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...

  • Arts and Culture Theater US & Canada New Play Explores the ‘Arrogance’ of American Jews Critical of Israel, Playwright Says

    New Play Explores the ‘Arrogance’ of American Jews Critical of Israel, Playwright Says

    In his new play Mr. Goldberg Goes to Tel Aviv, playwright Oren Safdie tackles an issue that he has a major concern with: the relationship between Israelis and left-leaning Diaspora Jews with their “I know better” critical views. At the heart of the one-act play is Tony, a Jewish and gay Palestinian sympathizer who expresses strong anti-Israel sentiments when the play begins and at one point even sides with a Palestinian terrorist who holds his captive. Tony, who is also an [...]

    Read more →
  • Music US & Canada Hassidic Parody of Taylor Swift Song Apes Long Jewish Holidays (VIDEO)

    Hassidic Parody of Taylor Swift Song Apes Long Jewish Holidays (VIDEO)

    A Jewish comedy troupe released a parody video on Wednesday of Taylor Swift’s hit song Shake It Off in which they joke about taking extensive time off from work for Jewish holidays. “And the goyim gonna stay, stay, stay, stay, stay. And the Jews are gonna pray, pray pray, pray, pray. I’m just gonna take, take, take, take, take. I’m taking off,” goes the chorus for I’m Taking Off. Menachem Weinstein, the video’s lead singer, is the creative director at [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Jewish Literature On 75th Anniversary, Looking at the Jewish Influence on Gone With the Wind

    On 75th Anniversary, Looking at the Jewish Influence on Gone With the Wind

    JNS.org – The 75th anniversary of the premiere of “Gone with the Wind” on Dec. 15 presents an opportunity to examine the Jewish influence on one of the most popular films of all time. That influence starts with the American Civil War epic’s famed producer, David O. Selznick. Adjusted for inflation, “Gone with the Wind” remains the highest-grossing movie ever made. It earned the 1939 Academy Award for Best Picture, the same honor another Selznick film, “Rebecca,” garnered in 1940. Selznick [...]

    Read more →
  • Featured Music US & Canada EXCLUSIVE: Matisyahu Provides Most Extensive Analysis Yet of His Religious, Musical Evolution (INTERVIEW)

    EXCLUSIVE: Matisyahu Provides Most Extensive Analysis Yet of His Religious, Musical Evolution (INTERVIEW)

    Matisyahu got candid in an exclusive interview with The Algemeiner on Monday about his religious and musical journey – after shedding his Chassidic skin, yarmulke, long beard and all – from the start of his career in 2005 when he became a reggae superstar with hits King Without a Crown and Jerusalem. The singer-songwriter embarks on his Festival of Light tour this month, an annual Hanukkah event that stops in Montreal, New York, and other cities before ending in San Juan, [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Personalities ‘Sheriff of Mars’ Unveils Endearing Life of Jewish Music Star Hidden in the Fields of France

    ‘Sheriff of Mars’ Unveils Endearing Life of Jewish Music Star Hidden in the Fields of France

    JNS.org – It was an era of steel strings, guitar heroes, and storytellers—high on heroin, rebellious. Outlaw country music, the hallmark of Nashville’s powerful and angry music scene of the 1970s, was the brew of greats such as Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, and Townes Van Zandt. But there is another, little-known music hero of that era: Daniel Antopolsky. A Jewish lad from Augusta, Ga.—the son of immigrants who settled in the south and ran a hardware store on Main Street—the [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture US & Canada Iranian Actress Replaces Israel’s Gal Gadot for ‘Ben-Hur’ Remake

    Iranian Actress Replaces Israel’s Gal Gadot for ‘Ben-Hur’ Remake

    Iranian actress Nazanin Boniadi replaced Israeli star Gal Gadot as the female lead in the new Ben-Hur remake, Hollywood.com reported on Tuesday. The Homeland actress will play Esther, a slave that Ben-Hur sets free and falls in love with. Gadot quit the movie when it became clear that filming conflicted with her schedule for the Man of Steel sequel. The Israeli actress plays Wonder Woman in the superhero film Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. Actor Jack Huston takes on the [...]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Personalities Biography Sheds New Light on David Ben-Gurion’s Place in Jewish History

    Biography Sheds New Light on David Ben-Gurion’s Place in Jewish History

    JNS.org – There is one sentence in “Ben-Gurion: Father of Modern Israel” that made me sit up in surprise. I thought that I knew the basic facts about how Israel came into being, but while describing what it was like in the days and hours before the state was declared, author Anita Shapira provides one important anecdote I was not aware of. On the 12th of May, the Zionist Executive met to decide what to do. Moshe Sharrett had just returned [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture US & Canada ‘Death of Klinghoffer’ Actress Compares Met Opera to ‘Schindler’s List’

    ‘Death of Klinghoffer’ Actress Compares Met Opera to ‘Schindler’s List’

    An actress starring in the controversial Met Opera The Death of Klinghoffer defended the show on Tuesday by comparing it to the 1993 Holocaust film Schindler’s List, New York Post reported. “To me, this was like [the movie] Schindler’s List. We make art so people won’t forget,’’ said the actress, who plays a captured passenger in the show and asked not to be identified. The Met Opera focuses on the infamous murder of Lower East Side Jewish resident Leon Klinghoffer, 69. The wheelchair-bound father of [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.