Moscow hails EU’s reaction to Holocaust denial

Moscow has welcomed the EU's dismissal of a Lithuanian article that denies the Holocaust and disputes the role of the Nuremberg Trials.

The publication in Lithuania described the Holocaust as a “legend” and the war crime trials as “farcical”. Russia has condemned attempts by other nations to rewrite the WWII history, and denounces annual marches of former SS members in some European capitals.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry commented on a strong stance by European ambassadors to Lithuania in view of an article published in the Veidas Weekly.

"We are glad to hear that finally our partners have responded to mass media publications in Lithuania and other Baltic countries that have whitewashed Nazi criminals,” the statement says, according to ITAR TASS. “Russia calls for the counteracting of unscrupulous attempts to rewrite the history of World War II and encourage pro-Nazi supporters."

"This encroaches upon the memory of those who died during WWII and humiliated the feelings of WWII veterans," the ministry stressed.

On November 21, at the opening of the Nuremberg Trials Museum, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the Nuremberg Tribunal was a leading political and judicial achievement of the epoch, but some did not learn its lessons.

"There is no doubt that the Nuremberg Tribunal is a leading political and judicial achievement of the epoch,” he said.

“There is no other explanation for annual marches of former SS members in a number of European capital cities, prosecution of anti-fascist veterans or recognition of the swastika by a court as part of the cultural heritage of the Balts," Lavrov concluded.

Efraim Zuroff, head of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says the EU has to speak out over the distortion of the past:

“I think that this is an outgrowth of an atmosphere in Lithuania in which the narrative of the history of the WWII is being consistently distorted. I think it’s high time that the countries of Europe, the countries of the world, of the civilized world make clear to Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia and these other post-communist countries that the attempt to distort the history of the Holocaust will not be tolerated, the attempt to equate communist and Nazi crimes will not be tolerated.”

“You cannot say and you can’t minimize the role of the Soviet Union in the victory over Nazi Germany and you can’t try and claim that the people that liberated Auschwitz were just as responsible for its establishment and the mass murder that went on there,” he added.

Professor Dovid Katz from the World Without Nazism Movement, says the issue of Holocaust denial in Baltic states is being politicized.

“It’s a sort of by-product of a much wider problem that I call ‘Holocaust obfuscation’ – the movement in the Baltic states that does not deny the Holocaust, but tries to write it out of history, minimize it, trivialize it, relativize it,” Katz maintains.

“Its intellectuals, politicians, academics, media people, who are ultranationalists, don’t want any stain on their history. And are confusing it with current political issues, trying to use Holocaust issues in East-West relations as a stick against today’s Russia,” he explains.

Professor Katz agrees that Soviet crimes were horrendous, but, he said, we must remember that the Russian people were the first victims of Soviet crimes.

“It was not a war of ethnic destruction, murder, genocide, annihilation of the people. The two are very different. And I think that the nations of the world have to be steadfast in not allowing the Holocaust obfuscation that’s now emanating from Eastern Europe to succeed,” he concluded.