Spitfire List Web site and blog of anti-fascist researcher and radio personality Dave Emory.

For The Record  

FTR #848 Walkin’ the Snake in the Baltic States

Dave Emory’s entire life­time of work is avail­able on a flash drive that can be obtained here. The new drive is a 32-gigabyte drive that is current as of the programs and articles posted by 12/19/2014. The new drive (available for a tax-deductible contribution of $65.00 or more) contains FTR #827.  (The previous flash drive was current through the end of May of 2012 and contained FTR #748.)

WFMU-FM is podcasting For The Record–You can subscribe to the podcast HERE.

You can subscribe to e-mail alerts from Spitfirelist.com HERE

You can subscribe to RSS feed from Spitfirelist.com HERE.

You can subscribe to the comments made on programs and posts–an excellent source of information in, and of, itself HERE.

Listen: MP3  This program was recorded in one, 60-minute segment.

Archbishop Brizgys

Sajudis Supporters

Introduction: Analyzing the resuscitation of Baltic Waffen SS veterans and their ideology, as well as the projection of their revisionist history into the political life of their countries, we set the developments forth against the scenario presented in Serpent’s Walk.

In that Nazi tract, the SS go underground in the aftermath of World War II, build up their economic muscle, buy into the opinion-forming media, infiltrate the American military, and–following a series of terrorist incidents in the U.S. which cause the declaration of martial law–take over the United States.

Central to this takeover is the use of the Nazi-controlled mainstream media to fundamentally revise history in a pro-Hitler fashion. Just such a revision is underway in the Baltic states.

In the Baltic states, marches honoring Waffen SS units comprised of their citizens are gaining gravitas. They are espousing revisionist history which stands political reality on its head, with the Baltic Waffen SS veterans groups being re-cast as “Freedom Fighters.”

Holocaust in Lithuania

Note that the values they espouse are–theoretically at least–directly counter to those espoused by the European Union. The EU has, however, been conspicuously silent.

In addition to celebrating the Nazi past, the Waffen SS veterans’ contingents are associated with political parties that espouse a racist and fascist ideology.

 The Estonian Waffen-SS veterans’ march attracts participants from other countries’ Waffen SS contingents. Of paramount importance is the fact that these Third Reich veterans are teaching the ideological and operational ropes to a new generation of Nazis . As discussed in FTR #841, it is a mistake to use the term “neo-Nazi”–the new generation is inheriting the legacy from the original World War II participants and is poised to carry that on and fulfill Hitler’s dictum.

Flag of the Lithuanian Riflemen's Union

Reminiscent of the Nazi “punisher battalions,” the Lithuanian Riflemen’s Union–a fascist militia–has been expanded to meet the so-called “Russian threat.” Like the OUN/B’s military wing–the UPA–the Lithuanian Rifleman’s Union continued the combat of World War II until the early 1950’s. Formed during the waning days of the Second World War, they jumped from the Third Reich to the Office of Policy Coordination, a CIA/State Department operational directorate. (This is covered in FTR #777, as well as AFA #1.

 Next, the program excerpts AFA #36, detailing the projection of World War II-era fascist elements into Lithuania by the mis-named National Endowment for Democracy.

The re-emergence of Baltic Waffen SS units is to be seen against the background of the Crusade For Freedom, the same “op” that resulted in the projection of the OUN/B fascists into Ukraine following the overthrow of Yanukovich.

An illegal domestic covert operation, the CFF brought Nazi allies such as the OUN/B, the Croatian Ustachi, the Romanian Iron Guard, the Hungarian Arrow Cross, the Bulgarian National Front and others into the United States in order to drive the political spectrum to the right.

As of 1952, the  CFF became inextricably linked with the GOP, with Arthur Bliss Lane playing a key role in the GOP’s 1952 campaign, as well as being centrally involved in the CFF. The CFF spawned the GOP’s ethnic outreach organization, which was able to deliver the swing vote in five key states in Presidential election years. It eventually became a permanent part of the GOP.

Conceived by Allen Dulles, the CFF was overseen by Richard Nixon. Its chief spokesperson was Ronald Reagan. The State Department official responsible for bringing “fascist freedom fighters” into the United States was William Casey (Ronald Reagan’s campaign manager in the 1980 Presidential race and later Reagan’s CIA director.) The Nazi wing of the GOP was installed as a permanent branch of the Republican Part when George H.W. Bush was the head of the Republican National Committee.

It is noteworthy that the organizations that were represented in the GOP subgroup were all affiliated with the SS during World War II. They were also inextricably linked with the Reinhard Gehlen organization.

Perhaps the most important effect of the Gehlen organization was to introduce “rollback” or “liberation theory” into American strategic thinking. Rollback was a political wafare and covert operation strategy which had its genesis in the Third Reich Ostministerium headed by Alfred Rosenberg. This strategy entailed enlisting the aid of dissident Soviet ethnic minorities to overthrow the Soviet Union. In return, these minorities and their respective republics were to be granted nominal independence while serving as satellite states of “Greater Germany.”

In its American incarnation, liberation theory called for “rolling back” communism out of Eastern Europe and the break-up of the Soviet Union into its constituent ethnic Republics. Lip-service was given to initiating democracy in the “liberated” countries. Liberation theory was projected into mainstream American political consciousness through the Crusade for Freedom.

The pivotal importance of the CFF in the developments now unfolding in Eastern Europe, the Baltic states and Ukraine in particular, could not be overstated. The Nazi elements shepherded by the CFF were nurtured in the GOP and associated elements of U.S. intelligence, exerted a decisive influence on U.S. Cold War policy and were ultimately projected into the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, where they are perverting history and politics in the manner set forth in Serpent’s Walk.

Program Highlights Include: 

  • The role of Archbishop Brizgys in supporting the Holocaust in Lithuania.
  • Lithuania’s emergence as the second fascist country in Europe in the 1920’s.
  • Lithuanian Catholic Relief’s support for revanchist fascists in Lithuania.
  • The Sajudis party as a vehicle for the revival of fascism in Lithuania.
  • The fear inspired by Sajudis in Lithuanian citizens.

1. In the Baltic states, marches honoring Waffen SS units comprised of their citizens are gaining gravitas. They are espousing revisionist history which stands political reality on its head, with the Baltic Waffen SS veterans groups being re-cast as “Freedom Fighters.”

Note that the values they espouse are–theoretically at least–directly counter to those espoused by the European Union. The EU has, however, been conspicuously silent.

“Four Baltic Marches, One Dan­ger­ous Racist Trend” by Efraim Zuroff; i24 news; 2/15/2015.

This com­ing week will see the open­ing of what I refer to as “Baltic Neo-Nazi/Ultranationalist March Month.” Within exactly 29 days, four such marches will take place in the cap­i­tal cities of the Baltic Euro­pean Union mem­bers — Lithua­nia, Latvia, and Esto­nia. And while there obvi­ously are dif­fer­ent local nuances, the sim­i­lar­i­ties between the marches are far too numer­ous to ignore, reflect­ing a dan­ger­ous trend, which deserves to be treated seri­ously by Brussels.

All the marches are being spon­sored by right-wing orga­ni­za­tions with fas­cist sym­pa­thies and zero tol­er­ance for local minori­ties. At past marches in Lithua­nia, the most pop­u­lar slo­gan shouted was “Lietuva lietu­vams” (Lithua­nia for Lithua­ni­ans); and in Esto­nia, it has already been announced that the theme of this year’s march will be “Eesti eest­lastele” (Esto­nia for Esto­ni­ans). In other words, as far as they are con­cerned, only eth­nic Lithua­ni­ans or Esto­ni­ans belong in their country.

The spon­sors also share a crit­i­cal view of the accepted nar­ra­tive of World War II and the Holo­caust, which includes the exten­sive and zeal­ous col­lab­o­ra­tion by tens of thou­sands of Lithua­ni­ans, Lat­vians and Esto­ni­ans in the mass anni­hi­la­tion of not only their fel­low Jew­ish cit­i­zens, but also of thou­sands of Jews deported from else­where in Europe to the Baltic coun­tries to be mur­dered there, as well as tens of thou­sands of Jews mur­dered by secu­rity police units from Lithua­nia, Latvia, and Esto­nia in Belarus. As far as the orga­niz­ers are con­cerned, the real “geno­cide” was that sup­pos­edly com­mit­ted in the Baltics by the Com­mu­nists, whereas the Holo­caust was pri­mar­ily a respite from the two peri­ods of Soviet repres­sion and per­se­cu­tion in 1940–1941 and 1944–1991.

The revi­sion­ist bent of the marchers was boldly evi­dent in both Lithua­nia and Latvia in pre­vi­ous such events. Thus, for exam­ple, the Lat­vian march is osten­si­bly to honor the locals who fought along­side the Nazis in the two Lat­vian SS divi­sions, whom the marchers seek to por­tray as Lat­vian free­dom fight­ers. They con­ve­niently for­get three impor­tant his­tor­i­cal facts: that the goal of these divi­sions was a vic­tory of the Third Reich, that Nazi Ger­many had absolutely no inten­tion of grant­ing Latvia inde­pen­dence even if it had won the war, and that among these so-called “Lat­vian heroes” were quite a few for­mer mem­bers of the Lat­vian Secu­rity Police who had actively par­tic­i­pated in the mass mur­der of Jews, local and for­eign.

