Lithuanian Radio Panel Discussion on the Seventy Years Declaration

The Seventy Years Declaration, released on 20 January 2012, was the subject of a 31 January 2012 Žinių radijas (News Radio) station panel discussion including one of the Lithuanian signatories of the declaration, Social Democratic MP Vytenis Andriukaitis, himself a signatory of the Lithuanian Declaration of Independence. MP Andriukaitis was attacked by the foreign minister for signing.

MP Andriukaitis’s response won international support, and there is reference in the panel discussion to the support from British human rights champion MP Denis MacShane for all eight Lithuanian parliamentarians who signed the Seventy Years Declaration.

The other participants were rather obviously opposed to MP Andriukaitis (and the Seventy Years Declaration), making it a rather unbalanced panel: the moderator, Audrys Antanaitis; Ronaldas Račinskas, executive director of the International Commission for the Evaluation of the Crimes of the Nazi and Soviet Occupation Regimes in Lithuania (known for short as the “Red-Brown Commission”; it is chaired by Conservative MP Emanuelis Zingeris, the only Jewish signatory of the Prague Declaration); far-right political activist and academic Marius Kundrotas. The original Lithuanian broadcast is available here. What follows is as full as possible an English translation made from the audio.

  • The participants:
  • AA: Audrys Antanaitis
  • MK: Marius Kundrotas
  • RR: Ronaldas Račinskas
  • VA: Vytenis Andriukaitis

AA: Hello, this is Audrys Antanaitis. Today: about a history that inevitably affects our present. The so-called Wannsee Declaration [= Seventy Years Declaration] again recalls a painful past and its different interpretations. So, can the Holocaust be compared with Communist crimes? It’s said that that offends Jews. But why should Jews be offended by a reminder that the Communists also killed en masse innocent people? And in general, why have we today decided to compete on who suffered more, the victims of the Nazis or the victims of the Communists? Is this really important to the victims themselves and their families? Does talking about one’s suffering really require comparison with the sufferings of other victims?

Is it really important on what basis the mass murder was carried out, or executed? That basis will not bring the person back in any event. Today our guests are Ronaldas Racinskas, executive director of the International Commission for the Evaluation of the Crimes of the Nazi and Soviet Occupational Regimes in Lithuania; historian, political scientist and member of the board of directors of the Nationalist Union Marius Kundrotas; and signatory to the Act of Restoration of Independence and vice-chairman of the Social Democratic Party Vytenis Andriukaitis. Welcome.

Various: Good day. Good day. Good morning.

AA: Ronaldas, you are an official who assesses the crimes of the Nazi and Soviet occupational regimes, but if we go by the ideology of that that new Wannsee Declaration [= Seventy Years Declaration], then you couldn’t be director, because Nazi crimes are well a terrible thing, but Communist [crimes] are sort of no big deal.

RR: I think that we’ll get back later to what the crimes are. Speaking about our own commission, really, Audrys, I don’t know whether you knew it or just guessed, but you hit right on it, that from the very establishment of the commission we’ve received many criticisms even before we really started work just because of the title, that it was decided to investigate Nazi crimes and Soviet crimes in one commission, and this issue the entire decade long, it was more or less exaggerated, and there are several aspects to this. One is that I truly agree that it shouldn’t be mixed up and called a single thing, saying, well, in general these are crimes and it doesn’t matter what sort or how they were committed, let’s just talk about crimes.

Second, to completely differentiate, to distinguish, well it seems to me the prime minister recently said in your studio that history and geography themselves place these crimes, these victims, next to each other. But we should understand clearly that even though there were real similarities between those crimes, truth be told not so much between the crimes but between the ideologies, the regimes that committed those crimes, first of all meaning totalitarian regimes of which one was based on the principle of racial superiority, where things were ordered by race, the other regime creating a society ordered by class, and whoever didn’t insinuate themselves into those pyramids, those notional, created social structures, had to be exterminated.

On the other hand part of society was exterminated merely to scare the other part of society and make them obedient. These are the sorts of things, but as I said, the ideologies themselves are rather different and that’s why they shouldn’t be mixed up, and we should investigate, analyze and judge each of these crimes clearly and specifically. But in answer to your question, is it possible to compare: I think that in the academic scholarly sense comparative studies are normal, acceptable and if… but it shouldn’t be an aim in itself to compare, if we, if in academia we compare something, we are trying to create some new knowledge out of that comparison, and if there is the need, through analysis, comparison, it is possible to discover something new, but we cannot in any way equate and say these are the same thing.

AA: Ahem.

