Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Berlin more sympathetic to Shoah memory than Jerusalem

From The Jerusalem Post, 22 Dec 2009, by Efraim Zuroff, director of Simon Wiesenthal Center [also see this previous posting of Monday, August 24, 2009 entitled Honouring the SS in Estonia]:

...during the past two years, [the new (Eastern European) members of the European Union] and especially the Baltics, have spearheaded ...[a] campaign to achieve official recognition for the canard that communist crimes were just as bad as those of the Nazis...[to minimize the role of local collaborators in Nazi crimes and instead focus attention on the atrocities perpetrated by communists, and especially the Jews among them ...designed to silence Jewish criticism of the role played by Lithuanians, Latvians, Estonians, Ukrainians, Croatians, etc. in the Holocaust, provide a justification for past and current local anti-Semitism and to switch the public's perception of the population of these countries from perpetrators of the most heinous crime to its victims.]

And if there is a country which especially deserves to be criticized harshly in this regard it is Lithuania, whose government is actively helping to finance this campaign, and where its anti-Semitic implications have reached a despicable low during the past three years.

Thus after making a mockery of the efforts to bring unprosecuted Lithuanian Nazi war criminals to justice by insuring that even those two local Security Police commanders and one operative who were prosecuted would not sit even one day in jail for their crimes, Lithuanian prosecutors launched investigations against several Jewish Soviet anti-Nazi partisans, among them Dr. Yitzhak Arad, former chairman of Yad Vashem, on bogus charges of war crimes against Lithuanians. Accompanied by hysterically anti-Semitic articles in the nationalist press, the campaign turned the victims of the Holocaust into perpetrators and the villains who assisted the Nazis in the mass murder of Jews into patriotic heroes, a distortion of the historical events much more palatable to the Lithuanian public.

If [Lithuanian Foreign Minister Vygaudas] Usackas had been invited to Jerusalem to formally announce that his government
  • was immediately stopping its communism equals Nazism campaign,
  • would henceforth commit itself to teaching the painful truth about the extensive role of Lithuanian collaborators in the mass murder of Jews in Lithuania and elsewhere in Europe,
  • would officially close all the cases against former Jewish partisans and officially apologize to them,

his invitation to the Global Forum [to Combat Anti-Semitism - in Jerusalem, last month] would certainly have been justified. But that was not the case.

IF ANYTHING, the opposite is true. On December 2, for example, Lithuanian Justice Minister Remigijus Simasius made a public statement defending Lithuania's abysmal record of extensive collaboration with the Nazis during World War II and absolving his countrymen of any blame for their role in Holocaust crimes. And instead of acknowledging Lithuanian complicity, he preferred to attack the US for its restrictive immigration policies during that period.

In fact, even Usackas himself, in a speech delivered a week prior to the forum, spoke of Lithuanian Righteous Among the Nations and Nazi collaborators as if they were equivalent phenomenon, despite the fact that the latter outnumbered the former many times over.

At the forum, the foreign minister repeated this lie, asking "how could it be that while some Lithuanians were risking their lives to save their Jewish neighbors, others were committing crimes by sending them to death?" a sanitized version of the Lithuanian reality during the Shoah in which many Lithuanians actively participated in the mass murder of Jews (and not like elsewhere in Europe, where local collaborators "merely" sent them to their deaths in Poland) and very few tried to assist them.

And while he did specify that the condemnation of Stalinism "should never be applied to diminish the moral and political lessons of the Holocaust," he did not say a word about halting the nefarious campaign his government is actively supporting to equate communism and Nazism or its practical implications as formulated in the Prague Declaration of June 2008, which calls for a joint commemoration day for the victims of the Nazis and the communists (which would make one specifically for the Shoah superfluous) and a joint research institute for totalitarian crimes (which would make institutions like Yad Vashem redundant).

To add insult to injury, after devoting most of his comments to the importance of fighting against anti-Semitism, I was told that the minister and his entire entourage left the forum immediately after his speech never to return, leaving his hosts without any justification for their unfortunate decision to give Usackas a very respectable platform to once again, in typical fashion, distort the history of the Holocaust and escape the harsh criticism that Lithuanian actions deserve.

