A Latvian court approved & police nixed a Riga March celebrating Hitler’s 1941 Invasion. Still, the June 2010 event went ahead with a wreath-laying at Riga’s Liberty Monument to celebrate the Nazi army’s arrival and warm welcome. Here, 2, 3, 4.
Also: Far-right racist parties team up. Here.
Letter to the Editor of the New York Times [not published; subsequently entered into the record on HITB for the date of submission]:
Human Rights — and Holocaust Obfuscation — in the Baltic States
To The Editor:
Clifford J. Levy’s fine report (Aug 16 [print edition]) on the humiliations suffered by native-born Estonians whose mother tongue is Russian is particularly important because Estonia is a member of NATO and the European Union, and its human rights policies are therefore automatically a matter for the collective conscience of these alliances and their individual members.
There is just one painful point on which the report accepts uncritically an Estonian (and generally a Baltic) ‘Excuse for Genocide’ that is verily inexcusable. “Before Estonia was seized by the Soviets in 1940, its population was largely ethnic Estonian; resentment was strong enough that many sided with the Germans when Hitler invaded in 1941.”
Actually, the demographic-balance threatening influx of Russian speakers from other Soviet republics came after World War II. But in any case, the idea that the Soviet occupation somehow justifies (or even explains) the Estonian Hitlerists’ (and Lithuanian and Latvian fascists’) gleeful mass murder of the women, children and men of their Jewish minority (making way, in the Baltics, for the highest percentages of Jews slaughtered in all of Holocaust-era Europe) is sheer nonsense. It is one of many ruses underway in the eastern reaches of the European Union to sanitize and obfuscate the Holocaust. Journalists must be sensitized to its box of semantic tricks.
Elie Valk, chairman of the Association of Latvian and Estonian Jews in Israel, released a statement with links to news reports of the opening of the first part of the Museum of Riga Ghetto today. The statement reports that ‘The idea of creating such a museum was circulating in the Jewish Community for three to four years. Finally Menachem Barkahan, head of the local religious congregation Shamir, picked it up and was successful in raising funds for it. He is the son of the late Rabbi Note Barkan, who served as the Chief Rabbi of Latvia’. The links provided to news of the event are:Continue reading
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
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.
Lithuania’s Foreign Ministry announced on 14 December 2010 that it was the initiator of a new demand from six East European countries ― Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania — to Viviane Reding, European Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship, that Double Genocide sentiments, and support for effective criminalization of the view that the Holocaust was a unique genocide, be incorporated in the new Stockholm Programme before the end of 2010. Less than a week earlier, Lithuania’s president took the same demand with her to a meeting in Brussels.
According to a December 14th posting on the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry’s website, (reported also on Isria.com and elsewhere), Lithuania’s foreign minister is taking the lead in the latest initiative to insert ‘Double Genocide’ into European Union law and policy, which on this occasion includes his colleagues from Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Latvia, and Romania. Other media reports here.
It becomes ever more difficult for observers of East European minority rights and Holocaust history issues to keep up, as the Holocaust Obfuscation undertones of the Prague Declaration are gradually infiltrated into the Stockholm Programme. In both cases, observers discern New Accession EU governments’ efforts to insinuate one or another incarnation of ‘Double Genocide’ (in Eurospeak: ‘equal evaluation of totalitarian regimes’) into general European Union consciousness.
Six Countries Try to ‘Slip in’ Double Genocide in the ‘Stockholm Programme’; European Commission says ‘No’
Lithuania’s Foreign Ministry had announced on 14 December 2010 that it was the initiator of a new demand from six East European countries ― Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania — to Viviane Reding, European Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship, that Double Genocide sentiments, and support for effective criminalization of the view that the Holocaust was a unique genocide, be incorporated in the new Stockholm Programme before the end of 2010. Less than a week earlier, Lithuania’s president took the same demand with her to a meeting in Brussels.
The Road from Prague to Stockholm (via Vilnius?)
In Major Speech to UK’s Parliament, MP MacShane Confronts Hungarian Injustice, Baltics’ Double Genocide Campaign
Denis MacShane, the veteran Labour Party member of the British Parliament for Rotherham, gave a major speech on antisemitism in the House of Commons yesterday. (Full text of Denis MacShane’s 20 January speech.)