RR: Or to say somehow that one crime is more important than another, or one group of victims suffered less. I think that road really leads nowhere, so as you said in the discussion, who suffered more, really doesn’t contribute so that one group and another group of victims would be understood, valued and honored.

AA: So, Marius, you and Ronaldas can’t disagree, besides which he said correctly that this can’t be combined into one, of course, these are historical processes, historical events, and a Nazi is not the same thing as a Bolshevik, a Communist, that’s totally correct. Things must be placed in [their proper] drawers [categories] here. But this is what happens, or what impression is made while um reading responses or how society accepts this so-called Wannsee [Seventy Years] Declaration? Have they understood us? Sure. The sacrifice of Jews is larger than those who suffered Bolshevik repressions, because there was, there was the ethnic basis, and if you’re a Jew, then you will be exterminated, so that was a terrible tragedy really. But how in the heck does that differ from Bolshevik let’s say Russia, the Soviet Union, where if you were richer than… you have two cows instead of one, inevitably you will be condemned for that. So these victims, it is offensive the one group suffered more and another group less. Unfortunately, that’s how it is understood, right?

MK: Well, truly many true thoughts have been said, but I would like to correct a few things. Although the aspect of class differentiation and violence dominated in the Bolshevik ideology, there were also certain ethnic aspects. If we take a look, entire peoples of the Caucasus, such as the Chechens and Ingushetians, were deported from their lands, and if we look at events in Lithuania Minor [East Prussia] at the end of World War II, then simply all local inhabitants, ethnic Lithuanians as well as ethnic Germans, were murdered, raped, burned alive and in the end the absolute majority were simply deported out of there. So some people, some groups of people, let’s say, were also exterminated under the Bolshevik regime in the Soviet Union or…

AA: Nations, nations….

MK: …or discriminated against on an ethnic basis, an ethnic basis.

AA: Mhm.

MK: That’s one aspect. The other aspect is even more interesting.

As a political scientist, I observe how currently the leftist forces of the European Union and also Russia are playing a very dirty game, with two aspects. One aspect is that national socialism, and let’s say the full name of this regime, as well as Soviet Bolshevism were socialist movements of socialist ideology and socialist regimes. What are contemporary socialists doing? First they cut the word socialism out of national socialism and ascribe all the crimes of national socialism to nationalism, in other words, to ethnic pride, forgetting nationalists who had nothing in common with any Nazi ideologies and could not have had anything in common with them, people such as Mahatma Gandhi, and our, let’s say, Jonas Basanavicius, and Manzini [?] Garibaldi in Italy.

Now the second aspect of this game which the leftists of Europe and Russia are now playing is the diminution of the crimes of Bolshevism. The diminution of the crimes of Bolshevism, as this very declaration, its text, shows. It is truly very interesting that it was namely Lithuanian social democrats who signed this declaration, Lithuanian social democrats—

AA: Not just them, but…

MK: Not just Lithuanian social democrats, but including Lithuanian social democrats. As much as I’ve acquainted myself with this text, it also condemns the Lithuanian Activist Front, abbreviated LAF, which is an anti-Soviet and later anti-Nazi resistance organization [sic]. Perhaps those who today call themselves social democrats do not know that in the establishment of the Lithuanian Activist Front, Lithuanian social democrats of that time also participated, and even delegated their representative Petras Ancevicius to the headquarters [leadership] of LAF. Thus if today’s social democrats or those who call themselves such do not know this, or this doesn’t matter to them, the question arises: what do they identify themselves with, is it with the historical social democrats, or with the Communists? In the latter case no question arises as to why they so dislike the Lithuanian Activist Front. Communists have a reason to dislike them.

AA: Now a short break.

AA: OK, Audrys Antanaitis here continuing the conversation and reminding you that today we are talking about rather painful historical assessments, assessments which also affect our present, since we once were in the very center of the whirlwind of those historical processes which we are trying to assess. Of course not us, not physically, but if only our parents, grandparents or great-grandparents were there, then it is understandable why these matters cannot fail to make us care vitally. Our program’s guests are executive director of the International Commission for the Evaluation of the Crimes of the Nazi and Soviet Occupation Regimes in Lithuania Rolandas Racinskas; Restoration of Independence Act signatory and deputy chairman of the Social Democratic Party Vytenis Andriukaitis; and historian, political scientist and member of the board of directors of the Nationalist Union Marius Kundrotas. Honorable Vytenis, you are submitting [?] that Wannsee [Seventy Years] Declaration, so what is its ideological content really? You signed it.

VA: It doesn’t have an ideological content.

AA: So what kind of content does it have?

VA: It has a very clear content.

AA: Mhm.