In Lithua­nia, promi­nently dis­played among the nation­al­ist heroes was Juozas Ambraze­vi­cius, the Prime Min­is­ter of the Lithuan­ian Pro­vi­sional Gov­ern­ment estab­lished in July 1941, which fully sup­ported the Third Reich and encour­aged Lithua­ni­ans to par­tic­i­pate in the mass mur­der of their fel­low Jew­ish cit­i­zens, hardly a qual­i­fi­ca­tion for glo­ri­fi­ca­tion. At these marches, Lithuan­ian swastikas, a slightly altered ver­sion of the Nazi orig­i­nal to avoid legal prob­lems, were a very com­mon sight.

All four marches are being held in the main avenues of the cap­i­tal cities, and three of them are cel­e­bra­tions of local inde­pen­dence days. The first march, on Feb­ru­ary 16 in Kau­nas, which was the cap­i­tal of the first Lithuan­ian repub­lic in mod­ern times, marks the inde­pen­dence granted in 1918. The sec­ond, a week later, on Feb­ru­ary 23 in Tallinn, marks Eston­ian inde­pen­dence, and the third, which will be held in the cen­ter of Vil­nius on March 11, marks the renewal of Lithuan­ian inde­pen­dence in 1990. (The Lat­vian march, which will be held in Riga on March 16, is linked to a his­toric bat­tle of the Lat­vian Legion.) The com­bi­na­tion of exclu­sion­ist nation­al­ist slo­gans with the achieve­ment of free­dom for the Baltic peo­ples is a toxic com­bi­na­tion which sends a racist, xeno­pho­bic and anti-Semitic mes­sage which, at least in the­ory, runs counter to the val­ues of the Euro­pean Union.

2. In addition to celebrating the Nazi past, the Waffen SS veterans’ contingents are associated with political parties that espouse a racist and fascist ideology.

“Nazi Hunter: Even Putin Would Con­demn Nuremberg-esque Parades in Esto­nia” by Dr. Efraim Zuroff; IB Times; 3/3/2015.

The torch­light parade held by right-wing ultra­na­tion­al­ists last week in the Eston­ian cap­i­tal of Tallinn reminded the Russ­ian jour­nal­ists cov­er­ing the event of sim­i­lar spec­ta­cles in Nazi Ger­many, but this was more wish­ful think­ing on their part than actual reality.

They were out in full force this past Tues­day night,but unfor­tu­nately, they were the only for­eign tele­vi­sion jour­nal­ists cov­er­ing the event, with not a sin­gle rep­re­sen­ta­tive of any Euro­pean Union mem­ber country’s media in atten­dance.

The Euro­pean Union, on the other hand, does not appear to be par­tic­u­larly per­turbed by gen­uinely dis­turb­ing phe­nom­ena in the Baltic coun­tries and else­where, which, of course, would in no way jus­tify Russ­ian aggres­sion, but deserve to be han­dled seri­ously and promptly before they get out of hand.

Tuesday’s march, which was spon­sored by the Sinine Ara­tus (Blue Awak­en­ing) youth move­ment, closely affil­i­ated with the Eston­ian Con­ser­v­a­tive People’s Party (EKRE), was a good exam­ple of at least one of the major prob­lems we increas­ingly encounter in post-Communist East­ern Europe, and espe­cially in the Baltics. I am refer­ring to the rise of eth­no­cen­tric sen­ti­ment, a euphemism for racism, anti-Semitism, and xenophobia.

Thus the march was pub­li­cised under the slo­gan of ‘Esto­nia for Esto­ni­ans,’ an explicit mes­sage of zero tol­er­ance for Estonia’s minori­ties, among them fam­i­lies who have lived in the coun­try for gen­er­a­tions. The announce­ment also bore the sym­bols of the “sis­ter” par­ties in Lithua­nia and in Latvia, whose plat­forms advo­cate the same ethnocentricity.

In addi­tion, the only sign I saw besides the one held by the lead marchers which said ‘For Esto­nia,’ bore a white supremacy mes­sage. In fact, IB Times UK reported not that long ago on a state­ment by Mart Helme, a lead­ing mem­ber of the EKRE, who said that the pol­icy in Esto­nia towards Africans should be, “If you’re black, go back.” When ques­tioned about this state­ment by the Eston­ian daily Pos­timees, Helme responded that he would not allow polit­i­cal cor­rect­ness to silence his opinions.

Rewrit­ing Nazi history

The other omnipresent prob­lem in the Baltics was not in evi­dence this past Tues­day night, but is def­i­nitely in the background.

As past marches by Baltic ultra­na­tion­al­ists have clearly demon­strated,one of their key goals is to rewrite the nar­ra­tive of World War II and the Holo­caust to hide the exten­sive lethal com­plic­ity of local Nazi col­lab­o­ra­tors and pro­mote the canard of his­tor­i­cal equiv­a­lency between Com­mu­nist and Nazi crimes, often com­monly referred to as the “dou­ble geno­cide theory.”

A very impor­tant ele­ment of this cam­paign is the glo­ri­fi­ca­tion of cer­tain anti-Communists, despite their par­tic­i­pa­tion in the per­se­cu­tion and mur­der of their fel­low Jew­ish cit­i­zens dur­ing the Holocaust.

This ele­ment was on dis­play last week in Kau­nas, Lithua­nia and will cer­tainly be fea­tured in Vil­nius and Riga in the marches sched­uled for mid-March. In Esto­nia, this revi­sion­ism is on dis­play at the annual gath­er­ing of SS vet­er­ans held in Sin­i­mae every sum­mer, and hosted by the vet­er­ans of the 20th Eston­ian Waffen-SS Grenadier Divi­sion, which is attended by SS vet­er­ans from many Euro­pean coun­tries in which such gath­er­ings are illegal.

3. The Estonian Waffen-SS veterans’ march attracts participants from other countries’ Waffen SS contingents. Of paramount importance is the fact that these Third Reich veterans are teaching the ideological and operational ropes to a new generation of Nazis . As discussed in FTR #841, it is a mistake to use the term “neo-Nazi”–the new generation is inheriting the legacy from the original World War II participants and is poised to carry that on and fulfill Hitler’s dictum.

The Waffen-SS as Free­dom Fight­ers” by Per Anders Rudling; The Alge­meiner; 1/31/2012.

Despised and ostra­cized, the Swedish com­mu­nity of Waf­fen–SS vol­un­teers long gath­ered in secrecy on “The Day of the Fallen,” for obscure rit­u­al­is­tic annual gath­er­ings at a ceme­tery in a Stock­holm suburb.

Since the 1990s, the rit­u­als have not needed to be clan­des­tine: the few, now very elderly sur­vivors now head to Sin­imäe, Esto­nia, where they feel they are now get­ting the honor to which they are enti­tled. Here, Swedish, Nor­we­gian, Aus­trian, Ger­man and otherWaf­fen–SS vet­er­ans from West­ern Europe meet up with their Eston­ian com­rades. The annual gath­er­ings include those who vol­un­teered for ide­o­log­i­cal rea­sons, and who are today actively pass­ing on the expe­ri­ences to a new gen­er­a­tion of neo-Nazis.

In pre­vi­ous years, Mart Laar, the Eston­ian min­is­ter of defense sent offi­cial greet­ing to the vet­er­ans. Eston­ian gov­ern­ment endorse­ment of these events means in effect that an EU mem­ber state is under­writ­ing the Waffen-SS vet­er­ans’ own claims that they con­sti­tuted a pan-European force, who were more­over pio­neers of Euro­pean unification.

Accord­ing to the Tageszeitung, this March the Eston­ian par­lia­ment will con­sider a law, which would for­mally des­ig­nate the Eston­ian Waf­fen–SS vet­er­ans as “Free­dom Fight­ers.” The law, pro­moted by Mart Laar’s right-wing nation­al­ist Isamaa party, rep­re­sents a fourth attempt by the Isamaa to pass such a law. Pre­vi­ous efforts were made in 2005, 2006, and 2010. Last win­ter the Eston­ian prime min­is­ter Andrus Ansip sent the Eston­ian Waf­fen–SS vet­er­ans a let­ter, in which he thanked them for their ser­vice to the Eston­ian people.

In doing so, Esto­nia would con­firm its lead­ing role in reha­bil­i­tat­ing the Waf­fen–SS. Across Europe, Waf­fen–SS vet­er­ans and their admir­ers are fol­low­ing the devel­op­ments in Esto­nia and Latvia. Nowhere in Europe have these vet­er­ans been rec­og­nized by gov­ern­ments . The Esto­ni­ans and Lat­vians were (and are) break­ing a taboo, set­ting a prece­dent for oth­ers to follow.

