The Seventy Years Declaration and the Simple Truth

February 3, 2012 2:14 pm 4 comments

Execution of Jews in Ukraine, 1942. Photo: wiki commons.

Seventy is the biblical lifespan for latterday humans. And ― the number of years since Hitler’s Wannsee Conference “made official” the Final Solution for European Jewry in January of 1942. During the preceding six months, starting with the June 22nd 1941 Nazi attack on the Soviet Union, the Nazis saw how easy it was to find enthusiastic local killers in the Baltic and Ukraine regions, among others. Around a million Jews perished by bullets in that half-year in Eastern Europe, many voluntarily discharged by “patriots” from the local populations against their own neighbors of many centuries.

So what of Holocaust memory over these seventy years?

For the last generation, since around the fall of the Soviet Union, Holocaust Denial has been dying a certain death in polite society. One symbolic milestone is Sir Charles Gray’s ruling in the Lipstadt-Irving trial in London in spring of 2000, after Holocaust denier David Irving sued Professor Deborah Lipstadt.

But denial here in Eastern Europe, in a landscape utterly defiled by numerous mass graves and death camp sites, was not an option. A new and more cunning ruse took hold: Holocaust Obfuscation. What is Holocaust Obfuscation?

In short: Deflate Nazi crimes; inflate Soviet crimes; make their “equality” into a new sacrosanct principle for naive Westerners who like the sound of  “equality”;  redefine “genocide” by law to include just about any Soviet crime; find ways to turn local killers into heroes (usually as supposed “anti-Soviet” patriots); fault victims and survivors, especially those who lived to join the anti-Nazi resistance.

Even shorter: Confuse the issue.

For over two decades, the seeds of Obfuscation were being planted rather professionally by politicians, academics, intellectuals, media types, state employees, with unwitting cover coming from sundry Western and foreign Jewish nokhshleper seduced by honors, grants and junkets. That the movement was being tracked is thanks largely to one person: Dr. Efraim Zuroff, the indefatigable director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Israel office, whose quest for Nazi war criminals to be brought to justice in a fair trial always went hand in hand with razor-sharp historical and psychological analysis. In the case of the three Baltic states, Zuroff from the outset demonstrated that these governments’ failure to take seriously Nazi war crimes trials went hand in hand with a campaign to rewrite the actual history. The years went by, and once the war criminals were nearly all gone, and these states cozily inside NATO and the European Union, the movement to get all of Europe to redefine twentieth history went into full swing.

With the West and foreign Jewish groups busy with other matters, a group of right-wing East European members of the European Parliament proclaimed, in 2008, the “Prague Declaration” which has the word “same” five times, making the total equalization of Nazi and Soviet rule into a perfidious goal for all of Europe. The Prague Declaration’s demands include the “overhaul”  of all European textbooks to reflect the revisionist history, as well as a “Nuremberg” process for judgment of communist criminals.

In April 2009, a nonbinding vote of the European Parliament included an item about all Europe having a single mixed day of commemoration for Nazi and Soviet victims, a key demand of the Prague Declaration. And in July 2009, alas, the United States was one of the signatories on the “Vilnius Declaration” that included both the mixed commemoration day and language supporting Double Genocide, in other words, insistence on absolute “equivalence” of  Nazi and Soviet crimes.

(Readers in the United States are asked to contact their elected representatives to get this American acquiescence to the antisemitic East European revisionists undone! The American embassies in this part of the world will only act if there is political pressure back home for them to do so.)

With scarcely a peep from the West, various countries in Eastern Europe, now member states of the EU, NATO and the OSCE, have invested in Double Genocide becoming the only legally permissible opinion. Hungary and Lithuania went so far in 2010 as to pass laws criminalizing the historic truth, that it was the Nazi Holocaust alone that constituted genocide in these countries during World War II. The Hungarian law’s maximum penalty is three years in jail. Lithuania’s maxes out at two.

State funds have been used to honor local perpetrators in macabre displays that cause untold pain to the remnant Jewish communities in this part of the world. The same Lithuanian government that professes belief in the “equality” of totalitarian regimes in the parliamentary glitter of Brussels and Strasbourg, runs a city center “Museum of Genocide Victims”  in central Vilnius that until recently did not even mention the Holocaust (it is all about Soviet crimes, and even sports antisemitic cartoons from after the war, when nearly all the Jews were gone, showing Jews as communists).

