diary”



BOOKS  |  OPINION  |  LITHUANIA  |  HISTORY

by Roland Binet (Braine-l’Alleud/Belgium)

Ponary Diary, 1941 — 1943. A Bystander’s Account of a Mass Murder. by Kazimierz Sakowicz. Edited by Yitzhak Arad. Foreword by Rachel Margolis. Yale University Press: New Haven and London 2005.

It goes without saying that a book of eyewitness Holocaust testimony penned at Lithuania’s largest mass grave site in the years 1941 to 1943, and first published in English in 2005, does not lose its importance for those who have not read it even a decade later; even if many other, much less important books, sport a more recent date of publication. Moreover, given the Lithuanian government’s campaign against the scholar who rediscovered and first published the manuscript in the 1990s, and against the scholar who edited the English edition cited above (both as part of its campaign against Jewish partisan survivors), the poignancy and human interest are even greater. It is indeed  a most appropriate time to pay tribute to that rediscoverer, Dr. Rachel Margolis (1921—2015), who passed away in Rehovot, Israel last summer, without realizing, in her nineties, her dying wish of visiting her native Vilna one last time, because of her fear of prosecutors’ threats and intimidation.

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Why Do I Find the So-Called Heroes from the Latvian Waffen SS So Despicable?



OPINION  |  HISTORY  |  LATVIA  |   COLLABORATORS GLORIFIED

by Roland Binet  (Braine-l’Alleud/Belgium)

Introduction

Next month, the European Union and NATO will again be faced with the annual city-center march in Riga, the Latvian capital, glorifying the country’s Hitlerist Waffen SS. I had of course for years heard about the infamous March 16th marches in Riga when old members of the Latvian Waffen SS, their sympathizers and those who feel nostalgic about the good old time under Nazi rule proudly parade through the central streets of the beautiful capital of Latvia, ending their solemn march in front of the Freedom Monument, where they – solemnly and hierarchically – lay bundles of flowers at the foot of the monument and sing the national anthem.

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The Holocaust was Also a Matter of Plundering the Jewish Victims



O P I N I O N    /     H I S T O R Y    /    L A T V I A

by Roland Binet  (Braine-l’Alleud/Belgium)

Having recently spent a few days in Germany, and watching different television channels, I once more realized that that country still broadcasts regular programs on the Holocaust. Nearly each and every evening during my stay, I had the opportunity to see fragments of such programs, broadcast on less popular channels (“ZDF History” for example). And, it is true, it is one of the things that I admire most in modern Germany — the regular televising of documentaries on the Holocaust, never hiding the enormous responsibility of the Nazis in the destruction of the Jews.

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Rewriting History in Latvia



B O O K S    /    L A T V I A

by Roland Binet  (Braine-l’Alleud/Belgium)

Since I became interested in the fate of the Jewish victims of the Holocaust in Latvia, rather late (2009), I never failed to buy books when I visited that country, first and foremost written by Jewish survivors of these terrible times, but, also, some books written by non-Jewish Latvians in order to see how they perceived these tragic events, how they related to the Jewish victims of the Holocaust and how they presented the history of the German occupation and the mass slaughter of more than 95% of the Jewish population of their country (using the figures of Jews on site at the time of the Nazi invasion as the basis for historians’ estimates).

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Restitution of Stolen Jewish Property in Latvia to Victims and Rightful Heirs



O P I N I O N

by Roland Binet (Braine-l’Alleud)

On November 17, 2013 I was invited and participated as a guest speaker at the Yizkor memorial event organized by the “Jewish Survivors of Latvia, Inc.” (New York). The event was held at the Park East Synagogue at 163 East 67th Street in Manhattan.

The really important speech, though, was given by Douglas Davidson, the US Special Envoy for Holocaust Issues. He dealt with the results of his numerous visits to Latvia pertaining to that specific issue: due restitution to the Jewish victims or their heirs. Their properties were stolen or requisitioned during the war and the massacres.

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Silence in the Past, Silence Now



O P I N I O N

by Roland Binet (Braine-l’Alleud)

During World War II, numerous proofs of the systematic massacre of the Jews on a large scale had made known to the allied leaders. As the British had very early in the course of the war cracked the Enigma code, their Intelligence Service could read nearly all military dispatches sent by the German units to their headquarters, including those daily reports sent by the Einsatzgruppen leaders who duly sent the daily figures of the Jews and other “enemies” they had killed. One of these reports told of some 30,000 Jews having been killed.[1]

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In Europe, a New Public Curtain of Revisionism, Oblivion and Antisemitism



O P I N I O N

by Roland Binet  (Braine-l’Alleud, Belgium)

 ◊

Isee two new important social and political trends now that have a direct bearing, first on the memory of what happened in Europe and the USSR during the Holocaust and other massacres and, secondly, on the life of the Jews presently living in Europe.

