Movement to equate communist rule with Holocaust seen as an attempt to marginalize latter
JERUSALEM–Holocaust scholars have criticized a growing tendency in central and eastern Europe to equate the Shoah with Communist oppression, a trend which they consider “the gravest threat to preserving the memory of the Holocaust” as it served to exculpate populations complicit in the extermination of their Jewish minorities, according to a report by the Israeli newspaper ‘Haaretz’.
Professor Yehuda Bauer of the Hebrew University called equation attempts “campaigns to marginalize the Holocaust.”
According to a number of leading experts on the Holocaust, the state-sponsored equation of Nazi crimes with Communist brutality in central and eastern Europe is the most serious threat to preserving the memory of the Holocaust. This phenomenon was especially prevalent in Lithuania but also existed in certain circles in Poland, said Laurence Weinbaum of the World Jewish Congress, who specializes in Polish-Jewish relations.
He was quoted by the newspaper as saying: “In the Baltic states, especially Lithuania and Latvia, the campaign to consign the victims of the Holocaust and of Communism to the same basket is a transparent attempt to blur Baltic societies’ wholesale complicity in the murder of their Jewish populations.”
In August, the prime ministers of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania signed a joint declaration supporting a call to make 23 August European day of remembrance for victims of both Stalinism and Nazism. “In Lithuania, equalizing Stalinism and Nazism is a ruse to delete the stain of massive collaboration,” Professor Dovid Katz, a Vilnius-based researcher, told ‘Haaretz’: “Instead of facing the past, the state deletes the Holocaust as a category and buries it in another paradigm.”
Weinbaum noted that “Polish society as a whole cannot be seen as a perpetrator-nation, as can be the Lithuanians.” While some Poles were complicit in the murder and despoliation of Jews, he noted, “others rescued them.” He said that in Poland, some circles, especially Polish Holocaust scholars, “vociferously oppose” a combined commemoration date while others supported it for nationalistic reasons. “To be sure, no one can or should minimize the untold suffering caused by Communist tyranny, of which Jews were also victims, but common commemoration will only serve to disfigure memory and history.”
Preceding provided by World Jewish Congress