VA: About the declaration which marks the Nazi conference in 1942 held just outside Berlin at Wannsee Lake, where the final solution to the Jewish problem was adopted,

AA: Mhm

VA: and where the mass murder of the Jews got underway, the engineering, technical, chemical and organizational measures were created, the ideological measures had been put in place previously, Jews were declared parasites, and so to speak real measures were taken to organize the factories of mass murder and through them to annihilate totally and physically, the Jews…

AA: But it’s not the marking of the event that raises questions, it’s that you marked that Nazi—

VA: Undoubtedly—

AA: But there was something after that…

VA: Antisemitism, which has always been, so to speak, proclaimed one of the most dangerous [forms of] recidivism, of the forms for inciting hatred, in that context this declaration is intended to remind Lithuania and Europe about what dangers can occur from any expressions which deny the Holocaust was unique, which deny the inhuman basis of Nazi ideology, the anti-human and anti-civilization basis…

AA: But you said Lithuania and the world. Does Lithuania stand out in some way here…?

VA: Certainly. In Lithuania—

AA: Why?

VA: In Lithuania the genocide against the Jews acquired the most extreme brutal forms. And 95% of [these] Lithuanian citizens, of our nation, people of the Lithuania nation, a great many of whom actively participated in the life of the Lithuanian state, were murdered.

AA: Well, I see, but so what, it wasn’t our initiative. It was only…

VA: But the problem is ours, the problem is that it is totally obvious that the initiative was Nazi Germany’s but it needs to be said that many of our countrymen involved themselves in the murder of Jews. Are you trying to forget that fact?

AA: We can’t forget that fact, just like we can’t forget other facts, but here’s another thing now. We read in the media that, when I asked about your ideology, well, society understands the deal, that the Holocaust is so horrible that you can’t even compare it with something. But do you understand, how can victims be compared? Does it even matter to the victim whether a national socialist or a Bolshevik Communist murdered them?

VA: The discussion is not about the victim, we’re talking about living people, we’re talking about our living memory, about our society, about contemporary humanity, about what lessons humanity must understand out of this blood-curdling bestiality which is recognized throughout the world as an expression of anti-civilization.

AA: Look, Germany has understood those lessons, Russia, which is the successor to the rights of the USSR, hasn’t understood. And now when we say “Bolshevik crimes,” you know, they didn’t really matter much […] how Russia gives out now…

VA: OK, hold on there a second, dear Audrys, I am failing to understand you there a little. You too are trying to, well, push that ideology here, that Nazism and Stalinism are the same thing.

AA: No, no way, not the same! Rolandas told you they aren’t the same. Even [though?] for the victim horrible crimes are the same…

VA: So if you’re saying they aren’t the same, hold on, if they’re not the same, you see we clearly have to discuss this. I was listening to nationalist Kundrotas here with such a, you know, almost like the chief justice of the Final Judgment, so convincing, a young person and flashing lightning. Well such…

AA: OK, we need to [inaudible]

VA: …maybe that’s characteristic of an extremist nationalist, but I think if we are discussing this, how to say it, normally, discussing these problems, then we could probably agree what it means to be Lithuanian, what ethnic pride means, what democracy is, what pluralism is, how a Lithuanian can be both a nationalist and a socialist and a social democrat and a conservative and so on. And it’s not me… and then we could find a really common indicator, a common cultural indicator, because most of the people I know, including LAF people with whom I have communicated personally, with Dr. Valaitis and others, they really couldn’t go along with such an attitude. Dr. Valaitis, our, well, noble person, he gave the example of Bishop Paltaroka who excommunicated all of his parishioners in Panevezys who took part in the mass murder of Jews. This is one of the noblest examples which we truly truly need… This is the completely clear position of LAF people which…

MK: You condemn them.

VA: which completely clearly condemns those who stained their hands with the blood of innocent people.

AA: And we, we too condemn them.

MK: We too condemn them. Why do you then condemn the LAF?

AA: Continue.

VA: Well, that’s what we’re talking about, if… You probably didn’t read the declaration. It talks about how we cannot keep quiet … those things, just as we cannot keep quiet matters in the partisan movement in connection with the murder of innocent people.

AA: Yes. Yes. Yes yes yes. About hushing up. Continue. Good. Mhm.

VA: We have to speak of omissions.

AA: Now we give the floor to a listener. Hello.

Jonas from Vilnius: Hello, I’m Jonas from Vilnius.

AA: Yes, Jonas, we’re listening.

Jonas: One thing. I wanted to comment a little upon what Mr. Andriukaitis said. Without denying that the Holocaust, the importance and horror of the Holocaust, I believe Stalinism differed ideologically from what fascist Germany did, but the horror of the crimes is equal, and knowing that in any case the German Nazis learned from Stalin’s ideologues how to murder people, these matters are very very equitable.