When after massive international criticism, a single small “Holocaust room”  was added in the cellar this past fall, it too was made for good measure to include a glorification of the Lithuanian Activist Front, a fascist group known as “the white armbanders”  that started to murder Jews up and down Lithuania before the Germans even arrived, fulfilling a plan stated explicitly in their prewar leaflets.

Roger Cohen of the New York Times, in a recent op-ed on the subject, correctly notes that the “Museum of Genocide Victims in Vilnius, which devotes the vast bulk of its space to Soviet crimes against a valiant Lithuanian resistance, broadly reflects a still-skewed national psyche.” There is actually some British understatement there. When Holocaust murderers are recast as patriotic heroes in a European Union / NATO / OSCE member state museum, it is time for a loud and clear protest from the West and its robust media.

As for the campaign that the Eastern European far right took to the European Parliament, well, the mystically endowed number Seventy has somehow begun to inspire the simple notion that enough is enough. On 27 January, the seventieth anniversary of Wannsee, seventy European parliamentarians from nineteen EU states signed the Seventy Years Declaration, in an unabashed retort to “Prague 2008.” It is a bold new reaffirmation that the legacy of the Holocaust shall not be undermined and it mentions by name the specific groups of Nazi allies currently honored in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

Among the seventy were eight deeply courageous Lithuanian parliamentarians (six from the national parliament and two from the European Parliament, none of them Jewish). Within minutes of the declaration’s research, they were trashed as “pathetic” by the country’s foreign minister, who went on to say, so hurtfully on the anniversary of Wannsee, that the only difference between Hitler and Stalin was in the length of their moustaches.

As of today, only one champion of Jewish causes, the non-Jewish British human rights champion Denis MacShane, author of a major book on antisemitism, took the time and trouble to reach out and publicly support the eight courageous Lithuanian parliamentarians who defied their government to join the Seventy Years Declaration. He wrote a letter to each.

Hopefully, some serious moral support will soon be forthcoming to break the sounds of silence coming from the United States.

Meanwhile, the Seventy Years Declaration takes on a new life of its own, turning a web of complexity introduced to obfuscate and distort history back into something that is so often, on moral issues, rather simple: the truth.

Dovid Katz, who founded Yiddish studies at Oxford, and then in Vilnius, edits  DefendingHistory.com. His new book, City in the Moonlight (a collection of his Yiddish short stories set in old Jewish Lithuania, translated by Barnett Zumoff) appeared this week in New York. He is a co-author (with Professor Danny Ben-Moshe) of the Seventy Years Declaration.

4 Comments

  • David Irving did not “try” to sue Deborah Lipstadt: he SUED her. He lost.

  • Disgraceful article. The suffering of non Jewish Russians and east Europeans under communist regimes will be recognised.
    The thruth about what happened cannot be suppressed any longer. Those who work to suppress it will end up discredited and shamed.

    • Stephen Abraham

      John,

      Nowhere in the article does it say that non-Jews did not suffer. What it does say is that Lithuania finds malicious methods to ignore what it did in aiding the Nazis. Methods that have obscured the truth about their treatment specifically of Jews. And, while many more innocent people were murdered by the Soviets and Nazis, the issue specifically in this article is the attitude of Lithuania to their participation in the murder of Jews.

      Kol ha kavod Dovid Katz.

  • Seems the only person confusing the issue is the writer of this factually flawed opinion piece, who appears to be conflating his admittedly legitimate issue with Lithuania into some kind of vast East European wide conspiracy to “Obfuscate the Holocaust”. While the Holocaust was undoubtably a terrible and heinous crime unprecedented in history, it appears that a small group of activists are attempting to exploit the tragedy of the Holocaust to obfuscate real Stalinist crimes, and Dovid Katz appears to be an unwitting participant.

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Sports US & Canada Israeli-American Group Congratulates Cavaliers’ Blatt on Reaching NBA Finals

    Israeli-American Group Congratulates Cavaliers’ Blatt on Reaching NBA Finals

    JNS.org – An organization whose work focuses on the estimated population of 500,000-800,000 Israeli Americans congratulated David Blatt, the Jewish head coach of the National Basketball Association’s (NBA) Cleveland Cavaliers and a longtime Israel-based coach, for clinching an appearance in the NBA Finals. The Israeli-American Council (IAC), whose stated mission is “to build an active and giving Israeli-American community throughout the United States in order to strengthen the State of Israel, our next generation, and to provide a bridge to [...]

