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Shall we Not Respond to the New Incarnation of Holocaust Denial?
Defending History, founded in September 2009, is a unique international address for spirited resistance to the massive investment by some East European states to rewrite the history of World War II and to export westward the rewritten narrative. Their effort, widely called “Double Genocide” or the “red-brown” movement is a major new genre of Holocaust revisionism, which seeks, in the spirit of the new far right, to replace the history with a doctrine of equivalence of Nazi and Soviet crimes. Its dissemination internationally is often inscrutably tied up with current east-west (or Russian-NATO) politics and it is often cloaked in the fields of history and political science, in some instances infecting Judaic Studies, Yiddish projects, and Holocaust studies per se. Double Genocide is often related to the new far right’s “elite” versions of antisemitism, racism, and homophobia.
QUESTION: Can the Holocaust be “written out of history” without denying a single death?
Not least, Double Genocide, that feeds on trying to make victims and heroes out of perpetrators, is closely tied to the efforts of some governments — the Baltic states, in recent years Hungary and in 2014, sensationally, Ukraine — to sanitize and glorify the local collaborators and perpetrators of the Holocaust as some kind of “state-founding heroes.” The adulation of Holocaust collaborators by states is not compatible with the values of NATO, the European Union, and the free world, period.
Double Genocide’s central document is the (2008) Prague Declaration. Our response is the (2012) Seventy Years Declaration which has, in its short lifetime, had a lively history (and was at the end of 2013 endorsed by the World Union of Progressive Judaism). In 2012, Defending History delivered SYD to the president of the European Parliament as part of the ongoing effort to challenge the unchecked export to the West of Double Genocide revisionism. The documentary film Rewriting History (2012) focuses on the story of DH.com, and the issues raised here lie at the heart of Defending Holocaust History (2013).
On the face of it, it might seem an obscure debate. But it’s not. It’s about protecting history (and its free debate) from politicians’ machinations; human rights (including those of voiceless Holocaust victims) and the proud East European Jewish heritage. It is also the drama of history in the making. Notable moments include: police coming to look for Holocaust survivors alive because they joined the anti-Nazi resistance; a NATO/EU government repatriating with full honors the remains of a 1941 Nazi puppet prime minister, also the darling of neo-Nazi marches; a heroic protest by a member of the Lithuanian parliament (now the nation’s health minister); another by eight valiant Lithuanian parliamentarians who signed the Seventy Years Declaration (SYD), provoking the (then) foreign minister’s infamous Hitler-Stalin “moustache comparison.”
It is no coincidence that Holocaust survivor and scholar, and former longtime director of Yad Vashem, Dr. Yitzhak Arad decided to publish his major paper on the issues at hand in Defending History.com.
Interaction with geopolitics and world affairs has sometimes led America and Israel to take unexpected stances. There have also been East European state medals and honors for foreign and Jewish figures who unwittingly provide cover and presumed legitimacy for far-right revisionism of the history of the Holocaust in Eastern Europe.
Defending History, which believes that history distortion is often related to human rights, actively combats human rights abuses, antisemitism, homophobia, along with the historical falsification that sanitizes local East European Holocaust perpetrators while defaming Holocaust survivors who joined the anti-Nazi resistance.
In 2012, the Lithuanian government repatriated, amid glittering events, the remains of the 1941 Nazi puppet prime minister who personally signed documents condemning the Jewish citizens of his city to annihilation. In 2013, the same 1941 Nazi puppet PM featured on the lead banner of the neo-Nazi parade held on the nation’s independence day in Kaunas.
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A growing part of our work is dedicated to preservation, defense and documentation of the Litvak heritage of northeastern Europe, including: Litvak resources; the Holocaust in Lithuania; tourism (plus exotic and dark tourism and the fate of Jewish gravestones); and, in Yiddish, a mini virtual museum of old Jewish Vilna. The field of Litvak Studies.
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