AA: Mhm, yes, good. Thanks. Thank you. Yes, we, we got you, because you expressed very well and briefly your thought and to [our] benefit. Truly, who is insulted? No one wants to forget the Holocaust, no one wants to deny the Holocaust. But when the comparative moment arrives, whether it’s a Lithuanian or Latvian, or.. other hmm natio— well other nations who suffered from the Bolsheviks, a person immediately stands up: what, was my suffering small? Is comparison itself profitable [useful]?

RR: No, I think comparison, as I said, in the academic sense, it is allowable to compare different phenomena of history, but I think this really isn’t the most important matter. I wanted to, before answering the question, to continue the discussion, really, to sort out with honorable Vytenis anyway that so-called Seventy Years Declaration, what, how it appeared, how it was born, I’m simply interested in learning this. Who, who were the initiators of this document?

VA: The initiators were parliamentarians of the United Kingdom and also several professors who analyze the Holocaust, and, namely it was the initiative of the United Kingdom and those professors, they sent us this text.

RR: I just…I thought so, I… since I have worked in this field for rather a long time, I know the people who work and I saw this declaration… perhaps… the webpage Defending History, or, Professor Dovid Katz—does this mean something to you?

VA: Very much so. Said truly, I will jump ahead of you here, sir, sir—

AA and RR: [arguing]

VA: The gentleman wants to accuse him…

RR: I don’t want to accuse anyone. I haven’t said, I haven’t said anything yet….

VA: [not audible]

AA: So let’s say, not accuse. Let’s be polite.

RR: I haven’t said anything yet, and you already know what I want to say, very very very good—

VA: Of course. I know right wingers very well.

RR: Very good.

AA: Well, Rolandas, what about that professor?

RR: Yep, well, I just wanted to determine whether this was a conscious involvement with this really political ideological activity, or simply a result of ignorance. I just didn’t get a final answer, because, well, the honorable member of parliament Andriukaitis said this is some sort of activity by British parliamentarians, but here from that same declaration it is very clearly written who created this declaration. And here, here, the declaration is supported by and written by Dovid Katz, and others, as a product of the Defending History webpage. Anyone who’s interested in these matters, I suggest going to that webpage and taking a look around. Except for very tendentious, very pointed falsification of history, and the defilement of Lithuania, there’s nothing else there. So my question is, did honorable Vytenis with colleagues involve themselves with this out of ignorance, or was it after all intentional?

VA: Fine, honorable Rolandas, now—

RR: I conclude now as in the declaration itself. I…What you said in the first part of your statement, I can sign off on every word of yours. You spoke very truly. But then here this declaration, as always happens, a pretext is chosen, a specific important date, beautiful statements are made, the majority is really true. But there are several places, very essential and very important in the declaration, that is, what is denied, and here in the declaration you reject the Prague Declaration of 2008.

VA: Yes, I reject it. I really do. And I wouldn’t have signed it.

RR: I’d like to talk about that. Fine. So we will discuss that a bit.

VA: Fine.

RR: You here in this declaration deny the necessity of and condemn attempts, as it says here, to rewrite the history textbooks of Europe. That means that you are opposed to the appearance of information in history textbooks about Soviet crimes. The complicity of people [?].

VA: Honorable Rolandas, perhaps you should take a look now and ask what that means. Right now you are interpreting the thoughts of a person sitting right next to you, and now I want to—

RR: I’m not interpreting thoughts… I am reading the declaration. I’m not interpreting your thoughts—

VA: Now look, since you are reading the declaration, let’s try to sort it out now to our satisfaction, colleague Rolandas. For a long time now the rewriting of history has weighed upon me as an historian. Even rewriting and distortion of the history of Soviet Lithuania, and I will soon publish a long book as an historian in this regard. It really bothers me. Second, the Prague Declaration is a political declaration by political forces, especially right-wing political forces, since there are right-wingers in many states, even if, sadly, there are some signatures by people on the right, but this is a political declaration very characteristic of attempts by right-wing politicians right now to make politics out of history. One must learn from history, historical memory needs to be cherished, needs to be conveyed, and it is necessary to write textbooks about all authoritarian and totalitarian regimes, and I stress: all of them. We have had a whole series of, so to speak, affairs with authoritarianism, during the time of Smetona, and of Stalin, and Brezhnev, and so on, and—

AA: But you […] condemn. We condemn Nazis, but not Bolsheviks!

VA: Well, right now, actually, Stalinism has been condemned in Lithuania.

