Last update – 06:01 26/01/2010
Holocaust scholars slam EU for backing Nazi-Communist comparison
WARSAW – Leading Holocaust researchers have criticized European Parliament President Jerzy Buzek ahead of his speech at Auschwitz Tuesday, for endorsing the equalization of the Nazi genocide with Communist brutal oppression.
Some scholars call this growing trend « the gravest threat to preserving the memory of the Holocaust, » suggesting it serves to exculpate populations complicit in the extermination of their Jewish minorities. « It is inconceivable that the ceremony at Auschwitz will feature an address by a parliament president who entertains initiatives meant to efface and obfuscate the Holocaust, » said Shimon Samuels, the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s director for international relations. Samuels was referring to a recent speech by Buzek – a former Polish prime minister – in which he lauded members of the European Parliament for « recognizing that the mass deportations, murders and enslavements committed … by Stalinism and Nazism fall into the category of war crimes and crimes against humanity. »
In April, more than 400 members of the European Parliament voted in favor of naming August 23 « European Day of Remembrance for Victims of Stalinism and Nazism, » as suggested in the controversial 2008 Prague Declaration, at the end of an international forum on commemoration.
Efraim Zuroff, who heads the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Israel office, said Buzek’s statement was part of efforts to « create a historical and intellectual infrastructure to undermine and eventually cancel the current status of the Shoah as a unique case of genocide. »
Professor Yehuda Bauer of the Hebrew University called equation attempts « campaigns to marginalize the Holocaust. »
Despite the support that equation received in Strasburg, August 23 has not yet been declared as a memorial for both categories of victims. Buzek will speak Tuesday at a ceremony for International Holocaust Remembrance Day at the former Nazi camp of Auschwitz in Poland. Buzek’s spokesperson Inga Rosinska said: « The Shoah is unique and the most tragic case of genocide in the history of mankind. There is no comparison. The idea of the European Day of Remembrance for Victims of Stalinism and Nazism (23 August) – is to remember the victims of the communist occupation of Central and Eastern Europe which followed the end of World War II. Those living on the eastern side of the Iron Curtain were unfortunate to wait for their freedom another half century. »
According to a number of leading Holocaust scholars, the state-sponsored equation of Nazi crimes with Communist brutality in Eastern Europe is the most serious threat to preserving the memory of the Holocaust. Samuels said the ongoing growth in the power of rightist parties in the European Parliament is fueling the equation campaign.
This phenomenon is especially prevalent in Lithuania, for obvious reasons, says Dr. Laurence Weinbaum of the World Jewish Congress, a historian specializing in Polish-Jewish relations, but in certain circles it is also manifested in Poland. Artur Hofman, spokesperson for one of the main bodies of Polish Jewry, confirmed this, saying this was « the most worrying trend » connected to the prominent role that Jews, acting as individuals, had in Poland’s Soviet-controlled Communist regime. Weinbaum agreed with this assertion. « In the Baltic states, especially Lithuania and Latvia, the campaign to consign the victims of the Holocaust and of Communism to the same basket is a transparent attempt to blur Baltic societies’ wholesale complicity in the murder of their Jewish populations, » he said.
In August, the prime ministers of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania signed a joint declaration supporting a call to make Aug. 23 a European day of commemoration for victims of both Stalinism and Nazism.
« In Lithuania, equalizing Stalinism and Nazism is a ruse to delete the stain of massive collaboration, » Professor Dovid Katz, a Vilnius-based researcher of Yiddish, told Haaretz. « Instead of facing the past, the state deletes the Holocaust as a category and buries it in another paradigm. »
The Lithuanian foreign ministry did not reply to a query on this issue.
Weinbaum noted that while « there is a tendency to try and ‘contextualize’ – as he defines it – the cases in which Poles participated in the annihilation of the Jews in Poland. « Polish society as a whole cannot be seen as a perpetrator-nation, as can be the Lithuanians, » he said. While some Poles were complicit in the murder and despoliation of Jews, he noted, « others rescued them. »
He said that in Poland, some circles, especially Polish Holocaust scholars, « vociferously oppose » a combined commemoration date. Others support it for nationalistic reasons. « To be sure, no one can or should minimize the untold suffering caused by Communist tyranny, of which Jews were also victims, but common commemoration will only serve to disfigure memory and history, » Weinbaum concluded.
