Lithuanian Parliamentarian Vytenis Andriukaitis, Signatory of 70 Years Declaration, Replies to Foreign Minister, Cites ‘Moustache’ Remark and the Implications of ‘Double Genocide’



 


O P I N I O N

by Vytenis Povilas Andriukaitis

 

The following is an authorized translation from the Lithuanian text published on Delfi.lt on 9 February 2012. It is a reply to the foreign minister’s article published a week earlier (English translation here).

Honorable A. Ažubalis, Did You Pull Such an Understanding of History out of Thin Air?

by Vytenis Povilas Andriukaitis, member of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Lithuanian Parliament

 

Honorable minister, looking at the headline of your public statement, I hoped at least that you would apologize for the position expressed earlier that “it is impossible to find any difference between Hitler and Stalin except in their moustaches (Hitler’s was smaller).” I agree with the position expressed by Dennis MacShane, member of the British House of Commons, that such jokes by foreign minister Audronius Ažubalis are inappropriate in discussing the mass murder of six million Jews.

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In your public statement, you again place two signed declarations in opposition to one another. One of them — the “only true one” — the “Declaration on European Conscience and Communism” signed in Prague in 2008, maintains that the precondition for a unified Europe is a unified view of history and the ability to condemn the last century’s crimes against humanity. The second, the Seventy Years Declaration — the declaration referred to as if it were a crime and condemned by you —was adopted marking the 70th anniversary of the Wannsee conference, a declaration which rejects attempts to trivialize the atrocities of the Jewish genocide.

In speaking of a solid unified view of history, we should first address what we consider “solid” in this context. If we are talking about a unified view of history, then that only existed in the Soviet Union. Soviet Communist Marxism truly formulated and implemented a unified view of history.

“If we are talking about a unified view of history, then that only existed in the Soviet Union. Soviet Communist Marxism truly formulated and implemented a unified view of history. […]  In totalitarian society even the view of history is total: only one conception of history was acceptable.”

The inconvenient truth is that views of history are diverse in Europe. Many schools of history have discussed, are discussing and will discuss different historical issues. Views of history differ in a pluralistic society and that is a sign of democracy. In totalitarian society even the view of history is total: only one conception of history was acceptable.

At the same time, the ability to condemn the crimes against humanity of the last century truly is necessary, but crimes against humanity must include all authoritarian and totalitarian regimes. In that event this rule makes way for it to be said that any crime against humanity must be investigated fully. But you cannot deny that the Holocaust was exceptional not just for its crimes against humanity, but also its crimes against humankind. Or, crimes against the very foundations of civilization.

Undoubtedly, Holocaust studies reveal the most horrific aspect of the Nazis’ ideology based on the destruction of civilization, the bases of life and the principle of respect for life. It was the Nazis who performed genetic experiments on people and put people into groups of sub-humans and semi-humans. They attempted artificially to create a species of supermen. Such a unified ideological philosophical political doctrine is unique, without an analogue anywhere in the world.

More horrifyingly, this doctrine was put into practice using industrial techniques, creating an entire technology of extermination, setting up factories of mass murder, using the organs of the murdered as a raw material, using them for furniture production and so on, as if they were simply livestock. The Holocaust shakes the foundations of civilization, and that’s why the Holocaust is called not just a crime against humanity, but also against humankind.

The Holocaust is absolutely the most brutal crime in modern history and that is why it occupies an exceptional place in international criminal law. We can compare other crimes by the Soviet and Nazi regimes, and condemn and judge them uniformly. And this was the direction of Lithuanian foreign policy even before you arrived on the scene.

Through your and your fellow party members’ initiative, a strange legal and ideological practice has come into play in Lithuania. There is an expanded definition of genocide in Lithuania. In the Dictionary of International Public Law (published in Berlin in 2001 with an introduction written by International Criminal Court chairman G. Guillaume), “genocide” is defined as an international crime during which the destruction of all or part of a national, ethnic, racial or religious group is carried out intentionally.

The dictionary also includes the final act of the process of adopting the 1948 convention On Preventing the Crime of Genocide and Punishment for Commission which says that “Contrary to the opinion expressed by some, during the adoption of the convention in 1948 the 6th Commission and the General Assembly of United Nations choose not [to include] ‘political genocide’ i.e., the destruction of a political group, nor ‘cultural genocide’. […]”

Meanwhile in Lithuania not only is the concept of genocide expanded, but the expansion is being applied retroactively. Without any doubt at all such application is sui generis and in opposition to the principle of a constitutional state under the rule of law, but does possibly aid in prosecuting people… (the example of Marijonas Misiukonis is typical, he is accused of the crime of “genocide”).

It is truly an ideologicalized and politicized move to persecute people by introducing a new definition of genocide and applying it retroactively. I am eagerly expecting the [Lithuanian] Constitutional Court’s finding whom we have petitioned for clarification.

