On 29 June 2010, the Lithuanian Parliament criminalized the view that Soviet crimes in Lithuania do not rise to Genocide, in effect making belief in red-brown equivalence a matter of law.
The move followed adoption of a similar statute by Hungary’s new right-wing government.
The Lithuanian law’s framers explained earlier that establishing red-brown equality was the motive. Punishment maxes out at 2 Years in jail (original draft law was for 3 years). There is a new widespread reluctance to speak up freely in eastern EU democracies, even if nobody is charged or punished. Work of serious historians is crippled as dissenters lose their jobs.
There was no comment from the US embassy in Vilnius.
[More detailed report here.]
A new law in effect criminalizing anti Double Genocide opinions has been passed by the Lithuanian parliament and signed into law by the president. Full text of the law. In English translation. The move followed adoption of a similar statute by Hungary’s new right-wing government.
UPDATES (TO SEPT. 2011):
Comments by Dovid Katz in 2009 and 2011
The new law criminalizes debate on the Holocaust and World War II, imposing punishments that include prison sentences of up to two years for those who would argue that Soviet crimes in Lithuania did not constitute genocide (hence: upon those who would challenge the notion that ‘Soviet and Nazi crimes are equal’). The opposing view (e.g. of this website) holds that Soviet crimes in Lithuania were horrendous but did not constitute genocide (following Donskis 2009, Katz 2009 etc; see page on Soviet crimes and draft response to the Prague Declaration).
Some would say it could only happen in Eastern Europe. A ninety-six year old convicted war criminal is the plaintiff in a case concerning his Holocaust era crimes. The unlikely libel suit filed by a Hungarian Nazi collaborator, Sandor Kepiro, 96, against the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Dr Efraim Zuroff, opened in Budapest on Friday, 8 October 2010, to a packed courtroom.
Kepiro last year admitted on BBC Television that he had rounded up residents but denied he knew they would be killed. He was convicted of involvement in the infamous 1942 Novi Sad massacre of Jews, Roma and Serbs, first by a 1944 Budapest tribunal, then again in 1946. This second conviction was in absentia; Kepiro had fled to Austria where he lived from 1945 to 1948, when he made his way to Argentina, where he lived until 1996.
Hungary’s pro-Jewish Christian evangelical Faith Church came out in force to support Dr Zuroff, who earlier this year was honored by the president of Croatia.
The irony of the situation was that his seemingly preposterous legal action for the first time ever enabled Dr Zuroff to directly question a suspected Holocaust perpetrator in a court of law. It also highlighted what seemed to many an absurd black comedy: a legal system that isn’t prosecuting a Nazi war criminal allows him to sue for libel. The proceedings were adjourned until 16 December.
Photo: The man in the brown coat is Sandor Kepiro. Signs read: ‘War crimes never expire’. Courtesy ATV Hungary / Andras Patkai. Coverage on Hungary’s ATV (here, here, here). Jerusalem Post report here. Video of ATV interview with Efraim Zuroff here. TV news report here. Makor Rishon report (Hebrew) here. 13 Oct JTA report here.
by Mihály Kálmán (Budapest)
Special to DefendingHistory.com
A demonstration was mounted Saturday, 4 December 2010 in Budapest, in support of Petras Stankeras, the recently resigned ‘specialist’ at Lithuania’s Interior Ministry who called the Holocaust ‘a legend’ and the Nuremberg Trials ‘a farce’ (details here). Protesters gathered in front of the Lithuanian Embassy in Budapest.
Judge Viktor Vadasz dismissed the case against the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Israel Office director, Dr Efraim Zuroff, some ten minutes after its 8:30 AM start at the District Court of Pest at 25 Marko utca. Defending History.com was in court (with ATV and Hetek).