AA: By whom, by public opinion?

VA: Hold on, not just public opinion. First of all—

AA: [argues unintelligibly]

VA: …first of all, honorable Audrys, I don’t know if you remember, but I remember the 20th Congress in which Stalinist criminals were tried, Beria dies [unintelligible here], there were others, more than 20 were shot…

AA: [unintelligible]

VA: I, colleague, was in the underground, the last time I was, in ’85—

AA: But I don’t like it that Vytenis Andriukaitis had to go underground when [unintelligible]!

VA: Sure, but why was Andriukaitis there? Was it so that he’d see all the pluses and minuses of historical eras and see the truth, or was it because he needed again to re-dye his hair—

AA: The 20th Congress didn’t liberate you, Vytenis.

VA: Hold on, free people, no free people imprisoned me. There is a very good book by Vydunas, read it, called “Prison is Freedom” [?]. Now, I am answering you sincerely, it truly is this way, the rewriting of history, of which I’ve seen an endless amount today in Lithuania, including post-war histories, white blemishes, the especially horrifying tendency wherein one group of historians write one set of books about the other side of the moon like Porcija, his is a very good monograph [?]. They are immediately attached, so to say, defiled and so on. Read the different websites, there are so many things there. And so as an historian I have defended and will defend [the idea] that we shouldn’t leave any white blemishes [blank spots] in history,

AA: [unintelligible] … why …

VA: … we have to write about it, but we must interpret and judge events correctly. I’m glad the honorable Racinskas agrees that we cannot place and equal sign between the Holocaust and Stalinist crimes…

AA: Who’s placing one??! I would like to say that that myt—

VA: Wait, hold on there, hold on, wait, who’s placing one, let’s try… Audronis Azubali—

AA and VA: [speaking over one another]

VA: Here in my hands is a letter from Dennis MacShane to me, and I can present it to you so you can read it, so that all your fairy tales about Dovid Katz and others might be at least somewhat justified…

AA: So who’s that?

VA: Dennis MacShane is a former Laborite of Europe, admin— … government, European minister, now United Kingdom parliamentarian. This is what he writes. He writes that he is simply shocked by Audronius—

RR: I was also shocked, I was also shocked, I was also shocked, I was also shocked not by the statement of Audronius Azubalis but by the statement of his incompetent press representative, but here’s the problem, that Audronius Azubalis didn’t make another statement after that, so that to now comment upon this—

VA: Audronius Azaubalis’s equating [interrupted by RR]…. Yes, now… Audronius… I don’t know, possibly I’ll give this letter to Audronius Azubalis, because this is a high-ranking, meaning, an open letter by a politician of Great Britain. Meaning, he immediately responded to to the foreign minister’s words. Here I can give you this copy now, so you can—

RR: I already know.

VA: I’m not sure you do know. If you knew, you’d speak differently. So here is the problem now: we have truly complicated matters when statements by people from the minister’s office upset the most renowned politicians of other countries who participate directly… This politician was in Poland in ’82 and was arrested for handing money—

RR: We, Mr. Vytenis, we are deviating, we are deviating from the essence! We are deviating from the essence! We are deviating from the essence.

VA: … and now concerning, concerning, concerning essence: we live in a democratic society, colleague Racinskas, and—

AA: But why do we have to remember the Holocaust at the cost of the Bolshevik side?

VA: Why at the cost of the Bolshevik side?

AA: You said Bolshevism is condemned in Lithuania. Has Europe condemned Bolshevism or not?

VA: Stalinism is condemned in Europe uniformly and in the same way.

AA: Uniformly and in the same way?

VA: Yes, Stalinism, and Francoism, and all other dictatorships are condemned.

AA: Don’t people walk around with symbols of Communism in Italy and France?

VA: Here’s my question to you. My question to you. The Nuremberg Trials. Why weren’t Mussolini’s fascists in the dock at Nuremberg?

RR: Well now…

VA: Just the Nazis. Ask yourself, ask…

RR: OK, Now…

VA: Ask yourself that question. There were [three?] defeated.

RR: Right.

VA: So ask yourself that question, and I suggest a separate program for that.

AA: Fine, we’ll get to that right away after a short break…

AA: Well now, when speaking of history, the passions always stir in such a way that, no matter what you do, this is our life, this is where we all came from. Guests are International Commission for Evaluating the Crimes of the Nazi and Soviet Occupational Regimes in Lithuania executive director Ronaldas Racinskas; Restoration of Independence Act signatory social democrat Vytenis Andriukaitis; and historian, political scientist and national Marius Kundrotas. So Marius, about that equal sign, since Vytenis Andriukaitis is a wonderful fine person, but during the break he took me to task on why I, how do I say, want to, like, place an equal sign…

Unknown: …very strong, to discuss…

AA: Discussing! But I really, I really am not placing an equal sign, it’s just that I don’t want the marking of one happen at the expense of marking the other, saying that one is more important and the other not so much.

