O P I N I O N
The letter below was sent by then MP Denis MacShane to the director-general of the Imperial War Museum on 18 September 2012. It was released for publication in 2013, and now appears in its chronological (time of writing) slot in Defending History’s Denis MacShane section.
- Ms Diane Lees
- Imperial War Museum
- Lambeth Road
- London SE1 6HZ
Dear Ms Lees:
I write to you as one of the MPs who takes a special interest in contemporary antisemitism. I chaired the All Party Parliamentary Committee of Inquiry into the problem, have written a well-received book “Globalising Hatred: The New Antisemitism” (Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 2008/9), and lecture and write all over the world on the return of the racist ideology of antisemitism in the 21st century.
Thus as a life-long supporter of the Imperial War Museum, and one particularly proud that this magnificent British institution encompasses the excellent Holocaust Exhibition, I write to express some urgent concern that IWM might unwittingly be drawn into a plan by certain far-right or ultranationalist circles in the current Lithuanian government to abuse the good name and offices of IWM in an attempt to legitimise the profoundly problematic “Genocide Centre” in Lithuania, in a series of meetings scheduled for this month, apparently organised by the Lithuanian Embassy here in London.
Posted in Denis MacShane, Double Genocide, EU, Genocide Center (Vilnius), Lithuania, Museums, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory, United Kingdom
Tagged Ambrazevicius Brazaitis, Denis MacShane + Holocaust history, Genocide Center, Lithuania + Imperial War Museum London, Vilnius
The Seventy Years Declaration, released on 20 January 2012, was the subject of a 31 January 2012 Žinių radijas (News Radio) station panel discussion including one of the Lithuanian signatories of the declaration, Social Democratic MP Vytenis Andriukaitis, himself a signatory of the Lithuanian Declaration of Independence. MP Andriukaitis was attacked by the foreign minister for signing.
MP Andriukaitis’s response won international support, and there is reference in the panel discussion to the support from British human rights champion MP Denis MacShane for all eight Lithuanian parliamentarians who signed the Seventy Years Declaration.
The following letter, from UK MP Dr. Denis MacShane, was received today by the office of Lithuanian parliament member Vytenis Povilas Andriukaitis:
The following press statement was issued today by the office of UK MP Denis MacShane concerning the response of the Lithuanian foreign minister to the news that eight Lithuanian parliamentarians had signed the Seventy Years Declaration.
News Release 25 Jan. 2012
On the eve of National Holocaust Day, former Europe Minister Denis MacShane MP has written to Lithuanian MPs and MEPs who defied their political establishment to sign a statement on the Holocaust which attacks attempts to devalue the Nazi extermination of Jews by claiming it is no worse than the crimes committed by communists.
The Seventy Years Declaration was issued on 20 January 2012 by seventy European Union parliamentarians (MPs and MEPs) concerned about the return of antisemitism as an issue in contemporary politics. In January 1942, Nazi officials met at a conference at Lake Wannsee close to Berlin to plan the industrially organized extermination of European Jewry.
In recent years, European right-wing politicians have sought to gain acceptance for their view that the suffering under communist rule was the same as the Nazi extermination of Jews. This so-called “double genocide” thesis has been criticized by campaigners against modern antisemitism as leading to a devaluation of the unique specific Jew-hating roots of the Holocaust.
Now social democratic MPs and MEPs in Lithuania who signed this declaration have been attacked by government officials. Lithuania’s Foreign Minister went so far as to say there was no difference between Hitler and Stalin except the length of their moustache.Continue reading
MP Denis MacShane
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 following exchange between human rights advocate MP Denis MacShane and the government’s Minister for Europe, David Lidington, was reported today in the House of Commons:
Mr MacShane:To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will publish the letter of 25 November 2010 sent by the UK and other ambassadors in Lithuania concerning the growing manifestations of anti-Semitism in Lithuania. 
Mr Lidington:It has not been the practice of successive Governments to publish letters sent by diplomats in a confidential capacity. It is important for the effective conduct of international relations for diplomacy to be able to take place on a confidential basis where necessary.
The letter referred to was reported in this journal on 25 November 2010.