European Jews say equating Nazism with Stalinism unacceptable
Editor’s Note: The U.S. Justice Department’s Office of Special Investigations (OSI), led by Mr. Eli Rosenbaum, is a taxpayer-funded agency of the Federal government which never arrests or prosecutes Judaic Communist or Israeli war criminals. It is solely constituted as an extension of Israeli Talmudic vengeance against accused Nazis. This is an unconstitutional use of Federal power and a flagrant example of the manipulation of Big Government to serve the interests of a foreign power, but you won’t hear a peep of protest from the Sarah Palins on the Right wing about it. What scares the yarmulkes off the OSI witch-hunters is that the previously sound-asleep goyim of Eastern Europe, who were on the receiving end of the loving caresses of the Judiac Communist war criminals who ruled over them for decades, are starting to demand equal justice, always an affront to the Talmudic mentality. –Michael Hoffman
By Tom Tugend | The Jewish Journal | Nov. 23, 2009
European anti-Semites are pushing a new line “more pernicious than Holocaust denial” to denigrate the murder of six million Jews, warns veteran Nazi hunter Efraim Zuroff. Particularly in the Baltic states of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, prominent politicians are trying to persuade the European Union’s parliament to formally equate Nazi and Communist crimes as equally horrendous genocides.
The not so subtle subtext of this proposal is to point to persecutions by “Jewish Communists” of the patriotic citizens of the three countries during the post-war Soviet domination of the Baltic and East European countries.
A major goal of this campaign is to minimize or rationalize the active collaboration with the Nazis by the police and militia of the Baltic states in the killing of Jews, Zuroff said. Zuroff, who has been tracking down Nazis for 30 years as the point man for the Simon Wiesenthal Center, looked back last week on his triumphs and failures at a press conference and public talk at the Wiesenthal Center’s Museum of Tolerance, and in a new book, Last Chance: One Man’s Quest to Bring Nazi Criminals to Justice (2009, Palgrave MacMillan).
During his talk surveying the high and low points of his career, Zuroff, a native New Yorker who heads the Wiesenthal Center’s Jerusalem office, opened with some “good news.” During the last two months, four men on his list of the top 10 living men accused of Nazi war crimes have been extradited or readied for trial. They are former concentration camp guard John (Ivan) Demjanjuk; Sandor Kepiro, a former Hungarian policeman accused of participation in the Novi Sad massacre of 4,000 Serbs, Jews and Romas; Charles Zentai , a former Hungarian soldier who allegedly beat an 18-year old Jew to death for not wearing a yellow star; and Heinrich Boere, a leader of a Dutch SS death squad.
Since 2001, there have been 82 successful prosecutions of war criminals, but 702 cases are still on file and time is running out, Zuroff, 61, said. “I expect to continue my work for another three or four years, by which time the last of the war criminals will be gone,” he said. During a separate news conference, Zuroff made public a Wiesenthal Center study ranking more than 30 countries on their willingness and efforts to go after surviving Nazi war criminals. The best showing was by the United States, which has been responsible for 37 of the 82 successful legal actions worldwide against accused war criminals. Much of the credit goes to the U.S. Justice Department’s Office of Special Investigations, whose director, Eli Rosenbaum, participated in the news conference.
In addition to the prosecutions, federal authorities have prevented more than 180 persons implicated in war crimes from entering the United States. Rosenbaum said that “It’s precisely because we have been proactive and so tenacious in pursuing these cases over decades that you see fewer now.” High marks for continued active prosecutions went to former Axis partners Germany and Italy. Poland has also been cooperative, but the kudos ended there. Countries taking little or no action include Norway and Sweden, which cited their statues of limitation as barriers to continued prosecution. Other countries remained largely passive, lacking either the political will or know-how to launch investigations, Zuroff said. These countries include Australia, Austria, Estonia, Hungary, Lithuanian and the Ukraine. Asked to name his most successful and most frustrating cases during his Nazi hunting career, Zuroff named Kepiro in the former category and Dr. Aribert Heim in the latter. Kepiro, one of the alleged organizers of the Novi Sad massacre, was tracked down by Zuroff and his allies along a circuitous trail, running from Argentina to Scotland to Hungary. Heim, though not as well known as his fellow physician and SS officer Dr. Josef Mengele, was just as sadistic in his medical experiments and was nicknamed “Dr. Death” by inmates of the Mauthausen concentration camp in Austria. Heim, an Austrian himself, was the top target of “Operation Last Chance,” with rewards totaling about $450,000 on his head and the target of police inquiries in 22 countries. After an intensive four-year hunt for Heim by Zuroff, the New York Times reported that Heim had found ultimate refuge in Cairo, had converted to Islam, and died in 1992. (End quote; emphasis supplied)