MK: I completely agree that an equal sign should not be placed. Objectively we cannot place an equality sign for three reasons. First reason: the Jewish nation has the right to consider Nazism the greater of the two evils, that is, Nazism and Bolshevism. The Jewish nation as a nation truly did suffer more from Nazism. Now the second aspect: the Lithuanian nation, as a nation, has the exact same right to consider Bolshevism the greater evil, because Lithuanians as a nation suffered less from Nazism. And the third aspect, the common human one—if we reject overall the selective categorization into ethnicities and [instead] just look at the numbers of human units, then more people died from Bolshevism and its related socialist regimes than from Nazism and its satellites. So there, there are three aspects, and only one of them is to the benefit of Mr. Andriukaitis and his colleagues. Therefore I agree, objectively an equal sign cannot be placed. And the attempt to equalize, the attempt to equalize, and I agree by right-wing politicians as well, either from the position of the Lithuanian nation or the common human one, Nazism with Bolshevism, is too humble an attempt. One may not equalize, because Bolshevism is horrible, both to the Lithuanian nation and to humanity.

AA: Well, Rolandas, are the victors not tried, as it is said, still, when we speak of Bolshevism, and that’s why it’s so hard to make claims.

RR: Truly I exactly wanted in that conversation of ours to to talk about that. That more or less around 2007 and 2008 European processes moved ahead, including thanks to efforts by Lithuania, for appropriately judging, researching and publicizing what happened beyond the iron curtain. And I would truly like to also say that it is not merely the Prague Declaration, there are a plethora of European documents which have been adopted, beginning with the resolution of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, I won’t name them all, at the European Parliament, at the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, these are common European documents and common European norms in which these issues are clearly enumerated as is the necessity to appropriately analyze, study and assess both Nazi and Soviet crimes. And those purely political groups, interest groups, in the broader sense, if we have time we can talk about that, briefly I can say that this first of all is Russia which is very worried that these crimes should not be enumerated, because if they are, then the whole foundation upon which Putin is somewhat building current Russian policy will be overturned. That is, certain radicals are opposing this very strongly, I would call them defenders of the unique nature of the Holocaust, I would call this group that. Also strongly opposing this are, for understandable reasons, leftist politicians, because, um, clearly Communism, Bolshevism have nothing in common with classical social democratic ideology, but in a certain sense their roots are more or less from the same philosophy of Karl Marx, and clearly certain political losses would accrue to the leftist political flange and for that reason there is even this parting of the ways in European structures, but that’s not the most important thing. The most important thing is that those interest groups, political forces, are doing all they can to stop knowledge and the free flow of information about those Soviet crimes. Clearly, you can’t say directly, we aren’t talking about that. Certain pretexts are sought, and there you go, there’s that so-called equality, I work on that equality. I will say here very sincerely I work in an institution of which there are not many in Lithuania which is engaged in these issues. Yes, some of our politicians need to be educated in order to avoid statements of this nature about which Vytenis spoke. I think it is totally unacceptable and eh even historically incorrect to say that Stalin differed from Hitler only in the form or length of his moustache. Let’s not even comment upon that. But really the true position is pointed at appropriately assessing Soviet crimes. But opponents are trying to portray those efforts—

VA: So tell us, is the true position really to enumerate Nazi crimes as well?

RR: This, they have been assessed.

AA: [unintelligible]

VA: Hold on.

[multiple parties speaking over one another]

RR: …including in Lithuania. Vytenis, I will complete my statement.

VA: So to speak, your commission must work in two directions [inaudible]

RR: I will finish. We do work, we do work…

AA: Rolandas will finish [something]

RR: We do work in two directions, and more or less in the sense of time and resources, and research, the balance is really being maintained, and I belive that in Lithuania we do work more with Nazi crimes, so to speak, publicizing Nazi crimes, we carry out educational programs, because truly in Lithuania there needs to be more knowledge and understanding of those crimes, while in Western Europe there needs to be more input to the other side of the balance. On what the position is in Western Europe, I can say this, that in Sweden there was a study, and 95% of those questioned knew well of Auschwitz, but when asked how many suffered from the Soviet Communist regime from 1917 onward, the majority of those questioned said that up to ten thousand people suffered. So this is what sort of level of knowledge there is—

AA: [unintelligible]

RR: …what the level of knowledge is. And great efforts have been made so that this situation in Europe wouldn’t change. And the reason is the most simple and clearest one: the desire to preserve the present status quo in assessing history, that is, that there was one evil in Europe in the 20th century, and that was the Nazis.

