Roland Binet

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.

The so-called “Beehive” monument now marring Zedelgem, and its host entities, Belgium and the European Union and NATO, is no monument to liberty. it is pure and crass nostalgia for the good old days when these Latvian Waffen SS men, wearing the same barbarians’ uniform as those men who kept all of Europe under Nazi yoke, felt that they were Übermenschen, free to kill anyone with the official sanction by decree of the Führer, free to destroy, to rape, to steal, never ever thinking that one day they might be accountable for their war crimes and crimes against mankind. Of course it goes far beyond that. It is a horrendous twenty-first century statement of European Union tolerance to the glorification of Nazism, and all that that implies for the common future of our European house.

Thanks to the Zedelgem municipality, Hitler’s Latvian elite executioners and warriors have now been rewarded with a worshipful monument dedicated to “Liberty” much in accordance with the language usage of top Nazi propagandists during the Third Reich. 

Are there leaders of Zedelgem, Belgium, the European Union, and NATO who are prepared, now, to speak out loudly and clearly on what needs to happen, now, to this carbuncle in the middle of the face of the new Europe?

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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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Roland Binet’s New Musical Composition to Mark 80th Anniversary of Onset of the Baltic Holocaust



OPINION  |  LATVIA  |  BELGIUM  |  COLLABORATORS GLORIFIED  |  HISTORY  |  POLITICS OF MEMORY  |  LEGACY OF JUNE 23rd 1941

by Roland Binet (De Panne, Belgium)

Just close your eyes and imagine. It  is a warm June summer day, you have suffered more than a year of tyranny under the Soviet regime and now the Germans have invaded your country of birth. You are being led with some sixty other fellow Jews into a large garage courtyard. Around, a row of spectators, Lithuanians, even children, and German soldiers of all uniform colors. And, in front of you, thugs armed with batons, cudgels, bludgeons, and metal bars. Then, you can see it clearly: by small groups of around 10 men, your fellow Jews are led to the center and bludgeoned to death, slowly or savagely. They are the luckier ones. Others have high-pressure hoses inserted into their bodies to cause them to explode, to the delight of the adoring audience. This happened in the Lietukis garage in Kaunas on June 27, 1941. And 100% of those who carried out the actual violence, with unfettered enthusiasm, were local Lithuanian nationalists (now glorified in some museums and history books as “anti-Soviet freedom figfhters”).

NEW MUSICAL COMPOSITION ON 80TH ANNIVERSARY OF SUMMER 1941 IS ON YOU TUBE

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Belgian Composer Releases New Video on Eve of March 16th



ROLAND BINET  |  ARTS  |  MUSIC  |  LATVIA  |  RIGA’s WAFFEN SS  MARCHES  | REGIONAL FAR-RIGHT MARCHES  | COLLABORATORS GLORIFIED

Roland Binet, a Belgian composer working out of  De Panne, has just released on Youtube a new video comprising his musical composition to a series of photographs by his wife Francine Binet taken during their joint visit to Riga in 2012, the Latvian capital, to monitor that year’s far-right March 16th parade. The annual marches  glorify the Waffen SS, which fought for the Nazis and whose members all swore the oath of loyalty to Adolf Hitler. Mr. Binet is a veteran contributor to Defending History. His most recent and for many, quite startling piece, divulges the hard-to-believe erection of a monument to the Latvian Waffen SS in a town in Belgium.

 

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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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Lipke’s List: Story of an Inspiring Latvian Rescuer Who Risked All to Do the Right Thing



LATVIA  |  BOOKS  |  HISTORY  |  LITVAK AFFAIRS

by Roland Binet (De Panne, Belgium)

Under the Nazis the Jews had not the right to live. Under the Soviets they had not the right to publicly commemorate the victims of the Holocaust as Jews. In the Baltic States the fate of the Jews during World War II had not only been harsh, it had led to over 95% of their population being killed in front of open pits, in the ghettos, in work details, in camps, by bullets, beatings, hunger, exhaustion through work, or by mere sadistic arbitrary acts of killing.

In the sixties, some Jewish activists living in Latvia, mostly in Riga, became interested in recording the history of the Holocaust in their native country by interviewing survivors and preserving the memory of what happened during these terrible times. They had to act secretly because the Soviet authorities and the KGB frowned upon Soviet citizens who considered themselves Jews as well as Soviet citizens.

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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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Is There Still A Breeding Ground for Ustaša in Croatia?



OPINION   |   CROATIA   |   COLLABORATORS GLORIFIED

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

 

Croatia is a nation that has been bathed in blood during numerous conflicts, as the victim of the odious Serbian aggression during the recent civil war, and for its football team proudly wearing the red and white checkered reproduction of the national flag. Happily, it is nowadays chiefly known as a tourist destination.

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We Shall Never Forget Kazimierz Sakowicz’s “Ponary Diary”



BOOKS  |  OPINION  |  LITHUANIA  |  HISTORY

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

Ponary Diary, 1941 — 1943. A Bystander’s Account of a Mass Murder. by Kazimierz Sakowicz. Edited by Yitzhak Arad. Foreword by Rachel Margolis. Yale University Press: New Haven and London 2005.