Like their Scan­di­na­vian com­rades, the Ger­man Waf­fen–SS vet­er­ans per­ceive them­selves as a vic­tim­ized and mis­un­der­stood group, sec­ond class cit­i­zens, vic­tims of vic­tors’ jus­tice. They have gen­er­ally not been enti­tled to state pen­sions for veterans.

Out­side of Europe, Waf­fen–SS vet­er­ans have been more suc­cess­ful in gain­ing accep­tance for their own nar­ra­tive. In Canada, gov­ern­ment author­i­ties, in the name of mul­ti­cul­tur­al­ism have agreed to share the con­struc­tion cost for mon­u­ments with the asso­ci­a­tion of the Ukrain­ian vet­er­ans of the 14th Waf­fen Grenadier Divi­sion of the SS (1st Ukrain­ian), bet­ter known at the Waf­fen–SS Gal­izien. Pub­lic insti­tu­tions of higher edu­ca­tion insti­tute endow­ments in the honor of Ukrain­ian Waf­fen–SS vol­un­teers. [!]

To the dis­ap­point­ment of the extreme right, for­mer Ukrain­ian pres­i­dent Vik­tor Yushchenko (in office 2005–2010) did not fol­low up his reha­bil­i­ta­tion of the most impor­tant inter­war Ukrain­ian fas­cist orga­ni­za­tion, the OUN, with a reha­bil­i­ta­tion of the Waf­fen–SS Gal­izien. To the Ukrain­ian far right, Latvia and Esto­nia have become a source of inspi­ra­tion and an exam­ple to emu­late. Much like the cur­rent Eston­ian prime min­is­ter, Andrus Ansip, the lead­ing Ukrain­ian ultra-nationalist party, the All Ukrain­ian Asso­ci­a­tion Svo­boda, which dom­i­nates local pol­i­tics in sev­eral West­ern Ukrain­ian cities, denies that hon­or­ing Waf­fen–SS vet­er­ans has any­thing to do with neo-Nazi ide­ol­ogy.

In April 2011 Svo­boda cel­e­brated the 68th anniver­sary of the estab­lish­ment of the Waf­fen–SS Gal­izien. Lviv was dec­o­rated with bill­boards refer­ring to the vet­er­ans of the Waf­fen–SS Gal­izien as “the trea­sure of the nation,” accom­pa­nied by the slo­gan “They defended Ukraine.” The far right marched through Lviv with cries like “Gali­cia – Divi­sion of heroes!,” and “One race, one nation, one Father­land!” In time for the Euro 2012, a Waf­fen–SS Gal­izien taxi com­pany was established.

These processes are inter­linked. The Eston­ian and Lat­vian gov­ern­ments’ par­tial recog­ni­tion granted their pre­sum­ably heroic Waf­fen–SS vet­er­ans is part of a larger nar­ra­tive of apolo­get­ics and obfuscation.

In fact, a Nazi vic­tory, for which the Waf­fen–SS was employed, would have meant the per­ma­nent dis­ap­pear­ance of Esto­nia, the pop­u­la­tion of which was ear­marked for destruc­tion by the Gen­er­alplan Ost, which stip­u­lated that only 50% of Esto­ni­ans could be Ger­man­ized. That dis­cus­sion would have thereby pre­cluded this dis­cus­sion in the first place.

Thus, that gov­ern­ment that has itself pro­filed from an elab­o­rate vic­tim­iza­tion nar­ra­tive mak­ing Esto­nia a Euro­pean cen­ter of grav­ity for Waf­fen–SS nos­tal­gists is deeply ironic.

Unlike most plants, these sort of cults grow in the shade. The Eston­ian gov­ern­ment does not want inter­na­tional expo­sure on this. Yet, that is exactly what is needed.

The nos­tal­gia for the Waf­fen–SS “free­dom fight­ers” is not merely an Eston­ian con­cern It is a Euro­pean con­cern. It is an inter­na­tional concern.

4.  Reminiscent of the Nazi “punisher battalions,” the Lithuanian Rifleman’s Union–a fascist militia–has been expanded to meet the so-called “Russian threat.” Like the OUN/B’s military wing–the UPA–the Lithuanian Rifleman’s Union continued the combat of World War II until the early 1950’s. Formed during the waning days of the Second World War, they jumped from the Third Reich to the Office of Policy Coordination, a CIA/State Department operational directorate. (This is covered in FTR #777, as well as AFA #1.

“Russ­ian Threat Sees Rebirth of Lithua­nia Para­mil­i­tary Group” [Agence France-Presse]; Global Post; 9/2/2014.

In thick pine forests hid­den in the remote wilder­ness of east­ern Lithua­nia, young pro­fes­sion­als are ditch­ing their suits and ties for cam­ou­flage gear, and swap­ping iPads for rifles.

These week­end war­riors also proudly wear bracelets with emblems of green fir trees on their wrists, sym­bols of their small Baltic country’s wartime resis­tance against the Soviet Union, which occu­pied it in 1940.

Now, Russia’s takeover of Crimea and increas­ing signs of its involve­ment in Ukraine’s east, cou­pled with sabre rat­tling in its Kalin­ingrad exclave bor­der­ing Lithua­nia, are spark­ing a sharp rise in para­mil­i­tary recruits here.

Like oth­ers in the region, Lithua­nia is call­ing on NATO to put per­ma­nent boots on the ground in the Baltics to ward off any poten­tial threat from their Soviet-era master.

But while they await a deci­sion that could come at a key two-day alliance sum­mit start­ing Thurs­day in Wales, Lithuan­ian civil­ians are lac­ing up their own com­bat boots.

Stu­dents, busi­ness­men, civil ser­vants, jour­nal­ists and even politi­cians are among the hun­dreds who have joined the government-sponsored Lithua­nia Riflemen’s Union, a group first set up in 1919 but banned in 1940 under Soviet rule.

“The Vil­nius unit has tripled in size since the begin­ning of the cri­sis in Ukraine,” says Min­dau­gas Bal­ci­auskas, unit com­man­der of the group which boasts about 7,000 mem­bers in the nation of three mil­lion, a num­ber almost on par with its 7,000 mil­i­tary per­son­nel and 4,200 reservists.

– ‘Take up arms’ –

Pres­i­dent Dalia Gry­bauskaite, a karate black belt dubbed Lithuania’s ‘Iron Lady’ for her tough stance on Rus­sia, has also sworn to “take up arms” her­self in the unlikely case Moscow would attack this 2004 NATO and EU mem­ber of three million.

“Being in a para­mil­i­tary unit will give me priv­i­leged access to infor­ma­tion and make me bet­ter pre­pared than those who don’t join,” Arturas Bortke­vi­cius, a 37-year-old finance spe­cial­ist, told AFP, adding that he wants to learn the skills he needs to defend his coun­try and family.

Mem­bers spend week­ends on manoeu­vres deep in the woods or at a mil­i­tary train­ing range in Pabrade, north of the cap­i­tal Vilnius.

Lib­eral MP Remigi­jus Sima­sius says that while his place “would be in par­lia­ment” given a cri­sis, he joined the rifle­men in the wake of Russia’s Crimea land grab in the hope of encour­ag­ing oth­ers to fol­low suit.

Even some Lithua­ni­ans with Russ­ian roots have joined up amid the Ukraine crisis.

“I’m a Lithuan­ian cit­i­zen of Russ­ian ori­gin. I am who I am, and I am Lithuan­ian patriot,” pho­tog­ra­pher Vladimi­ras Ivanovas, 40, who also joined up, told AFP.

– Check­ered past –

The Rifleman’s Union “has left an indeli­ble mark on the his­tory of Lithua­nia,” says his­to­rian Arvy­das Anusauskas.

It was cre­ated after World War I in 1919 dur­ing a series of “Wars of Inde­pen­dence” fought by Lithua­ni­ans in 1918–1920 against Russ­ian Bol­she­viks, mixed Russ­ian and Ger­man forces and Poles.

Aside from Lithua­ni­ans, from 1919–1940 research shows its mem­bers also included Russ­ian, Poles, Jews and even Chi­nese, reflect­ing the eth­nic com­plex­ity of and ten­sions in the region.

Its rep­u­ta­tion is how­ever tainted by alle­ga­tions that cer­tain mem­bers were involved in a series of Nazi mas­sacres between 1940–44 that claimed the lives of an esti­mated 80,000–100,000 Jews, Poles and Rus­sians in Panierai, a sub­urb skirt­ing the cap­i­tal Vilnius.

The Riflemen’s Union was banned in 1940 by the Soviet Union when the Red Army swept in from the east to occupy Lithua­nia dur­ing World War II, but mem­bers fought a guerilla war against the Sovi­ets until the early 1950s.

Its revival in 1989 came as the Soviet bloc began to crum­ble and now its large new crop of mem­bers say they are will­ing to fight again should their coun­try come under attack.

5. Next, the program excerpts AFA #36, detailing the projection of World War II-era fascist elements into Lithuania by the mis-named National Endowment for Democracy.

The re-emergence of Baltic Waffen SS units is to be seen against the background of the Crusade For Freedom, the same “op” that resulted in the projection of the OUN/B fascists into Ukraine following the overthrow of Yanukovich.