AA: So that Great Russia wouldn’t suffer.

VA: Can I say, as an historian, I don’t know, colleague, ah—

AA: All three of you are historians.

VA: …[my] colleague, how to say it, works, to wit, in this commission, but who was it that judged— called the Soviet Union the Empire of Evil?

AA: Ronald Reagan.

VA: Right, and we’re doing the same thing. We’re doing the same thing.

AA: But wasn’t it the Empire of Evil?

Unknown voice: [unintelligible]

VA: Right. Now the second thing, who came up with the idea that Western Europe needs to understand the scope of totalitarian Stalinist crimes, crimes, and the entire [unintelligible]?

AA: Who came up with it?

VA: All democrats, beginning with me in the Council of Europe, the European Parliament, ending with—

AA: But what have you accomplished?

VA: Huh?

AA: Have you accomplished something? Does Europe understand?

VA: We’ve accomplished a great deal. Racinskas spoke correctly.

AA: Swedes said ten, ten thousand…

Unknown voice: He’s thinking. Isn’t that nice.

VA: Hold on. He spoke correctly that there is even a report prepared by the European Commission—

AA: Yes, that, that was a step.

VA: …he had… yes, that all information must be written up in the history textbooks—

AA: Right.

VA: —to present fully the entire picture which is, and, corresponding to the scope of Stalinist crimes.

AA: So Vytenis, you’re wonderful, but is it like that now? Have we already achieved this?

VA: That’s why we have to work, but where does the problem lie?

AA: Where??!

VA: Colleague Racinskas omits omits one small detail: he said that Putin now builds his, his, on top of….

AA: Isn’t he building it on top of that?

VA: Pay attention, Audrys. It’s like this. Does Russia compensate… victims of Stalinism, pay them compensation…?

AA: At least to us it doesn’t seem like they do, much.

VA: I am asking, does Russia pay [compensation] to her citizens, or not?

RR?: They probably pay their own.

VA: They pay. Meaning that there are three different schools of thought in Russia on Stalinism: one large school of thought which praises Stalinism, and this is understandable, there are still Stalinists; another school of thought which fights Stalinism and condemns it; and a third which is more or less indifferent. So the problem is political [unintelligible], because after raising the idea of compensation for damages from occupation, it was understandable that it will be very difficult for us to to continue this, ah, how to say it, round of debates with Russia, so we thought up the … Double Genocide theory, and if we can drag Stalinism over next to Nazi genocide, it will be easier for us to demand compensation via international organizations…

RR: But this isn’t our affair alone.

VA: I am speaking now about this doctrine, about which colleague Racinskas is intentionally keeping silent.

AA: What, doesn’t Stalinism in its scope equal…?

RR: This is your conspiracy theory you are clearly explaining here now.

VA: No, not conspiracy, colleague.

RR: No no—

VA: Let’s differentiate three things. Let’s differentiate necessary education throughout the world about Stalinist crimes, and incidentally, some of the best books written outside Lithuania about Stalinism, read it, Timothy Snyder’s, and by other authors, and it’s great that there are Lithuanian translations, wonderful books. Read the classic—

AA: Well, and there’s this book called The Holocaust Industry.

VA: [unintelligible]—

RR: Incidentally your beloved Dovid Katz and those web pages which he organizes, read what he writes about Timothy Snyder’s book, how he defiles it.

VA: Listen, colleague—

RR: So there, that’s what I want to say, take a look at who you have fallen in with.

VA: Hold on, hold on.

RR: [laughing]

VA: Because I live in a democratic society—

RR: Very good.

VA: —I have the right to respect an opinion—

RR: Very good.

VA: —I have the right to respect Dovid Katz’s opinion, I have the right to respect Mr. Kundrotas’s opinion, but I also have the right not to agree with those opinions—

AA: And there you go, that’s why we’re discussing.

RR: We are discussing.

VA: —…that defends a pluralistic view of history, while you engage in condemnations.

AA: Fine. Now, yes, Marius.

