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FTR #985 Fascism: 2017 European Tour, Part 2

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This broadcast was recorded in one, 60-minute segment.

CasaPound supporter

Introduction: Focusing on burgeoning fascism in Europe, this program concentrates primarily on Eastern Europe. Mobilizing grass roots support from economically disadvantaged citizens suffering the effects of austerity, many ascending fascist movements share xenophobic, anti-immigrant/anti-Muslim sentiment. These ideological tenets are common to supporters of Team Trump in the U.S.

  1. Beginning our tour in Poland, we note alarming signs of that country descending into fascism, with anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim xenophobia on the ideological front burner of the ironically named Law and Justice Party: ” . . . . Tens of thousands of people — many of them young men with crew cuts, but some parents with children, too — flocked to the Polish capital to celebrate Independence Day in a march organized in part by two neo-fascist organizationsThey waved white and red Polish flags, they brandished burning torches, and they wore “white power” symbols. They carried banners declaring, ‘Death to enemies of the homeland,’ and screamed, ‘Sieg Heil!’ and ‘Ku Klux Klan!’ . . . .”
  2. The treatment accorded female counter-demonstrators exemplifies the nature of the rally: ” . . . . A dozen incredibly courageous women showed up to protest the march. After mixing with the marchers, they unraveled a long strip of cloth emblazoned with ‘Stop Fascism.’ They were immediately attacked. Their banner was ripped apart. Marchers pushed some of the women to the ground and kicked others. . . .”
  3. At an institutional level, the Law and Justice Party is implementing an Orwellian mockery of its name: ” . . . Ever since the Law and Justice Party won both the presidential and parliamentary elections in 2015, Poland has been undergoing a disturbing political transformation. Law and Justice is an Orwellian name for a party that constantly violates the law, breaks constitutional provisions and is hellbent on subjecting the courts to its control. The party is dismantling the institutional framework of parliamentary democracy piece by piece in order to remove any restraints on the personal power of its leader, Jaroslaw Kaczynski. ‘Prezes,’ the Boss, people call him. . . .”
  4. The xenophobia utilized by the Law and Justice Party is a common element in European and American fascist movements: ” . . . . Two years ago, the party bet that latching onto the refugee crisis in Europe would give it purchase on the votes necessary to win. Its calculation proved entirely correct. One of the first institutions the party hijacked was public television. Law and Justice has turned it into Fox News on steroids, paid for by the taxpayers. It feeds viewers nonstop propaganda about the mounting threat to Poland’s sovereignty from the European Union, specifically in the form of Muslim refugees. Those refugees present a threat to our way of life, the government and the press insist. They will assault our women, they say, and they are carrying infectious diseases to boot. A year ago, a quarter of Poles opposed accepting anyone fleeing the ravages of war in the Middle East; after months of relentless propaganda, 75 percent are now opposed. This year the country has let in only 1,474 asylum seekers, nearly all of them from Russia or Ukraine. . . .”
  5. In Italy, CasaPound recapitulates Italy’s fascist past, in resonance with anti-immigrant xenophobia exhibited by other neo-fascist parties: ” . . . . But CasaPound is winning seats in a handful of towns, and some of its core beliefs — a fondness for Russia and sharp opposition to the European Union, globalization and immigration, which it believes sully the national identity and economy — are increasingly spreading throughout Italy. In Sicily, the new headquarters of Brothers of Italy, a descendant of the post-fascist Italian Social Movement, had the phrase ‘Italians first’ written on the wall during its recent inauguration. Anti-immigration sentiment has grown so popular that the once-secessionist Northern League has dropped the word ‘Northern’ from its name as it looks for inroads to the south. . . .”
  6. Much of our tour is in Ukraine, where the OUN/B fascists are rewriting history. The Institute of National Memory, headed by Volodomyr Viatrovych, is standing Ukrainian World War II history on its head. ” . . . .The Ukrainian Institute of National Memory (UINP) and its patrons in the Poroshenko government in Kyiv are allowing us to study the process of nationalist myth-making in real-time. President Poroshenko has enabled nationalist activists like Volodymyr Viatrovych, head of the Institute, to sculpt Ukraine’s history and memory policies. Part and parcel of the Institute’s ‘decommunization’ campaign to remove remnants of a Soviet past simultaneously has been to lionize 20th century Ukrainians who fought for Ukraine’s independence no matter how problematic their problematic. In particular, the Viatrovych and the Institute have made whitewashing the image of World War Two Ukrainian nationalists a priority, not a small feat considering their documented ties to, and complicity with, the Nazis. This nationalist revisionism seeks to show that the main wartime nationalist organizations, the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) and its military wing, the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA), were ultimately multi-ethnic, ‘multi-cultural,’ and democratic. Unsurprisingly, the nationalists’ relationship with Ukraine’s Jews has proved the biggest challenge to this reinvention of Holocaust co-perpetrators and ethnic cleansers as tolerant internationalists. . . .”
  7. Viatrovych and his Institute are marketing a “pet Jew” to prove the open-minded, politically correctness of the UPA and the OUN/B: ” . . . . Much Ukrainian media ink has been spilled in recent years glorifying the role of one Jew, who served with the nationalists. His story encapsulates Ukraine’s war on memory, and its eager attempts to write out anti-Semitism from its wartime history. Leiba-Itsko Iosifovich Dobrovskii has been touted as a Ukrainian nationalist who also happened to be Jewish. That was to make the point that Ukrainian nationalism and Jewishness were not mutually exclusive. These days, we’d call the re-engineering of facts about Dobrovskii a fake news story. But it is instructive to trace its origins. . . .”
  8. Viatrovych’s UPA “pet Jew” has an interesting political genesis: ” . . . .The legend of Leiba Dobrovskii, Ukrainian nationalist Jew, originated not in World War Two but the mid-2000s, when he was first briefly mentioned in a book in 2006 by historian and activist Volodymyr Viatrovych. Viatrovych made reference to a “Jew” in the UPA, who helped write leaflets for the UPA in 1942 and 1943 and eventually was arrested by the Soviets. In 2008 the Dobrovskii legend grew, thanks to the exhibition ‘Jews in the Ukrainian Liberation Movement,’ staged by the Ukrainian Security Service and the Institute for National Memory with the assistance of Viatrovych. Drawing on Dobrovskii’s arrest file in the archives of the Security Service, the exhibition highlighted his line-up picture and alleged role in the UPA, while notably offering no more details. . . . “
  9. The myth of the UPA’s Pet Jew has been amplified by the international media. ” . . . .  At this point, the myth of Jews happily serving with Ukrainian nationalists in WW2 began to be reported in prestigious outlets like BBC Ukraine. After the Maidan revolution of 2014, and Viatrovych’s further rise within the Ukrainian government, the Dobrovskii legend flourished. . . .”
  10. The truth about Dubrovskii differs from the Viatrovych narrative: . . . .As a Red Army soldier, he was captured in 1941 and changed his name to Leonid Dubrovskii to appear Ukrainian. In this guise, he got out of captivity and went to north-western Ukraine, where he accidently met local Ukrainian nationalists connected to the local collaborationist police and administration, including the local mayor and later UPA member, Mykola Kryzhanovskii. Noteworthy is that Kryzhanovskii was well-known for his brutality towards Jews. Not suspecting that Dobrovskii was Jewish and appreciating his education, the nationalists recruited him to produce propaganda. In contrast to the shiny new nationalist legend, Dobrovskii actually concealed his Jewishness to his nationalist ‘compatriots’ and was no enthusiastic supporter of Ukrainian nationalism. In fact, he was scared that they would find out who he really was. . . .”
  11. The UPA’s Pet Jew had some interesting observations about the nature of the organization: “. . . . Dobrovskii had well-founded reasons for his reluctance and fear. He felt that Ukraine’s nationalists, who deliberately helped staff local police forces under the German Nazi forces, were complicit in the genocide of the Jews. In 1943, he noted, nationalist detachments ‘carried out the mass murder of the Polish population’ in western Ukraine. He described the radicalizing influence of West Ukrainian nationalists on Ukrainian youth and observed that they spread ‘enmity toward Jews, Russians and Poles.’ He also observed nationalist violence and ‘terror’ against Ukrainians, including the murder of two church leaders by UPA. He did not even believe in the nationalist claims that they were fighting the Germans, remarking that they “did not kill a single local German [Nazi] leader in the area” of Volhynia. . . .”
  12. Wholesale support for Viatrovych’s Orwellian re-write of Ukrainian history has come from Poroshenko government: “. . . . The controversy centers on a telling of World War II history that amplifies Soviet crimes and glorifies Ukrainian nationalist fighters while dismissing the vital part they played in ethnic cleansing of Poles and Jews from 1941 to 1945 after the Nazi invasion of the former Soviet Union. . . . And more pointedly, scholars now fear that they risk reprisal for not toeing the official line — or calling Viatrovych on his historical distortions. Under Viatrovych’s reign, the country could be headed for a new, and frightening, era of censorship. . . .
  13. More about Viatrovych’s historical propaganda: “. . . . To that effect, Viatrovych has dismissed historical events not comporting with this narrative as ‘Soviet propaganda.’ [This is true of information presented by anyone that tells the truth about the OUN/B heirs now in power in Ukraine–they are dismissed as ‘Russian dupes’ or “tools of the Kremlin’ etc.–D.E.] In his 2006 book, The OUN’s Position Towards the Jews: Formulation of a position against the backdrop of a catastrophe, he attempted to exonerate the OUN from its collaboration in the Holocaust by ignoring the overwhelming mass of historical literature. . . .”
  14. The Polish fascists described above have remained silent about Viatrovych’s academic coverup of the Ukrainian fascists’ extermination of ethnic Poles during World War 2: “. . . . UPA supreme commander Dmytro Kliachkivs’kyi explicitly stated: ‘We should carry out a large-scale liquidation action against Polish elements. During the evacuation of the German Army, we should find an appropriate moment to liquidate the entire male population between 16 and 60 years old.’ Given that over 70 percent of the leading UPA cadres possessed a background as Nazi collaborators, none of this is surprising. . . .”
  15. Ukraine’s Ministry of Education is echoing and amplifying Viatrovych’s narrative: “. . . . Seventy historians signed an open letter to Poroshenko asking him to veto the draft law that bans criticism of the OUN-UPA. . . . After the open letter was published, the legislation’s sponsor, Yuri Shukhevych, reacted furiously. Shukhevych, the son of UPA leader Roman Shukhevych and a longtime far-right political activist himself, fired off a letter to Minister of Education Serhiy Kvit claiming, ‘Russian special services’ produced the letter and demanded that ‘patriotic’ historians rebuff it. Kvit, also a longtime far-right activist and author of an admiring biography one of the key theoreticians of Ukrainian ethnic nationalism, in turn ominously highlighted the signatories of Ukrainian historians on his copy of the letter. . . .”
  16. More about Minister of Education Kvit, and Viatrovych: “. . . . Last June, Kvit’s Ministry of Education issued a directive to teachers regarding the ‘necessity to accentuate the patriotism and morality of the activists of the liberation movement,’ including depicting the UPA as a ‘symbol of patriotism and sacrificial spirit in the struggle for an independent Ukraine’ and Bandera as an ‘outstanding representative’ of the Ukrainian people.’ More recently, Viatrovych’s Ukrainian Institute of National Memory proposed that the city of Kiev rename two streets after Bandera and the former supreme commander of both the UPA and the Nazi-supervised Schutzmannschaft Roman Shukhevych. . . .”
  17. In keeping with the re-writing of Ukraine’s wartime history, the city of Lvov [Lviv or Lemberg, when it was part of Poland] has established a festival in honor of Roman Shukhevych, the head of the Einsatzgruppe Nachtigall or Nightingale Battalion, on the anniversary of the beginning of a pogrom that he led. More about this pogrom:
  18. “The Ukrainian city of Lviv will hold a festival celebrating a Nazi collaborator on the anniversary of a major pogrom against the city’s Jews. . . . On June 30, 1941, Ukrainian troops, including militiamen loyal to Shukhevych’s, began a series of pogroms against Jews, which they perpetrated under the auspices of the German army, according to Yale University history professor Timothy Snyder and other scholars. They murdered approximately 6,000 Jews in those pogroms. . . .”
  19. The Einsatzgruppe Nachtigall was an SS extermination unit. “. . . . In 1959 [SS officer Theodor] Oberlaender was the center of a storm that finally forced his resignation in May 1960. He was blamed for the mass murder of thousands of Jews and Polish intellectuals who had been liquidated in July 1941 when a special SS task force under his command occupied the Polish city of Lemberg (Lvov). . . . As briefly mentioned in a previous chapter, Minister Oberlaender is accused of having been involved in the so-called “Lemberg massacre,” in which several thousand Poles and more than 5,000 Jews were slaughtered. Dr. Oberlaender does not deny a] that he was the commanding officer of a special SS task force, the Nightingale Battalion, made up of nationalist Ukrainians; and b] that this battalion was the first German unit to move into the Polish city of Lemberg on June 29, 1941, where it remained for six or seven days. . . .”
  20. The official founding of the UPA (October 14)–the group whose troops comprised the Einsatzgruppe Nachtigall–is now a national holdiay Ukraine: ” . . . . Thousands of Ukrainian nationalists have marched through the capital, Kyiv, to mark the 75th anniversary of the creation of the controversial Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA). March organizers said as many as 20,000 people participated in the October 14 march, which was supported by the right-wing Freedom, Right Sector, and National Corp political parties. . . . Journalists reported seeing some marchers giving Nazi salutes. Since 2015, the October 14 anniversary has been marked as the Defender of Ukraine Day public holiday. . . . .”
  21. We return to the subject of the Lithuanian Rifleman’s Union, who are engaging with maneuvers with similar organizations from Latvia and Lithuania.
  22. Reviewing information about the Lithuanian Riflemen’s Union, we highlight its activities as part of the Nazi military effort in the Baltic states, including participation in administering Hitler’s “Final Solution.”
  23. 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.)
  24. Review of inforation from FTR #779, noting that Svoboda was networking with Roberto Fiore’s Forza Nuova.