An illegal domestic covert operation, the CFF brought Nazi allies such as the OUN/B, the Croatian Ustachi, the Romanian Iron Guard, the Hungarian Arrow Cross, the Bulgarian National Front and others into the United States in order to drive the political spectrum to the right.

As of 1952, the  CFF became inextricably linked with the GOP, with Arthur Bliss Lane playing a key role in the GOP’s 1952 campaign, as well as being centrally involved in the CFF. The CFF spawned the GOP’s ethnic outreach organization, which was able to deliver the swing vote in five key states in Presidential election years. It eventually became a permanent part of the GOP.

Conceived by Allen Dulles, the CFF was overseen by Richard Nixon. Its chief spokesperson was Ronald Reagan. The State Department official responsible for bringing “fascist freedom fighters” like the OUN/B into the United States was William Casey (Ronald Reagan’s campaign manager in the 1980 Presidential race and later Reagan’s CIA director.) The Nazi wing of the GOP was installed as a permanent branch of the Republican Part when George H.W. Bush was the head of the Republican National Committee.

The OUN/B was a key element of the GOP’s ethnic outreach organization. It is noteworthy that the organizations that were represented in the GOP subgroup were all affiliated with the SS during World War II. They were also inextricably linked with the Reinhard Gehlen organization.

Perhaps the most important effect of the Gehlen organization was to introduce “rollback” or “liberation theory” into American strategic thinking. Rollback was a political wafare and covert operation strategy which had its genesis in the Third Reich Ostministerium headed by Alfred Rosenberg. This strategy entailed enlisting the aid of dissident Soviet ethnic minorities to overthrow the Soviet Union. In return, these minorities and their respective republics were to be granted nominal independence while serving as satellite states of “Greater Germany.”

In its American incarnation, liberation theory called for “rolling back” communism out of Eastern Europe and the break-up of the Soviet Union into its constituent ethnic Republics. Lip-service was given to initiating democracy in the “liberated” countries. Liberation theory was projected into mainstream American political consciousness through the Crusade for Freedom.

“NED Meddles in Lithuania: Nurturing Baltic Reaction” by Philip Bonosky; Covert Action Quarterly; Number 25 (Fall 1990).

In April of 1990, the Soviet Republic of Lithuania startled the world by declaring itself independent of the U.S.S.R. The U.S. has not yet recognized Lithuania as independent, and Bush’s public remarks have been moderate. But beneath this facade of calm statecraft there runs a familiar current of silent U.S. involvement in the political affairs of another country.

The most visible intervention has been via the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), which has supplied funds, equipment, and advice to the principal nationalist opposition party Sajudis. NED has chosen to funnel its Lithuanian aid through one organization: the New York-based Lithuanian Catholic Religious Aid (LCRA) and its propaganda arm, Lithuanian Information Center (LIC).

These two organizations are run by arch-conservative Catholic clergy. The founder, current board chair, and the man who has “presided over the steady growth and increasing effectiveness of LCRA, Bishop Vincentas Brizgys, was allegedly a Nazi collaborator during World War II. [Raul Hilberg’s The Destruction of the European Jews (New York: 1961), and Charles R. Allen’s Nazi War Criminals Among Us (New York: Jewish Currents Reprint, 1963), document Brizgys’s background. Allen reproduced Nuremberg Tribunal documents relating to the Bishop.] Brizgys vehemently denies the charge. Sajudis itself is linked in a variety of ways to the symbols and sentiments of the fascist and Nazi periods of Baltic history.

The Country in Question

Lithuania lies on the eastern shore of the Baltic Sea, bordered on the south by Poland, on the north by the Latvian S.S.R., and on the east by the Byelorussian S.S.R. [Soviet Socialist Republic–a member of the former U.S.S.R.] It is the westernmost extent of the Soviet Union, with a population (1980) of just over three million. In the 14th century invading Germans conquered the area and imposed the Catholic faith. In the modern era, Lithuania has been repeatedly buffeted by the shifting political and military map of Europe.

Lithuania declared independence from Czarist Russia in 1918, but in 1926, the nationalist party took power through a military coup. Declaring himself president Augustus Voldemares and his premier, Antanas Smetona shaped Lithuania into Europe’s second fascist state, based explicitly on the example of Mussolini’s Italy. Lithuania remained a dictatorship until 1939, when Smetoma fled to the U.S. and a new parliament voted unanimously to become a constituent republic of the U.S.S.R. With the German invasion of the Soviet Union 1n 1941, Lithuania’s nationalists returned briefly to power and assisted the Nazis in the swift, systematic slaughter of more than 130,000 Lithuanian Jews, communists and other “undesirables.”

Enter NED

In April 1990, a 34-year-old American, William J.H. Hough III, was very  busy in Lithuania. Hough was sent to Lithuania–although he doesn’t speak Lithuanian–as legal adviser to Vytautas Landsbergis, the leader of the nationalist party. He was recommended by LCRA/LIC, which the U.S. press has cited as very enthusiastic about his work.

Cooperating closely with Hough, LCRA/LIC has supplied Sajudis with paper, photocopy machines, computers, laser printers, FAX machines, and video cameras. With additional political and technical expertise, Vilnius quickly became a communications hub for secessionist forces in Lithuania and other Soviet republics.

Professionally,Hough is a lawyer. He was also an editor of The New York Law School Journal of International and Comparative Law, which published in its Winter 1985 issue his book-length article titled, “The Annexation of the Baltic States and its Effect on the Development of Law Prohibiting Forcible Seizure of Territory.” Hough describes the interwar period of Lithuanian history [its fascist period–D.E.] as one of “political and constitutional stability” and “progress toward the restoration of full democracy.” He fails to mention the collaboration of nationalists and Nazis. In his public justifications of secession, Landsbergis has frequently referred to Hough’s interpretation of Lithuanian history.

Hough’s history of Lithuania must be reassuring to NED’s ideologues and their Lithuanian clients, some of whom share a past they might reasonably prefer to forget.

Channeling Endowment Dollars

During the past two years, NED has granted $70,000 to LCRA/LIC. They are not obviously democratic organizations. Founded in 1961 to “provide the Church under the Soviet oppression with spiritual and material assistance . . . .,” LCA’s parent organization was the Lithuanian Roman Catholic Priests’ League. The quiet obscurity of this group belies the welcome they receive in the halls of power. LCRA executive director Father Casimir Pugevicius served on an advisory committee to Senator Charles Percy (Rep.–Ill.), then a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He was also welcomed in the Reagan White House in 1986.

According to LCRA/LIC, its 1990 grant application to NED requested $618,300 and outlined its ambitious proposal as follows:

. . . . five separate pro-democratic organizations would receive technical and material aid. The first, a coalition of democratic parties enjoying broad support in Lithuania and capable of assuming leading roles in the new legislature would receive computer and audio-visual equipment . . . . Communications and video equipment will also be transported to the Sajudis Information Agency . . . . [According to NED, funds went only to  Sajudis.]

The second part of the project would ensure a continuous supply of much needed paper for independent publishers and organizations. The dramatic increase in the number of democratic groups in Lithuania in the past year has caused severe shortages in the very limited pool of resources. . . . Because of the greater degree of liberalization in Lithuania, this republic has emerged as the publishing center for the independent groups throughout the Soviet Union. . . .

Within weeks of the arrival of these goods, traditional sources of information in Lithuania were suppressed or taken over by Sajudis. Nationalist sympathizers cut off broadcast programming  from Moscow, and Lithuania was soon flooded with secessionist propaganda. In the ensuing election, Sajudis managed to dominate the scene by riding the crest of a wave of nationalist sentiment. It won a majority in the Seim (parliament). In March, a hastily convened session of parliament voted for secession (91-38) in a matter of hours. Laws were passed curbing opposition newspapers and changing the flag and national anthem, reverting to versions in use during the nationalist period. As to whether, or what, of real substance should change, Sajudis remained silent.

Echoes From the Past

To Lithuanians old enough to remember the Second World War, the energetic activities of Sajudis, LCRA, and LIC must seem vaguely familiar. Landsbergis’s father was a member of the Savandoriai (nationalist militia), who fought the Russians (1918-1919), helped enforce the successive dictatorships of Voldemares and Smetona, and collaborated with the German occupation.

A reporter for Der Spiegel wrote in April 1990 that: “Everybody fears Sajudis. Anyone who attacks Sajudis is declared an an enemy of the people by Landsbergis, and that happens very quickly.”  In addition the Savandoriai (illegal under Soviet law) have been revived under the leadership of retired army officers.

Prior to the German invasion in June 1941, a Berlin-based “Lithuanian Information Bureau,” the propaganda arm of the Lithuanian Activist Front, a nationalist exile organization, sent the following message into Lithuania:

. . . . liberation is close at hand. . . . uprisings must be started in the cities, towns and villages of Lithuania. . . . communists and other traitors. . . . must be arrested at once. . . . (The traitor will be pardoned only provided beyond doubt that he has killed one Jew at least.)

