O P I N I O N
by Efraim Zuroff
- The following comment first appeared in the discussion following David Mikics’s Tablet magazine article on Timothy Snyder (“The Diplomat of Shoah History. Does Yale historian Timothy Snyder absolve Eastern Europe of special complicity in the Holocaust?”). It is reproduced here with Dr. Zuroff’s permission. For further background, see the links below.
Unfortunately, this excellent article by David Mikics focuses almost exclusively on Poland, which for historical reasons is not the place where Snyder’s Bloodlands totally fails to present a historical account of the reality of the Holocaust. A far better place would be the Baltics in general, and Lithuania in particular. In these countries, three important phenomena took place:
1 the uniquely extensive participation of local volunteer Nazi collaborators in the mass murder of their Jewish fellow citizens, which in many cases was carried out with unusual cruelty and zeal;
2 the mass murder in these countries of many thousands of Jews deported there from elsewhere in Europe;
3 the participation of local security police units from these countries in the mass murder of Jews in Belarus and Poland.
In Poland, the Nazis did not incorporate Poles into the mechanism of the systematic annihilation of the Jews, as they did with Baltic collaborators, and therefore Snyder’s cavalier attitude toward Lithuanian, Latvian, and Estonian murderers of Jews is a far greater misrepresentation of the historical reality than his assessment of the individual Poles who persecuted and/or killed their Jewish neighbors.
Snyder recently participated in a symposium on the Holocaust in Lithuania, which was held in Vilnius the same week as the reburial with full honors in Kaunas of J. Ambrazevičius, the prime minister of the Lithuanian Provisional Government, which fully supported the Nazis and the mass murder of the Jews.
Ever the “diplomat of Shoah history,” he did not say a word about this outrageous step during the symposium, nor has he ever declined the honors accorded him in Eastern Europe as the “poster boy” for the theory of double genocide by those are so busy promoting the canard of equivalency between Nazi and Communist crimes.
The fact that the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry is promoting Bloodlands as the alternative narrative, which will serve to deflect the justified criticism of Lithuanian complicity in Holocaust crimes, makes Snyder an accomplice in the distortion of the history of the Shoah in these countries.
- Dovid Katz, Open Letter to Professor Timothy Snyder
- On Earlier abuse of Bloodlands by East European far-right nationalists
- On earlier instrumentalization of Bloodlands by the Lithuanian foreign ministry
Some reviews of Bloodlands that focus on the treatment of East European collaboration:
- Dan Diner in Contemporary European History
- Alexander J. Groth in Israel Journal of Foreign Affairs
- Dovid Katz in East European Jewish Affairs
- Thomas Kuhne in Contemporary European History
- Grzegorz Rossoliński-Liebe in H-Soz-u-Kult (English here)
- Kenneth Waltzer in Holocaust Studies
- Efraim Zuroff in Haaretz
On the current foreign minister’s record on Jewish issues:
- Antisemitic outburst (Jewish community’s response)
- The “moustache version” of World War II history
- Attack on Lithuanian parliamentarians who signed the SYD (Lithuanian MP Vytenis Andriukaitis’s response; British MP Denis MacShane’s response)
- Defense of state reburial of Nazi puppet prime minister on the floor of the Seimas
- Foreign Ministry reviving Double Genocide in the European Parliament with the help of American professor Timothy Snyder