A recent resolution inspired by the Baltic States has called for Europe
to recognise Communism and Nazism as equal phenomena, the idea
of which to prominent Jewish historian Efraim Zuroff is outrageous,
he told RT.
RT: In July the parliamentary assembly of the OSCE passed a resolution comparing
Stalinism and Nazism. This is insulting not only to Russia, but
also to many in the western world. Why was such a resolution
Efraim Zuroff: The resolution was passed because
of the campaign that has been initiated by the Baltic countries,
but which also has the support of other post-Communist countries
to try and equate Communism and Nazism. To put it into practical
terms, they are basically saying that the two phenomena are equal
and the victims deserve the same recognition and the same compensation.
And what they are trying to say is that the Holocaust is not
RT: Why are they not the same?
E.Z.: They are not the same because first
of all, the crime of Nazism was genocide – that was a deliberate
attempt to totally destroy a people, to wipe them off the face
of the earth, and that was never the case as far as the crimes
of Communism are concerned. The Communist regime carried out
some very terrible crimes in different countries that were either
part of the Soviet Union or under Communist domination, but there
never was an intention to destroy an entire people.
RT: The campaign to equate Fascism and Communism
is being waged predominantly by Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania
– it started when they gained independence and the campaign recently
gained momentum. What is behind it?
E.Z.: I think it should be clear that countries
like Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia – where there was a high percentage
of local collaborators with Nazis – would obviously prefer to
be perceived by the public as victims rather than perpetrators.
So just that alone is reason enough for a campaign like this.
Now, I think it’s entirely legitimate to want recognition for
the suffering of their own people from the communists but that
doesn’t justify creating a historically inaccurate symmetry and
trying to get a certain degree of recognition that those crimes
don’t necessarily deserve.
RT: You’ve mentioned that they are trying
to present the Holocaust as not a unique event – but is it as
simple as that?
E.Z.: It is much more serious, quite frankly.
As long as the Holocaust is a unique phenomenon, those events
would get a lot more attention and interest and naturally, part
of that story which was the extensive collaboration of Baltic
peoples with the Nazis will receive quite great attention – which
the Balts would prefer that they not get.
If these countries since the independence
of 1991 had really made a serious effort to bring the local collaborators
to justice – those who had not been prosecuted, because many
were prosecuted right after the Second World War by the Soviet
regime for example – if they had made a serious effort to teach
the truth about what happened in those countries, then I think
they would not feel such an urgent need to try to divert attention
from the Holocaust. There has not been a single Lithuanian, Latvian
or Estonian who has been punished in the independent Lithuania,
Latvia or Estonia for Holocaust crimes.
RT: Is it not possible that part of their
motivation for this campaign is to cover up their guilt?
E.Z.: Well there’s no question! Because if
you dislodge the Holocaust from its unique status, that will
reduce the interest and research and study of those events, and
the less said and studied about those events the better for the
Baltics it will be. It’s a double failure: it’s a failure during
the Holocaust and it’s a failure since independence.
RT: Why is all of this happening in the Baltic
States? What is the difference between the Baltic States and
other former communist countries?
E.Z.: There is support in other communist
countries for this, but you have to understand this is an Eastern
European phenomenon and part of that relates to historical circumstances,
because the collaboration with the Nazis in Eastern Europe was
different and qualitatively much more lethal than the collaboration
of locals with the Nazis in other parts of Europe. French police,
or Dutch, or Belgian police did not murder their own Jews, for
a variety of reasons, but in Eastern Europe this was not true.
There many of the people were incorporated by the Nazis in the
RT: They were victims of communism, as you
say, and they have a legitimate right to be remembered. How can
they be remembered in a way that does not take away from the
remembrance of the Holocaust victims?
E.Z.: First of all, commemorating the victims
of communism in no way lessens the importance of the Holocaust.
The problem begins when you are trying to create symmetry, as
if the two phenomena were the same. If they succeed in having
August 23 declared as a joint day of commemoration for the victims
of Nazism and Communism – what's the next step? The next would
be to cancel the special day to remember the Holocaust because
why do you need to have a special day to remember the Holocaust
if you have a day that's more inclusive? Individual countries
can choose special days for their own national days of mourning
which is already the case. But what they are basically saying
is – we want Europe as a continent to make a statement and the
wording of the declaration passed in June 2008 is especially
problematic because one of the things that they say there is
that Europe will never truly be reunited until they recognize
Nazism and Communism as a common legacy. That’s outrageous, that’s
absolutely outrageous! But that’s what they are trying to do. And it’s high time that people start paying attention
and realizing that the next thing we know is that we will be
facing a battle to fight against distorted WWII narrative.
RT: Why is the rest of the world remaining
E.Z.: So far all these initiatives are in
the, so-to-say, declaratory phase. There’s no implementation
yet – this is very important – which makes it so urgent to stop
it now. Once this passes legislation – though it is not clear
whether this would happen – this depends on countries like Germany
and France and England and other EU members who see this quite
differently than do the peoples in Eastern Europe. All of this
is taking place under the radar and the only country paying any
attention to this is Russia, and Russia alone can’t stop it.