O P I N I O N
by Didier Bertin
An excerpt from Didier Bertin’s longer work dated 20 July 2012, Planetary Geopolitics and Economics Today, republished here with the author’s permission. The author heads the Society for the Promotion of a European Human Rights Model in France.
The Declarations of Prague of 3 June 2008 and of the European Parliament of 23 September 2008 and their consequences
The contents of the Declaration of Prague of 3 June 2008 and the European Parliament of 23 September 2008, whose target was to take stock of the suffering experienced by the peoples under communist regimes, finally took an ideological and partisan rightist turn.
The progressive parties could have reacted with their own statement rejecting the ideological and revisionist considerations, which focus both on an anti-communist hatred and contempt for Nazi victims and their liberators.
The Declaration of Prague dated of 3d June 2008 should have been devoted to the errors and crimes of communist regimes of Eastern European countries, but went unfortunately well beyond this mission by engaging in an unfortunate reconsideration of history motivated by ideological convictions, whose consequences are ethically damaging.
The historical considerations of this declaration that were neither necessary nor justified but have shaken European ethics, when it transpired that the European Parliament also made a declaration in the spirit of “Prague.”
The content of the Prague Declaration lost track of critical assessment of the serious errors and crimes of communist regimes in order to become a political rightist statement aiming to bring the communist regimes at the highest level of horror in making them crudely equivalent to the Nazism.
Consequently the Prague Declaration has indirectly reassessed the reality of the crimes of the Nazis.
The Nuremberg trials and the numerous procedures and investigations that followed have determined that Nazi crimes were the culmination of horror.
Their improper and shocking indirect reassessment was probably made to create an “effect” symbolizing the strong disapproval of communism by the signatories of the declaration of Prague and of the European Parliament.
Unfortunately it has become commonplace to call what one hates, Nazism to mark the horror that is felt, but this trivial ease of language becomes insulting for the victims of Nazism when it is used by institutions in official statements.
This form of expression used by institutions are on the border of revisionism or denial and are counterproductive for the critics of the communist regimes. It is as if the signatories of the declarations were lacking in arguments to criticize the communist regimes on the merits of the case and felt obliged to refer to the crimes of other regimes.
This unfortunate reference gives a propagandist appearance to the critics of the communist regimes and is damaging for the memory of the victims of Nazism.
The triviality of the Prague Declaration is betrayed by the will to make a mathematical equation between the crimes of communist regimes and those of the Nazis despite the fact that they have no link regarding their causes, their goals, their ideology, their politics, their nature and the motivations of their founders.
The Declarations of Prague and of the European Parliament have apparently already affected the European institutions, as we have seen in our exchange of correspondence with the Cabinet of Viviane Reding. Nazism is seen now as a totalitarian regime among others and is thus trivialized, by losing sight that it was consecrated as the climax of horror by investigations and procedures over more than half a century.
It seems that the European Commission has in this regard a limited power or that it limits itself in order not to interfere in ethical domains that are voluntarily abandoned to Member States.
It is all the more regrettable that there exists a very meaningful Charter of Fundamental Rights whose application remains de facto at the free initiative of the Member States despite the fact that the Lisbon Treaty of 2009 made its application compulsory.
Similarly the European Parliament in its Declaration of 23 September 2008 has repeated the same mistakes and shortcuts than those contained in the Prague Declaration.
This declaration is not legally binding but remains regrettable for the victims of Nazism and for those who might misunderstand the legal value of such a declaration.
The Prague Declaration mixes communism and a perverted version of “Stalinism” and omits to mention the responsibility of Europe due to the offensive and ostracism imposed on the revolutionary countries by the highly conservative states. Moreover in this declaration the concept, which could be criticized, of dictatorship of the proletariat representing the power given to impoverished people is insidiously confused with a dictatorship of one single man like in fascist regimes.
After a long period of silence of the survivors of the Holocaust due to surrounding incomprehension, many procedures and investigations have permitted everyone to be informed of the reality of Nazism and should have not have led anyone to use the suffering of victims of Nazism to assert those of the people of Eastern countries.
