Neo-Nazis holiday in Eastern Europe
Even though the allies defeated Nazism and Fascism more than 60 years ago, the specter of the swastika still holds sway in parts of Eastern Europe where neo-Nazis simply have not gone away.
“In other European countries, these neo-Nazi’s, they can’t get together [to] use their Nazi symbols and uniforms,” explains Andranik Migranyan from the Institute for Democracy and Cooperation.
“They are coming to Baltic republics and celebrating together with Baltic fascists and Nazis on their holidays. Which means this disease is spreading like a cancer.”
Representatives from Russia, the US, Ukraine, Latvia and Estonia have been discussing in New York ways to counter the disturbing rise of Nazism and xenophobia.
In Latvia and Estonia parades in honor of SS veterans are held annually.
Ukraine meanwhile, has honored soldiers who fought against the Soviet Army on the side of Nazi Germany.
Relations between Russia and Latvia and Estonia have been strained over what Moscow calls the two states' unequal treatment of ethnic Russians, and regulations denigrating Red Army veterans
The moving of the Bronze Soldier Soviet war memorial in Tallinn two years ago led to street protests in which over a thousand people were arrested and one ethnic Russian was killed.
Anti-fascist activists say what's most frightening is that an entire generation of children is being led to believe the Nazi’s were attempting to save citizens from Soviet oppression.
Latvian Anti-Fascist Committee member Joseph Koren points out that “The worst part is that the propaganda that exists today in Latvia and Estonia has transformed the opinion of the younger generation – from knowing that Nazism is absolute evil by definition to Nazism being temporarily acceptable as a stage in forming a national state”.
“A Ukrainian who was in the Soviet Army – today in the face of the new generation – is no hero. It’s a big problem,” concludes Arkady Monastirskiy from Jewish Confederation of Ukraine.
Observers are calling on the US to help combat growing nationalism and anti-Semitism across the Atlantic.
“In America, Jewish organizations are very active and powerful, they have the possibility to mobilize their pressure on their legislative representatives in congress to make a pressure on their administration in order to force them to hold a tougher stand against these new republics,” says Andranik Migranyan.
As Latvia and Estonia are members of NATO and the European Union Russia says their new protection means they can antagonize and vilify at will.
The UN general assembly has adopted four Russian-sponsored resolutions condemning the glorification of Nazism. Yet the institution created following the tragedy of World War II, might need to do more if it is to prevent this pressing problem from escalating further.