1a. You know things are getting bad when op-ed pieces in The New York Times inveighs against burgeoning fascism.

“Poles Cry for ‘Pure Blood’ Again” by Jan T. Gross; The New York Times; 11/17/2017.

If you want a sense of where Poland could be heading, look no further than the events last Saturday in Warsaw. Tens of thousands of people — many of them young men with crew cuts, but some parents with children, too — flocked to the Polish capital to celebrate Independence Day in a march organized in part by two neo-fascist organizations.

They waved white and red Polish flags, they brandished burning torches, and they wore “white power” symbols. They carried banners declaring, “Death to enemies of the homeland,” and screamed, “Sieg Heil!” and “Ku Klux Klan!” The official slogan of the march was “We want God” — words from an old hymn that President Trump quoted during his speech in Warsaw in July. A dozen incredibly courageous women showed up to protest the march.

After mixing with the marchers, they unraveled a long strip of cloth emblazoned with “Stop Fascism.” They were immediately attacked. Their banner was ripped apart. Marchers pushed some of the women to the ground and kicked others. Were these women exaggerating in calling the march fascist? Or are we in fact witnessing a resurgence of fascism in Poland? To steal a phrase: I believe the women.

Though the Polish president, Andrzej Duda, condemned the march, saying Poland has no place for “sick nationalism,” the interior minister, Mariusz Blaszczak, called it “a beautiful sight.” He added: “We are proud that so many Poles have decided to take part in a celebration connected to the Independence Day holiday.” Given what transpired, this sounds shocking. But for those of us who follow Polish politics, the minister’s take didn’t come as a surprise.