In contrast to politicians across Europe who pay lip service to the battle against antisemitism ‘in general’, Mr MacShane emphasized the actual issues of the day, including two major and ongoing scandals sadly involving member states of the European Union in the new accession eastern area. In both cases, his speech serves to overcome the veil of reticence sometimes encountered when it comes to criticizing Britain’s partners in the EU, NATO, the OSCE and other international organizations.
The organization Latvian National Front has sent to the email address of the Embassy of the USA, as well as other embassies, including the Embassy of Israel, a letter with the following content (translated from Latvian):
O P I N I O N
by Geoff Vasil
This year Lithuanian neo-Nazis organized by Marius Kundrotas, Ričardas Čekutis and Julijus Panka with Lithuanian MP Kazimieras Uoka as their mascot marched in Kaunas on February 16 and through central Vilnius on March 11. February 16 is the old, pre-World War II national day of independence while March 11 is the date in 1990 when the Lithuanian Supreme Soviet voted to restore national independence and exit the Soviet Union.
O P I N I O N
by Christopher Hale
There are a number of books about the ‘foreign divisions of the Third Reich’. Most seem to be written for military history buffs and those fascinated by uniforms and arcane details of military insignia. Some are downright sinister. The series of books written by Richard Landwehr, an American ‘historian’ associated with the far right, are overtly favourable and have titles like ‘Lions of Flanders’, ‘Steadfast Hussars’ and ‘Nordic Warriors’. His Wiki entry includes the following rationale:
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
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.
O P I N I O N
by Per Anders Rudling
Despised and ostracized, the Swedish community of Waffen-SS volunteers long gathered in secret on April 14, “The Day of the Fallen,” for obscure ritualistic annual gatherings at a cemetery in a Stockholm suburb.
Since the 1990s, the rituals have not needed to be clandestine: the few, now very elderly survivors now head to Sinimäe, Estonia, where they feel they are now getting the honor to which they are entitled. Here, Swedish, Norwegian, Austrian, German and other Waffen-SS veterans from Western Europe meet up with their Estonian comrades. The annual gatherings include those who volunteered for ideological reasons, and who are today actively passing on the experiences to a new generation of neo-Nazis.
Council of Europe’s Commission Against Racism and Intolerance Condemns Latvia’s Waffen SS Parades and Celebration of Hitler’s 1941 Invasion
The Council of Europe’s Commission against Racism and Intolerance today published online its 9 December report ECRI Report on Latvia (fourth monitoring cycle). In the 67 page report, the ECRI (European Commission against Racism and Intolerance) explicitly condemns the Waffen SS marches enabled and supported for many years by some of the highest echelons of Latvian government and society. There is also reference to the more recent case of celebrating the day of Hitler’s invasion in 1941.
Latvian President, Blasting Critics of March 16th ‘Waffen SS Parade, says it’s ‘Crazy to Think Them War Criminals’
In an escalation of high level pro-Nazi rhetoric in Riga, the nation’s president, Andris Bērziņš, said today that the international community needs to have it explained.
Have what explained? Why those who served in Nazi Germany’s Latvian Waffen SS divisions are honored in the country’s capital on March 16th each year.
The president of Latvia went on to say that “It’s crazy to think they’re war criminals.”
D E B A T E
Monica Lowenberg is the creator of the international petition against this year’s Waffen SS march scheduled for 16 March 2012 in the heart of Riga, Latvia’s capital city. The petition has to date attracted some six thousand signatures from every part of the planet.
Its author approached the Latvian ambassador to the UK for support.
Below is his letter of 1 March (as PDF here). It is followed by the text of Monica Lowenberg’s 5 March reply, supplied to DefendingHistory.com for publication.
I: The Latvian Ambassador to Monica Lowenberg (1 March 2012)
1500 Honor the Waffen SS at Riga’s Liberty Monument; Event is Praised by Latvia’s President, Condemned by Council of Europe’s Commission on Racism
E Y E W I T N E S S R E P O R T / O P I N I O N
by Dovid Katz
RIGA—According to most estimates, there were around 1500 participants today in the city-center ceremony honoring the Waffen SS, about 1000 police, and about one hundred protesters who turned out in opposition to the event.
The ongoing campaign by some East European governments to repackage far-right ultranationalist politics and policies (with concomitant antisemitic, racist and Nazi-glorifying undertones) as a wholesome British-conservative-style “center right” has suffered a major blow. The battleground of ideas has in recent weeks shifted to the annual Waffen SS commemoration ceremony held at Liberty Monument, the symbolic heart of the capital of Latvia, with the blessing of some of the nation’s top leaders.