In the book Blowback, Christopher Simpson crisply summarizes part of the “liberation” that followed:

. . . . municipal killing squads employing Lithuanian Nazi collaborators eliminated 46,692 Jews in fewer than three months, according to their own reports, mainly by combining clock-like liquidations of 500 Jews per day in the capital city of Vilnius with mobile “clean-up” sweeps through the surrounding countryside.

Such squads were consistently used by the Nazis for the dirty work that even the SS believed  to be beneath the dignity of the German soldier. . . . .

 On August 4, 1941, the Lithuanian Activist Front, installed a provisional government, taking care to cooperate fully with the Nazis. The invaders let president Juozas Ambrazevicius’s government stand for three months, during which time the worst of the killings occurred. After the war, Ambrazevicius fled to the U.S., where he changed his name to Brazaitis.

The crimes which prompted the post-war flight of many Lithuanian nationalists were starkly documented in the “Jaeger Report,” an official count by the SS officer who supervised the massacres:

Einsatzkommando 3 Kovno, December 1, 1941

Secret State Document

Summary of all executions carried out in the sphere of action of Einsatzkommando 3 up to December 1, 1941.

Einsatzkomando 3 took over its duties as security police in Lithuania on the 2nd of July 1941. . . . In compliance with my directives and on my order the Lithuanian partisans have carried out the following executions. . . .

What followed was a chronological accounting of the activities of the killing squads. Victims were neatly categorized: Jewish men, Jewish women, Jewish children, Poles, Lithuanian communists, Russian communists, Intellectual Jews, Lunatics, Gypsies, Political Instructors, Armenians. . . .

After the first 3,000 deaths, Jaeger apparently decided that the Lithuanian nationalists alone were equal to the task;

. . . . After organizing a mobile unit under SS-Oberstumfuhrer Hamann and 8 to 10 tried men of EK 3 the following actions were carried out in cooperation with the Lithuanian partisans. . . .

. . . . Before the EK 3 assumed security duties, the partisans themselves killed [4,000 ] Jews through pogroms and executions. . . .

. . . . I can state today that the goal of solving the Jewish problem in Lithuania has been reached by EK 3. There are no Jews in Lithuania anymore except the work Jews and their families. . . .The goal to clear Lithuania of Jews could be achieved only thanks to . . . men . . . . who adopted my goal without any reservations and managed to secure the cooperation of the Lithuanian partisans and and the respective civil offices. . . .

The final tally of those killed was 137, 346. As the report clearly indicates, the Nazis were assisted by both the paramilitary bands associated with the nationalists, and by those in positions of authority–including members of the Catholic clergy.

A Nazi Collaborator Prospers in Chicago

As auxiliary Bishop of Kaunas, (Kovno) during the German occupation, Bishop Vincentas Brizgys, founder of LCRA/LIC, lent his spiritual authority to fascism. When the Nazis retreated, so did he, first to Germany, then to Chicago where he has lived, worked, and carried the nationalist banner for 25 years.

The clergy hated socialism or very clear reasons. The socialist government which came to power in 1939 had separated church and state. Church property was confiscated, including large farms where peasants labored under semi-feudal conditions eliminated elsewhere in Europe centuries before. Clergy were removed from government and the educational system, two institutions where they had long wielded powerful influence.

Archbishop Skvireckas, Brizgys’s superior, documented the bishop’s collaborationist activities with evident satisfaction. The archbishop’s diary for July 1, 1941, reveals that Brizgys made contact:

. . . . with the representative of the German government for the Baltic statics. [Dr. Groffe, formerly head of Gestapo in East Prussia who] . . . proposed . . . . that he [Brizgys] should make an appeal to the people to behave quietly and pursue their daily business with confidence, without any fear that they might be harmed. . . .

On June 30, 1941, the archbishop had written: “The ideas in Mein Kampf on the question of the Bolshevik-Jewish contagion are splendid . . . . they prove that Hitler is not only an enemy of the Jews, but generally speaking has the right ideas.”

An appeal to welcome the Nazis was broadcast by radio, ten published in a major Kaunas newspaper, signed by Skviteckas, Brizgys and Vicar General Saulys. Their signatures were also on a formal telegram of thanks to Hitler for “Lithuania’s Liberation,” sent in the middle of July 1941.

As the Nazis and their collaborators implemented the diabolical logic of Mein Kampf, Brizgys “set an example for the entire population by forbidding the clergy to aid the Jews in any way.” He also urged from his pulpit, and via radio and newspaper, that Lithuanians cooperate with the Nazis.

When the Soviet army, led by its 16th Lithuanian division, drove the Nazis out in 1944, Brizgys fled to safety in Germany, then to the U.S. Send to the archdiocese of Chicago, he helped launch Lithuanian Catholic Religious Aid in 1961, and served as LCRA president until 1986. He is now chair of the board of directors.

Other Friends of Lithuanian Democracy

  • Director of Special Projects for LCRA/LIC is Rasa Razgaitis, stepdaughter of accused war criminal Jurgis Juodis. Because of his involvement as a nationalist military officer in the massacres of 1941, Juodis became the subject of a Justice Department Office of Special Investigations (OSIS) inquiry in 1981. In addition to her work with LCA, Razgaitis is head of “Americans for Due Process,” an organization “formed solely to challenge the activities of the Justice Department’s war crimes unit.” She is also a friend of Patrick Buchanan, through whom she gained access to the Reagan White House when Buchanan was Communications Director.
  • AFL-CIO president Lane Kirkland is a long time member of the cold warrior clique Committee on the Present Danger, and supports CIA manipulation of labor movements around the globe. Kirkland has welcomed Landsbergis as a friend during his U.S. visits. Kirkland’s name was on an open letter to President Bush published in the April 22, 1990 New York Times calling for immediate recognition of Lithuanian independence. Kirkland is on the NED board.
  • Richard Ebeling, vice president of the Future Freedom Foundation (FFF) of Denver, has been invited by Sajudis to lecture “in Lithuania, on the principles of freedom.” In addition, six Sajudis economists have met with leaders of FFF to discuss “free market proposals . . . .  made as radical as possible.” Among others discussed were the now-familiar calls for rapid denationalization of all industries and state prosperity; decontrol of all prices and wages, both in the consumer and production markets; and privatization of social services including medical retirement pensions. . . . . .

 

Discussion

5 comments for “FTR #848 Walkin’ the Snake in the Baltic States”

  1. The EU is starting a new Russian-speaking counter-propaganda unit. There’s only up to 10 people involved according the plans. But don’t expect it to stay that size: “Officials say it is a first step in the EEAS’s response to growing concern in eastern Europe and EU Baltic states about the destabilizing influence of Russian-language news reports”:

    Politico.eu
    EU declares information war on Russia

    Task force will start trying to win hearts and minds in eastern partnership countries next month.

    By James Panichi

    8/27/15, 5:28 PM CET

    Updated 8/28/15, 12:50 PM CET

    The European Union’s foreign affairs department said Thursday it was launching a rapid-response team to counter what it considers biased Russian media reports.

    The unit, which will include up to 10 Russian-speaking officials and media professionals from EU member states, will be fully operational by the end of September and will be part of the European External Action Service (EEAS). Officials say it is a first step in the EEAS’s response to growing concern in eastern Europe and EU Baltic states about the destabilizing influence of Russian-language news reports.

    The EEAS was tasked by the European Council in March with coming up with a response to what EU leaders described as “Russia’s ongoing disinformation campaign,” with a specific request that the EEAS establish a “communication team” as a “first step” in fighting back.

    The team, which will be based in the EEAS’s Brussels headquarters, falls short of requests from Latvia that the EU establish a full-blown, EU-funded Russian-language television channel, to provide an alternative source of news to Russian-speakers in both EU and “eastern partnership” countries (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine and Belarus).

    Officials Thursday stressed the limited scope of the team and were adamant its role would be to improve EU communications with Russian-speaking communities and not to be producing Brussels-funded propaganda.

    The unit, which includes Russian-language experts from the U.K., Latvia and Sweden, will be attached to the EEAS’s existing communications team. The EU member states will pay the salaries of the personnel, but the unit has not been allocated a budget.

    “The team will carry out media monitoring and will work on the development of communication products and media campaigns focused on explaining EU policies in the region,” the official said.

    However, the EEAS said it has neither the resources nor the mandate to go beyond the capabilities of the new unit and the funding of TV channels in Russian was not on the cards.

    “This is not about engaging in counter-propaganda,” the EU official said. “However, where necessary the EU will respond to disinformation that directly targets the EU and will work … to raise awareness of these activities.”

    The unit’s daily routine will consist of monitoring Russian media and suggesting ways for EU institutions to tailor their media strategy to counter Russian broadcasts, in a bid to win the hearts and minds of eastern partnership audiences.

    In June, a study funded by the Dutch government recommended the creation of a Russian-language “content factory” that would produce entertainment and documentary programs, alongside news and current affairs broadcast from a “news hub.”

    An EU official said the department had not been approached by Euronews, a multilingual broadcaster which last year received €25.5 million from the EU, to expand its Russian- and Ukrainian-language programming as part of the EU’s response.