Ever since the Law and Justice Party won both the presidential and parliamentary elections in 2015, Poland has been undergoing a disturbing political transformation. Law and Justice is an Orwellian name for a party that constantly violates the law, breaks constitutional provisions and is hellbent on subjecting the courts to its control. The party is dismantling the institutional framework of parliamentary democracy piece by piece in order to remove any restraints on the personal power of its leader, Jaroslaw Kaczynski. “Prezes,” the Boss, people call him.

Two years ago, the party bet that latching onto the refugee crisis in Europe would give it purchase on the votes necessary to win. Its calculation proved entirely correct.

One of the first institutions the party hijacked was public television. Law and Justice has turned it into Fox News on steroids, paid for by the taxpayers. It feeds viewers nonstop propaganda about the mounting threat to Poland’s sovereignty from the European Union, specifically in the form of Muslim refugees.

Those refugees present a threat to our way of life, the government and the press insist. They will assault our women, they say, and they are carrying infectious diseases to boot. A year ago, a quarter of Poles opposed accepting anyone fleeing the ravages of war in the Middle East; after months of relentless propaganda, 75 percent are now opposed. This year the country has let in only 1,474 asylum seekers, nearly all of them from Russia or Ukraine.

Yet the marchers in Warsaw seem to feel that their country is being overwhelmed. “We don’t want Muslims here,” they cried. “No to Islam.” And “refugees get out.”

Until very recently, Poles had never given much thought to Islam beyond occasionally a sense of historical pride that a Polish king, Jan Sobieski, defeated the Turks in a 17th century battle for Vienna, thus saving Christian Europe from the infidels.

This fits a recurrent theme in Polish national mythology: Poland as a rampart of Christianity, the Christ of Nations. Poland, according to this trope, has repeatedly, and heroically, suffered for the sake of others, especially the rest of Christian Europe.

While the Warsaw demonstrators paraded with burning torches, Mr. Kaczynski gave a speech in Krakow expressing a new twist on this familiar narrative: The Poles’ mission now is to save a “sick Europe” from itself. The neo-fascist marchers in Warsaw suggested, as if on cue, how it could be done: “Pure Blood,” read one banner. “White Europe,” another said.

But most Poles couldn’t tell a Muslim or a Buddhist from Jesus. Their animus, which carries Polish nationalism into such an aggressively xenophobic articulation, springs primarily from a deep pool of ethnic-cum-religious hatred, which is indigenous to Poland and has historically been aimed at Jews.

Anti-Semitism is a deeply entrenched and historically rooted element of this Polish nationalist worldview. It was the ideological cornerstone of the prewar National Democratic Party of Roman Dmowski, at whose statue the Independence Day march began this year. A youth organization that helped organize the march in Warsaw is a descendant of a fascist offshoot of the party, whose members took to the streets in the 1930s to beat Jews and to slash them with razor blades affixed to wooden canes. Those who marched on Saturday are the heirs to this vile legacy.

Poland’s leaders have let an evil genie out of the bottle. What we’ve witnessed on the streets of Warsaw represents a threat not only to liberal democracy in Poland but also to the stability and welfare of the European Union. Half of the six million Jewish victims of the Holocaust were Poles. Two million more Poles were killed during the German occupation. How many deaths are required for leaders to learn that words and ideas can kill?

1b.The demonstration saw participation of European fascists from other countries,  including Roberto Fiore of the P-2 nexus in Italy.

“60,000 People Join Far-Right March on Poland’s Independence Day” by Vanessa Gera [AP]; Talking Points Memo; 11/11/2017.

. . . . Some participants expressed sympathy for xenophobic or white supremacist ideas, with one banner reading, “White Europe of brotherly nations.” . . . .

. . . . Some also carried banners depicting a falanga, a far-right symbol dating to the 1930s. . . .

. . . . The march has become one of the largest such demonstration in Europe, and on Saturday it drew far-right leaders from elsewhere in Europe, including Tommy Robinson from Britain and Roberto Fiore from Italy. . . .

State broadcaster TVP, which reflects the conservative government’s line, called it a “great march of patriots,” and in its broadcasts described the event as one that drew mostly regular Poles expressing their love of Polands, not extremists.

“It was a beautiful sight,” Interior Minister Mariusz Blaszczak said. “We are proud that so many Poles have decided to take part in a celebration connected to the Independence Day holiday.”

A smaller counter-protest by an anti-fascist movement also took place. Organizers kept the two groups apart to prevent violence.

CasaPound supporter

1c. A news story in the Times is worth noting as well.

Points of interest here are:

  1. The common “anti-immigrant” themes of neo-fascist parties, from “Team Trump” to the Polish fascists above figure prominently in CasaPound ideology.
  2. The ravages of austerity are among the chief causes of the evident, and very real distress being experienced by working people in distressed economies like Italy. Organizations like CasaPound offer them hope and, in some cases at least, apposite assistance in that regard.
  3. There are direct ideological links to the fascism of the World War II and pre-war periods, as is the case with the 1930s-era National Democratic Party of Poland.
  4. Focus on “neo-fascist” parties like CasaPound eclipses the institutionalized fascism evidenced in the dominant, long-standing operations of the Propaganda Due network in Italian government and society. Headed by Mussolini backer Licio Gelli, P-2 wielded decisive influence in Italy for decades, and was prominent in political developments around the globe. P-2’s sphere of influence stretched from George H.W. Bush and Ronald Reagan, to the Vatican to dominant elements in the postwar Italian economic and national security strata.

“In Italy, a Neo-Fascist Party’s Small Win Creates Big Unease” by Jason Horowitz; The New York Times; 11/17/2017.

When a candidate for a neo-fascist party, CasaPound, won a seat this month on the municipal council of the Roman suburb of Ostia, many Italians were startled

But they really took notice days later when a television reporter arrived to interview a CasaPound supporter — a supporter who happened to belong to one of the area’s most feared crime families — and received a vicious, nationally broadcast head butt that broke his nose.

Last week, Italian journalists trekked to Ostia to solemnly protest at the scene of the assault. Around the corner, residents were still celebrating, shrugging off the party’s claims to be the direct descendant of Benito Mussolini’s Fascist Party.

“Look at what I’ll show you,” said one, Gianluca Antonucci, as he unzipped his jacket to reveal a black shirt featuring Mussolini’s granite face. “Il Duce.” For a while, this country seemed an outlier as nationalist and xenophobic forces made gains across Europe. But now some fear that Italy, the birthplace of fascism, is catching up with its neighbors.

This month, thousands of Poles chanted “White Europe” during Independence Day marches, and the Freedom Party, founded by ex-Nazis, is in negotiations to join a coalition government in Austria. In Germany, the far-right Alternative for Germany now sits in the Bundestag.

“In every state we want nationalist forces to win,” said Luca Marsella, CasaPound’s newly elected council member, who won 9 percent of the vote. “If this happens in other cities, we’ll have a chance to go into Parliament to defend our nation.” That is a long, long way off.

The party, named after the American poet Ezra Pound, who supported Mussolini, is still statistically irrelevant on the national level. But CasaPound is winning seats in a handful of towns, and some of its core beliefs — a fondness for Russia and sharp opposition to the European Union, globalization and immigration, which it believes sully the national identity and economy — are increasingly spreading throughout Italy.

In Sicily, the new headquarters of Brothers of Italy, a descendant of the post-fascist Italian Social Movement, had the phrase “Italians first” written on the wall during its recent inauguration. Anti-immigration sentiment has grown so popular that the once-secessionist Northern League has dropped the word “Northern’” from its name as it looks for inroads to the south.

The anti-establishment Five Star Movement, while ideologically amorphous, has charismatic firebrand leaders who take the stage to the chanting of their nicknames and then rile up crowds with a message of resentment.

