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Rehabilitating the Historical Reputation of the SS

Dave Emory’s entire life­time of work is avail­able on a flash dri­ve that can be obtained here. [1] 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 [2].  (The pre­vi­ous flash dri­ve was cur­rent through the end of May of 2012 and con­tained FTR #748 [3].)

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Hitler and Himm­ler

COMMENT: Many lis­ten­ers and read­ers may won­der at our fre­quent ref­er­ences to the Nazi tract “Ser­pen­t’s Walk.” In that book, far more (in our opin­ion) than the “nov­el” it pur­ports to be:

“Four Baltic March­es, One Dan­ger­ous Racist Trend” by Efraim Zuroff; i24 news; 2/15/2015. [12]

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.

...

 

“Nazi Hunter: Even Putin Would Con­demn Nurem­berg-esque Parades in Esto­nia”  [14]by Dr. Efraim Zuroff; IB Times; 3/3/2015. [14]

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, IBTimes 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.

...

In Esto­nia, a coun­try in which local Nazi col­lab­o­ra­tors par­tic­i­pated in the mur­der of prac­ti­cally every sin­gle one of the 1,000 Eston­ian Jews who lived there under the Nazi occu­pa­tion, as well as of thou­sands of for­eign Jews deport­ed by the Nazis to Esto­nia, and local Jews killed by the 36th Eston­ian Secu­rity bat­tal­ion unit in Nowogru­dok, Belarus, they should know bet­ter.

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.

[13]The Waf­fen-SS as Free­dom Fight­ers” by  [13]Per Anders Rudling; The Alge­meiner [13]; 1/31/2012. [13]

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 Tageszeitungthis 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.