- • Nazism was the product of the general European racism at the time of its creation also on the basis of the works of French and English racist ideologues. Nazism developed the concepts of sub-men, supermen and living space and aimed to be the consecration at the highest level of the Germanic identity.
- • We are far from communism and its commitment to empower the workers of all nationalities to improve their lot.
- • The founder of Nazism developed a fanaticism in antisemitism, which was already part of European traditions particularly violent in the East (pogroms in Tsarist Russia and Poland) and of the strong antisemitic atmosphere in many Western European countries.
- • Instead communism had reduced violent mass antisemitism in the Eastern countries as compared to what it was before. Antisemitic steps taken by the communist countries after 1948 did not reach the violence of those of the Tsarist era, or of Nazism.
- • The cult of death and of extermination were clearly set out in Mein Kampf regarding the Jews and before the Wannsee Conference; the author of this book was convinced that his targets were in agreement with: “the plans of the Lord and Nature.”
- • Communism has no such conceptual values.
- • Stalinism was a perverted version of Communism, resulted in the death, exile and incarceration of large numbers of people for political reasons.
- • Nazism developed industrialization and commercialization of death by providing the major German companies with enslaved people to be ultimately murdered and by implementing industrial process and equipment dedicated to racist mass extermination with high productivity.
- • Communism has not pursued a policy of industrial death.
- • The Nazis and their allies triggered a world war in which 65 million people were killed in five years of which 21 million were Soviet citizens; 63% of the European Jewish population was annihilated.
- • Communism did not cause such carnage in five years but the USSR gave back freedom to all Europe, as being in fact the essential opponent of Germany.
Nazism is the ultimate horror and should remain as such for ethical purpose and it is not one totalitarian regime as any others as some would like to impose the idea of it, within the European Union.
d-The Holocaust and the de facto denial of the Holocaust
Equating Communism and Nazism as this is done in the Declarations of Prague and of the European parliament has probably encouraged on the basis of the same principle, the eastern European countries to pretend they had been also victims of a genocide similar to the Holocaust.
In some cases this self-persuasion goes to the point of ranking the Holocaust second after the alleged genocide by Communists and sometimes to the point of excluding it from History. Yet The Holocaust had been made to 91% in the Eastern European countries whose peoples had been the first witnesses and in some case some of them had also been its perpetrators.
- With the extermination of six million Jews, the Holocaust destroyed 63% of European Jewry and any no other genocide is comparable in term of magnitude over a so short period.
- No East European countries has seen its population destroyed in a so big proportion and the Eastern European country that lost the largest number of people during the World War II, was the USSR with 21 million people killed by the Nazis out of a population of 170 million i.e. 12.4% of its whole population.
The alleged existence of a genocide in any Eastern country equivalent to the Holocaust could have among other anti-Semitic motives deeply rooted in these countries despite the almost disappearance of local Jewish populations.
In certain Baltic countries the anti-Semitism may be also combined with a glorification of the Nazis considered as liberators.
It must be also noted that the Holocaust has been the paroxysmal phase of a two thousand years of European anti-Semitism. This paroxysmal phase of a European continuum, has resulted in the necessary creation of a refuge for Jews in the Middle East and consequently Europe has a direct responsibility in the conflict in the Middle East today.
The questioning of the magnitude of the Holocaust compared to an alleged other genocide in Eastern countries reveals the deeply rooted European anti-Semitism and reinforces Israel’s role as the last refuge for world Jewry and undermines the possible involvement of Europe in a peace process in the Middle-East.
Some Eastern countries such as Lithuania and Hungary may find in the Declarations of Prague and of the European Parliament a support to their regrettable claim to be seen as victims of a genocide similar to the Holocaust as well to their newly created concept of double-Genocide.
The uniqueness of the Holocaust is very clear as a result of the proportion of the Jewish population of Europe exterminated.