The Faith Church of Hungary, led by Pastor Sándor Németh, a major figure in the battle against antisemitism and Holocaust revisionism in the region, supported Dr Zuroff steadfastly throughout the saga. The hearing was also attended by representatives of the Novi Sad Municipal Assembly along with the former president of the Novi Sad Jewish community, Dr Ana Frenkel, who represented the community at the hearing. Novi Sad, Serbia, is the site of the murder of many of the victims of the alleged Nazi war criminal who brought this case.
Lithuania’s Foreign Ministry announced on 14 December 2010 that it was the initiator of a new demand from six East European countries ― Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania — to Viviane Reding, European Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship, that Double Genocide sentiments, and support for effective criminalization of the view that the Holocaust was a unique genocide, be incorporated in the new Stockholm Programme before the end of 2010. Less than a week earlier, Lithuania’s president took the same demand with her to a meeting in Brussels.
Posted in Double Genocide, EU, Foreign Ministries: Holocaust Politics Abuse?, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, News & Views, Politics of Memory, The Czech Republic
Tagged Double Genocide, Holocaust Politics in the EU, Matthew Newman (EU), Montero Report, Stockholm Programme
According to a December 14th posting on the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry’s website, (reported also on Isria.com and elsewhere), Lithuania’s foreign minister is taking the lead in the latest initiative to insert ‘Double Genocide’ into European Union law and policy, which on this occasion includes his colleagues from Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Latvia, and Romania. Other media reports here.
It becomes ever more difficult for observers of East European minority rights and Holocaust history issues to keep up, as the Holocaust Obfuscation undertones of the Prague Declaration are gradually infiltrated into the Stockholm Programme. In both cases, observers discern New Accession EU governments’ efforts to insinuate one or another incarnation of ‘Double Genocide’ (in Eurospeak: ‘equal evaluation of totalitarian regimes’) into general European Union consciousness.
Lithuania’s Foreign Ministry had announced on 14 December 2010 that it was the initiator of a new demand from six East European countries ― Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania — to Viviane Reding, European Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship, that Double Genocide sentiments, and support for effective criminalization of the view that the Holocaust was a unique genocide, be incorporated in the new Stockholm Programme before the end of 2010. Less than a week earlier, Lithuania’s president took the same demand with her to a meeting in Brussels.
The Road from Prague to Stockholm (via Vilnius?)
Posted in "Red-Brown Commission", Double Genocide, EU, Foreign Ministries: Holocaust Politics Abuse?, Hungary, Latvia, News & Views, Politics of Memory
Tagged Double Genocide, Prague Declaration, Prague Declaration on European Conscience and Communism, Prague Process
Dr Efraim Zuroff
The ludicrous spectre of the convicted (but unpunished) Nazi war criminal, who turns 97 next month, suing Dr Efraim Zuroff for ‘libel’ has just been revived. Dr Zuroff is director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Israel office, an acclaimed author and historian, and the SWC’s chief Nazi hunter.
Observers were under the impression at last month’s hearing in Budapest that the case had been put to rest by the district court, when the judge threw it out on 16 December after some ten minutes (eyewitness report here). But the war criminal’s lawyer appealed that decision.
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.
O P I N I O N
by Dovid Katz
NOTE: This reply to the Lithuanian Foreign Policy Review paper by Rokas Grajauskas first appeared on the website of LFPR (direct link here).
Rokas Grajauskas cites me in his recent article on these pages as invoking the notion Holocaust Obfuscation (a term I proposed at a London seminar in February 2008, then formally in 2009) to refer to “the efforts of the post-Communist countries to revive the memory of Stalin’s crimes.” Nothing could be further from the truth. The web journal I edit, DefendingHistory.com, although dedicated primarily to the battle against trivialization of the Holocaust and the concomitant racism and antisemitism of the new Far Right in Eastern Europe, contains a page on Soviet crimes, where I wholeheartedly embrace such Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly resolutions as 1096 (1996) and 1481 (2006), which wisely and rightly condemn Soviet crimes. It is vital that the full extent of these crimes be documented, the victims honored, the subject properly taught in international curricula, museums and memorializing institutions established, and justice pursued to the full extent of law. It is every bit as vital that Western commitment to Baltic security and independence remain unwavering, what with a huge unpredictable neighbor “with a certain past” (and unclear future) situated to the immediate east.