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Max Kaufmann’s Book on the Latvian Holocaust Now Available in English



B O O K S

by Roland Binet (Braine-l’Alleud/Belgium)

 

“For us, all of Latvia is a huge cemetery – a cemetery without graves or gravestones.”

— Max Kaufmann

The English edition of Max Kaufman’s largely forgotten book, Churbn Lettland: The Destruction of the Jews of Latvia, now available online, is a most welcome, and important, addition to the library of serious works on the Latvian Holocaust.[1]

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The Holocaust: A Photographic and Musical Tribute



O P I N I O N   /   M U S I C

by Roland Binet  (Braine-l’Alleud, Belgium)

 

MUSICAL AND PHOTOGRAPHIC COMPOSITION HERE

 

I know persons within my circle of acquaintances who refuse to look at the terrible pictures that this video exhibits. Photographs of Jewish victims of beatings, slayings.  Pictures of dead Jewish victims.  Pictures of local collaborators in the process of helping the Nazis in killing Jews.

These persons find those historical pictures too offensive, too terrible, too awful, for their taste.  They are not able too look at them, they are far too sensitive to put up with such awful scenes.

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Massacres of the Jews in Liepāja (Šķēde) in Fall 1941



M U S I C

by Roland Binet  (Braine-l’Alleud, Belgium)

The Nazis tried to hide their crimes against humankind during World War II. They had tried to hide the fact that in the former territories of the USSR they were killing Jews on a colossal scale starting in July 1941. And not only Jews, also anyone suspected of being a communist.

Although many soldiers in the Wehrmacht or the Waffen SS took pictures of Aktionen against the Jews, even kept pictures of massacres or dead Jewish bodies in their wallets, most of these photographic proofs of the Nazi crimes against humanity were destroyed, stolen from their corpses after their deaths, kept at home in Germany by descendants of these heinous and barbarous extermination soldiers, or, sometimes, recuperated by allied nations which kept them and not solely kept them, but displayed them as a testimony to these barbaric events.

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Rumbula and Ponár



M U S I C

by Roland Binet  (Braine-l’Alleud, Belgium)

This composition, Rumbula and Ponár, memorializes the victims of the two most infamous mass murder sites of Latvia and Lithuania, Rumbula outside Riga, and Ponár (Polish Ponary, Lithuanian Paneriai) outside Vilnius. More than 130,000 people were killed in total at these two sites. The majority were Jews but there were many others of diverse ethnic and social background at Ponár.

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A Corner of a Foreign Field that is Forever Jewish



O P I N I O N

by Roland Binet   (Braine-l’Alleud/Belgium)

 

I happen to live near the town of Waterloo that in June 1815 had been one of the bloodiest battlefields at the time. My wife’s grandfather and my own grandfather fought during four years in the trenches of Flanders during the “Great War.” One of my father’s uncles, a resistance fighter, was captured and beheaded by the Germans during World War II. And for seventeen years I worked with survivors of the Holocaust. I feel a bit acquainted with the significance of wars and victims.

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A Jewish Tragedy (Flute and Composition)


 


M U S I C

by Roland Binet (Braine-l’Alleud, Belgium)

 

Starting in 2009, after my first visit in Riga, I became interested in the fate of the Jews in the Baltic States during the war. I returned several times to Latvia and also visited Estonia and Lithuania. In 2013 while in Riga, I went to see the Rumbula Memorial to see for myself what that well-known and fateful place looked like. That year in Vilnius, I visited the Ponár (Paneriai) memorial site, another of those well-known fateful places.

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The Jewish Tragedy in the Baltic States



M U S I C

by Roland Binet (Braine-l’Alleud, Belgium)

 

THE AUTHOR’S MUSICAL COMPOSITIONS:

I   War

II   Ghetto

III   The Killing Pits

IV   Liberation

V   Remembrance

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Artists Knew, Allied Leaders Kept Silent



O P I N I O N

by Roland Binet  (Braine-l’Alleud, Belgium)

 

When I was in New York last year, I saw an extraordinary exhibition of paintings by Marc Chagall, “War, Exile and Love” at the Jewish Museum. The focus was on the works he produced during his years of exile in the United States. This exhibition, well attended, shed an interesting light on what the artist knew about the horrific events unfolding in Europe at the time of his sojourn in the United States.

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A Musical Tribute to the Rumbula Victims



M U S I C   /   O P I N I O N

by Roland Binet (Braine-l’Alleud, Belgium)

 

SOUND TRACKS OF THE AUTHOR’S COMPOSITIONS:

Rumbula

Threnody

 

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Never Have So Many Owed So Much to So Few: Reflections on an August 2013 Visit to Some Museums in Vilnius



O P I N I O N

by Roland Binet (Braine-l’Alleud/Belgium)

 

I recently returned home to Belgium from a visit to Vilnius, Lithuania. As is my custom, I visited different museums where the memory of the victims of the Holocaust is kept alive. I went first to the Green House on Pamenkalnio St 12. Not easy to find for foreigners as there are few indications on the streets. I also went to the Center for Tolerance. Apart from my wife and me there was no one else in either museum at the time of our visits there (in the high tourist season in August).