All of this makes CasaPound’s leaders hopeful that Italy is newly fertile ground for fascism. The Italian Constitution bans “the reorganization in any form of the dissolved Fascist Party.”

But CasaPound and other neo-fascist movements have skirted the law by calling themselves the descendants of Mussolini. They insist that they believe in democracy and not a fascist dictatorship.

CasaPound began 14 years ago as a sort of fascist version of the populist Rent Is Too Damn High Party in New York. It now has thousands of chapters around the country. “We are a young and clean political force,” said Simone Di Stefano, the party’s vice president, as he stood under posters of Mussolini in its Roman headquarters.

The building, which sits incongruously in the heart of an immigrant neighborhood in central Rome, has served as the party’s home since its leader, Gianluca Iannone, a tattooed and extravagantly bearded member of a right-wing punk band, led followers to occupy the apartments.

On a recent afternoon, children of the roughly 20 families now residing there ran in its entryway, brightly decorated with the names of the movement’s heroes, including Julius Caesar, Mussolini and the right-wing philosopher Julius Evola.

Of course, there was also Pound, who ranted against Jews on Italian radio and was imprisoned for treason during the war. (The daughter of the poet has tried to make the party change its name.) Members with black boots, tattooed necks and shorn hair guard floors decorated with pictures of Fascist-era marches and banners reading “Arm Your Soul.”

CasaPound has a more secular and socially tolerant approach than its hard-right cousin Forza Nuova, which Italy’s interior minister, Marco Minniti, banned from reenacting Mussolini’s “March on Rome” last month. But its members exhibit the same fondness for Roman salutes and mythic glory days.

CasaPound’s leaders shrug off Mussolini’s racial laws and alliance with Hitler with a nobody’s-perfect nonchalance. They instead prefer to focus on Fascism’s role in Italian modernization and military might. “That spirit of the nation bloomed in this country during those years,” Mr. Di Stefano said. “And I would like to bring that feeling back today.”

That is especially so in Ostia, a suburb of 230,000, home to joblessness, resentment toward immigrants, and an organized crime problem so insidious that the police disbanded the local government two years ago. The journalist who was head-butted was trying to interview a member of a powerful local clan called the Spadas, which had thrown its support behind CasaPound.

“I voted for CasaPound, and I’m proud of it,” said Marina Luglu, as she walked out of Bar Music, owned by the head-butter, Roberto Spada, whom she admiringly called “Mr. Roberto.” Voters here rewarded the party for its engagement with their rundown housing projects. CasaPound provided a food bank to hundreds of families, sent handymen to fix elevators and lawyers to locals in need.

Viviana Prudenzi, a 34-year-old house cleaner walking down a seaside street with her mother, said she voted for CasaPound because its members were “the only ones who are here helping — helping the Italians.” “They call them fascists because they think of Italians and not the foreigners,” she said.

This summer, Mr. Marsella, the CasaPound candidate, led a beach patrol of party members in red vests. They forced unlicensed and immigrant vendors, some visibly terrified, off the beach. Leftist activists have accused them of beatings. For recreation, party members whip each other with belts in mosh pits. “We don’t recognize violence as a political tool, but if we are attacked, we respond,” said Mr. Marsella, a soft-spoken 32-year-old I.T. consultant. Asked whether he had prevailed in his clashes with leftist activists, he cracked a smile. “Oh, yeah.”

Over the summer, Mr. Marsella and other members of CasaPound clashed with the riot police in Rome as they protested a proposal to grant citizenship to the Italian-born children of immigrants.

“We wanted the Senate to feel besieged,” Mr. Di Stefano said at the time. A video he posted of the clashes on his Facebook page received more than 300,000 likes. That history of violence did not bother a group of women gathered in front of one of the Spada family’s gyms.

They hailed the CasaPound activists as “goodfellas.” When the Rev. Franco De Donno, a priest known for his works against the Mafia and on behalf of immigrants, walked by, they cursed him as “disgusting” for taking a leave of absence from his sacramental duties to run for office.

They nearly attacked a woman who urged them to acknowledge the drugs and violence that riddled their neighborhood. Five Carabinieri patrol cars came to her aid. Father De Donno, who also earned a seat in the municipal government, said one of his supporters had been beaten by members of CasaPound, including Mr. Marsella.

(Mr. Marsella denied this.) “I hope that entering in the institution, Luca Marsella limits his recourse to violent methods,” the priest said. On Sunday, amid an increased police presence, residents will vote in a runoff to decide who will become council president. Giuliana Di Pillo, the leading candidate of the Five Star Movement, acknowledged that CasaPound had siphoned support from her and her center-right opponent. She admitted to some trepidation about serving with a fascist. “Certainly, it worries me,” she said

2a. Next, we journey to Ukraine, to take in the latest piece of WWII history that Volodomyr Viatrovych and Ukraine’s Institute of National Memory are crafting: In order to characterize the UPA as multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, and democratic, Viatrovych appears to have concocted a complete fantasy version of history around Leiba-Itsko Iosifovich Dobrovskii, a Jew who worked with the UPA.

This fantasy version of Dobrovskii as a willing and eager UPA member was started in 2006 when that Viatrovych wrote about him in a book, allegedly based on his arrest file of the Security Service. But as the following article notes, that file isn’t exclusively available to Viatrovych. And, of course, when the following author decided to look into those files for himself he found that Dobrovskii hated the UPA, was basically forced to work with them, and the only reason they didn’t persecute him for being a Jew was because he was hiding his Jewish background the entire time:

“Ukraine’s Invented a ‘Jewish-Ukrainian Nationalist’ to Whitewash Its Nazi-era Past” by Jared McBride; Haaretz; 11/09/2017

Myth-making efforts by the Ukraine to glorify the WWII role of one ‘archetypal’ Jew, Leiba Dubrovskii, is part of Kyiv’s war on memory: its eager attempts to erase anti-Semitism, brutality and complicity with the Nazis from its wartime history

For a practical lesson in nationalism that whitewashes an inconvenient past, including ties to the Nazis, racism, anti-Semitism, involvement in the Holocaust, ethnic cleansing and other violence against a country’s own citizens – look no further than Ukraine.

The Ukrainian Institute of National Memory (UINP) and its patrons in the Poroshenko government in Kyiv are allowing us to study the process of nationalist myth-making in real-time.

President Poroshenko has enabled nationalist activists like Volodymyr Viatrovych, head of the Institute, to sculpt Ukraine’s history and memory policies. Part and parcel of the Institute’s “decommunization” campaign to remove remnants of a Soviet past simultaneously has been to lionize 20th century Ukrainians who fought for Ukraine’s independence no matter how problematic their problematic.

In particular, the Viatrovych and the Institute have made whitewashing the image of World War Two Ukrainian nationalists a priority, not a small feat considering their documented ties to, and complicity with, the Nazis.

This nationalist revisionism seeks to show that the main wartime nationalist organizations, the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) and its military wing, the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA), were ultimately multi-ethnic, “multi-cultural,” and democratic.

Unsurprisingly, the nationalists’ relationship with Ukraine’s Jews has proved the biggest challenge to this reinvention of Holocaust co-perpetrators and ethnic cleansers as tolerant internationalists.

Its promoters have recently doubled down on these efforts, spurred on by the annual ‘Defenders of Ukraine’ holiday, celebrating a fictitious foundation date of the nationalists’ army, the UPA.

The Poroshenko government circulated instructions on the eve of the holiday, emphasizing the need to “provide citizens with objective information.” But a historical addendum prepared by the Ukrainian Institute of National Memory does the opposite by claiming that: “Jews and Belarusians also fought in the ranks” of the UPA and that “many Jews” joined them voluntarily to prove themselves “as serious fighters and doctors.”

Much Ukrainian media ink has been spilled in recent years glorifying the role of one Jew, who served with the nationalists. His story encapsulates Ukraine’s war on memory, and its eager attempts to write out anti-Semitism from its wartime history.

