September 30, 2012

 
WIESENTHAL CENTER CONDEMNS RECENTLY-UNVEILED BAUSKA, LATVIA MEMORIAL TO LATVIAN WAFFEN-SS FIGHTERS

Jerusalem-The Simon Wiesenthal Center today harshly condemned the recent unveiling in the city of Bauska, Latvia, of a memorial monument honoring Latvians who served in the Waffen-SS during World War II. In a statement issued here today by its Israel director, Holocaust historian Dr. Efraim Zuroff, the Center described the new monument as a gross insult to the memory of the Nazis’ numerous victims in Latvia, many of whom were murdered by Latvians who later served in the Latvian Waffen-SS divisions.

According to Zuroff:
“The initiative in Bauska to honor Latvians who fought for a victory of the Third Reich, the most genocidal regime in history, is in stark contrast to the refusal of the local authorities to facilitate an attempt by Jewish former residents of the city to commemorate the Bauska Jews murdered during the Holocaust. The Wiesenthal Center stands in solidarity with the Latvian Council of Jewish Communities which protested this total failure to correctly distinguish between the victims and perpetrators of World War II to Latvian President Berzins and Minister for Environmental Protection and Regional Development Sprudzis.”

For more information call 00-972-50-721-4156
www.operationlastchance.org         www.wiesenthal.com



18.3.2012  
WIESENTHAL ISRAEL DIRECTOR JOINS DEMONSTRATORS AGAINST MARCH OF WAFFEN-SS VETERANS AND SUPPORTERS IN RIGA

Riga-The Simon Wiesenthal Center's chief Nazi-hunter, Israel director Dr. Efraim Zuroff, travelled to Riga to join demonstrators against a march of Latvian Waffen-SS veterans and their supporters which took place yesterday in the Latvian capital. In a statement issued here today following the demonstration which was attended by about 100 protestors, among them residents of Riga and guests who especially arrived from Israel, Britain, Lithuania, Germany and Austria, the Center noted the importance of the protest against the glorification of people who fought alongside the most genocidal regime in human history.

According to Zuroff:
" It is a terrible tragedy that many Latvians view those who fought with the Nazis as patriotic freedom fighters. It is important to remember that although the Latvian SS Legion was not involved in the crimes of the Holocaust (by the time it was established almost all of Latvian Jewry had already been murdered), many of those who served in the unit, had actively participated in Holocaust crimes as members of the Latvian Security Police, and it would therefore be unthinkable to honor these men. It is also important to note that the claim that these men were fighting for Latvian independence is a total myth, since the Nazis had absolutely no intention to grant Latvia independence and it is only because the Third Reich was defeated that an independent Latvia ultimately was created in 1991."
Dr. Zuroff was among the demonstrators who laid a wreath to commemorate the victims of the Holocaust at the Freedom Monument, the destination of the march, prior to the arrival of the SS veterans and their supporters. After the wreath was laid, a large poster of the emblem of the Latvian SS units was put in front of the wreath to cover it up.

For more information call 00-972-50-7214156

www.operationlastchance.org www.wiesenthal.com



April 13, 2011  
WIESENTHAL CENTER STRONGLY CONDEMNS PROPOSAL TO BURY REMAINS OF LATVIAN MASS MURDERER HERBERTS CUKURS IN RIGA PANTHEON OF LATVIAN HEROES

Jerusalem-The Simon Wiesenthal Center has labeled a neo-Nazi march of approximately 1,000 participants held this past Jerusalem-The Simon Wiesenthal Center today strongly condemned a proposal submitted by the family of Latvian mass murderer Herberts Cukurs to bury their father’s remains in the “Brothers’ Cemetery” in Riga, the site of the burial of Latvia’s most important heroes. In a statement issued here by its Israel director, Holocaust historian Dr. Efraim Zuroff, the Center denounced the proposal as an attempt to absolve one of the biggest Latvian Nazi war criminals of his horrific crimes, which is an unforgivable insult to the memory of all the victims of the Holocaust and an affront to all Latvians with any sense of honesty and morality.

According to Zuroff:
“Hrebert Cukurs was the deputy commander of the notorious “Arajs Kommando,” which actively participated in the mass murder of tens of thousands of Latvian and foreign Jews in Riga and the provinces, as well as in Belarus. Cukurs was a zealous volunteer for the Nazi cause and its program of the annihilation of all the ostensible enemies of the Third Reich. Numerous testimonies in the Yad Vashem Archives document Cukurs’ crimes and the fact that he personally murdered numerous Jewish men, women, and children. The fact that he was never prosecuted in a court of law is no proof whatsoever of his innocence; unfortunately many of the biggest Holocaust perpetrators were able to escape justice. The burial of his remains in the “Brothers’ Cemetery” will be an eternal badge of shame for Latvia.”