The sole concept of double genocide that we may note is (i) the destruction of the memory of the individuals after they were (ii) physically murdered. This can be felt strongly in Lithuania
In order to clarify this point we will quote the words of the BUND (1) leader Leon Feiner (2) said to Jan Karski (3), during their meeting in Warsaw in August 1942 (reference: My testimony before the World -Jan Karski published in 1944):
“You Poles, you are lucky. Many of you are suffering and dying but despite that your nation will live on. After the war there will be a new to Poland, and your wounds will heal. In this sea of tears , of suffering and of humiliation, this country, which was also our homeland, will rise again, but we, Jews will be no longer here, our people will have disappeared. “
(1) Bund: Algemeyner Yidisher Arbeter Bund in Lite, Poyln un Rusland – Labor union and Movement of Socialist secular Jewish Workers of Lithuania, Poland and Russia.
(2) Leon Feiner: Executive member of the Bund in Warsaw. He sent to London a first report on the massacres of Jews in Poland in May 1942 and a second report in August 1942 on the final solution (Endlösung der Judenfrage).
(3) Jan Karski: was a Polish resistance leader and emissary in London in November 1942 with the support of the Polish Government in exile. He reported the situation of Poland and the extermination of Jews in Poland to Anthony Eden, to other British ministers and members of the British Parliament and in 1943 at its creation, to the commission of crimes to United Nations. He also reported this situation to President Franklin D. Roosevelt at the White House on July 28, 1943 during one hour and fifteen minutes. Jan Karski had penetrated twice in the Warsaw Ghetto and once in the extermination camp of Ibizica Lubeska near that of Belzec.
The alleged existence of another genocide equivalent to the Holocaust is a denial of the Holocaust “as such.”
e) The declarations of Prague and the European Parliament could lead some Member States from Eastern EU to propagate a distorted version of History:
- The Holocaust was excluded from the National Museum of the genocide of Lithuania and by the Centre for Research of Genocide associated with it.
- The Public Relations Director of the Genocide Research Center funded by the Lithuanian State is a leader of a neo-Nazi Party, and the organizer of the neo-Nazi marches in the city of Vilnius on the independence day of Lithuania. His statements on Diena.lt are particularly shocking: “The Jews play with matches on a powder keg … if the Government does nothing the people will do it …”.
- The neo-Nazis parades and marches are allowed in Lithuania.
- Lithuania has legalized the swastika in 2010 as a national symbol (Judgment of Klaipeda) and without any European protest.
- Several events are organized to rehabilitate the memory of Nazi collaborators during the war and participants to the perpetration of the Holocaust : The last one is the reburial from 17 to 20 May 2012 of the former President of Lithuania and Nazi collaborator who created the first concentration camp in Lithuania in 1941: “Juozas Ambrazevicius.” The Lithuanian government has allowed this shameful event. A celebration was held in the Church of the Resurrection of Christ in Kaunas and a lecture was given to his glory at the University of Vytautas Magnus. Terese Burauskaite, President of the research center of the genocide has naturally attended these events.
- Audronius Azubalis, foreign secretary, said he intend to take the opportunity of Lithuania’s presidency of the Council of the European Union in 2013, to emphasize the new version of history built by his country.
- While the former left wing government, had established in 2010 a law condemning the denial of the Holocaust, the following far rightist totalitarian government has during the same year, deleted the word Holocaust of the law and replaced it by the word Genocide, which is related, on the same footing, to the one that was allegedly perpetrated by the communist regime.
- This new far rightist government took totalitarian steps restricting the freedom of expression and particularly that of press and has increased its control over the main entities of the country.
- The European Commission did not take any disciplinary steps and has in addition imposed to the European Union, this quasi-dictatorship as President of its Council from January to June 2011.
- The Hungarian President Viktor Orban is apparently still Vice President of the EPP, as are MM Barroso and Van Rompuy.
LITHUANIA, HUNGARY AND OTHER SIMILAR COUNTRIES
Since the fall of Communism, many pro-Nazi war criminals from Eastern European countries and especially from Hungary and Lithuania, were able to return quietly live out their retirement in their home country either voluntarily or expelled from the United States when they are unmasked.
