Ukraine Needs the Vilnius Red-Brown Commission’s ‘Help’ Like a Hole in the Head


by Dovid Katz

The sacred cause of democratic Ukraine’s success and brutal dictator Putin’s failure must not be comprised by attempted hijacks by far-right Holocaust revisionists who have worked for decades to rewrite the history into “two equal Holocausts” (“Double Genocide”), an insidious form of revisionism whose first corollary is glorification of local Holocaust collaborators and perpetrators (whether Noreika in Lithuania or Bandera in Ukraine, among numerous others). It is alarming to read this week (on the website of the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry) that Lithuania’s state-sponsored “Commission for the Evaluation of Crimes of the Nazi and Soviet Occupational Regimes in Lithuania” (for short: “the Red-Brown Commission”), the cause of so much pain to the last Holocaust survivors and the remnants of Lithuanian Jewry, is now interloping in Kyiv, attempting to insinuate Double Genocide Holocaust revisionism right into the current noble struggle of the free states of NATO and the European Union to ensure the future of free and democratic Ukraine. Resignations over the years from the “Red-Brown Commission” (all on matters of principle) include Sir Martin GilbertProfessor Konrad Kwiet and Professor Dov Levin.

For elucidation, see, among many others, contributions by Vytenis AndriukaitisYitzhak AradYehuda BauerRoland BinetSimon Butt (with EU ambassadors), Danny Ben-MosheLeonidas DonskisClemens HeniDovid KatzMichael Shafir, and Tomas Venclova. There was also the heartfelt plea from the last Lithuanian Holocaust survivors in Israel at the commission’s inception.

To veterans of the “history wars” the code words are self-defining. “Necessity of common evaluation” is doublespeak for “all of Europe must accept the  far-right Eastern-revisionist version of two equal totalitarian regimes (and “two equal genocides”) with the (local!) corollary that Holocaust collaborators and perpetrators are also “heroes” if they were anti-Soviet. To people in the field, it is the thinking of the 2008 Prague Declaration. The Defending History community is proud to have been part of the 2012 Seventy Years Declaration (SYD); see Marc Radomsky & Danny Ben-Moshe’s 2012 documentary film Rewriting HistoryIt is also proud to have been in the delegation that presented SYD to the president of the European Parliament in 2012.

The iron-clad coalition of the free world to bring down Putinism does not need the injection of far-right historiography championed by some in the Baltics and beyond. Least of all from the state commission whose director (dispatched to Kyiv for the interpolation) publicly supported “war crime investigations” earlier this century into Holocaust survivors who escaped the Vilna Ghetto to join up with the partisans in the forests (“Double Genocide” doubletalk teaches that virtually all were both victims and perpetrators in one of the starkest cases of mushy thinking imposed to collapse the difference between the perpetrators and victims of the Holocaust).

Millions of Ukrainians sacrificed their lives in the cause of defeating Hitler. The modern Ukrainian people overwhelmingly elected a Jewish president. President Zelensky removed his nation’s ambassador to Germany for putting flowers on Bandera’s grave. This was reported not only in this journal, of Vilnius’s small Defending History community, but in the New York Times (archived), among  other international venues. This is no time to abuse current tragic events to prop up the small but powerful band of far-right history revisionists in the Baltics, Ukraine or anywhere.  Even worse is the renewed talk of a “common history” (Orwell-talk for a single opinion throughout Europe, whereby the traditional and historic Western narrative of the American-British-Soviet alliance is trashed,  and its supporters defamed and delegitimized). Whosoever truly supports Ukraine’s freedom (and freedom includes the human right to hold diverse opinions) will not pass over in silence the Vilnius Red-Brown Commission’s latest attempt to achieve Holocaust Downgrade via Double Genocide, at the expense of the Ukrainian people and their struggle for freedom.

This is the kind of “favor” that Ukraine needs like a hole in the head.


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