    “In June, a study funded by the Dutch government recommended the creation of a Russian-language “content factory” that would produce entertainment and documentary programs, alongside news and current affairs broadcast from a “news hub.””
    So in addition to EEAS’s new Russian language “anti-disinformation” outfit, started, in part, at the request of Latvia, the EU might create a “content factory” that produces Russian-language entertainment and documentaries? Look out History Channel! You have have competition.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | August 28, 2015, 2:32 pm
  2. The Baltic states jointly came out against joining France’s proposed anti-ISIS coalition…unless the coalition excludes Russia:

    AFP
    Baltic leaders against anti-IS coalition with Russia.

    Fri 20 Nov, 2015

    The three Baltic states on Friday said they would not join any Western coalition fighting the Islamic State jihadist group if it included their Soviet-era master Russia because of its role in the Ukraine conflict.

    French President Francois Hollande had called this week for a broad anti-IS coalition in the aftermath of the Paris terror attacks, which killed 129 people and were claimed by IS.

    On Thursday, Russia said it would be ready to work with such a coalition — on the condition that its members respect Syria’s sovereignty — a prospect that does not please the presidents of Baltic EU members Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

    Lithuania will not take part in any new coalition in which Russia will participate or would like to participate. To this day Russia is occupying the territory of one country and committing acts of war in two countries, Ukraine and Georgia,” President Dalia Grybauskaite said in the western resort town of Palanga after meeting with her Baltic counterparts.

    Tensions between the small NATO members and neighbouring Russia have surged since Moscow’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine last year and the ongoing conflict in eastern Ukraine between pro-Russia rebels and the government.

    “We have to think seriously about any coalition that would involve an aggressor like our neighbour,” Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves told reporters.

    Latvian President Raimonds Vejonis the situation in the EU and around it southern borders “should not take our attention from Ukraine.

    “It is our common task to keep the issue of Ukraine high on EU agenda until the full resolution of the Minsk agreement,” referring to the ceasefire agreement signed in February.

    The Latvian foreign ministry added in a statement that “the fight against terrorists and resolving the conflict in Syria should not be at the expense of Ukraine”.

    Though they recognise that many of the refugees arriving in Europe are fleeing conflicts, the Baltic presidents also stand united against welcoming any more migrants before the EU takes action to better secure its external borders.

    “To talk about something more is too early before what was agreed is fulfilled,” said Grybauskaite referring to the border plans.

    “Lithuania will not take part in any new coalition in which Russia will participate or would like to participate.”
    So all Russia needs to do is express a desire to join a coalition and that would compel Lithuania’s governor to reject its own participation? Wow, that’s quite a bit of power over Lithuania’s internal decision-making that its government just handed over to Moscow. It’ll be interesting to see what kind of rhetorical fun the Kremlin might have with this little revelation.

    Still, as far as NATO solidarity in the face if the ISIS crisis goes it could be worse!

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | November 21, 2015, 1:25 pm
  3. Poland’s nationalist Law and Justice government is moving to strip Princeton University history professor Jan Tamasz Gross of the Order of Merit of the Republic he was awarded back in 1996. What did Mr. Gross do to warrant the stripping of his award? He suggested that more jews probably died in Poland than Germany during WWII. And according to Poland’s nationalist government, under Poland’s anti-defamation laws, what Gross said is apparently a punishable crime:

    The Guardian
    Polish move to strip Holocaust expert of award sparks protests
    Princeton University professor Jan Tomasz Gross faces losing Order of Merit over comments Polish villagers were complicit in massacre of Jews

    Alex Duval Smith in Warsaw

    Saturday 13 February 2016 19.05 EST

    Academics have rallied to the defence of one of the world’s leading Holocaust historians after reports that Poland intends to strip him of a national honour because he claimed that Poles were complicit in Nazi war crimes.

    Princeton University professor Jan Tomasz Gross, 69, was awarded the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland in 1996. He is best known for his 2001 book Neighbors, which describes in graphic detail the 1941 massacre by Polish villagers of up to 1,600 Jewish men, women and children. The book inspired Aftermath (Poklosie), a 2012 film directed by Wladyslaw Pasikowski.

    The move against the historian comes as the nationalist Law and Justice government, elected in 2015, comes under European scrutiny for law changes that, critics say, threaten democracy. President Andrzej Duda signed into law a controversial move bringing the attorney general under the control of the justice ministry. Critics say this will put political pressure on the judiciary.

    Intellectuals who in the past few days have signed two open letters in Gross’s defence say the Law and Justice government wants to rewrite history, expunging any suggestion of Polish complicity in past horrors.

    “The government says Gross is unpatriotic. But he is a patriot who looks at both the darker and lighter periods in Polish history,’’ said University of Ottawa history professor Jan Grabowski, who is among 30 signatories of the first letter, published last week.

    Gross was born in Poland but left the country in 1969 after an antisemitic purge on dissidents. Last September, in an article published in Germany’s Die Welt newspaper, he lamented eastern European countries’ reluctance to accept refugees and asserted that Poles killed more Jews than they did Nazis during the second world war. Prosecutors in Warsaw decided to investigate whether Gross had broken laws prohibiting the defamation of Poland.

    “Gross is controversial, but it is stupid and harmful to consider removing his award,’’ said Dariusz Stola, director of Warsaw’s Polin Museum of the History of Polish Jews, who signed the second open letter, submitted to the Polish Press Agency on Friday.

    Stola said Duda should bear in mind the broad context of Gross’s work, which included valuable studies of the German and Russian occupations of Poland. “He was awarded the Order of Merit for his scholarly work but also for his contribution, while in exile, to the democratic transition,’’ said Stola. “These are achievements you cannot take away.”

    Gross is currently on sabbatical leave from Princeton and did not respond to a request for comment from the Observer. But at a recent talk, posted online by the University of Haifa last week, he described his work as “a confrontation with ghosts in the consciousness of Polish society’’. He said most Poles were still not aware that 3.5 million Jews had died in Nazi death camps. The Law and Justice government was, he said, “vested in martyrology’’.

    He said to the students: “Historians write about what happened. What the consequences are is not your responsibility or business. Speaking and knowing the truth is a necessary step towards clarifying and setting relationships between groups on a path of mutual understanding.’’

    Agata Bielik-Robson, professor of Jewish Studies at Nottingham University, said: “Gross is one of the world’s leading Holocaust historians. Any normal liberal democracy has to have a voice of inner criticism, speaking in the name of minorities and different interests. Gross is one of those voices for Poland.’’

    Bielik-Robson, who is Polish and also signed the open letters, added: “Law and Justice want to eliminate voices like his, to produce a uniform historical perspective. The trend is deeply worrying.’’

    “Law and Justice want to eliminate voices like his, to produce a uniform historical perspective. The trend is deeply worrying.”
    That’s a good way to put it, although, technically, efforts of this nature are intended to produce a uniform ahistorical perspective. It’s also worth noting that two of Gross’s books on this topic, “Golden Harvest” and “Fear”, were already investigated in 2008 and 2011 but prosecutors found no evidence of a crime. So if Gross is convicted this time, it’s a sign that Poland’s nationalists are getting even more ahistorical, which, as history teaches us, is never a good sign.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | February 15, 2016, 7:00 pm
  4. Back in December, Hungary reminded us that as eastern Europe continues its rehabilitation of WWII-era architects of holocaust, that probably means there’s going to be a lot of new tasteless statues popping up

    AFP
    Hungary ‘anti-Semitic’ statue plan sparks protests

    December 13, 2015 4:44 PM

    Székesfehérvár (Hungary) (AFP) – Several hundred people including a US envoy joined a protest Sunday organised by Jewish groups in Hungary against a planned statue of a World War II-era politician who had held anti-Semitic views.

    Around 300 protesters gathered near the building site of the monument, a life-size bronze statue of Balint Homan, in the city of Szekesfehervar.

    Homan was an academic, prominent historian and civic leader widely seen as an architect of anti-Jewish laws in the 1930s. He also called for the deportation of Jews from Hungary in 1944, while part of a fascist Hungarian government installed by Nazi Germany.

    Around 600,000 Hungarian Jews perished in the Holocaust, almost all at the Nazi death camp Auschwitz in 1944.

    “An openly anti-Semitic, fascist politician should never get a statue anywhere in this country,” Andras Heisler, head of Hungary’s largest Jewish group, the Federation of Jewish Hungarian Communities (Mazsihisz), told the crowd at the protest..

    Also present were Israeli and Canadian diplomats and Washington’s special envoy on anti-Semitism Ira Forman.

    “There is no excuse for this statue, that’s something we won’t let up on,” Forman told AFP.

    The private group behind the statue, the Balint Homan Foundation, some of whose members are linked to the far-right Jobbik party, has received both state and municipal funding for the statue in Szekesfehervar, about 60 kilometres (37 miles) southwest of Budapest.

    Protest letters against the statute have also been sent to Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban by the World Jewish Congress and a US Congress taskforce on anti-Semitism.