For more information call 00-972-50-7214156

www.operationlastchance.org www.wiesenthal.com

July 1, 2010  
WIESENTHAL CENTER PRAISES LATVIAN LEADERS’ CRITICISM OF MARCH TO MARK NAZI OCCUPATION OF RIGA BUT WARNS OF DIRE CONSEQUENCES OF UNPRECEDENTED GLORIFICATION OF NAZI REGIME IN LATVIA

Jerusalem-The Simon Wiesenthal Center praised the public criticism by Latvian leaders of the march of extremist Latvian nationalists held today in Riga, but warned that the unprecedented celebration of the Nazi occupation of the city, held today in the middle of the Latvian capital, would have dire consequences unless a legal means were found to prevent such events in the future. In a statement issued here today by its Israel director, Holocaust historian and chief Nazi-hunter Dr. Efraim Zuroff, the Center noted the unequivocal denunciation of the march by President Valdis Zatlers, as well as the criticism voiced by Prime Minister Dombrovskis and Foreign Minister Ronis, and urged the Latvian leaders to find legal means to prevent such demonstrations in the future. He emphasized, however, that such events did not occur in a vacuum and that Latvia’s failure since independence to prosecute Nazi war criminals, its attempts to glorify the members of the Latvian SS battalions which fought for a victory of the Nazi Germany, and its reluctance to fully acknowledge the scope and role of local Nazi collaborators in the mass murder of Jews explain why such an unprecedented event was taking place in Latvia.

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According to Zuroff:
“Unfortunately, there is far too much local sympathy for Latvians who committed the crimes of the Holocaust as long as they fought against the Soviets. The only way to eradicate this distorted perception of Latvian history is to tell the whole truth about the critical role played by Latvians in the mass murder of Jews and other victims of the Nazis, and to stop trying to create false historical symmetries between Nazism and Communism. Legal measures to stop the glorification of Nazi Germany are important, but the best long-term solution is truth in history education.”

For more information call 00-972-50-7214156

www.operationlastchance.org www.wiesenthal.com

June 30, 2010  
WIESENTHAL CENTER PROTESTS DECISION BY RIGA DISTRICT COURT TO ALLOW CELEBRATION OF OCCUPATION OF RIGA BY NAZI GERMANY

Jerusalem-The Simon Wiesenthal Center expressed its outrage at today's decision by a district court in Riga, Latvia to allow an event to "celebrate" the sixty-ninth anniversary of the Nazi occupation of the city at its famous Freedom Monument in the center of town this coming Thursday, July 1, 2010.

In a statement issued today in Jerusalem by its Israel Director, Holocaust historian Dr. Efraim Zuroff, the Center strongly protested the decision which it categorized as "incomprehensible and totally outrageous," and an insult to all the victims of Nazism and those who fought to save the world from Nazi totalitarianism.

According to Zuroff:
" It is inconceivable that a member in good standing in NATO and the European Union will allow such an event to take place. To celebrate the anniversary of Nazi invasion of Riga on July 1 is to celebrate the mass murder of all those victimized by the Nazis in Latvia-primarily Jews but also Communists, Gypsies, and the mentally-ill. To hold such an event at the Freedom Monument is an insult to all those who fought for a democratic Latvia and the exact opposite of what that site is supposed to represent.

" We urge saner minds to prevail in Riga to stop this outrage from taking place and send a clear and unequivocal message that Latvia will not tolerate a glorification of Nazism, the scourge of the 20th century."

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For more information call 00-972-50-7214156

www.operationlastchance.org www.wiesenthal.com

March 22, 2010
WIESENTHAL CENTER’S CHIEF NAZI-HUNTER RESPONDS TO CRITICISM BY LATVIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN RELATION TO RECENT RIGA MARCH OF LATVIAN SS VETERANS

Jerusalem-The chief Nazi-hunter of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, Holocaust historian
Dr. Efraim Zuroff, responded today to the attack leveled by recently-resigned Latvian Foreign Minister Maris Reikstins against his comments denouncing the march of Latvian-SS Legion veterans held last week in the Latvian capital. In a statement issued here, Zuroff categorized Reikstins’ comments in which he asserted that all the victims of World War II suffered equally as “an outrageous revisionist rewriting of history which erases all distinctions between perpetrator criminals and innocent victims.”