The Declarations of Prague and European Parliament do not ease healing of the resurgent or traditional Anti-Semitism in the Eastern European countries, which is very particularly rooted in the minds “as a real mental sickness of many people” notably because the Jewish populations of these countries have virtually disappeared.
Moreover the trivialization of Nazi totalitarianism may only facilitate the disinhibition of far right on the whole territory of the European Union.
f-Neo-McCarthyism in the eastern countries of the European Union
The Prague Declaration accusing the communist parties of not being able to evolve, has promoted a policy similar of that of McCarthy i.e. the banning the communist parties, their symbols and their supporters.
Such laws are in force in most countries of the Eastern members of the European Union and are in conflict with the provisions of the Charter of Fundamental Rights regarding freedom of expression and association.
g-THE FREEDOM OF EUROPE REGAINED BY THE USSR
The Prague Declaration and that of the European Parliament leave no room for the fact that Europe owes its freedom to the USSR.
Without the death of 21 million soviet citizens out of which 13,6 million soldiers of the Red Army during the World War II, Europe would have been difficultly freed from Nazism. The Red Army lost 9.4 times more soldiers than that of all the other allied armies of about 1.44 million soldiers.
The USSR has been able to defeat Germany with the material support from the United States by destroying or neutralizing nearly 80% of the Wehrmacht.
To achieve this victory the USSR has suffered 85% of all losses of the allied army.
i-The declaration of the European Parliament
Following the recommendation of the Prague Declaration, 409 members out of 732 of the sixth parliamentary term of the European Parliament, have signed a declaration inspired by that of Prague, a few months of before the end of their legislative mandate.
In this declaration, the word Stalinism often preferred to the word communism refers ultimately to the communism according to the words of the third paragraph of that declaration.
The declaration makes a tragic mix of Communism and Nazism in the same manner of that of the Prague Declaration, and again the Ribbentrop-Molotov agreement is mentioned as a reference day for the division of Europe or for the common view of Germans and Soviets.
The European Parliament even proposes a day of remembrance for victims of communism, but also for those of Nazism that would be the day of the anniversary of the signing of the Ribbentrop-Molotov agreement.
The victims of Nazism are used against their will in order to give weight to anti-communism despite the fact that as above mentioned the Nazism was essentially defeated by the Red Army.
The choice of the date of commemoration may be seen as a provocative act, consciously or unconsciously towards those who want to protect the memory of the victims of Nazism, which is relegated to the same level as those of Communism.
A day of commemoration that serves the interests of some and rejects that of all others may only be perceived as an injustice.
Among the main victims of Nazism we may note without being exhaustive the Jews whose nearly two thirds were exterminated in Europe, Gypsies, the people with physical or mental defects, the Freemasons, the Communists, the civilian and military Soviets , the resistance fighters and allied soldiers.
A day of commemoration cannot exclude anyone by its definition of victims or by the choice of a memorial day and its reference and cannot be determined without the agreement of all or it would have the color of the totalitarianism.
We understand the suffering of the peoples of Eastern European countries under Communist regimes, captives in their own countries where many of them were imprisoned, deported or executed for their political disagreements and where they were in any case deprived of freedom.
However the Declaration of Prague and of the European Parliament do not denounce only the suffering of the peoples, who lived under communism but also use them for the glory of another ideology. Indeed, the ideological nature of these declarations appears in the light of its historical distortions used in an offensive spirit.
These statements re-assess indirectly the horror of the Nazism by a trivial equation with Communism, which is outrageous to the victims of Nazism.
The defeat of Nazism was possible through the sacrifice of 13.6 million Red Army soldiers, i.e. 9.4 times the total losses of all the other allied armies.
The Declarations of Prague and of the European Parliament may also encourage deleterious excesses as the disinhibition of the far right organizations and Parties in Europe, the resurgence of Nazism in the Baltic countries and the birth of a neo-McCarthyism enshrined in the laws of Many Eastern countries of the European Union in opposition with the ethics of the European Union.
