Major German Holocaust Scholar Slips (Again) into Baltic Nationalist Discourse


by Dovid Katz

East European state-sponsored “Holocaust Fixing” continues apace. The distinguished German scholar and author of a major two-volume work on the Lithuanian Holocaust, Professor Christoph Dieckmann, has given a major interview intended for the general public on the popular news portal. He was in town for an IHRA conference held in intimate collaboration with the Lithuanian government’s units on the Holocaust and Jewish affairs, including the Red-Brown Commission, of which Prof. Dieckmann is, surprisingly for many of his genuine admirers, a longtime member and apologist.

Even truly excellent scholars of the Lithuanian Holocaust, when they’ve hitched their wagons to state-sponsored East European nationalist “history truth commissions” for many years, can suffer from slippage into nationalist apologetics on myriad points. The following are some initial points that come to mind reading the new interview. The concern such cardinal issues as:

(1) Degree, nature and definition of collaboration and participation by “nationalist heroes” in the genocide;

(2) History of the murders in dozens of Lithuanian towns the first week (from 22 June 1941) before the arrival or setting up of any authority by any German forces (thoroughly researched by the late Prof. Dov Levin; see some samples of survivor eyewitness testimony at:…);

(3) The subtle but demonstrable slippage toward politically inspired local nationalist positions on an array of specific points (to be spelled out in due course, for example the attempt to shift, within Lithuanian high society of 1941, all the blame on the church, yet another attempt to downgrade, relativistically, the role of the nationalist “patriotic” leadership and following, with implied suggestions that nationalism can invariably come to, say, genocide anywhere and everywhere during challenging times).

(4) Most disturbingly, wholly uncritical participation in and de facto PR for the state-sponsored “Red-Brown Commission” by a famous German academic has further enabled the march of Holocaust Obfuscation via Double Genocide, including DG’s “constitution,” the Prague Declaration, which the Commission was among the first in Europe to propagandize (“kindly” using the taxpayer money of Lithuania’s hard-working citizens). It’s full name is the Orwellian “International Commission for the Evaluation of the Crimes of the Nazi and Soviet Occupation Regimes in Lithuania”. Several years ago, its executive director finally told a German filmmaker on the record what he thinks about the here-ongoing campaign against Holocaust survivors alive because they joined the resistance. For the latest (this month) from their closely associated state-sponsored Genocide Center see now, as an ongoing case in point, the disturbing statement on the life of 95 year old Holocaust survivor Fania Yocheles Brantsovsky (perhaps unknown to the conference-goers).

(5) Rescuers (Righteous of the Nations) are the real pride of Lithuania in the years 1941-1944, but that gets ever more lost in the thick of nationalist politics impacted Holocaust studies in this part of the world. The various forms of ongoing attempted academic mitigation of “nationalist/patriotic” participation in the Holocaust here, and state-sponsored nationalist “pivots” of the involved community of historians have led to a downplay of research into the Rescuers who precisely because of the local nationalist/patriotic “face” put on the Holocaust (then and now) had to be incalculably more courageous and inspirationally good people than in other countries where they were perceived as being in rebellion against the occupying army. In these countries (including the Baltics and western Ukraine) they were often perceived as betraying their own nation. And, of course, they were people who, like the people they were rescuing, dreamt of a Soviet victory over Hitler as the only chance for continued life. In other words, far from truly serving the interests of Lithuania, the current political-academic complex of Holocaust groupthink speaks ever less about the Rescuers who are Lithuania’s eternal pride for the years 1941-1944.

The whole subject of “changes” (often via a kind of groupthink and no doubt in some cases unconsciously) in the outlook/views/public interviews for wider audiences provided by historians who for years are members of state-sponsored history bodies and used as stars for their events is worthy of study.

For an independent and enormously courageous German political scientist’s take (including the role of German scholarship in the rise of East European Double Genocide revisionism) see the extensive and meticulously documented East European related chapters of Dr. Clemens Heni’s wonderful (and wonderfully independent of any/all state thinking Diktat, no pun intended) book, “Antisemitism: A Specific Phenomenon: Holocaust Trivialization — Islamism — Post-colonial and Cosmopolitan anti-Zionism” (Berlin 2012).

For further reading from the Defending History perspective, which strives to be a needed additional (and otherwise absent) voice in the conversation, see e.g. our pages on the Red-Brown Commission, the Genocide Center, the Prague Declaration, and two of my own papers, one recent, and one from the years of the launch of the Prague Declaration and the concurrent campaign here against Holocaust survivors who joined the resistance.

Last but not least, let us together salute modern Lithuanian scholars themselves who have inspirationally shown the courage to go where the gravy trains of state commissions, conferences, banquets, junkets, and grants would not let them go, the academic heroes who just tell it straight. Among others see the works of…






PROF. TOMAS VENCLOVA (e.g.…/lithuanians-and-jews-whats-changed-and…).



This entry was posted in "Red-Brown Commission", Double Genocide, Foreign Ministries: Holocaust Politics Abuse?, Germany, History, Legacy of 23 June 1941, Lithuania, Litvak Affairs, Media Watch, News & Views, Opinion, Politics of Memory, Views of Prof. Sarunas Liekis. Bookmark the permalink.
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