According to Zuroff:
“It is countries like Latvia, which attempt to cover up the complicity of their nationals in the crimes of the Holocaust, which are seeking to rewrite European history by creating false symmetries between Communist and Nazi crimes. The time has come for Latvia and its Baltic neighbors to stop trying to deflect and/or minimize local participation in the mass murder of the Jews during World War II and to desist from trying to equate Communist crimes with the Holocaust. Such efforts are not only an insult to the Nazis’ victims but dishonor those who suffered under Communism as well.”

For more information call 00-972-50-7214156


March 16, 2010
Wiesenthal Center Denounces March of Latvian Waffen-SS Veterans; Chief Nazi Hunter Participates in Anti-March Demonstration

Riga, Latvia – The Simon Wiesenthal Center today denounced the march of Latvian Waffen-SS veterans held this morning in the center of Riga to honor the Latvian SS legion which fought with the forces of Nazi Germany during World War II.

In a statement issues in Riga by its chief Nazi hunter, Israel director, Dr. Efraim Zuroff, who joined the anti-Fascist demonstrators against the march, the Center protested “the glorification of those who fought for a victory of the Third Reich, a regime directly responsible for the murder of tens of millions of innocent civilians.”

According to Zuroff:

“Today is a very sad day for Latvia and for the memory of the Holocaust. It is unthinkable that those who bore arms to help Nazi Germany subjugate Europe, among them numerous individuals, who actively participated in the mass murder of tens of thousand of Jews in Latvia and other countries, should be honored as if they are Latvia’s greatest heroes. Latvia’s true heroes are people like Janis Lipka and his wife who risk their life to save Jews from the German, Austrian, and Latvian Nazi murderers who sought to kill them.”

For more information call 00-972-50-7214156


July 13, 2009  
Wiesenthal Center Blasts Baltic Campaign to Equate Communism and Nazism; Calls for International Effort to Thwart Initiatives That Distort Holocaust History

Jerusalem – The Simon Wiesenthal Center today blasted the current campaign conducted by the Baltic countries of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia to grant Communist crimes equal recognition to the crimes of the Holocaust . In an op-ed article featured in the Israeli English-language daily Jerusalem Post, the Center’s Israel director Holocaust historian Dr. Efraim Zuroff severely criticized the recently-intensified campaign by the Baltic republics and other post-Communist governments to mark August 23 as a joint remembrance day for the victims of Nazism and Communism, and to establish an “Institute of European Memory and Conscience” as a museum, research and educational center on totalitarian crimes in order to “reunite [European] history [and] recognize communism and Nazism as a common legacy.” According to Zuroff: “While one can sympathize with the legitimate desire of the victims of Communism for recognition, there is nothing innocent about this declaration which clearly seeks to undermine the current status of the Holocaust as a unique historical tragedy and relativize it to divert attention from the extensive collaboration of Balts with the Nazis and the abysmal failure of all their governments since independence to adequately deal with these issues. “It is clear that the time has come to start paying attention to this insidious campaign being conducted primarily by Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia to alleviate their guilt for Holocaust crimes and displace the Shoa from its unique status. If not, we are likely to soon find ourselves facing the cancellation of the numerous important achievements of the past decade in Holocaust commemoration and education and forced to fight an uphill battle against a new and distorted World War II historical narrative.”

For more information call 00-972-50-7214156

www.operationlastchance.org www.wiesenthal.com

March 17, 2008  
Wiesenthal Center: Riga March Honoring Latvian SS Legion Symptomatic of Latvia’s Failure to Fully Recognize Horrors of Nazi Regime and Latvian Participation in Holocaust Crimes
Jerusalem – The Simon Wiesenthal Center today criticized yesterday’s annual march in downtown Riga of Latvian SS Legion veterans, calling it part of Latvian efforts to equate Nazi and Soviet crimes and thereby minimize the important role played by Latvians in the crimes of the Holocaust.

In a statement issued today in Jerusalem by its chief Nazi-hunter, Israel director Dr. Efraim Zuroff, the Center called the annual march a misguided attempt to create a false symmetry between Nazi and Communist crimes which will help minimize the guilt of Latvians in the crimes of the Holocaust.

According to Zuroff:

“By permitting a march of to honor those who fought alongside the Nazis for a victory of the Third Reich during World War II, the Latvian authorities are sending a deeply-flawed message which distorts the historical events. And by honoring all the Latvian SS Legion veterans, even though among them are many who were active participants in the mass murder of Jews in Latvia and Belarus, the organizers of the march are insulting the victims of these murderers and reinforcing the myth that Latvians bear no responsibility whatsoever for the annihilation of Latvian Jewry (and numerous Jews in other countries), a fabrication which has no connection to reality.”

