On the (Ab)use of Law to “Fix” Holocaust History




OPINION  |  DOUBLE GENOCIDE  |  FREE SPEECH  |  STATES’ MANIPULATION OF HISTORY

by Dovid Katz

This comment appeared in Mémoires en Jeu (Memory at Stake), no. 9, (2010).

In recent years, a number of eastern EU and NATO member states (plus Ukraine) have been constructing components of their official(and protected-by-law) national narratives on heroes who were collaborators, or even perpetrators in the Holocaust on the grounds that they were “anti-Soviet heroes.”1 These countries indeed had to face two Soviet occupations (1939/1940–41 and 1944/45–1991), and the occupation by Nazi Germany (1941-1944/5). The “liberating” state was also the author of major crimes such as repressions, deportations, forced labor and executions, and the statutes of post-Soviet Europe lacked a text on the crimes of communism. The ensuing moral problem is as follows: while these States would have legitimate heroes who struggled for freedom against dictatorial Soviet domination, they also honor those who participated in the Holocaust and even criminalize criticism against them.

The state glorification of wartime collaborators with Nazi Germany may be the most emotive component of the historical revisionism underway, particularly in the Baltic countries. But it is also a component of a larger and more historical-philosophical edifice that has come to be known as “double genocide” theory, claiming that Nazi and Soviet crimes are inherently equal in the history of the region. The notion has been further codified to the point of criminalization of opposing views in a number of states (see Katz, 2016, p. 11-12; idem, 2018, p. 249-250).

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