The Historical Memory foundation, a Russian NGO, on Wednesday presented a report about the glorification of the Nazi regime in the Baltic states, on the sidelines of the 41st session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. The report is a well crafted Russian attack on anyone who used to be in the Soviet Union’s sphere of influence and control and has escaped to less terrifying places.
The Baltic states, which used to be part of the Soviet Union, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, lie on the shores of the Baltic Sea.
In September 1939, as part of a secret pact within the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact of 1939 that divided Europe into German and Soviet spheres of influence, the Soviet Army entered eastern Poland and then forced Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania into mutual assistance treaties. In June 1940, the Red Army occupied all of the territory of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, and installed new, pro-Soviet governments there. Repression, executions and mass deportations followed. Between 1940 and 1953, the Soviet government deported more than 200,000 people from the Baltics to remote, inhospitable locations in the Soviet Union. In addition, at least 75,000 were sent to Gulags. About 10% of the adult Baltic population were deported or sent to labor camps.
Which is why, when the German army invaded their countries in 1941, many Estonians, Latvians, and Lithuanians considered the Germans their liberators. It can be said that they were as much anti-Russian as they were pro-Nazis. They collaborated with the Nazi invaders with great enthusiasm, which resulted in the murder of more than 190,000 Lithuanian Jews, about 95% of Lithuania’s pre-war Jewish community, and 66,000 Latvian Jews.
“At present, several hundred people who were possibly involved in Nazi war crimes are still living in the Baltic states and other countries,” a co-author of the report, head of the Historical Memory foundation Alexander Dyukov, said in Geneva, adding that “prosecuting them is an important task.”
Possibly. Although they should all be in their 90s by now, if not older.
“We are also convinced that the policy of glorifying Nazi criminals, conducted by Baltic governments, gives ground for raising the question of those states’ responsibilities for some of the crimes committed,” Dyukov said.
He had precious little to say about the many thousands of Jews who perished by the hand of the Soviet Union.
He did call for Latvia’s implementation of the Terezin Declaration on Holocaust Era Assets and Related Issues, adopted at a conference in Czech Republic in June 2009, which calls for the return the property of victims of the Holocaust and other Nazi crimes to their legitimate owners.
According to Dyukov, the majority of eastern European countries observed provisions of this document, but Riga did not.
Neither has Warsaw for that matter.
Or Moscow, come to think of it.
Mikhail Chernov, chairman of the Foundation for the Support and Development of Jewish Culture, Traditions, Education and Science, noted that “inside the European Union there are states and territories where glorification of Nazi collaborators and the Nazis is part of the state agenda.”
Chernov added Ukraine to the list of states that “show ignorance of international law and the basic principles of the EU policies in this regard. These states have emerged as a sanctuary for anti-human and anti-Semitic ideas.”
In an interview to TASS, Chernov said it was particularly important to present the report in Geneva: “We must remember the past and must not let this happen again,” he said. “To prevent this from happening, we need to crack down on Nazi supporters by legitimate means wherever we can.”