Leiba-Itsko Iosifovich Dobrovskii has been touted as a Ukrainian nationalist who also happened to be Jewish. That was to make the point that Ukrainian nationalism and Jewishness were not mutually exclusive. These days, we’d call the re-engineering of facts about Dobrovskii a fake news story. But it is instructive to trace its origins.

The legend of Leiba Dobrovskii, Ukrainian nationalist Jew, originated not in World War Two but the mid-2000s, when he was first briefly mentioned in a book in 2006 by historian and activist Volodymyr Viatrovych.

Viatrovych made reference to a “Jew” in the UPA, who helped write leaflets for the UPA in 1942 and 1943 and eventually was arrested by the Soviets. In 2008 the Dobrovskii legend grew, thanks to the exhibition “Jews in the Ukrainian Liberation Movement,” staged by the Ukrainian Security Service and the Institute for National Memory with the assistance of Viatrovych. Drawing on Dobrovskii’s arrest file in the archives of the Security Service, the exhibition highlighted his line-up picture and alleged role in the UPA, while notably offering no more details.

At this point, the myth of Jews happily serving with Ukrainian nationalists in WW2 began to be reported in prestigious outlets like BBC Ukraine.

After the Maidan revolution of 2014, and Viatrovych’s further rise within the Ukrainian government, the Dobrovskii legend flourished. In 2015, at the prominent Kyiv-Mohyla University, Viatrovych gave a lecture presenting Dobrovskii as the archetypal “Ukrainian Jew” in the UPA. Another exhibition this past May again used Dobrovskii in the same vein. Even the largest Holocaust Museum in Ukraine, located in Dnipro, highlights Dobrovskii as a Jew “in the OUN-UPA.” 

With this October’s holiday, his photo and brief story has appeared frequently in local publications, including at the Western funded Radio Svoboda operated by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), which also promotes the myth of a Nationalist International. Dobrovskii’s name and picture have become symbols of the alleged tolerance and multi-culturalism of Ukrainian World War Two nationalism.

However, when I actually read Dobrovskii’s file, the legend of the Jew eager to join the Ukrainian nationalists quickly evaporated.

Dobrovskii grew up in the Kyiv region, finished law school, and was a Communist party member from 1929. As a Red Army soldier, he was captured in 1941 and changed his name to Leonid Dubrovskii to appear Ukrainian.

In this guise, he got out of captivity and went to north-western Ukraine, where he accidently met local Ukrainian nationalists connected to the local collaborationist police and administration, including the local mayor and later UPA member, Mykola Kryzhanovskii. Noteworthy is that Kryzhanovskii was well-known for his brutality towards Jews. Not suspecting that Dobrovskii was Jewish and appreciating his education, the nationalists recruited him to produce propaganda.

In contrast to the shiny new nationalist legend, Dobrovskii actually concealed his Jewishness to his nationalist ‘compatriots’ and was no enthusiastic supporter of Ukrainian nationalism. In fact, he was scared that they would find out who he really was.

When asked in his interrogation about the relationship between Jews and the nationalists in general, Dobrovskii noted that “Jews could not formally” join the Ukrainian nationalists. He feared nationalist retribution against his wife and child. Dobrovskii also tried to feign sickness to avoid working for the nationalists and on numerous occasions tried to avoid contact, but was pressured to continue his service. On multiple occasions, soldiers came to his home to bring him to meetings.

Dobrovskii had well-founded reasons for his reluctance and fear. He felt that Ukraine’s nationalists, who deliberately helped staff local police forces under the German Nazi forces, were complicit in the genocide of the Jews.

In 1943, he noted, nationalist detachments “carried out the mass murder of the Polish population” in western Ukraine. He described the radicalizing influence of West Ukrainian nationalists on Ukrainian youth and observed that they spread “enmity toward Jews, Russians and Poles.” He also observed nationalist violence and “terror” against Ukrainians, including the murder of two church leaders by UPA.

He did not even believe in the nationalist claims that they were fighting the Germans, remarking that they “did not kill a single local German [Nazi] leader in the area” of Volhynia.

We might ask: Did Viatrovych and his supporters think that no one would ever read Dobrovskii’s arrest file? Did they themselves read the entire file? Did they arbitrarily choose to dismiss all evidence of his fear of the nationalists, and of their brutality, as ‘Soviet distortions’?

In that case, one would think they would at least mention and address a source that massively contradicts the myth they’ve have been embellishing and spreading. Archives are not buffets from which nationalist public relations activists can choose the most appealing morsels. Instead, research requires contextualization, not to mention cross-checking.

Sadly, we know this is not the first time that nationalist activists have spread a fake narrative about Jews and nationalists, as in the case of Stella Krentsbakh/Kreutzbach, a fictitious Jewess who, according to her ‘autobiography’, forged by a nationalist propagandist in the 1950s, thanked “God and the Ukrainian Insurgent Army” for having survived the war and the Holocaust.

Similarly, how is it that for almost a decade now Ukrainian media and parts of academia have simply trusted the statements of highly – and transparently – motivated nationalist activists without bothering to check their story? The archives are open, after all. Are Ukrainian media and western outlets like Radio Svoboda incapable or unwilling to check information provided by a Ukrainian government body officially dedicated to the Ukrainian historical record?

In a post-Maidan landscape where an independent media and academy are vital to the integrity of Ukrainian democracy and its integration in Europe, this case should force some reassessment of the degree to which Ukraine’s public can access facts and not propaganda.

Shocking as this case may be, Ukraine is hardly alone in its efforts to whitewash its past and elevate controversial nationalist leaders. Throughout Eastern Europe, be it in Hungary, Poland, or Lithuania, the struggle to deal with a difficult, often anti-Semitic past in an honest, productive manner in an uncertain present looms large for the future of the region.

3b. In numerous broadcasts, we have noted the Orwellian rewrite of Ukrainian history to deny the perpetrators of the Holocaust in that country and whitewash the Nazi-allied OUN/B and UPA.

A recent article in Foreign Policy (published by the CFR and consequently VERY mainstream), further develops the activities of Volodymyr Viatrovych, appointed as head of the Institute of National memory by Viktor Yuschenko and then re-appointed by Petro Petroshenko.

After the Yushcneko government left power and prior to the Maidan coup, Viatrovych was in the U.S., working as a fellow at Harvard University’s Ukrainian Research Institute. This is in line with the fundamental role of the OUN/B-based American emigre community in the generation of the Orange Revolution and the Maidan coup.

. . . . During this period Viatrovych spent time in North America on a series of lecture tours, as well as a short sojourn as a research fellow at the Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute (HURI). He also continued his academic activism, writing books and articles promoting the heroic narrative of the OUN-UPA. In 2013 he tried to crash and disrupt a workshop on Ukrainian and Russian nationalism taking place at the Harriman Institute at Columbia. When the Maidan Revolution swept Yanukovych out of power in February 2014, Viatrovych returned to prominence. . . .

Recall that Yuschenko married the former Ykaterina Chumachenko–Reagan’s Deputy Director of Public Liaison and a key operative of the OUN/B’s American front organiztion the U.C.C.A.–and had Roman Zvarych (Jaroslav Stetsko’s personal secretary in the early 1980’s) as his Minister of Justice.

Note, also, that Serhiy Kvit, the Ukrainian Minister of Education is a bird of the same feather as Viatrovych.  . . . . Last June, Kvit’s Ministry of Education issued a directive to teachers regarding the ‘necessity to accentuate the patriotism and morality of the activists of the liberation movement,’ including depicting the UPA as a ‘symbol of patriotism and sacrificial spirit in the struggle for an independent Ukraine” and Bandera as an ‘outstanding representative’ of the Ukrainian people. . . .’ ”

The measure of the revisionism underway in Ukraine can be gauged by this: “. . . . UPA supreme commander Dmytro Kliachkivs’kyi explicitly stated: ‘We should carry out a large-scale liquidation action against Polish elements. During the evacuation of the German Army, we should find an appropriate moment to liquidate the entire male population between 16 and 60 years old.’ Given that over 70 percent of the leading UPA cadres possessed a background as Nazi collaborators, none of this is surprising. . . .”