Needless to say, there were no such problems at the Berlin [World Congress of Russian Jewry conference entitled "The Legacy of World War II and the Holocaust"], which was united in its condemnation of Holocaust distortion, especially in the Baltics and Ukraine, and which undertook to actively combat these dangerous phenomenon.

In that respect, as hard as this is to believe, this past Hanukka, Berlin was a much more sympathetic venue to discuss the threat to the accuracy of the historical record of World War II and to Holocaust memory than was Jerusalem.


Anonymous said...

It's known that some Estonians might have been involved in Nazi crimes, I have no problem with that.
I can take responsibility for them if the evidence looks legitimate. I don't want to support murderous people.
But also:
The Case of Idel Jakobson in Estonia is something that you Steve should read at least once at wikipedia.
I don't want to point guilt at anyone but these accusations thrown at him did look very bad.
Article at wikipedia fails to mention that most of his victims had nothing to do with nazi occupied Estonia and were deported to Russia before Nazis rised in Estonia.
So Idel Jakobson especially targeted people who build independent Estonia.
Also if there had not been 100 000 Estonian soldiers in German arms then what would happened to the front? It
would have crumbled, and what would have that meant to Finland? Bad news, I think. Finns probably don't like me using their
country as an example but I have to point out that at some fronts Wehrmacht helped to prevent the red terror.

Anonymous said...

My relatives never sent anyone to die in Poland, your Austrian buddies did it instead. I know my history, I don't even have nazi veterans in my family. Why do I have to read your crap about Estonians?

Steve Lieblich said...

Dear Anonymous
Are you suggesting that on-one in Latvia or Estonia collaborated with the Nazis in sending Jews to their death?

...and exactly which "crap" are you referring to?

I can see that you're offended, but perhaps if you would explain what offends you, we could have a civilised dialogue about that.

Oh, and by the way, if your "relatives never sent anyone to die in Poland..." that is commendable, and I'm very happy to publicly thank your family.

Steve Lieblich said...

My last comment is directed at "Anonymous" #2. (I saw that comment first, when moderating...)

But now to the first comment:

Dear Anonymous #1 (perhaps you are the same commentator; I don't know)

Thanks for directing attention to Idel Jakobson. When I Googled that name, I quickly found the Wikipedia entry. However Wikipedia is not an authoritative source on its own, but it can be a starting point for serious research.

Almost all the other Google entries were on anti-Semitic sites like David Duke's (, and VNN (

Another entry can be found on Baltics Worldwide at <> Their News Highlights from November 9-November 16, 1998 simply states that Idel Jakobson was suspected of crimes against humanity during the Soviet period, but he died before his case reached the courts.

But let's just assume, for the sake of the discussion, that this Jew was guilty of collaborating with Soviet war criminals. What does that signify?
Are you suggesting (as David Duke does) that all Jews were "...Behind the Genocide in the Baltic States" or (like Alex Linder of the VNN) that "Jews Created Communism to Destroy White Nations "??

...or are you suggesting that because a Jew may have collaborated with the Soviets, this justified the genocide of Jews by Estonians??

Steve Lieblich said...

Interested readers of this discussion should also see this previous posting of Monday, August 24, 2009 entitled "Honouring the SS in Estonia" at [] and the 28 comments that follow...

Steve Lieblich said...

The Baltics worldwide link is at

Anonymous said...

What is it that you want? Does it really offends you if victims of communism are being remembered on the same day in Estonia? Is it really that humiliating?
I understand that Nazism is very evil and we should spend every dime from our buget to chase down the last people who did anything. But why do really oppose the idea that Nazism and Communism can be as equally bad? For me it does not matter at all which one is more evil or if they are comparable but why do you find comparison to be dangerous for Jewish?
And some differences between Norway, Germany, Netherlands, France and Estonia:
1)None of them experienced communism before Nazi repressions. If 40 000 Estonians were deported to Russia, it was huge national shock, it was natural that after that some Estonians greeted Nazis as liberators.
2)Most of them did not have to be inner district of USSR for 50 years.
3)Communism killed economy and infrastructure in Estonia.

