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Dovid Katz

 
EDITOR'S PICK: THIS YEAR'S YOM HASHOAH IS DIFFERENT

by Dovid Katz in Vilnius, Lithuania, May 3, 2011, Special to the Winnipeg Jewish Review

 

 

 

The history of the Holocaust is being undermined by Holocaust Obfuscation, a sophisticated new movement emanating from some East European countries and their spokespersons internationally.

A NEW ERA

Why is this year's Yom Hashoah different from all others?  For the first time in decades, there is verily a new challenge of historic proportions, and one which we have frankly been failing to counter effectively. May we now on this day be inspired to rise to the occasion with a new sense of purpose, clarity of thinking, and the minimal courage necessary for us fortunate Westerners to speak out robustly for a just cause.

Spring 2011 will lead us very shortly to the seventieth anniversary of the 'Holocaust by Bullets' unleashed after the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union on 22 June 1941. Aided by thousands of volunteer killers in Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Ukraine and elsewhere, the Nazis began rapidly to arrange for all the Jews in very many locations (of  whatever age, skill, gender, belief, whatever) to be ghettoized, plundered and humiliated in preparation for being undressed and shot dead in big pits outside town. Here in Lithuania, there are around 250 such mass graves where Lithuanian Jewry was butchered, mostly at the hands of enthusiastic 'local forces' who are sometimes honored nowadays as 'anti-Soviet partisans'.

A million Jewish civilians were killed in Eastern Europe in the half year that ended in December of 1941. It is no diminution of the earlier horrors of ghettos and concentration camps further West to understand that the actual genocide got underway en masse after the Nazi invasion of the USSR ("Operation Barbarossa"). It was in the shadow of those six months of  successful butchery of nearly all the Jews in big chunks of the newly conquered territories that the Wannsee conference was convened in Berlin right afterwards, in January of 1942, sealing the fate  ( genocide ) for millions more.

So what is now so new beside the round year of seventy?
 
HOW DOES HOLOCAUST OBFUSCATION WORK?

In our still-young twenty-first century, Holocaust Denial has been relegated to the fringes of Western civilization. If any one event be chosen to symbolize a turning point, it might well be the turn-of -the-century libel suit brought by the denier David Irving against Professor Deborah Lipstadt of Emory University, over her classic book Denying the Holocaust. Ever since Mr Justice Charles Gray's April 2000 verdict, Denial has been rather unacceptable in polite society.

But something untoward was in tow at the same time. Among the proud new states to emerge on the territory of the hated Soviet Union, after its collapse some twenty years ago, were those that provided those thousands of voluntary killers in the time following 23 June 1941, those where  "collaboration" meant not, for example, ratting to the Gestapo or organizing for the deportation of one's townspeople, evil enough, but the enthusiastic and voluntary shooting of the children, women, men of the local Jewish population. In other words, a genocide in large part by neighbours.

With the fading of memory, what with the disappearance of survivors, witnesses and perpetrators alike, a perceived saturation with Holocaust programs, and a new world order, it is perhaps barely a surprise that more nationalistically, far-right-inclined nations to emerge in Eastern Europe would start investing serious money from their national budgets, even in economically strapped times, to try to gain acceptance for their own narrative. That narrative is a shameful one. It is rooted deeply in a number of interlocking ideas. First, local antisemitism and racism in the form of the notion that "all the Jews were communists and got what they deserve" (or in a milder form "The worst communist criminals were Jews and so it's all understandable"). Then comes the effort to sanitize and where possible even glorify their local Holocaust killers as some kind of  "national heroes who resisted the Soviet Union" (and yes, virtually every fascist Jew-killer in the East was indeed "also anti-Soviet"). All of it is then crowned by an upmarket academic and journalistic rush to wash it all over in a postmodernist mush of equality and equivalence of all victims and victimhood. Presto, the Holocaust is gone. Without a single death being denied.

On top of all that there is the geostrategic aspect. Some of the countries involved, particularly the Baltics, are the easternmost outposts of NATO and the European Union right smack at the new East-West border, looking right at an unpredictable resurgent Putinist Russia. Let there be no mistake, the smaller nations that border or are close to Russia have every legitimate reason to be apprehensive, and the West has every legitimate responsibility to back them to the hilt. And, east of that border, there is Ukraine whose people do not enjoy the Western economic or security umbrella that they deserve.

In the cocktail of so many interests, one morally repugnant interest can sometimes be snuck through the cracks, and, with a little help from the junkets, medals and pleasures that governments can provide to naive foreigners (including "Useful Jewish Idiots"), there is every prospect for a revision of World War II history, downgrading the Holocaust, upgrading Soviet crimes to "genocide" (sometimes  by legal redefinition of the term) and even slipping through glorification of Holocaust killers to an unsuspecting West that is usually far too busy to pay much attention to "details".

Add to this already volatile cocktail the very current geopolitical scene, and it is not much of a leap to see how fascist-admiring far-right East European politicians can hope to use Holocaust revisionism as a potent stick in today's east-west arena, in what is sometimes called the New Cold War. If Nazism and Communism were in principle "equal" as the new revisionism, sometimes called Double Genocide, claims, then there might be a potent new stick against Russia, which should by this logic, as an equal of Hitler, now become an international pariah in view of the retroactive revision of history.

The long and short of it is, that the Holocaust is being written out of history by a convergence of interests emanating mostly from East European ultranationalists, who do not want the stain of collaboration in their history, who want to become the historic victims of the same Holocaust years, who want to heroize and glorify their countries' Jew-killers, tolerate massive local antisemitism while professing love of foreign (and prewar) Jews to the outside world, and and settle scores with the Russians. All with barely a notice of the world's major Holocaust institutions and programs.
 
Right Now, not 70 years ago

Even as our days of remembrance unfold, a powerful lobby in Canada has cunningly chosen the new Museum for Human Rights as a viable battleground. You can't get much more Western, modern or democratic than Canada. Yet not only has the very simple idea of a one Holocaust gallery being included in the museum's permanent exhibition been distorted beyond recognition by an antisemitic, Holocaust-distorting East-European-origin lobby. That lobby could simply could not resist printing and distributing postcards depicting the Jews as pigs.

Just as frighten

 
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