Belgium

A Simple Victory for Decency and European Values in Zedelgem, Belgium: Waffen SS Monument is Coming Down



ZEDELGEM  |  BELGIUM  |  EU  |  LATVIA  |  GLORIFICATION OF COLLABORATORS

by Roland Binet (De Panne, Belgium)

The city council of Zedelgem, Belgium decided on December 3rd that the pro-Nazi Latvian “Beehive” monument, commemorating Latvia’s Hitlerist Waffen SS, will be removed. Three years ago, in a somewhat insidious and perverse manner, PR savvy reps of Riga’s “Occupation Museum” convinced the municipal council of Zedelgem in West-Flanders, Belgium, to allow them to unveil a monument honoring their wish for de facto whitewashing and heroizing of the 12,000 Latvian Waffen SS Legionnaires who had been detained in in a British detention camp in that town in 1945/1946. Indeed, the president of the board of directors of the Occupation Museum of Riga – a well-known Holocaust revisionist institution – and members of Dagavas Vanagi (an organization of former Latvian Waffen SS) were present for the monument’s festive launch. That event was primarily covered by the Flemish speaking press without any mention of possible issues, without in fact anybody asking any question of how it might have been possible that a Flemish town had allowed the construction of a monument in honor of former members of the Waffen SS, a Nazist organization whose members swore loyalty to Adolf Hitler, and who fought against the freedom of Belgium, and, in effect, all of Europe.

Nothing much happened until the beginning of 2021. The first person who reacted and tried to do something about what he perceived as a Nazi monument was Wilfred Burie, founder of the website The Belgians Remember Them which lists all known  4,000 or so  flying personnel of Great Britain’s Royal Air Force who came down on Belgian soil during the war and states what happened to them. Through his intervention, a Belgian Minister of State, André Flahaut, officially questioned the Belgian Minister of Justice, but to no avail.  My article on the subject appeared here in Defending History on March 8th. Later articles critical of the existence of what was called a Nazi or pro-Nazi monument in Zedelgem were published by local and international Jewish organizations and by the French-speaking press in Belgium. Then, on May 20, Michel Bouffioux published in Paris Match Belgique, a well-researched and eloquent lengthy article on this abomination; he kindly mentioned Wilfred Burie and myself for having raised the alarm in online publications. Then, later, thanks to the intervention of Flemish writer and painter Jan Vanriet who contacted Flemish journalists, a series of articles were published in Flemish-speaking newspapers, including some by mainstream American journalist Lev Golinkin, who is also a successful author. Some Flemish historians in Belgium started to state, tentatively at first, that this monument had to be removed. That it was a source of shame for Flanders. Which it is.

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Over In Zedelgem, Town in Belgium where Latvian Waffen SS Veterans Feel Most at Home



OPINION  |  ZEDELGEM  |  BELGIUM  |  EU  |  GLORIFICATION OF COLLABORATORS

by Roland Binet (De Panne, Belgium)

Zedelgem, a quiet Flemish town in West Flanders, was occupied by the Nazis between May 1940 and September 1944. During World War I it had also been under German yoke for over four years.

Now, 74 years after the end of the the Second World War, former Latvian Waffen SS men, who wore the same barbarians’ uniform as the occupiers of Zedelgem during the occupation, who fought for the same ideals and were condemned by the same Nuremberg Trials of 1945/1946 as members of a criminal organization, now, more than seven decades  after Waffen SS men being freed from an Allied POW camp situated in Zedelgem, these former Latvian SS men and their current far-right, neo-Nazi and Hitler-sympathetic admirers have convinced Flemish officials — many report more than a little impetus to call them morons, plain and simple — in and in the region of modern Zedelgem to enable them to  erect a monument to “Liberty” in their memory. A monument to Liberty! The very Liberty they had denied the 100,000 Jews killed in their native country and the dozens of thousands of innocent Soviet citizens of an array of nationalities and religious they killed while fighting in the USSR, near Leningrad and at other fierce, lethal battles. They wore the same barbarians’ uniforms as the Nazi occupiers of Belgium and Zedelgem. They all fought for the Führer to whom they had sworn a common oath of loyalty. They too fought for the same ideals as the Führer.