    After the war Homan was handed a life sentence for his role in approving Hungary joining Nazi Germany’s invasion of the Soviet Union; he died in prison in 1951.

    However, a Budapest court in March found there had been a lack of evidence for his conviction, after which Szekesfehervar City Hall approved the statue plan.

    On Friday, the city’s mayor, a member of Orban’s right-wing Fidesz party, urged the foundation to “rethink” the plan, and said if it erects the statue it should pay back the public funding it received.

    Orban’s government has sometimes been accused of cosying up to Jobbik and glossing over Hungary’s role in the deportation of Jews, despite saying it has “zero tolerance” for anti-Semitism.

    Three government ministers have criticised the monument plan, but stopped short of calling for it to be scrapped.

    “The private group behind the statue, the Balint Homan Foundation, some of whose members are linked to the far-right Jobbik party, has received both state and municipal funding for the statue in Szekesfehervar, about 60 kilometres (37 miles) southwest of Budapest.”
    Yeah, Jobbik-affiliated individuals being behind this statue is probably what we should expect.

    To the credit of the ruling Fidesz party, at least they also backed away from it following the international outrage. Even Viktor Orban called for the statue’s removal. Of course, since Viktor Orban was also a driving force behind the creation of the statue, you can’t really give too much credit to a party that historically revises its historical-revisionism. Especially after similar protests just forced a senior Fidesz member to cancel his speech at the unveiling of another statue in tribute to an architect of Hungary’s anti-Jewish laws that’s just 100 meters from Budapest’s Holocaust museum:

    AFP

    Hungary protesters block statue unveiling

    2/24/2016

    Budapest (AFP) – The unveiling of a statue of a World War II-era Hungarian politician — seen as anti-Semitic by Hungary’s largest Jewish group — was cancelled Wednesday after a protest.

    Several dozen protestors holding placards reading “Racism out” surrounded the covered statue of Gyorgy Donath, a member of Hungary’s wartime government which was allied with Nazi Germany and brought in anti-Jewish laws.

    “I don’t see why this person should ever have a statue in a public place in Hungary,” one protestor Gabor Eross told AFP, later climbing onto the statue with a placard.

    A senior member of Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s governing party Fidesz due to deliver a speech at the unveiling announced at the scene, some 100 metres (yards) away from the city’s Holocaust museum, that the ceremony had been cancelled.

    “The circumstances are not good,” Gergely Gulyas, a vice-president of Fidesz, told AFP before leaving.

    As a government member between 1939 and 1944, Donath supported laws against Hungary’s Jewish and ethnic-German minorities, although he was not part of the Hungarian fascist regime installed by the Nazis in late-1944.

    He was executed for treason in 1947 at a show trial orchestrated by the communist regime which seized power at that time.

    “One cannot turn a blind eye to Donath’s shameful political role…(even if he later) became a victim of communism,” Hungary’s largest Jewish group Mazsihisz said in a statement Tuesday.

    Homan key was a key architect of anti-Semitic laws in the run-up to the Holocaust in 1930s Hungary.

    “A senior member of Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s governing party Fidesz due to deliver a speech at the unveiling announced at the scene, some 100 metres (yards) away from the city’s Holocaust museum, that the ceremony had been cancelled.”
    So historical-revisionism is going pretty strong in Hungary. You have to wonder what type of state-backed revisionism might be next.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | February 24, 2016, 6:39 pm
  5. Bulgarian President Rosen Plevneliev recently made a trip to Ukraine where he received the annual “Person of the Year” award. And if the idea floated by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko during the trip comes to fruition, Bulgaria’s leaders are probably in store for some more Ukrainian “Person of the Year” awards in coming years, although they’ll have to share those awards with Romania’s leaders since Poroshenko wants to set up a joint Ukrainian-Bulgarian-Romanian army brigade and Romania wants a large NATO presence operating in the Black Sea:

    Novinite.com

    Bulgaria, Romania, Ukraine Discuss Setting up Joint Army Brigade

    Politics » DEFENSE | April 21, 2016, Thursday // 16:08

    Bulgaria, Romania and Ukraine are discussing the possibility of setting up a joint military brigade.

    This became clear after a statement by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko during his meeting with his Romanian counterpart Klaus Iohannis in Bucharest on Thursday.

    Poroshenko revealed that the possibility was also discussed during the recent visit of Bulgarian President Rosen Plevneliev in Ukraine where he was bestowed the "Person of the year" annual award in recognition of his support for the sovereignty and integrity of Ukraine.

    The brigade is to be modeled on the existing Lithuanian-Polish-Ukrainian brigade (LitPolUkrBrig), which has been in existence since 2009 and comprises units of the Lithuanian, Polish and Ukrainian armies.

    During his visit to Romania on Thursday, the Ukrainian president also expressed support for the initiative of Bucharest to create NATO flotilla in the Black Sea.

    Poroshenko added that Ukraine has willingness to join in the initiative as soon as it is approved by the Alliance, AGERPRES quotes him as saying.

    “During his visit to Romania on Thursday, the Ukrainian president also expressed support for the initiative of Bucharest to create NATO flotilla in the Black Sea.”
    A NATO build up in the Black Sea? It’s apparently on the table. Although, based on recent comments from NATO’s Deputy Secretary General Alexander Vershbow during his trip to Bulgaria, it sounds like the plans for a NATO presence are going to be limited to those NATO members with Black Sea borders, which would probably limit the build up somewhat. Still, according to Vershbow, NATO’s presence in the Black Sea could be “enhanced” by July:

    Reuters

    NATO’s new deterrent may include bigger Black Sea presence

    SOFIA | By Tsvetelia Tsolova
    Fri Apr 22, 2016 10:31am EDT

    Turkey, Bulgaria and Romania may expand the NATO alliance’s maritime presence in the Black Sea as part of a broader strategy to deter Russia, NATO’s deputy chief said on Friday.

    NATO is looking to counter Russia’s military build-up in Crimea, which Moscow annexed from Ukraine in 2014, and in the Black Sea, which is strategically important for both East and West given its energy reserves and closeness to the Middle East.

    “There are some very valuable discussions under way among the allies who live on the Black Sea … of more closely integrating their naval forces and operations,” NATO’s Deputy Secretary General Alexander Vershbow said in a visit to Sofia, mentioning the three NATO allies by name.

    The U.S.-led alliance is concerned by what it sees as a Russian strategy to try to block NATO from moving about by air, land and sea by positioning surface-to-air missile batteries and anti-ship missiles in Kaliningrad, the Black Sea and in Syria.

    NATO already patrols the Black Sea, but Vershbow said that by the time Western leaders meet for a NATO summit in July, allies could have “an enhanced presence” in the area as part of plans to move troops on rotation into the Baltics and Poland.

    “We need to consider a more persistent NATO military presence in the region, with a particular focus on our maritime capabilities,” he said.

    Backed by a big increase in U.S. military spending, NATO is setting up small eastern outposts, forces on rotation, regular war games and warehoused equipment ready for a rapid response force to deter Russia. That force includes air, maritime and special operations units of up to 40,000 personnel.

    Worried since the seizure of Crimea and pro-Russian rebel operations in eastern Ukraine that Moscow could exert pressure on Poland or destabilize the Baltic states – perhaps by fomenting unrest in their Russian minority populations – the West wants to bolster defenses on its eastern flank without provoking the Kremlin by stationing large forces permanently.

    NATO says it respects a 1997 agreement with Moscow to avoid deploying substantial combat forces on Russia’s borders.

    “We need to consider a more persistent NATO military presence in the region, with a particular focus on our maritime capabilities.”
    That sure sounds like plans for something more than just a slight “enhancement” of NATO’s Black Sea presence. Still, as the article below points out, Russia hasn’t hesitated to remind NATO that the existing Montreux Convention regime on the status of the straits of Bosporus and the Dardanelles prevent non-Black Sea nations from suddenly sending a big NATO navy into the Black Sea. And that means, barring a change in treaties, NATO is going to have to get creative if there’s going to be a sudden enhancement of NATO’s Black Sea footprint over the next few months. And as the article below also makes clear, the creative juices are indeed flowing, and flowing in direction that could mean a substantial amount of NATO funds being used to build up Ukraine’s Navy for use in a proposed joint Romanian-Bulgarian-Ukrainian naval force.

    And should all that happen, not only will there be a quasi-NATO-ish big new presence in the region, but Ukraine’s military will be closer to NATO-standards, making an eventual inclusion of Ukraine in NATO that much more likely which would only freak out Russia even more. So the more Russia’s neighbors ask for more NATO forces to ward off feared Russian aggression, the more freaked out Russia is inevitably going to get. So, perhaps not surprisingly, Ukraine’s civil war and ongoing tensions with Russia are starting to spill into the sea:

    UNIAN.info

    Ukraine’s creeping “entry” into NATO

    28.04.2016 | 09:15
    Kostyantyn Honcharov

    Last week Ukraine, through its President, voiced its readiness to join the Black Sea fleet under NATO leadership and to set up a joint brigade the Alliance’s member states – Romania and Bulgaria. UNIAN tried to figure out the prospects for the implementation of these ideas.