Posted in Double Genocide, Dovid Katz, EU, Free Speech & Democracy, Human Rights, Hungary, Lithuania, Opinion, Politics of Memory, US State Dept Manipulated?
Tagged Double Genocide, Double Genocide + Communism, Dovid Katz Lithuanian Foreign Policy Review, Holocaust Obfuscation, origin of the term Holocaust Obfuscation, Prague Declaration, Prague Declaration on European Conscience and Communism, Prague Process, Rokas Grajauskas, Rokas Grajauskas + Jewish issues
By most accounts, it could only happen in the ‘Eastern European Union’ region, where powers that be often spare no effort to use (or abuse) the law (‘lawfare’) and state institutions in the cause of Holocaust Obfuscation. Anything that can enhance the status of the Holocaust’s perpetrators and diminish that of the victims, survivors and their current advocates is pursued with a sense of convinced national purpose that by most accounts would have been considered inconceivable at the time of European Union and NATO accession.
Budapest judge Viktor Vadasz of the Pest Central District Court ruled today in favor of Dr Efraim Zuroff, Holocaust historian and director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Israel office, in a case that foreign observers have taken to be emblamatic for the sometimes topsy-turvy world of East European politics: glorification of Nazi war criminals amidst vilification of those who would want them brought to justice and the truth about local Holocaust history told and taught.
The courtroom was packed as post-Soviet democratic Hungary finally put one of its own citizens on trial for alleged complicity in the genocide of the country’s Jewish population in the Holocaust. The massive local media coverage pointed to what some observers called a mood of national catharsis breaking a taboo against admission of Nazi-era complicity that has swept much of the new-accession state area in the European Union.
The new Budapest trial of the twice-convicted Hungarian Nazi war criminal Sandor Kepiro continued in Budapest today, when the court determined that the 97 year old was perectly competent mentally to continue. To avoid unduly taxing the defendant’s energy, authorities decided for sessions of forty-minutes each rather than the customary three consecutive hours.
Citing recent events in Hungary, in which authors Ben Cohen and Karl Pfeifer had a role to play, the Jerusalem Post’s Benjamin Weinthal has published an article in today’s Jerusalem Post exposing the sharply increased proclivity toward primitive antisemitism in the mainstream press in Hungary. The tendency has picked up steam since election of the right wing of government Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and his Fidesz party. The freedom and responsibility of the media have been main issues for the country’s right wing government.
VILNIUS. One of the staples of diplomatic life here is the annual Hungarian National Day reception hosted by the Hungarian Embassy in Vilnius. Under the leadership of the previous ambassador to Lithuania, HE Péter Horváth Noszkó, his nation’s embassy became a locus of inter-community and inter-cultural dialogue that helped further civil society in the Lithuanian capital. He thereby raised his country’s profile to that of an open forum par excellence, where all — not least minority groups — could find a place here in this corner of the European Table.
O P I N I O N
by David Surjányi
Dozens of people marching on the streets with flags in their hands and badges on their chest.
When they reach their destination a strange looking person steps on the podium and starts to speak. His speech is saturated with hate. He demands a “Jew-free” country. He blames the Roma people for the problems of our society.
And this is not 1944. It is 2012. Here in Hungary.
O P I N I O N
by Efraim Zuroff
The following is a transcription of the text that appeared in today’s edition of The Australian.
At the end of next week, I will have spent 32 years as a “Nazi-hunter,” trying to facilitate the prosecution of those individuals who in the service of Nazi Germany or in alliance with its regime, engaged in the persecution and/or murder of innocent civilians categorized as “enemies” of the Third Reich. During that period, I have dealt with many dozens of cases of all sorts of criminals from many different nationalities and walks of life, from mass murderers to individuals who were charged with the murder of a single person.