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My Letter to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on the Shameful Latvian Waffen SS Monument Plonked in Belgium



OPINION  |  LATVIA  |  BELGIUM  |  COLLABORATORS GLORIFIED  |  HISTORY  |  POLITICS OF MEMORY

by Roland Binet (De Panne, Belgium)

Carbuncle in the heart of the EU?  Monument in Belgium glorifies  Latvian Waffen SS who fought for Hitler

 

Note: for background on the monument to Latvian SS war criminals in Zeldelgem, Belgium, please see DH’s Zedelgem section, and for Latvia more generally, Roland Binet’s contributions and DH’s  Latvia section.

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Flemish historian Pieter Lagrou had this to say in an exchange of correspondence pertaining to the quandary of what to do with that monument in Zedelgem glorifying Latvian Hitlerist Waffen SS men. It so happens that he is the one whose official opinion in this matter will be asked on how to further proceed with the “Latvian Beehive” as the pro-Nazi monument on Belgium soil is known:

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Latvian Waffen SS Worshippers Have Set Up a Monument in — Belgium



OPINION  |  LATVIA  |  BELGIUM  |  COLLABORATORS GLORIFIED  |  HISTORY  |  POLITICS OF MEMORY

by Roland Binet (De Panne, Belgium)

Authorities in Riga, Latvia, who tolerate marches and memorials for the nation’s Waffen SS, that fought for Hitler and swore an oath to him, are nonetheless careful not to allow an overt monument to Nazi forces in Riga. How is it that modern-day glorifiers of the Waffen SS have managed to persuade a town in Belgium to host just such a monument (pictured in both images above)? The monument stands at the “Brivibaplin” in Zedelgem, a  town situated in the province of West-Vlaanderen (West Flanders) in Belgium; GPS coordinate’s are 51.15 lat. 3.1333 long, some 20 kilometres west of Bruges.

 

What does Latvia have in common with Flanders in Belgium? Believe it or not: a monument in honor of Latvian Waffen SS on Flemish soil in Belgium, a country in the heart of the European Union and prime home of the European Parliament. The Latvian Waffen SS was part of Adolf Hitler’s forces in wartime, Holocaust-era Eastern Europe and its member all swore an oath to Hitler. So how could this be? This is how the official press release put it on the day:

“On 23 September 2018, in the Belgian town of Zedelgem, the ‘Monument to Freedom’ sculpted by Latvian sculptor Kristaps Gulbis was unveiled. The monument is dedicated to the Latvian Legionnaires, who did not lose faith in freedom for the Latvian State, during the winter of 1945 to 1946 when they were held in Zedelgem prisoner of war camp.”

As  excerpt from Mr. Valters Nollendsorf’s speech on the occasion:

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Rewriting of History in Brussels at a Strange New Museum: “House of European History”



OPINION  |    MUSEUMS  |  PRAGUE PLATFORM  |  EU  |  BELGIUM

by Tord Björk

 

The Nazis wanted to exterminate a race and Karl Marx wanted to exterminate a social class. Our  guide at the House of European History museum (HEH) in Brussels is twisting her tongue as she tries to solve the task of simultaneously explaining that Communism and Nazism are the same thing, and yet, somehow not. Visually, the impression of the museum’s exhibition is overwhelmingly slanted toward the notion that they are fully, inexorably and inherently equivalent.

Towering above us in the ideologically most intense part of the museum are huge video screens tilted towards the visitor. These screens, on four islands in the room, are so large that in spite of the hall being generously spacious, they fill up the room. The spectator can feel small in their shadow. On the screens the masses march in honor of the dictator, people are violently oppressed and the imagery makes this museum’s point very clearly: the interwar period was marked by the very same conflict as that after the war until the Soviet Union collapsed and the Berlin wall fell. That single conflict that is posited as God’s-honest-truth-fact is between Western democracy and (any kind of) totalitarianism. The technically impressive format is meticulously balanced: two huge screens each for the horrific methods of Communism and Nazism. The similarity is indeed visually striking. Stalin and Hitler—in that order— are omnipresent in the midst of terror. As a climax, the hammer and the sickle are projected at the same time as the swastika in meticulously equal format.