    Read more →
  • Food US & Canada Bacon Flavor Ben & Jerry’s ‘Not Gonna Happen’ Because it Wouldn’t be Kosher

    Bacon Flavor Ben & Jerry’s ‘Not Gonna Happen’ Because it Wouldn’t be Kosher

    Famed ice cream maker Ben & Jerry’s will not be introducing a Bacon flavored product to its offerings because the company intends to keep its entire line kosher, Marketing Director Alison Gilbert told AOL’s morning show Rise recently. “It’s kind of funny, a lot of people look for bacon in our ice cream, which is probably not gonna happen because all of our ice cream is kosher,” she said, referring to Jewish dietary restrictions that proscribe the consumption of pig [...]

    Read more →
  • Israel Sports Israeli Judo Team Faces Antisemitic Harassment in Morocco: ‘We Will Murder You’

    Israeli Judo Team Faces Antisemitic Harassment in Morocco: ‘We Will Murder You’

    Israeli athletes at a world Judo championship in Morocco reportedly faced antisemitic slurs during the competition, news site WorldNetDaily reported on Monday. “We will murder you,” and “you’re not wanted here, go home,” were among the vituperative attacks directed at the Israeli Judo Association team, which was in Morocco last week for the World Masters Judo Tournament. According to Haaretz, each Israeli teammate was met with boos and jeers upon entering a fight. Additionally, no Israeli flags were present at [...]

    Read more →
  • Music US & Canada Lady Gaga Accepts ADL Award: ‘Your Philosophies Are So in Line With Ours’ (VIDEO)

    Lady Gaga Accepts ADL Award: ‘Your Philosophies Are So in Line With Ours’ (VIDEO)

    Pop superstar Lady Gaga on Thursday accepted an award from Jewish human rights group the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) on behalf of her Born This Way Foundation, which strives to combat bullying among young people. “Your philosophies are so in line with ours,” she said of the ADL upon accepting the Making a Difference Award in a videotaped message, which was shown at a ceremony in New York City. “We want to help young people know that their feelings and who they are on [...]

    Read more →
  • Music Personalities At 80, Singer-Songwriter Leonard Cohen’s Jewish Roots ‘Very Much Intact’

    At 80, Singer-Songwriter Leonard Cohen’s Jewish Roots ‘Very Much Intact’

    JNS.org – Eighty years young, Leonard Cohen fits many descriptions—singer, songwriter, poet, novelist, monk. From his Jewish upbringing in Canada to the present day, Cohen has always explored his spiritual side. This month, the singer-songwriter released the CD (May 12) and iTunes (on May 8 of this year) formats of his latest album, Can’t Forget: A Souvenir of the Grand Tour, which features live recordings from his world tours in 2012 and 2013. Last year, Cohen’s Popular Problems was voted by Rolling Stone [...]

    Read more →
  • Europe Sports FIFA Head Says Israel Should Not be Booted From World Soccer Association

    FIFA Head Says Israel Should Not be Booted From World Soccer Association

    JNS.org – Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) head Sepp Blatter said during a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that contrary to Palestinian complaints, Israel has not violated any FIFA statutes and should not be suspended from international soccer’s governing body. “We should not come to one federation saying we will exclude them,” said Blatter, the Jerusalem Post reported. “If the national association is fulfilling its obligations then there is no need to intervene,” he said. “I’m on a [...]

    Read more →
  • Featured Middle East Sports Jewish Rights Group Slams Palestinian Attempts to Suspend Israel From FIFA

    Jewish Rights Group Slams Palestinian Attempts to Suspend Israel From FIFA

    Jewish human rights group the Simon Wiesenthal Center (SWC) said on Tuesday it was “appalled” by a Palestinian Football Association initiative to suspend Israel from FIFA, calling it another “front waged in the context of the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) campaign.” “We are appalled at the temerity of the Palestinan Football Association (PFA) demand that FIFA suspend Israel at your forthcoming Congress in Zurich,” wrote the group’s international relations director, Dr. Shimon Samuels, in a letter to FIFA President Joseph [...]

    Read more →
  • Theater US & Canada Star of Auschwitz Thriller Says ‘God Was Holding the Hand of Every Jew in the Gas Chamber’ (VIDEO)

    Star of Auschwitz Thriller Says ‘God Was Holding the Hand of Every Jew in the Gas Chamber’ (VIDEO)

    The lead actor in Son of Saul, an Auschwitz thriller featured at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, told the UK’s The Guardian that he believes God was “holding the hand” of each Jew who died in the Nazi gas chambers during the Holocaust. “I do not for one nanosecond like to pretend that God is off the hook. He could and should have stopped it at a much earlier stage,” Géza Röhrig, 48, said. ”But I would not be able to get [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.