We wish to acknowledge the fact that most of German and Austrian MEPs, which have knowledge of Nazism and Communism abstained from signing the Declaration of the European Parliament.
k-Proposal of declaration submitted in July 2011 to French socialist MPs without much success and resubmitted in July 2012 as part of this essay.
The content of the “Prague Declaration on European Conscience and Communism” dated 3 June 2008, and the related declaration by the European Parliament of 23 September 2008, having introduced the concept of equivalence of Communism and Nazism, has impaired the specific abomination of Nazism accepted as a universal value in pan-human resistance to the evils of genocide, racism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism, which generated the unique phenomenon of the Holocaust, and in terms of magnitude of destruction over a few years, on a unique scale in European history.
As a result they have introduced a significant danger of obfuscation and trivialization of the crimes of Nazism whose effect among others might be the granting of de-facto contemporary encouragement to the current rise of racism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism and of the resurgence of Nazism in Europe, in total opposition to the ethos upon which the European Union is founded.
Additional pressures are currently being applied by some Eastern members of the European Union to impose upon Europe this distorted combination of a legitimate wish for an improved knowledge of the history under Communist regimes with an irrational supposed equivalence with the Nazi regime. This trivial equation is detrimental for history and ethics and must be rejected.
We declare that:
1 – Suffering of Peoples under Communist Regimes:
We understand the suffering of the peoples of Eastern Europe under Communist regimes, each of who may legitimately celebrate its recovered freedom from communism.
However, the notion of an imposed pan-European remembrance of the victims of Nazism and Communism together, as this is suggested by the above mentioned declarations, is an attempt to build an artificial equivalence between two different phenomena so that the one serves the other one and is not acceptable.
2 -Crimes of Nazis and the uniqueness of the Holocaust:
As a result of World War II which was unleashed on Europe and the world by the Nazis and their allies, more than 60 million people lost their lives in the world in only 6 years, and the very large majority of the Jewish European population in Nazi-occupied Europe was murdered by the Nazis and their collaborators, in the frame of a campaign of total eradication of the world’s Jewish population.
Taking into account the unparalleled destruction perpetrated by the Nazis, the monstrousness of the Holocaust and of its racist, anti-Semitic and xenophobic principles, Nazism must keep its specific place in the field of horror which cannot be shared with Communism, without a high risk of obfuscation impairing ethical references hardly acquired and still very fragile. The specificity of the crimes of the Nazis must always be taken into account and taught by all the institutions.
We draw the attention that the word ‘genocide’ should not be utilized without due care, as we currently notice it in a certain number of Eastern countries, or with a purpose of only challenging the empirical uniqueness of the Holocaust.
The simplistic proposed equivalence between Communism and Nazism obfuscates the Nazism as paroxysmal phase of racism, anti-Semitism and xenophobia, impairs the memory of the Holocaust and offers encouragement to dangerous new strains of resurgent racism, xenophobia and anti-Semitism.
3 -The duty of the European Union to prevent any form of resurgence of Nazism on its territory:
Taking into account the huge sacrifices of the Allies to free Europe from Nazism, the European Union should feel responsible for preventing any resurgence of Nazism or similar movements on any part of its territory and to take sanction against any person who might try to reintroduce it , or its glorification in any form or circumstance.
15. The rightist rooting of the European Union and the inconsistence of its ethics were especially visible in the declaration of the European Parliament dated of 23 September 2008, supporting the Prague Declaration dated of 3 June 2008.
In fact this Declaration supported a rewriting of History opacifying and obfuscating the magnitude of Nazi crimes at the expense of the memory of their victims in order to dramatize those of Communism for evident political reasons since, among others and against the evidence of historical facts, it utilizes a rough and trivial mathematical equation unacceptable in the field of History.
In addition, the proposal to commemorate both the remembrance of the victims of Nazism and Communism, the day of the anniversary of the signing of the precarious Ribbentrop-Molotov agreement is totally meaningless, and is insulting and outrageous for the victims of Nazism.
The USSR suffered 84% of the losses of the all the allied armies to free Europe from Nazism , this should be kept in mind as well as the Agreements of Versailles, Riga, Munich and Yalta.