The position expressed by you gives support to the Double Genocide theory adhered to by some, according to which Jews murdered Lithuanians in 1940 and 1941, and in return Lithuanians murdered Jews from 1941 to 1944. This doctrine is not only silly and incorrect, it is downright dangerous. I think a foreign minister representing Lithuania’s interests ought to refrain from public expression of such thoughts. If he has a sense of responsibility.

“The position expressed by you gives support to the Double Genocide theory adhered to by some, according to which Jews murdered Lithuanians in 1940 and 1941, and in retaliation Lithuanians murdered Jews from 1941 to 1944. This doctrine is not only silly and incorrect, it is downright dangerous. I think a foreign minister representing Lithuania’s interests ought to refrain from public expression of such thoughts. If he has a sense of responsibility.”

I would like to point out to you that no other state has tried to entrench officially the Double Genocide theory, even if they signed the 2008 Prague Declaration.

I cannot agree with the attempts by you and your colleagues to codify the Double Genocide theory in Lithuanian law and to make it an official part of Lithuanian policy, nor with attempts to place an equal sign between Nazism and Stalinism. I note that in criminalizing antisemitism, racism and others, amendments have also been inserted  criminalizing denial of the Stalinist occupation. This again is an ideological principle  the insertion of which cannot but be noticed here.

People have a right to their own understanding about their historical past. They have the right to express that opinion without fear, and in a democratic society there exists an inevitable pluralism of opinions. It is shameful that it appears to some that  the highest state value is to strike out with the club of The Law at those who express an opinion, criminalizing that which is completely legal in international practice.

“People have a right to their own understanding about their historical pas. They have the right to express that opinion without fear, and in a democratic society there exists an inevitable pluralism of opinions. It is shameful that it appears to some that  the highest state value is to strike out with the club of The Law at those who express an opinion, criminalizing that which is completely legal in international practice.”

It is regrettable that Audronius Ažubalis neglected to notice that Conservative parliamentarians from the United Kingdom have also signed our declaration: Martin Callanan, Mike Freer, Matthew Offord and Charles Tannock.

“It is regrettable that Audronius Ažubalis neglected to notice that Conservative parliamentarians from the United Kingdom have also signed our declaration: Martin Callanan, Mike Freer, Matthew Offord and Charles Tannock.”

I agree that the artificial playing of historical tragedies off one another forces people to choose. The question is however: Who is artificially playing them off one another?

It is those who try to make them equivalent.

In this case the attempt to make the Holocaust equal with Stalinist crimes once again simply demonstrates that the attempt is being made to level them out. I would like to hear the honorable minister’s answer on why Nazis were convicted at the dock in Nuremberg but Mussolini’s Italian Fascists were not.

The Tokyo Tribunal tried Japan’s militarists and considered crimes against humanity, but Italy’s Fascists and France’s Vichyists were only tried in their own national courts for specific war crimes.

Mussolini did not sit beside Hitler in the dock at Nuremberg, though they were allies. Could Audronius Ažubalis answer why that was?

Honorable minister, the declaration I signed has nothing in common with an election campaign. One recognizes that the right-wingers themselves, as elections get close, are beginning to attack their opponents with accusations that any movement at all is part of an election spectacle.

Your public statement in terms of public relations is more useful to you that my signing the declaration[is to me. Incidentally, I have to add that I did not vote in favor of the expansion of the definition of genocide, nor for its retroactive application, nor for criminal prosecution of people who want to express publicly their own opinion.

In considering the context and events of World War II one comes to understand that the bombing of Hiroshima, the bombing of Dresden, the bombing of Koenigsberg and the massacre of people —a ll of these, without a doubt, should be considered crimes against humanity. We can find such crimes against humanity in the actions of all states at war, and this is an extremely important theme for historical memory.

Finally, we must understand that each and every crime against humanity, every war crime must be uncovered. Speaking of Lithuanian history, we can also say that war crimes were committed in the post-war partisan battles by both sides, among the Communist agents and the Lithuanian partisans. We cannot not see this, nor can we ignore it. We must speak fearlessly about all crimes against humanity and all war crimes.

But in this context, a crime against all of humankind, the Holocaust, was developed by the Nazis into an extreme danger to the foundations of human existence, and is understood as a crime without parallel. To fail to see the essential difference between war crimes, crimes against humanity and crimes against humankind means to fail to understand the essence of the Holocaust.

Honorable Minister, in conclusion I’d like to hope you will take measures to expand your understanding of history and its horizons. Then perhaps you will be able, just like your British Conservative colleagues,  to sign a similar declaration adopted to mark the 70th anniversary of the Wannsee Conference.

“Honorable Minister, in conclusion I’d like to hope you will take measures to expand your understanding of history and its horizons. Then perhaps you will be able, just like your British Conservative colleagues,  to sign a similar declaration adopted to mark the 70th anniversary of the Wannsee Conference.”

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