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Revival of Antisemitism in Europe



O P I N I O N

by Roland Binet  (Braine-l’Alleud/Belgium)

 

One would have thought that after the destruction of millions of Jews during the war and the creation of Israel, that  antisemitism would have disappeared forever from Europe, the harsh and bloody lessons of the Holocaust having been learned. Yet, now, almost seventy years later, antisemitism is still an important factor to be reckoned with, both in Eastern and Western Europe.

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Tone and Moral Judgment in a Famous Book on the Latvian Holocaust



B O O K S

by Roland Binet (Braine-l’Alleud, Belgium)

 

I became interested in the Holocaust in Latvia during my first visit there in 2009 and, above all, after having visited the Museum of the Jews in Latvia with its detailed exhibition of the tragedy that befell the Jewish population of that country. I had earlier read some books about the massacres that took place in Latvia between 1 July 1941 and the re-conquest of that country by the Red Army in 1944. Books written by survivors depicted a horrific environment including mass slayings, pogroms, denunciations, refusal of help for someone still alive. For those few who survived as slaves (roughly one out of ninety), there were living conditions far worse than what Dante could ever have imagined in his own time.

Thus, after a number of years, it was with great expectations that I began to read Andrew Ezergailis’s renowned book, The Holocaust in Latvia (first edition, 1996).[1]

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The Wehrmacht: One of Hitler’s Killing Machines



by Roland Binet (Braine-l’Alleud, Belgium)

Some people interested in military history have perhaps kept in mind a picture of the German Army during World War II – the Wehrmacht – as having been an army not essentially different from other belligerent armies, although, admittedly, it acted brutally and, sometimes, at the limit of what would have been deemed acceptable in times of war.

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On a Selection of Powerful East European Holocaust Photographs



O P I N I O N

by Roland Binet (Braine-l’Alleud, Belgium)

 

The Holocaust in Europe has brought forth a certain number of photographs of victims of Nazism. But we have to acknowledge that there is a large disproportion between those that came to be known from Western Europe and those which went down in history that were taken in the East European countries where the bullet reigned as supreme death master.

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Will Intellectuals in Western Countries Continue their Silence on Latvia’s Glorification of Hitler’s Waffen SS?



E Y E W I T N E S S   R E P O R T   /   O P I N I O N

by Roland Binet (Braine-l’Alleud, Belgium)

RIGA—The day is a festive one despite the gray and low sky. Young pretty girls have bunches of roses which they soon distribute to elderly and solemn gentlemen arriving, row upon row in an interminable procession. Numerous national flags are held in a heraldic and staid way by young men forming a kind of double guard of honor.


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Red-Equals-Brown is a Historical Aberration



O P I N I O N

by Roland Binet (Belgium)

The European Union has as one of its main tasks the promotion of cordial understanding between the peoples of Europe and, consequently, it must be careful about the history of the continent as it is being taught.  One of the reasons for the foundation of the Union was to bring together peoples that were previously enemies, in two world wars and numerous other conflicts.

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David Silberman — A Witness for Our Time



by Roland Binet (Belgium)

David Silberman was born in Latvia in 1934. As a Jew of young age when the war came upon his country of birth, he was fated to die.1 Because, when the Germans conquered Latvia in June and July 1941, spontaneous as well as induced pogroms developed in different parts of the country with thousands of Jewish victims. Then, as early as July and August 1941 ― in bloody actions by Einsatzgruppe A as well as by autonomous Latvian self-proclaimed guardians ― the Jews began systematically to be killed, even long before the decision of the “Endlösung” (Final Solution) of the “Jewish problem” had finally been taken in Berlin.2

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On the “Occupation Museum” in Riga


This page is contributed by Roland Binet (Belgium). © Roland Binet

See also his 10 November 2010 article in Le Monde.  English translation here.


Open Letter to the President of the European Commission

Mr JOSÉ MANUEL BARROSO, ON THE “OCCUPATION MUSEUM” OF RIGA IN LATVIA

Mr President,

Dear Mr Barroso,

I recently visited the “Occupation Museum in Riga/Latvia where I had the opportunity to see your picture — taken during your visit of that museum in 2008 — displayed on one wall of the entrance hall.

That museum prides itself on having thus welcomed a number of well-known symbolic personalities. Your persona grata is all the more important now that the EU has become an unavoidable partner in the world and, furthermore, now that Latvia has become a full member state of the European Union.

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