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Antisemitism at the Aalst Carnival Parade in Belgium



ANTISEMITISM  |  BELGIUM  |  EU  | OPINION

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

Last month, on February 23, 2020, hundreds of individuals, associations and decorated wagons marched or rolled through the streets of the center of Aalst in what is known as their unique form of celebrating “Carnival,” mainly as a moment of self and free expression where and when king, royalties, clergy, politicians, film stars, VIPs, world events, are objects of satire, fun, criticism, be it with effigies, people dressed up or with placards of panels written in their nearly cryptic local dialect.

Aalst is a small, drab city in the Province of Eastern Flanders. The first time Aalst made world news was on the evening of November 9, 1985 when a mass killing by unknown semi-military killers ( “the Brabant Killers” in French and “de Bende van Nijvel” in Dutch) left eight people dead in the supermarket Delhaize, at the periphery of the city. It is a mass killing still under investigation nowadays by the Belgian Police authorities.

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Brussels (& Some Fine London Architects) Duped into “Double Genocide” Program of “Equalizing” Nazi and Soviet Crimes?



OPINION  |  PRAGUE PLATFORM  |  DOUBLE GENOCIDE  |  POLITICS OF MEMORY  |  BRUSSELS/EU

Today’s edition of The Architects’ Journal (AJ) gracefully announces that Tszwai So, director of Spheron Architects, has been declared the winner of the “international competition to design a pan-European Memorial for the Victims of Totalitarianism.” Mr. So, named a rising star in British Architecture in 2016, is widely acclaimed as one of the most illustrious younger talents of European architecture in our time. Our team feels certain that he would be the first to wish to be apprised of an ulterior political program behind a seemingly neutral architectural project which will now be exploiting his reputation, and his firm’s, as well as his actual design, in promoting a political project that is vastly more controversial than meets the eye at first acquaintance.

Mr. So and Spheron Architects, like the other contestants, were most likely unaware that the sponsor of the competition, the  Prague-based Platform of European Memory and Conscience, known for short in Eurocircles as the Prague Platform, is the prime European engine for the far-right movement of World War II history revisionism that is increasingly becoming known as Double Genocide. That phenomenon was recently among the main points of a New York Times article by Pulitzer Prize winning correspondent Rod Nordland concerning the “Genocide Museum” here in Vilnius, which has close ties with the “Prague Platform” in the pursuit of  Double Genocide politics in the European Union.

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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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Posted in Antisemitism & Bias, Belgium, Celebrations of Fascism, Collaborators Glorified, History, Latvia, Litvak Affairs, Neo-Nazi & Fascist Marches, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory, Riga's Waffen SS Marches, Roland Binet | Tagged , , , , , | Comments Off on Why Do I Find the So-Called Heroes from the Latvian Waffen SS So Despicable?

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)

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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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Tomas Venclova Speaks Out on Banderism and its European Analogues



O P I N I O N

venclova

Tomas Venclova

Editor’s note: Our colleague Prof. Pinchos Fridberg drew our attention to a page on Radio Svoboda’s website, by Elena Fanailova, featuring both the audio and transcript of a recent interview conducted by Donata Subbotko for the Polish weekly Gazeta Wyborcza with the famed Lithuanian humanist, poet, essayist and professor Tomas Venclova. Text of the Polish version appears in Gazeta Wyborcza. The Russian text also appeared, at Prof. Fridberg’s initiative, in Obzor.

The following brief excerpt, concerning Banderism in Ukraine and analogous tendencies in Lithuania and elsewhere, has been translated into English (from the Russian) by Ludmila Makedonskaya. See also Defending History’s section dedicated to Tomas Venclova. Our page on bold Lithuanian truth tellers includes some of Prof. Venclova’s writings from the 1970s onward. His famous essay from the period, Jews and Lithuanians, is available in his collection of essays Forms of Hope.

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