    The North Atlantic Treaty Alliance should assess a possibility of a “more sustainable military presence” in the Black Sea region, that’s according to Alexander Vershbow, Deputy Secretary General of NATO who addressed the Sofia (Bulgaria) meeting of the Atlantic Club in the framework of the Black Sea Security Conference.

    According to Vershbow, the thing is that the Alliance has faced strategic threats from two different directions at the same time. The first is the instability of the Bloc’s southern borders that threatens to spill over into its territory in the shape of terrorism and uncontrolled migration. The second is the aggressive stance of Russia, which defies international law and the sovereignty of neighboring states. In particular, NATO concerned about the use by Russia in the occupied Crimea of the A2AD systems (Anti-Access Area-Denial), allowing, with minimal resources, to create a barrier that, for example, would make it impossible for foreign warships and submarines to get in the waters of the Black Sea.

    This concern is understandable in the context of earlier statements by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg who said that NATO would continue to build up its military presence in the Black Sea. First of all, it’s about naval forces as well as reconnaissance means and those for deployment of reinforcements. But, given that the Black Sea region hosts a number of frozen conflicts and several transit routes of energy resources converge, NATO also plans to organize aerial surveillance with AWACS aircraft, based in Romania, Bulgaria, and Turkey.

    In turn, Russia’s position on this issue is very simple: it will not tolerate the attempts of extra-regional powers to increase their military presence in the Black Sea. “The Black Sea is a constant, just as the countries that surround it. We know that among the Black Sea states, Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey are maritime powers. They have fleets in the Black Sea. Uniting them into the group or not – this is up to the military,” said Russia’s permanent representative to NATO, Alexander Grushko.

    However, according to him, the Montreux Convention regime on the status of the straits of Bosporus and the Dardanelles from the Black to the Mediterranean must remain inviolable and “no attempts must be taken to change the regime in such a way as to facilitate the presence of extra-regional powers in the Black Sea.”

    A Freedom Flotilla

    It is curious that it was Romania, who voiced the initiative to set up a Black Sea NATO flotilla. This country can hardly be called an “extra-regional power” in the Black Sea. Another thing is how seriously the Alliance will take this idea and how quickly it can be implemented. The thing is that, according to the foreign political analyst Taras Chornovil, Romania cannot boast authority among NATO member states to the level for its initiatives to be addressed by the Alliance as a priority. “However, there is a number of circumstances, which does gives hope that this initiative will be supported. First of all, there is a threatening situation in the Black Sea, the provocative behavior of the Russian armed forces and the understanding that it is better to resort to some preventive action than to randomly find a way out of the situation,” he said.

    Actually, any possible aggressive actions against Bulgaria or Romania will force NATO to respond. But reacting to something that has already happened is much worse than deterring potential aggression.

    According to the expert, this is context, in which the creation of a combat-capable fleet in the Black Sea should be considered. “Its presence could deter any provocative actions,” said Chornovil.

    A military expert, director of military programs at Razumkov Center, Mykola Sungurovsky, also notes that the creation of such a fleet would help a parity balance of forces emerge in the Black Sea. And, of course, Ukraine’s accession to this formation seems quite reasonable. But only in the future. Because, as of today, Ukraine doesn’t have much to offer in order to join the NATO fleet. “At the moment, we can take part in the NATO flotilla with the Ukrainian frigate Hetman Sahaidachnyi, for example,” said Sungurovsky. ‘Subsequently, if this fleet is established, I think, that NATO funding will be provided for the development of the operational capacity of such fleet. That is, Ukraine will receive additional resources for the development of its Navy.”

    Problematic issues

    In principle, this fleet “can be created on the basis of the already existing BLACKSEAFOR, as Petro Poroshenko mentioned. But the problem is that Russia is also a party to it,” said the expert.

    However, excluding Russia from BLACKSEAFOR requires a lot of political will from other members. Besides, this would require the creation of an entirely new association under the aegis of NATO. “We need to determine why this flotilla is created, with what forces and means, what risks bears the creation of such a formation,” he said. All of this should be put on a political agenda of the Black Sea countries and, after that, at the NATO level.”

    In this context, Russia’s warnings considering possible establishment of such a fleet are not groundless. In other words, if we are talking about the creation of an association on the basis of the naval forces of the Black Sea states exclusively, these forces will be quite limited. If it is about attracting other NATO member states, then this issue should be resolved within the framework of the agreements on the Black Sea straits. “If the flotilla is supposed to be a permanent body, the issue should be resolved with Turkey in the framework of the agreements on the Black Sea straits. According to the Montreux Convention, ships of the non-Black Sea states can enter the Black Sea for a limited time only,” said Sungurovsky.

    The situation can be resolved, according to Chornovil, with additional financing from NATO aimed at building new vessels for the fleet within the Black Sea states. In particular, for Ukraine, which has for a long time has cooperated with NATO, not being a member state. In this case, “NATO wouldn’t need to ‘rip off’ an excessive amount of vessels from its fleet in the Mediterranean,” and the Montreux Convention would not be compromised.

    Brothers in Arms on land and at sea

    As for the mutually beneficial cooperation between the Black Sea countries in general, Ukraine, Romania, and Bulgaria are also considering a possibility of setting up a joint military brigade similar to the recently created Lithuanian-Polish-Ukrainian brigade ( LITPOLUKRBRIG). “Within NATO, nobody forbids to organize such groups in the interest of regional security. This leads to greater solidarity. And if the partnership involves the non-member states, this leads to an increase in the level of trust,” said Mykola Sungurovsky.

    However, according to the expert, the implementation of this idea lies in the same political plain as the idea of the flotilla. “It is important that the issue of establishing a brigade not become bureaucratized. The Lithuanian-Polish-Ukrainian Brigade was being created for 12 years, and its establishment was hampered by bureaucratic procedures. The armed conflict between Ukraine and Russia has pushed to accelerate its creation,” said the analyst.

    According to him, today, there is a situation when the question of creating such a formation would be treated differently. Especially since Ukraine’s national interests do not conflict with the interests of other countries in the Black Sea region. “We have roughly the same views on the threats and on how to prevent them. And these are, in fact, the criteria for integration,” he added.

    Moreover, such military partnership contributes to Ukraine gradually approaching the NATO standards.

    Proper integration

    As for the interests of the Alliance, setting up a joint forming by two countries in the same region is an additional opportunity to synchronize the efforts of forces, to work out various scenarios at joint exercises. Moreover, it is not so much about the Russian military aggression in Donbas and the possible escalation of the occupation forces in Crimea. It’s more about participating in peacekeeping operations in general. In particular, about the issues of fighting terrorism, countering man-made disasters, illegal migration, etc. That is, if needed, these units will already have been prepared, because the schemes and methodology of joint action will have been worked out.

    Given that Ukraine is not a NATO member state and has no membership prospects in the near future, the establishment of a joint brigade is one of the options, which is fully supported by the country’s Western partners. And it would be foolish not to use this opportunity. “The brigade will have a stabilizing, positive impact on the overall security architecture in the region, allowing Ukraine to work out regional combat missions, establish closer cooperation at the level of departments and structural units of the military organization of Ukraine and NATO member states,” said political expert, director of the Center for Civil Society Studies Vitaliy Kulik.

    Thus, such units would be an excellent military training base for the Ukrainian army. In this regard, it should not be excluded that in the near future, the establishment of such military units with Hungary, Slovakia, and possibly the Czech Republic will also be considered.

    “In this context, Russia’s warnings considering possible establishment of such a fleet are not groundless. In other words, if we are talking about the creation of an association on the basis of the naval forces of the Black Sea states exclusively, these forces will be quite limited. If it is about attracting other NATO member states, then this issue should be resolved within the framework of the agreements on the Black Sea straits. “If the flotilla is supposed to be a permanent body, the issue should be resolved with Turkey in the framework of the agreements on the Black Sea straits. According to the Montreux Convention, ships of the non-Black Sea states can enter the Black Sea for a limited time only,” said Sungurovsky.”
    Yep, if the proposed significant naval build up in the Black Sea is going to happen soon, and that appears to be what NATO states want, either NATO rapidly transforms a Bulgarian-Romanian-Ukrainian naval force into a substantial presence by basically just giving them substantial navies, or the Montreux Convention that gives Turkey control of the Bosporus Straits and Dardanelles and restricts the passage of non-Black Sea states is going to have to get overhauled soon.

    So while it’s unclear what exactly to expect at this point, it sounds like a dramatic escalation of tensions in the Black Sea over the next year is something we should expect in general. And since the renegotiation of the Montreux Convention is the path NATO takes, Turkey is poised to once again extract some major concession from Europe and the West. In other words, in other words, if this new Black Sea NATO navy is going to come to fruition, Turkey, a NATO member, will probably have to be given an even bigger free-pass as President Erdogan turns the country into his personal fiefdom. It would be more than a little ironic if that’s how this plays out and Erdogan becomes acceptable NATO’s dictator. Not super surprising, but still ironic.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | May 9, 2016, 3:12 pm

Post a comment