It is depressing and remarkable to see such elements being portrayed as “heroic!”

“The Historian Whitewashing Ukraine’s Past” by Josh Cohen; Foreign Policy; 5/02/2016.

. . . . Advocating a nationalist, revisionist history that glorifies the country’s move to independence — and purges bloody and opportunistic chapters — [Volodymyr] Viatrovych has attempted to redraft the country’s modern history to whitewash Ukrainian nationalist groups’ involvement in the Holocaust and mass ethnic cleansing of Poles during World War II. And right now, he’s winning. . . .

. . . . In May 2015, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko signed a law that mandated the transfer of the country’s complete set of archives, from the “Soviet organs of repression,” such as the KGB and its decedent, the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), to a government organization called the Ukrainian Institute of National Memory. . . .

. . . . The controversy centers on a telling of World War II history that amplifies Soviet crimes and glorifies Ukrainian nationalist fighters while dismissing the vital part they played in ethnic cleansing of Poles and Jews from 1941 to 1945 after the Nazi invasion of the former Soviet Union. . . .

. . . . And more pointedly, scholars now fear that they risk reprisal for not toeing the official line — or calling Viatrovych on his historical distortions. Under Viatrovych’s reign, the country could be headed for a new, and frightening, era of censorship. . . .

. . . . The revisionism focuses on two Ukrainian nationalist groups: the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) and the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA), which fought to establish an independent Ukraine. During the war, these groups killed tens of thousands of Jews and carried out a brutal campaign of ethnic cleansing that killed as many as 100,000 Poles. Created in 1929 to free Ukraine from Soviet control, the OUN embraced the notion of an ethnically pure Ukrainian nation. When the Nazis invaded the Soviet Union in 1941, the OUN and its charismatic leader, Stepan Bandera, welcomed the invasion as a step toward Ukrainian independence. [This is modified limited hangout. The OUN/B was part of the Third Reich’s political and military order of battle.–D.E.] Its members carried out a pogrom in Lviv that killed 5,000 Jews, and OUN militias played a major role in violence against the Jewish population in western Ukraine that claimed the lives of up to 35,000 Jews. . . . [A street in the Lviv district has been renamed in honor of the Einsatzgruppe Nachtigall or Nachtigall Battalion, commanded by Roman Shukhevych (named a “Hero of Ukraine” and the father of Yuri Shukhevych, a top architect of the current Ukrainian political landscape.)–D.E.]

. . . . The new law, which promises that people who “publicly exhibit a disrespectful attitude” toward these groups or “deny the legitimacy” of Ukraine’s 20th century struggle for independence will be prosecuted (though no punishment is specified) also means that independent Ukraine is being partially built on a falsified narrative of the Holocaust.

By transferring control of the nation’s archives to Viatrovych, Ukraine’s nationalists assured themselves that management of the nation’s historical memory is now in the “correct” hands. . . .

. . . . In 2008, in addition to his role at TsDVR, Viktor Yushchenko, then president, appointed Viatrovych head of the Security Service of Ukraine’s (SBU) archives. Yuschenko made the promotion of OUN-UPA mythology a fundamental part of his legacy, rewriting school textbooks, renaming streets, and honoring OUN-UPA leaders as “heroes of Ukraine.” As Yuschenko’s leading memory manager — both at TsDVR and the SBU — Viatrovych was his right-hand man in this crusade. He continued to push the state-sponsored heroic representation of the OUN-UPA and their leaders Bandera, Yaroslav Stetsko, and Roman Shukhevych. . . .

. . . . After Viktor Yanukovych was elected president in 2010, Viatrovych faded from view. . . . During this period Viatrovych spent time in North America on a series of lecture tours, as well as a short sojourn as a research fellow at the Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute (HURI). He also continued his academic activism, writing books and articles promoting the heroic narrative of the OUN-UPA. In 2013 he tried to crash and disrupt a workshop on Ukrainian and Russian nationalism taking place at the Harriman Institute at Columbia. When the Maidan Revolution swept Yanukovych out of power in February 2014, Viatrovych returned to prominence. . . .

. . . . The new president, Poroshenko, appointed Viatrovych to head the Ukrainian Institute of National Memory — a prestigious appointment for a relatively young scholar. . . .

. . . . To that effect, Viatrovych has dismissed historical events not comporting with this narrative as “Soviet propaganda.” [This is true of information presented by anyone that tells the truth about the OUN/B heirs now in power in Ukraine–they are dismissed as “Russian dupes” or “tools of the Kremlin” etc.–D.E.] In his 2006 book, The OUN’s Position Towards the Jews: Formulation of a position against the backdrop of a catastrophe, he attempted to exonerate the OUN from its collaboration in the Holocaust by ignoring the overwhelming mass of historical literature. The book was widely panned by Western historians. University of Alberta professor John-Paul Himka, one of the leading scholars of Ukrainian history for three decades, described it as “employing a series of dubious procedures: rejecting sources that compromise the OUN, accepting uncritically censored sources emanating from émigré OUN circles, failing to recognize anti-Semitism in OUN texts.” . . . . Even more worrisome for the future integrity of Ukraine’s archives under Viatrovych is his notoriety among Western historians for his willingness to allegedly ignore or even falsify historical documents. “Scholars on his staff publish document collections that are falsified,” said Jeffrey Burds, a professor of Russian and Soviet history at Northeastern University.“ I know this because I have seen the originals, made copies, and have compared their transcriptions to the originals.” . . .

. . . . Seventy historians signed an open letter to Poroshenko asking him to veto the draft law that bans criticism of the OUN-UPA. . . .

. . . . After the open letter was published, the legislation’s sponsor, Yuri Shukhevych, reacted furiously. Shukhevych, the son of UPA leader Roman Shukhevych and a longtime far-right political activist himself, fired off a letter to Minister of Education Serhiy Kvit claiming, “Russian special services” produced the letter and demanded that “patriotic” historians rebuff it. Kvit, also a longtime far-right activist and author of an admiring biography one of the key theoreticians of Ukrainian ethnic nationalism, in turn ominously highlighted the signatories of Ukrainian historians on his copy of the letter. . . .

. . . . UPA supreme commander Dmytro Kliachkivs’kyi explicitly stated: “We should carry out a large-scale liquidation action against Polish elements. During the evacuation of the German Army, we should find an appropriate moment to liquidate the entire male population between 16 and 60 years old.” Given that over 70 percent of the leading UPA cadres possessed a background as Nazi collaborators, none of this is surprising. . . .

 . . . . Last June, Kvit’s Ministry of Education issued a directive to teachers regarding the “necessity to accentuate the patriotism and morality of the activists of the liberation movement,” including depicting the UPA as a “symbol of patriotism and sacrificial spirit in the struggle for an independent Ukraine” and Bandera as an “outstanding representative” of the Ukrainian people.” More recently, Viatrovych’s Ukrainian Institute of National Memory proposed that the city of Kiev rename two streets after Bandera and the former supreme commander of both the UPA and the Nazi-supervised Schutzmannschaft Roman Shukhevych. . . .

8a. June 30th has been established as a commemorative celebration in Lvov [Lviv]. It was on June 30, 1941, when the OUN-B announced an independent Ukrainian state in the city of Lviv. That same day marked the start of the Lviv Pograms that led to the death of thousands of Jews.

The holiday celebrates Roman Shukhevych, commander of the Nachtigall Battalion that carried out the mass killings. The city of Lviv is starting “Shukhevychfest” to be held in Lviv on June 30th, commemorating the pogrom. Shukhevych’s birthday. Shukhevych was named a “Hero of the Ukraine” by Viktor Yuschenko.