And now there is question who is criminal and who is not, someone who was 16 years old and helped to carry documents for SS is Nazi criminal for Simon Wiesenthal Center but someone who was governor of Estonian Ostland and declared that "Estland ist juderfrei" now on public speech is not.
You see that I have no guilt because I did not do anything to Jewish, and neither did my grandparents.

Anonymous said...

I can assure you that I have red some articles from credible resources and the things that they write about Idel Jakobson in wikipedia might be true, except for he torturing someone personally, this is something I can find no reference on. But he knew that people were tortured, I am sure of that.
So you want to say that if he would be alive today then the president of Estonia should apologize and stop investigation on him because he is Jewish?

Anonymous said...

Idel Jakobson is not very well known in Estonia, Estonian communist collaborator Arnold Meri got a lot more media coverage.
References from well known Estonian newspapers about Idel Jakobson:

Anonymous said... and life magazine).
<------ This article is not about Idel Jakobson but more about Sheele's manor and around 80 bodies found from there.

Idel Jabokson was active around Scheel's manor. He knew what was going on there. Some examples of people who were found later buried around the manor:
Oskar Luiga- hero of the war for independece(1918-1920).
Georg Radetzky University student form University of Tartu.
Julius Jüssi shopkeeper from Saaremaa.
Karl Reimal worker from Tartu.

None of these people could have collaborated with the Nazis because they died before Barbarossa.

Anonymous said...

All of these people(war hero, student, worker and shopkeeper) were killed somewhere around 1939 and 1940.

Anonymous said...

Estonian resistance member Olav Sööt remembers his meeting with Idel Jakobson in 1949:
Idel Jakobson grabbed his metal coated baton and started hitting, the man on the floor was screaming desperately but still no clues on underground resistance. His bloody and unconscious body was taken away.
This is normal in your mind?

Anonymous said...

Maybe Estonia should pay money to holocaust victims? Would that resolve? I mean German-Estonian relations got better after money was given to Baltic Germans.

Anonymous said...

I know nothing about David Duke. I am sorry for my posts, if they offended you. I probably wrote too much.
Idel Jakobson once helped one Estonian out when he was beaten up by NKVD as referenced here:
And Idel Jakobson also targeted some of the Jewish people.
I don't want to oppose Jewish people. Jewish lost very much in ww2 and are still under attack.
I don't want to blame anyone, I hope these differences will be solved in the future.

Steve Lieblich said...

Dear Anonymous
I welcome your comments to this Blog.

In relation to Idel Jakobson, as I have said, even if one accepts all the allegations against him, then what does this prove? Just that there was once a Jewish criminal, who would then deserve the same condemnation and punishment as a Nazi or a Communist who acted with such cruelty towards his fellow man.

If I am at all offended, then it is by your reference to my postings being "crap"... Please rest assured that I try my best to post only published work by reputable analysts and commentators, for readers interested in Jewish affairs. However you are very welcome to put an alternative point of view.

Let me stress that I don't intend to suggest that Soviet totalitarianism doesn't warrant strong condemnation. There should not be some sort of competition about which is a worse crime against humanity.

By the same token, neither should the Balkan nations try to undermine the strongest condemnation of Nazi totalitarianism in ordeer to condemn Soviet crimes. Revulsion of Soviet crimes should not lessen the revulsion of the Nazi genocide, or of those who collaborated in those crimes. This is the trend that Efraim Zuroff is crtiticising.

Finally I would like to agree with you in your hope that "these differences will be solved in the future...". Really we are simply debating about how history should be remembered, and while we do this in a civilised dialogue, then we can hope for a better world in future.

I am sure from what you've said, that you don't wish to see either Nazi or Soviet crimes repeated. We are united in that wish ...and I assume, in the hope that all nations will be vigilant to prevent such crimes in future.

Best wishes...