Nazi ‘virus’ vaccine worn off since Nuremberg trials?

​Al Gurnov
Al Gurnov is a journalist, political analyst and broadcaster. He has presented the news for several Russian national TV channels, and writes for a number of major newspapers and magazines. In the 1990s Al Gurnov was the West European Bureau chief for Russian State TV & Radio (RTR) based in London. Later he hosted several successful TV and radio shows. Winner of numerous professional awards, he has been an RT presenter and TV host since the company was founded in 2005. Al Gurnov regularly appears as a political expert on prime time TV shows on major Russian and international channels. He is a member of the Russian and International Television Academies, and Professor at MGIMO University School of Journalism (Moscow).
Reuters / Ints Kalnins
Everyone, who, as myself, has a kid in high school, is used to answering countless questions. I wonder, if any of you is finding it harder now to answer simple questions like “Wasn’t Nazism defeated in the WWII? Weren’t the Nazis convicted in Nuremberg?”

“Easy”, - some may say. Maybe. But not if your son is watching TV news showing how Nazi flags are waving over European capitals.

On Monday, Riga hosted the annual march of SS veterans and other supporters of Nazi Germany. The date, March 16 is observed in Latvia as the day of commemoration of the Latvian Waffen SS legion - the "Day of the Latvian Legionnaires”. Security in the capital and some other cities was tightened and traffic in central Riga was blocked to let hundreds of Nazi veterans and their younger supporters freely carry their flags and banners through the streets to the Freedom monument in Riga and lay flowers at the memorial to those who 70 years ago gave their lives for Hitler's ideas. This circumstance may have been a problem before, but not now, when it is more important who they killed, rather than who they killed for.

READ MORE: Hundreds of Waffen-SS veterans march in Riga, antifascists ‘sanitize’ square after them

What has changed in post-Soviet Latvia is that the last war is now characterized by many as civil. And although thousands of Latvians fought on the side of the Red Army taking part in the liberation of Europe from the Nazi invasion, about 150,000 soldiers obeyed the orders of the German command. The 15th and 19th divisions of the SS Latvian Legion fought heavy battles within Latvia and also inside Russia - during the siege of Leningrad. Moreover, many legionnaires being ordinary Wehrmacht soldiers were later recognized as participants in punitive operations. So, after the Republic of Latvia officially canceled the celebration of the 1945 Victory, the “Day of the Legionnaires” stirs up rather complex feelings among people.

One simple reason for that is that Veterans of the Latvian Waffen SS legion have staged a parade in central Riga every year since 1991, when the Soviet Union collapsed. At first it looked like a vulgar reaction to the sudden freedom from Communist ideology. But it is linked to March 16, 1944 when a heavy battle was fought between the Legion and the Red Army resulting in brutal killings of Latvian citizens by Nazi collaborators, and it inevitably became an anti-Russian, rather than an anti-Soviet event. That absolutely rules out any compromise or understanding between the veterans of the Waffen SS and the130th Latvian Red Army Rifle Corps. And this is why anti-fascists - Latvia's large ethnic Russian community, Jewish groups and several civic groups - annually hold protests on that same day, which usually end in clashes with the neo-Nazis.

No wonder, the US embassy in Latvia recommended US citizens last Sunday to be careful during the Riga Nazi parade, warning that the demonstrations can escalate into violence. “Review your personal security plans, remain aware of your surroundings, including local events, and monitor local news stations for updates. Maintain a high level of vigilance and take appropriate steps to enhance your personal security,” a statement on the embassy’s website reads.

However, there’s been no reaction, whatsoever, from any Western officials concerning the political angle of the public event.

Moscow seems to be the only European capital where neo-Nazism causes outrage. Though a recent statement by the Russian Foreign Ministry "About the participation of the Latvian SS Legion in war crimes in 1941-1945 and the attempts in Latvia to revise the verdict of the Nuremberg Tribunal," the Latvian Foreign Ministry has described it as a "blatant propaganda attack on the Latvian state.” Moreover such a stance made an editorial in the online edition of “The Daily Beast” draw a conclusion, that anti-Nazi groups are actually helping the Kremlin “rebuild the Russian Empire.” Such rhetoric might even lead to describing Nazi marches as a manifestation of a freedom of expression. But that context would be false as desecrating the memory of millions of victims of WWII in Latvia violates its international obligations.

Latvian President Andris Berzins urged not to use this date for political purposes. The Latvian government had earlier decided that cabinet ministers should not be involved in the procession. Despite that ban, the annual ceremony is usually attended, or otherwise encouraged, by senior officials, and high-ranking politicians. This year, again, the marchers were joined by a number of members of the Latvian Parliament and leaders of the opposition nationalist union For Fatherland and Freedom.

Usually, those politicians justify their actions in the desire to resist the Russian threat. But attempts to demonize Russia are all the more inappropriate amid reports of more and more American weapons deployed in Europe every year and army servicemen of European NATO countries extensively practicing their combat use. No wonder, speakers on Fox News are openly calling to “start killing Russians.

The history of partnership during WWII seems to be a serious obstacle for the mainstream US media in building an atmosphere of Russophobia in their country and elsewhere in the world. We are all indebted to the victors in World War II, who fought for the ideals of truth, justice and human values, and who laid down their lives for the sake of our future. Our duty is to preserve the memory of their heroic feat and not to let the world forget the lessons of history or revise the results, which are enshrined in the UN Charter. People must always remember the terrible consequences of the attempts to establish world domination, the belief in one’s own exceptionality, and the neglect of basic rules of law and morality.

READ MORE: Fox News analyst: ‘Start killing Russians’ to save Ukraine (VIDEO)

Unfortunately, much of the vaccine against the Nazi ‘virus’ that was developed during the Nuremberg Tribunal has worn off. Today, many countries show an increase in their manifestations of neo-Nazism, aggressive nationalism, xenophobia, and religious intolerance.

A vivid example was seen during the UN vote on the resolution to combat the glorification of Nazism initiated by Russia and co-authored by 44 states from all over the world. The document was adopted by a vast majority of votes. Only three countries voted against (in favor of neo-Nazi ideology): the US, Canada and Ukraine, where American support brought ultra-right-wing radical forces to power.

And what about European democracies? How did they vote?” - our kids would probably ask… Well, they all abstained. Which was not surprising at all, after a European Union representative addressed a UN General Assembly meeting on the 70th anniversary of World War II by an allegation that the end of the war had brought many European countries “new crimes against humanity instead of freedom.” But despite such candor I still wouldn’t recommend you to tell your kids that the growth in popularity and influence of ultra-right extremist parties is the modern trend in most European Union member states. Just tell them Ukraine was a sad exception.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.