In past posts and programs, we have discussed Volodomir Vyatrovich, head of the Orwellian Institute of National Remembrance. He defended Shukhevych and the public displaying of the symbol of the Galician Division (14th Waffen SS Division.)

Lvov Pogrom, 1941--Einsatzgruppe Nachtigall youth in action.

Lvov Pogrom, 1941–Einsatzgruppe Nachtigall in action, 6/30/1941.

“Ukraine City to Hold Festival in Honor of Nazi Collaborator Whose Troops Killed Jews”; Jewish Telegraph Agency; 06/28/2017

The Ukrainian city of Lviv will hold a festival celebrating a Nazi collaborator on the anniversary of a major pogrom against the city’s Jews. (Photos to the right depict some of the excesses of the unit, an exemplary tactic that came to be known as “street humiliations.” Do you believe the women?)

Shukhevychfest, an event named for Roman Shukhevych featuring music and theater shows, will be held Friday.

Eduard Dolinsky, the director of the Ukrainian Jewish Committee, in a statement called the event “disgraceful.”

On June 30, 1941, Ukrainian troops, including militiamen loyal to Shukhevych’s, began a series of pogroms against Jews, which they perpetrated under the auspices of the German army, according to Yale University history professor Timothy Snyder and other scholars. They murdered approximately 6,000 Jews in those pogroms.

The day of the festival is the 110th birthday of Shukhevych, a leader of the OUN-B nationalist group and later of the UPA insurgency militia, which collaborated with the Nazis against the Soviet Union before it turned against the Nazis.

Roman Shukhevych’s Einsatzgruppe Nachtigall (Nachtigall Battalion) in action in Lvov in 1941. The cadre was part of the UPA.

Shukhevychfest is part of a series of gestures honoring nationalists in Ukraine following the 2014 revolution, in which nationalists played a leading role. They brought down the government of President Viktor Yanukovuch, whose critics said was a corrupt Russian stooge.

On June 13, a Kiev administrative court partially upheld a motion by parties opposed to the veneration of Shukhevych in the city and suspended the renaming of a street after Shukhevych. The city council approved the renaming earlier this month.

In a related debate, the director of Ukraine’s Institute of National Remembrance, Vladimir Vyatrovich,, who recently described Shukhevych as an “eminent personality,” last month defended the displaying in public of the symbol of the Galician SS division. Responsible for countless murders of Jews, Nazi Germany’s most elite unit was comprised of Ukrainian volunteers.

Displaying Nazi symbols is illegal in Ukraine but the Galician SS division’s symbol is “in accordance with the current legislation of Ukraine,” Vyatrovich said. . . .

8b. The Nightingale (Nachtigall) Battalion was known to this writer, originally, as the Einsatzgruppe Nachtigall–it was an SS extermination unit, headed by an very important SS officer (and former German cabinet minister) named Theodor Oberlander.

A member of Charles Willoughby’s International Committee for the Defense of Christian Culture, Oberlaender was a chief architect of the Third Reich’s use of dissident Soviet ethnic minority groups as combatant elements during World War II and in the Cold War period.

(In the Tetens text, Oberlander’s last name is spelled with an “e”–“Oberlaender.” We have seen both spellings and readers conducting internet searches should use both in their efforts.)

The New Germany and the Old Nazis by T.H. Tetens; Random House [HC]; Copyright 1961 by T.H. Tetens; p. 52; pp. 191-192.

. . . . In 1959 Oberlaender was the center of a storm that finally forced his resignation in May 1960. He was blamed for the mass murder of thousands of Jews and Polish intellectuals who had been liquidated in July 1941 when a special SS task force under his command occupied the Polish city of Lemberg (Lvov). . . .

. . . . As briefly mentioned in a previous chapter, Minister Oberlaender is accused of having been involved in the so-called “Lemberg massacre,” in which several thousand Poles and more than 5,000 Jews were slaughtered. Dr. Oberlaender does not deny a] that he was the commanding officer of a special SS task force, the Nightingale Battalion, made up of nationalist Ukrainians; and b] that this battalion was the first German unit to move into the Polish city of Lemberg on June 29, 1941, where it remained for six or seven days. Dr. OberIaender does deny that his troops committed any atrocities in Lemberg. He has said that during his stay in that city “not a shot was fired.”

This is not even accepted by his CDU party colleagues; they believe only that Oberlaender himself took no part in the massacre. Although formal complaints were launched against the Refugee Minister, and although witnesses in West Germany, in Israel, and in Poland were willing to testify, the German authorities delayed as long as possible before considering official court action. 2 In the Bundestag debate of December 10, 1959, a government spokesman declared: “Dr. Oberlaender has the full confidence of the Adenauer cabinet.” . . . .

8c. Ukraine decided to formally honor Symon Petliura, whose troops killed tens of thousands of Jewish civilians in pogroms following WWI, with a statue not far from a synagogue. Ukrainian Jews are raising their voices in protest.

Those Jewish dissidents have been overtly threatened by a regional official of the Svoboda Party, one of the OUN/B-redux elements prominent in the Ukrainian political pantheon. In FTR #779, we noted that Svoboda was networking with Roberto Fiore’s Forza Nuova.

“Regional Leader of Ukraine’s Svoboda Party Threatens Jews who Disagree with a Public Monument for Pogrom-meister Petliura”; Defending History; 10/23/2017

UKRAINE | ANTISEMITISM | FREE SPEECH | GLORIFICATION OF CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY

As reported last week, in connection with a protest from the World Jewish Congress, authorities in Ukraine recently inaugurated a statue to Symon Petliura in the city of Vinnitsa. Petliura (1879—1926) was a Ukrainian whose troops killed tens of thousands of Jewish civilians in a devastating series of pogroms in Ukraine during the Russian Revolution and the civil war that followed it.

Not surprisingly, quite a few Ukrainian Jews objected to the Petliura statue, especially as it was erected within a short distance of a still functioning Jewish synagogue. While it seems perfectly reasonable that many Jews might have an issue with a statue to Petliura, not everyone appreciated Ukrainian Jews’ expressing their objections.

In a Facebook rant, a regional leader of the extremist Svoboda party, whose leader was once photographed making the Nazi salute, issued a bloodcurdling Facebook threat to Ukraine’s Jews, telling them to fall in line or face the consequences. Below is the Svoboda leader’s post in English translation with our comments, followed by a screen-shot of the original. Jewish activists plan to complain to the police, but given recent precedent it is considered doubtful that any serious action will be taken.

Translation of the Svoboda post with commentary added in square brackets [ ]:

Again, these people are interfering with our country!!! “Peacefully coexisted” — Is that when they organized the Holodomor?!!! [the charge that “the Jews” caused the early 1930s Holodomor famine in Ukraine is a recurring antisemitic trope in Ukraine]. And now Israel won’t acknowledge the massive killing of Ukrainians [in the Holodomor] as genocide!???

“The only time we comfortably coexisted with kikes is in Kolivshina [an 18th century pogrom in which Ukrainians butchered Jews — he is saying that this massacre was the only time Ukrainians and Jews coexisted happily].

“I hope Ukrainians will remember who is in charge of their land, and put all minorities in their place!!! Do not tell us how to live and to whom to put up monuments in our land. Do not tell us which language to speak and in which language to educate our children!!! We are Ukrainians! That’s all you need to know — you are guests. If you want to live next to us, then get used to our rules; if not, go to your places [go to other nations], or else you’ll be punished.

[see screenshot of Facebook post]

9. October 14th is now an official holiday in Ukraine, celebrating the founding of the UPA.

“Nationalists Mark 75th Anniversary Of Ukrainian Insurgent Army”; Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty; 10/14/20

Thousands of Ukrainian nationalists have marched through the capital, Kyiv, to mark the 75th anniversary of the creation of the controversial Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA).