For more information call 00-972-50-7214156
www.operationlastchance.org www.wiesenthal.com

October 30, 2007  
Wiesenthal Center’s Chief Nazi-Hunter Meets Chairman of Russian Senate Committee for Foreign Affairs to Discuss Cooperation in Combating Glorification of Nazism and Distortion of Holocaust History in Post-Communist Eastern Europe
Moscow – The Simon Wiesenthal Center’s chief Nazi-hunter, Israel director Dr. Efraim Zuroff, today met in Moscow with Russian political leader Mikhail Margelov, Chairman of the Committee for Foreign Affairs of the Russian Senate and President of the “European Democrat Group” in the Council of Europe to discuss practical cooperation in combating recent phenomenon of Holocaust distortion and the glorification of Nazi collaborators in post-Communist Eastern Europe. more...

December 1, 2003  
In Wake of Wiesenthal Center Protest, Latvian Prosecutor to Face Disciplinary Measures
The Simon Wiesenthal Center revealed today that the Latvian government had indicated that it planned to take disciplinary measures against a prosecutor who had harassed a Latvian citizen who had submitted information regarding a suspected Latvian Nazi war criminal to the Center in the framework of its “Operation: Last Chance.”more...

July 22, 2003  
Wiesenthal Center’s “Operation: Last Chance” Completes First Year in Latvia; Yields Information on 38 Latvian Suspects; 10 Names Submitted to Procurator-General for Formal Investigation
The Simon Wiesenthal Center announced today that it had received information on thirty-eight suspects accused of participation in Holocaust crimes in Latvia or as members of Latvian Security Police units outside the country during the initial year of its “Operation: Last Chance” project launched together with the Targum Shlishi Foundation of Miami in July 2002.more...

April 9, 2003  
WIESENTHAL CENTER ANNOUNCES RECEIPT OF NAMES OF 37 SUSPECTED NAZI WAR CRIMINALS IN LATVIA IN RESPONSE TO"OPERATION:LAST CHANCE"

The Simon Wiesenthal Center today announced at a press conference in the Latvian capital that it had already received the names of some 37 suspected Latvian Holocaust perpetrators in response to its "Operation:Last Chance," a project launched together with the Targum Shlishi Foundation of Miami, Florida, which offered financial rewards for information which would lead to the conviction and punishment of Baltic Nazi war criminals.more...


March 13, 2003

 
Wiesenthal Center Protests Refusal of Latvian Newspaper to Publish Ad Offering Reward for Information against Nazi War Criminals

The Simon Wiesenthal Center today condemned the decision of Kurzemes Vards , a Latvian newspaper based in the port city of Liepaja to refuse to publish an ad in which the Center offered a $10,000 reward for information which would lead to the conviction and punishment of Nazi war criminals. Five other regional Latvian newspapers started running the ad this week in the framework of the Center's “Operation: Last Chance,” which was launched in Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia this past summer and which has already resulted in the opening of two official investigations of Holocaust-era crimes in Lithuania.

The ad, bears the heading “This is about your Jewish neighbors…the ones who were murdered nearby” and presents the Center's offer of a financial reward for the submission of information which will lead to the conviction and punishment of Nazi war criminals. It also shows a historic photograph of two Jewish women (one of whom is naked-seen from the back) being led away to be executed in Liepaja by a local Nazi collaborator.

In a letter sent today to the Latvian ambassador to Israel Janis Lovniks, the Center's Israel director and chief Nazi-hunter, Dr. Efraim Zuroff, who directs “Operation: Last Chance,” condemned the decision of the Liepaja-based newspaper and urged the Latvian authorities to encourage its editor to change his mind regarding this matter. According to Zuroff:

“Such a decision only reinforces the sense that there are still those in Latvian society who are in deep denial regarding the fact that Latvians actively participated in the murder of Jews both in Latvia and in other countries during the Holocaust. I urge you to convey the Center's condemnation of this policy to the pertinent Latvian authorities and hope that they will encourage Kurzemes Vards to change its decision in this regard.”

For more information call: 972-51-214156


November 18, 2002  
WIESENTHAL CENTER AND “TARGUM SHLISHI” FOUNDATION LAUNCH INNOVATIVE AD CAMPAIGN AS SECOND STAGE OF “OPERATION: LAST CHANCE”
The Simon Wiesenthal Center and the Targum Shlishi Foundation have launched the second stage of their “Operation: Last Chance” campaign which offers financial rewards for information leading to the prosecution and punishment of Nazi war criminals in the Baltics, by initiating an innovative ad campaign which utilizes authentic Holocaust-era photos of Nazi atrocities to urge informants to supply the Center with incriminating information against local Holocaust perpetrators. more...