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9 Apr, 2008 16:59

Latvian documentary causes controversy

Many historians acknowledge the sacrifices the Soviet Union made to defeat Nazi Germany in the Second World War. However, a film released in Latvia is suggesting that the Soviet Union helped Nazi Germany instigate the horrors of the Holocaust. The move ha

Latvia has released a one and a half hour documentary that suggests the Soviet Union helped Nazi Germany to instigate the Holocaust and the Soviet security forces – the NKVD – collaborated with the Nazi’s secret police.

The film premiered at the session of the Parliamentary assembly of Europe. Russian historians place a major question about the facts.

According to historian Aleksandr Dyukov the number of false facts that’s already obvious on the official website of this film is beyond expectations.

“For example, as a proof of the collaboration between the NKVD and the Gestapo, they offer the general agreement allegedly signed by the two on the November 11, 1938. It is a well-known fact that it is a high quality fake that was introduced in 1999 by an Anti-Semitic newspaper Memory. And there is a lot of proof to consider it a fake, beginning with the fact that one of the people who allegedly signed it was the Chief of the Reich security service Mueller, who in fact wasn’t a chief then and on that day he was in Berlin summing up the results of the Crystal night, the first open anti-Jewish violence in Nazi Germany,” Dyukov says.

Fighting against fascism the Soviet Union lost up to 30 million people, more than any other country.

Today the former Baltic republics as well as some of the former Soviet satellites call the Soviet victory over the Nazis – a catastrophe.

Yakov Vinnichenko, a WWII veteran, who was among those Soviet soldiers who liberated Auschwitz, the notorious concentration camp, in January 1945. He recalls, that when the Soviets came they found about 7,600 survivors, mostly Jews.

“The attitude to the veterans is very different now, than it used to be, and not for the better,” says Vinnichenko.

Estonia and Poland have launched a campaign to get rid of the Soviet monuments. The Latvian court intitiated a number of cases against the veterans of the WWII, who fought the Nazis on charges of genocide and war crimes.

At least two have appealed and won in the European court, some died before they could send an appeal.

“For these countries it’s important to form their national identity by distancing themselves from Russia. They want to have new heroes, not the Soviet soldiers, but at times people who collaborated with the Nazis. And thus ignore the fact of war crimes. For instance one of the Estonian police battalions which is now said to have fought for the independence of Estonia was also patrolling the concentration camps for captured Soviet soldiers,” Dyukov says.

Reviewing history a popular trend

Among other subjects covered in the film is the famine in Ukraine.

Joseph Stalin willing to get rid of the well-to-do peasantry ordered the destruction of their crops and cattle, many people were imprisoned or executed. The result of it was the Great Famine.

About seven million people died, Ukrainians among them, but with an overwhelming majority of victims in the Volga region, Kuban – both in the central part of modern Russia and Kazakhstan – a former Soviet republic.

The Ukrainian leadership now calls it genocide solely against Ukrainians.

Another topic raised – repression in the Soviet Union. Several million people, the exact number will never be known, were either executed or sent to concentration camps during the rule of Joseph Stalin.

One of the experts featured in the film believes Russia as a successor of the Soviet Union is obliged to carry out a real investigation of the crimes.

Historians remind the crimes of Joseph Stalin are politically and morally condemned in Russia. The Federal security service has opened the archives of KGB and NKVD. The Russian leaders apologized and publicly repented.

Many regular shows on Russian state channels tell the history of repression and stories of the victims. As historians say to remember is one thing, to remember only what plays to one’s advantage is another.

One of the goals of the film is to introduce the West to what is Soviet and Russia’s history. They fought against fascism, led the world in major scientific breakthroughs, flew into space, wrote the classics of world literature, and finally got rid of communist rule.

Russian historians fear the viewers of the film will get to know only one side of that history, the author’s side.