MK: The first thing I notice here is that the leftists currently engage in a very very exotic rhetoric. In this conversation alone we have heard a slew of political signals—I was addressed as an extremist nationalist, right-wingers make politics out of history. So what then are the leftists and in this case in the person of Andriukaitis doing in essence? They seem to portray that only nationalists or right-wingers in general are capable of being extremists, and if you are on the right, they you are automatically an extremist, that only right-wingers pronounce some sort of political signals in the eh historical discourse. Eh. I, yes, I would say yes, and that is usually the right-wingers’ position, that we are engaged in politics, dearly beloved, one side and the other. The difference is that we recognize this. Meanwhile, you engage in politics with an appeal to objectivity and a monopoly on truth. You speak in an academic tone eh in essence doing exactly the same thing, that is, engaging in politics. Here now we have heard that the Holocaust is historically unique. I agree with that completely. The fate of every nation is unique, dearly beloved. I want to ask whether the genocide of Lithuania Minor, or East Prussia was unique. Excuse me, this is the only case in 20th century history, I mean in Europe, where the composition of the inhabitants of a country was changed 100%. So why now aren’t we talking about the unique nature of this genocide?

AA: Which the Soviet Union committed.

MK: Which the Soviet Union committed.

AA: Liberation.

MK: But we are speaking only of the unique nature of a single case. And I perceive two reasons for this. Here they are in the declaration. One motive is political, and colleague Racinskas it seems agrees with that [statement of mine]. This is a political motive to as it were wash away any responsibility for one’s ideological relatives, both the crimes of the national socialists and the Bolsheviks. But the other motive, this is the commercial one, to wit people such as Katz and the institutions he leads, people such as the now departed Mr. Wiesenthal and the successor to this work Efraim Zuroff, this is namely the commercial interest, what the Jew Finklestein has called the Holocaust industry. They need to portray the Holocaust as an absolutely unique event, so that these Wiesenthal Centers can suck more money from the Jews who have suffered around the world.

AA: That’s very…

VA: I would like to ask Mr. Racinskas whether he agrees with this interpretation.

AA: We almost don’t have any time left to ask questions.

RR: No, I really don’t agree with this interpretation, but as you said, everyone can have their own opinion. But I do agree that, eh, both the Jewish community and the Lithuanian community, are diverse. And here in Lithuania we have the er eh activists of the Murza kind, and even the Jewish community has these sort of activists. These are those who are interested in dividing peoples, interested in building walls, interested in driving us into separate ghettos of suffering, and through that opposition to have for themselves some political benefit, perhaps also other kinds of benefits, in a word, to have something to do, perhaps not to make a lot of money, but they do truly have something to do and to keep themselves occupied. That’s my—

AA: So—

RR: Let me finish. I simply believe that there is the foundation from which we should begin to move. Truly, Europe in the 20th century suffered from two totalitarian regimes which truly had a universal significance and meaning, but because of different ideologies and being among different nations, separate collective memories have formed, about which colleague Kundrotas spoke, that so-called lesser evil and so on. And understanding that, both our understanding Jews and Jews understanding other peoples who suffered from the Soviet regime, and also that Jews suffered from the Soviet regime, too, then we can move ahead, but now, truly, condemnation really doesn’t contribute—

AA: Already. Now Vytenis…

VA: Already, colleagues, at least it was nice to see colleague Racinskas here responding to the statements of colleague Kundrotas. Now…

AA: Well then we all one with another [unintelligible]

VA: I would really like to continue. Jan Stultenberg, the very recent prime minister of Norway, apologized again to Jews that during the period of Nazi occupation there were Norwegians who collaborated with the Nazis transporting and murdering Jews. You’ve seen this news item which immediately—

AA: But we know how the Nazis behaved towards the Norwegians. That was such a gentle occupation, that, well you know.

VA: Ah ah ah. All occupations are brutal, colleague, there are not gentle and hard ones. Just as there were many totalitarian regimes in Europe, Mussolini’s, Franco’s, Stalin’s, Antonescu’s and many others. And this collective memory needs to be shared as widely as possible, but—

AA: But isn’t it too soon for us to sign on [unintelligible]?

Unknown voice: For us [unintelligible]

VA: It is neither too early nor too late for us. There shouldn’t be any blank spots  in history. The historical truth must be presented. Your interpretations, I completely disagree with the interpretations of colleague Kundrotas, but there’s no time left to argue about this—

AA: Our time now is completely up.

VA: —but he has the right to such an interpretation—

AA: Thank God.

VA: —…some sort of unified dialogue cannot take place…

MK: …suggest that is isn’t taking place.

AA: Well fine, at least we agree on that. Thank you. Later.

This entry was posted in "Red-Brown Commission", 70 Years Declaration, Bold Citizens Speak Out, Denis MacShane, Double Genocide, History, Holocaust Policies of Mr. Ronaldas Račinskas and the State-Sponsored "International Commission" (ICECNSORL), News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory, Vytenis Andriukaitis. Bookmark the permalink.
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