March organizers said as many as 20,000 people participated in the October 14 march, which was supported by the right-wing Freedom, Right Sector, and National Corp political parties.

Some 5,000 police were on hand to keep order. Journalists reported seeing some marchers giving Nazi salutes.

Since 2015, the October 14 anniversary has been marked as the Defender of Ukraine Day public holiday.

The UPA was founded in western Ukraine during the Nazi occupation of the country in World War II and fought against both the Nazis and the Soviet Red Army. Its fighters carried out vicious acts of ethnic cleansing in which tens of thousands of ethnic Poles in the region were killed. . . .

10a.  Next, we return to the subject of the Lithuanian Riflemen, who are engaging with maneuvers with similar organizations from Latvia and Lithuania.

“Baltic Minutemen Fight Russian Foe” by Jonathan Brown; Politico.EU; 12/06/2016

Peering past the black tarps covering the windows of the barricaded house, the men in camouflage could see daylight gradually illuminate the fresh snow.

For two days, speakers outside the barricaded buildings had blasted Soviet-era jingles: “Put down your guns! Your leaders have forgotten you! While you stand here and freeze, other men are having fun with your women!”

The separatists holed up in their headquarters had been getting defenses ready for the daybreak assault, noisily loading blanks into the magazines of their semi-automatic weapons and assembling dud IEDs.

In this joint training exercise with the country’s military, the Lithuanian Riflemen played the role of separatists declaring a breakaway republic, much like the Moscow-backed rebels did in eastern Ukraine in 2014 — a scenario some fear may be replicated here.

Indeed, since Russia’s annexation of Crimea two years ago and the ensuing conflict in eastern Ukraine, the Riflemen’s Union, a paramilitary group conceived almost a century ago, has seen a sharp rise in membership. The group, which boasts more than 10,000 members, aspires to rebuild its post-World War I membership of more than 80,000 in a country of 2.8 million people.

Another EU and NATO member might be unnerved by the growing popularity of a paramilitary force operating within its borders. But since Lithuania gained independence from the Soviet Union in the early nineties, the paramilitary group has fomented close ties with the military.

The Union’s code of conduct aligns it with Lithuania’s armed forces, and it has so far proven to be a fiercely loyal partner. When a Riflemen’s Union leader last year criticized the military for reinstating conscription, he became the subject of an embarrassing and public vote of no confidence.

“We have to look to the constitution of the Republic of Lithuania,” said Major Gediminas Latvys of the Joint Staff of the Armed Forces in Vilnius. “It says that the defense of the country, in the event of an armed attack, is the right and the duty of every citizen. We see the Riflemen’s Union as one organization that helps people to fulfill this duty.”

The mayor of Vilnius, a semi-celebrity member of the Riflemen’s Union, was among those to join after the “events in Ukraine.” Remigijus Simasius’ motivation for volunteering, he said at in his skyrise office in Vilnius, was “not related to the fear of whether Russia would attack, but more about the general principle of being ready and being prepared.”

“People have to contribute to their own safety,” he said. National security “is not just a function of the state.” Referencing the Soviet takeover of Lithuania in 1940, when the country’s military laid down arms, he said, “sometimes the state gives up, but that doesn’t mean society gives up.”

Mindaugas Petraitis, 34, is a translator in his civilian life — other Riflemen are tax consultants and small business owners — and says he was among the first wave of men and women to join the paramilitaries in 2014.

After witnessing Russia’s annexation of Crimea and the ensuing conflict in Ukraine, “we felt very strongly that we have to prepare while we still have time,” he said. “We rarely use the precise word for our enemy in a military setting, but inside everyone knows who the enemy is,” he added, refraining from using the word “Russia.”

Since 2014, the Lithuanian Ministry of Defense has issued a yearly manual of what to do in case of invasion. This year’s edition, with a print run of 30,000 distributed to schools and libraries around the country, unambiguously identifies what it believes to be the primary threat to Lithuania’s national security. “Most attention should be paid towards the actions of our neighboring state Russia,” the manual states. “This nation does not shy away from using armed power against its neighbors. At this time, in principle, it continues military aggression against Ukraine.”

Beyond advising citizens on how to resist an occupying power — pointers include identifying collaborators and handing them over to resistance groups — the manual encourages civilian readiness by completing basic military training or joining the Riflemen’s Union.

The rise of paramilitary groups across Eastern and Central Europe appears to be “a natural response to the confluence of two forces,” said Michael Kofman, a research scientist at the Centre for Naval Analysis and a fellow at the Wilson Center. “A general increase of nationalist sentiments across Europe and the perception of greater threat from Russia.”

Similar groups in the neighboring Baltic states of Latvia and Estonia have also seen increased membership since the annexation of Crimea, and the Lithuanian Riflemen’s Union is in the process of formalizing relationships with the youth wings of both the Latvian National Guard and Estonia Defense League.

In Central Europe, groups in Poland, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Hungary have sprung up alongside a rise in right-wing sentiment in the region and the refugee crisis in Europe.

Paramilitary groups across Eastern and Central Europe, “encompass a diverse array of organizations,” said Arthur de Liedekerke, an external analyst for the Brussels-based Global Governance Institute. “Their means, objectives and relation to the state often vary considerably.”

Paramilitary “will challenge government authority on the margins and must be carefully trimmed in power,” said Kofman. “Playing with nationalism is like holding a tiger by the tail.”

The Union’s leadership encourages members to arm themselves with handguns, specifically Glock 17s, which current Lithuanian gun laws allows. Riflemen can purchase the pistols at a discount and store them in safes at home.

But “what can you do with a pistol?” asked a Rifleman (jokingly) who was previously a sniper in the police special forces. “Shoot your way to a rifle,” he added, delivering his own punchline.

Lithuania’s already liberal gun ownership laws are set to be relaxed further. By January, members of the Riflemen’s Union will be encouraged to purchase semi-automatic rifles under new laws that allow gun possession for the express purpose of “country defense.”

“I think deterrence is the primary aim of any country’s defense system — to deter, not to fight,” said Liudas Gumbinas, commander of the Riflemen’s Union, whose salary is paid by the Ministry of Defense.

Along with the Riflemen’s strategic alliances with the armed forces, its decision to invite members to arm themselves with semi-automatic weapons, Gumbinas said, is part of strengthening that deterrent, a policy he said is akin to “not just shouting, but actually doing something.”

But he is quick to point out that the Union is more than a gun toting boy’s club. With nearly half of the Riflemen’s Union members under the age of 18, the Union’s free summer youth camps, which he likens to the Scouts, familiarize thousands of Lithuania’s youth with military values and structures.

“We are building the youth to become good citizens,” Gumbinas said of the camps, which take place at military facilities and aim to develop children’s “leadership skills, nature survival skills, self-confidence, but all under a military framework.”

Kofman said that governments should always be concerned by the rise of paramilitary organizations, especially since such groups often rise in response to a threat. “But the threat in most cases never materializes [and so] they look to occupy themselves. Some transition into politics and form far-right parties, others may choose to serve as muscle for criminal elements.”

The Riflemen’s Union has been an integral part of Neimantas Psilenskis’ life since he joined 10 years ago. When the 24-year-old descended the steps of the Garrison church in Kaunas, arm in arm with his new wife last month, the Union’s Honorary Guard saluted the young couple in full regalia and World War II-era bayoneted rifles.

Psilenskis, a part-time employee of the Riflemen’s Union and part-time construction worker, said his sense of patriotism and loyalty towards the Union was nourished as a young member.

“I’m a patriot,” Psilenskis said. “No one would need to ask me if I would defend my homeland. Just give me a gun. You don’t need to ask. Maybe the fact that I came to the Riflemen’s Union at a young age formed these instincts.”

10b. Reviewing information about the Lithuanian Riflemen’s Union, we highlight its activities as part of the Nazi military effort in the Baltic states, including participation in administering Hitler’s “Final Solution.”

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. . . .

 

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