As world remembers Nuremberg, Russia warns on neo-Nazi revival
Russia’s Federation Council issued a special statement for the 65th anniversary of the Nuremberg Trials that not only remembers the series of court cases, but demands that the world “remain loyal to the Nuremburg principles.”
In an effort to honor "the lasting historical significance of the Nuremberg Trials” the international community must “remain loyal to the Nuremberg principles,” which may be achieved through “a spirit of cooperation and goodwill.”
The document then reminded governments around the world that it was their responsibility to maintain an atmosphere of “vigilance and intolerance towards any attempts to break international law."
The Nuremburg Trials were a series of twelve separate court cases, involving over 100 defendants that took place in Nuremberg, Bavaria from 1945 to 1949. The first and most important trial, known as the Trial of the Major War Criminals, began on November 20, 1945.
During a dedication ceremony for the opening of the Nuremburg Trials Museum on Sunday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said it was a global obligation to fight against manifestations of neo-Nazism.
"The duty of the entire global community is to fight without compromise against manifestations of neo-Nazism, racial hatred, xenophobia and extremism," Lavrov said in Nuremburg, which had been chosen as the site of the Nuremburg Trials because it was thought to be the “birthplace” of the Nazi movement.
The Russian foreign minister then compared the fight against Nazism to the modern scourge of terrorism, which also demands international cooperation.
"International terrorism…is essentially an ideological successor to Nazism. Terrorism is the same barbarian ideology promoting violence, aggression, total disrespect for moral values and human life," Lavrov added.
Meanwhile, the lower chamber of the Russian parliament called on the international community to reign in any attempts to reinterpret the historic verdicts delivered during the Nuremberg Trials.
"Deputies of the State Duma call on international organizations and the parliaments of states around the world to…condemn and suppress any attempts to revive fascist, ultra-right, racist and nationalistic ideologies in their countries and anywhere else in the world acting…," the chamber said in its statement.
Nazism does not equal communism
The Russian MPs also stressed the unacceptability of attempts to place "an equal sign" between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union.
It is simply dishonest to “compare the Nazi threat, which meant the enslavement and extermination of entire peoples, and the policies of the Soviet Union, which proved the only force capable of confronting the war machine of Nazi Germany in the early years of World War II, and of ensuring its defeat at the final stage," the Russian legislators said.
The Duma went on to express its concern over ongoing efforts by nationalistic groups to give credit to Nazism and honor war criminals as "national heroes."
MPs Konstantin Kosachev and Nikolai Kovalyov, the authors of the statements, deplored the fact that "textbooks in the countries where attempts of this kind are made not infrequently give more space to the 'deeds' of the fascist corroborators than to the Nuremberg Trials, which condemned fascism for all times."
Kosachev and Kovalyov expressed their indignation over the fact that "accomplices in heinous crimes of the fascist regime are being rehabilitated and even decorated with state awards while the soldiers who fought in the ranks of the anti-Hitler coalition are subjected to persecutions."
The statement seems a reference to a recent decision by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) that ruled against war veteran Vasily Kononov, a Soviet partisan who was convicted of charges against humanity.
On another occasion, in 2007, the Estonian government made the decision to remove a popular Soviet war memorial, known as the Bronze Soldier, in the capital of Tallinn. The incident sparked huge protests amongst Estonia’s ethnic Russian population that left one person dead.
Russia slammed the decision as a “glorification of Nazism.”
Estonia was occupied by Nazi Germany from 1941-1944. The Nazis were eventually pushed out by the Soviet forces. In 1991, the Baltic State won its independence as the Soviet Union collapsed.
Remembering the sacrifice
Although people around the world suffered untold misery and hardship during World War II, no other country suffered a greater human toll in that global conflict than Russia.
Adolf Hitler surprised Josef Stalin, with whom he had just concluded a non-aggression treaty, in the summer of 1941 when Nazi forces launched “Operation Barbarossa” against the Soviet Union. What eventually transpired was a series of devastating battles that pitched Hitler’s “blitzkrieg” (lightning war) against the staunch resistance of the Russian military and people.
Eventually, the fortunes of war swung in Stalin’s favor, and his Operation Bagration in Belorussia was said to have destroyed three times more Nazi army divisions than the Allies did in the Normandy D-Day landings.
Yet the victory inflicted unfathomable losses on the Soviet Union, which lost around 27 million people, by far the greatest number in the war.
It is therefore understandable that Russia be concerned with the rise of fascist movements on its doorstep.
"For the people of Russia, who sustained huge losses during the Great Patriotic war, such actions are a blasphemy and affront," read another statement, this one by the upper chamber of the Russian parliament.
The tragic pages of history, closed by the Nuremberg Tribunal, should not happen again, the Russian senators said.