It goes without saying that a book of eyewitness Holocaust testimony penned at Lithuania’s largest mass grave site in the years 1941 to 1943, and first published in English in 2005, does not lose its importance for those who have not read it even a decade later; even if many other, much less important books, sport a more recent date of publication. Moreover, given the Lithuanian government’s campaign against the scholar who rediscovered and first published the manuscript in the 1990s, and against the scholar who edited the English edition cited above (both as part of its campaign against Jewish partisan survivors), the poignancy and human interest are even greater. It is indeed  a most appropriate time to pay tribute to that rediscoverer, Dr. Rachel Margolis (1921—2015), who passed away in Rehovot, Israel last summer, without realizing, in her nineties, her dying wish of visiting her native Vilna one last time, because of her fear of prosecutors’ threats and intimidation.

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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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The Holocaust was Also a Matter of Plundering the Jewish Victims



O P I N I O N    /     H I S T O R Y    /    L A T V I A

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

Having recently spent a few days in Germany, and watching different television channels, I once more realized that that country still broadcasts regular programs on the Holocaust. Nearly each and every evening during my stay, I had the opportunity to see fragments of such programs, broadcast on less popular channels (“ZDF History” for example). And, it is true, it is one of the things that I admire most in modern Germany — the regular televising of documentaries on the Holocaust, never hiding the enormous responsibility of the Nazis in the destruction of the Jews.

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Rewriting History in Latvia



B O O K S    /    L A T V I A

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

Since I became interested in the fate of the Jewish victims of the Holocaust in Latvia, rather late (2009), I never failed to buy books when I visited that country, first and foremost written by Jewish survivors of these terrible times, but, also, some books written by non-Jewish Latvians in order to see how they perceived these tragic events, how they related to the Jewish victims of the Holocaust and how they presented the history of the German occupation and the mass slaughter of more than 95% of the Jewish population of their country (using the figures of Jews on site at the time of the Nazi invasion as the basis for historians’ estimates).

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Restitution of Stolen Jewish Property in Latvia to Victims and Rightful Heirs



O P I N I O N

by Roland Binet (Braine-l’Alleud)

On November 17, 2013 I was invited and participated as a guest speaker at the Yizkor memorial event organized by the “Jewish Survivors of Latvia, Inc.” (New York). The event was held at the Park East Synagogue at 163 East 67th Street in Manhattan.

The really important speech, though, was given by Douglas Davidson, the US Special Envoy for Holocaust Issues. He dealt with the results of his numerous visits to Latvia pertaining to that specific issue: due restitution to the Jewish victims or their heirs. Their properties were stolen or requisitioned during the war and the massacres.

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Silence in the Past, Silence Now



O P I N I O N

by Roland Binet (Braine-l’Alleud)

During World War II, numerous proofs of the systematic massacre of the Jews on a large scale had made known to the allied leaders. As the British had very early in the course of the war cracked the Enigma code, their Intelligence Service could read nearly all military dispatches sent by the German units to their headquarters, including those daily reports sent by the Einsatzgruppen leaders who duly sent the daily figures of the Jews and other “enemies” they had killed. One of these reports told of some 30,000 Jews having been killed.[1]

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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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Max Kaufmann’s Book on the Latvian Holocaust Now Available in English



B O O K S

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

 

“For us, all of Latvia is a huge cemetery – a cemetery without graves or gravestones.”

— Max Kaufmann

The English edition of Max Kaufman’s largely forgotten book, Churbn Lettland: The Destruction of the Jews of Latvia, now available online, is a most welcome, and important, addition to the library of serious works on the Latvian Holocaust.[1]

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The Holocaust: A Photographic and Musical Tribute



O P I N I O N   /   M U S I C

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

 

MUSICAL AND PHOTOGRAPHIC COMPOSITION HERE

 

I know persons within my circle of acquaintances who refuse to look at the terrible pictures that this video exhibits. Photographs of Jewish victims of beatings, slayings.  Pictures of dead Jewish victims.  Pictures of local collaborators in the process of helping the Nazis in killing Jews.

These persons find those historical pictures too offensive, too terrible, too awful, for their taste.  They are not able too look at them, they are far too sensitive to put up with such awful scenes.

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Massacres of the Jews in Liepāja (Šķēde) in Fall 1941



M U S I C

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

The Nazis tried to hide their crimes against humankind during World War II. They had tried to hide the fact that in the former territories of the USSR they were killing Jews on a colossal scale starting in July 1941. And not only Jews, also anyone suspected of being a communist.

Although many soldiers in the Wehrmacht or the Waffen SS took pictures of Aktionen against the Jews, even kept pictures of massacres or dead Jewish bodies in their wallets, most of these photographic proofs of the Nazi crimes against humanity were destroyed, stolen from their corpses after their deaths, kept at home in Germany by descendants of these heinous and barbarous extermination soldiers, or, sometimes, recuperated by allied nations which kept them and not solely kept them, but displayed them as a testimony to these barbaric events.

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Rumbula and Ponár



M U S I C

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

This composition, Rumbula and Ponár, memorializes the victims of the two most infamous mass murder sites of Latvia and Lithuania, Rumbula outside Riga, and Ponár (Polish Ponary, Lithuanian Paneriai) outside Vilnius. More than 130,000 people were killed in total at these two sites. The majority were Jews but there were many others of diverse ethnic and social background at Ponár.

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A Corner of a Foreign Field that is Forever Jewish



O P I N I O N

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

 

I happen to live near the town of Waterloo that in June 1815 had been one of the bloodiest battlefields at the time. My wife’s grandfather and my own grandfather fought during four years in the trenches of Flanders during the “Great War.” One of my father’s uncles, a resistance fighter, was captured and beheaded by the Germans during World War II. And for seventeen years I worked with survivors of the Holocaust. I feel a bit acquainted with the significance of wars and victims.

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