14 April 2008

"The Genocide Loophole"

Henry Alminas at the soc.culture.baltics newsgroup drew my attention to Jonah Goldberg's recent article in the National Review. It begins: "Last week, Russia’s lower house of parliament passed a resolution insisting that Josef Stalin’s man-made 1932-33 famine — called the Holodomor in Ukrainian — wasn’t genocide." In view of some of the debates in the comments at this blog, like those that followed "Прибой," I thought I would highlight Goldberg's piece.

Today, Mao and Stalin aren’t in Hitler’s class of evil because Hitler wasn’t a “modernizer,” he was a racist. Note how the Russians have no problem copping to the charge of mass murder but recoil at suggestions it was racially motivated.

It’s a wrongheaded distinction. Murder is murder, whether the motive is bigotry or the pursuit of allegedly enlightened social planning.

It’s also a false distinction. Racial genocide is often rationalized as a form of progress by those responsible. Under the Holodomor, Ukrainian culture was systematically erased by the Russian Soviets, who saw it as expendable. No doubt the Sudanese janjaweed in Darfur and the Chinese People’s Liberation Army in Tibet believe they are “modernizers,” too.

Read the entire article here.

The mask is from the Occupation Museum. "Such masks were tied on to protect the face from frostbite when working outdoors in temperatures as low as -40°C (-40°F). The mask was made for the political prisoner Kārlis Ārgalis in the Amur region in the 1950s."

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20 Comments:

Anonymous Snork said...

My impression is that the main reason why Russians refuse to recognize Holodomor as genocide is a fear that such recognition would lead Ukrainians and others to demand that the Russian nation should accept moral (and possibly financial) responsibility for the acts of the Soviet government. Given that the Russian state media are busy whipping up the paranoia over the supposed malevolence of the West, this fear is not something unexpected.

Overall, it is disgusting that historical tragedies have become a matter of political maneuvering. The use of G-word by some many so many Western governments when speaking about Holodomor seems quite hypocritical, considering that the mass murder of Armenians (a far more clear-cut case of persecution on ethnic grounds) is rarely named as such because, you see, Turkey might get offended.

14 April, 2008 18:50  
Anonymous Snork said...

Sorry about the grammar, should read "so many", of course

14 April, 2008 18:51  
Blogger Baltic said...

Snork hi,

I agree on the basic line stating that the lack of real wish to recognize holodomor, katyn, deportations of the Balts is very intimately connected with the POSSIBLE demand by the above mentioned for material compensations. I UNDERLINE material compensations here and not moral. You may wonder why?

Imagine Russian students from Baltic States (remember Bronze soldier events last year) and think what kind of history was taught to them. No take about 16o mil. Russia, and what kind of history was and is taught to them AGAIN?? YOU KNOW THE ANSWER:)

It is very handy to blame Russians or Turks when you look from English or Austrian position. However, Russians and Turks take relative decline of their dershava/osmanli imperatorlugu PAINFULLY.

It took about 50 years for Brits to comprehend that empire is gone, Austrians had to agree on the new situation. Turks had to learn new geopolitical reality, thus yeni tyrk attitude vis-a-vis Armenia "genocide", and pretty much the same is going on with Ruusians.

My point is that instead of being terrified by inability of THEM to accept such an injustice [from small country point of view], we gotta stand firm and help ourselves becoming viable community foresmost! Thus we could help in the long run Russia and Turkey liberal circles to rid themselves from antics of totalitarianism, and also IMMNESLY increase our own security while strenghtening the community of democracies!!!

14 April, 2008 23:44  
Blogger stalker said...

I am still waiting for evidence of this so-called "Holodomor" as a planned, premeditated and perpetrated against a particular ethnic group except the deranged ravings of Ukrainian ultra-nationalists, Russophobes and hypocrites (many of them interchangeable).

@baltic,

While Russia is condemned from all quarters, and Turkey is treated with kid gloves, this ignores the fact that against their own ("nashi", hehe) Westerners there are no serious accusations amongst their elite (with the exception of Nazi and fascist movements). Where is the condemnation of Polish occupation atrocities against civilians and Soviet POWs in the Polish-Soviet War? What about the CIA's campaign of terror around the world that caused millions of deaths??

15 April, 2008 02:03  
Blogger Baltic said...

Stalker:

"While Russia is condemned from all quarters, and Turkey is treated with kid gloves"

I TOTALLY DISAGREE with you, because the situation is quite the opposite!! It was initiated by California legislature, and then France and many other countries passed the Armenian genocide law. Show me one point where BIG POWERS are condemning Russia???

I dont get your point with Nashi, sorry?

Atrocieties against Soviet POW after Polish-Soviet War, OK, but then its the task of Russian government to do that:) But probably they do not have the stamina for that, and totalitarian governments never kept human life in high esteem, unfortunately...

What is CIA here to do???? PLZ, do not mix vegetables with fruits in order to measure the content of fruit sugar:)

15 April, 2008 08:36  
Blogger jams o donnell said...

I have no idea whether what happened in teh Ukraine was genocide but Stalin certainly presided over the murder of millions. Is the Duma by denying it was genocide admitting by default that it was just good old mass murder.... Making Stalin an equal opportunities butcher?

I agre with you Petteris. At the end of the day one has to decide whther Stalion was shit or shite (as my old mum would say!)

15 April, 2008 14:16  
Anonymous Snork said...

Stalker,

Obviously, Holodomor was not directed against Ukrainians as an ethnic group, but rather against Soviet peasants as a social group. Ukrainians living in cities generally did not suffer from starvation, many farmers in Ukraine who were not ethnic Ukrainians have died, and of course, there were many deaths from starvation in RSFSR and Kazakhstan.

In that sense, Holodomor was not genocide in its traditional meaning. The problem is that what matters is the scale and the intent – knowing that you and your family have died because you were “bourgeois” rather than because you were of a “lower race” would bring you little comfort, wouldn’t it? In that sense, whether it was genocide or not is not that important.

And Holodomor was premeditated – there are well-documented cases of Soviet leadership requiring the collective farms to surrender grain at any cost, cutting off supplies to villages that fail to meet the grain quotas, and forbidding people to flee the famine-stricken regions. This, together with the deportation of “kulaks” that was going on at the same time, and the fact that USSR was grain, means that famine was a policy decision.

Oh, and putting Holodomor in quotation marks and adding the “so-called” thing is, IMHO, not a very nice gesture. The fact that millions of people perished from famine in Ukraine and elsewhere in USSR during the early 1930s is a well-established fact that is not questioned by any government or any mainstream historians. Regardless of whether one believes it was an act of genocide or not, the fact is that Holodomor was an enormous tragedy, and its victims (who include, judging from your profile, a large number of your compatriots) deserve some respect.

15 April, 2008 14:54  
Blogger stalker said...

Genocide is from génos (γένος) (family, tribe, race), or part of the UN definition, ...any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:.... Socio-economic group does not come into it. As such the Holodomor was not genocide, whether it was planned or not (I have not studied the latter question in detail, which is necessary given the amount of dirt thrown by both sides, and as such will not comment either way).

I am not specifically against Yushenko and other people commemorating it. I am against them using this to promote Ukrainian nationalism, i.e. by portraying it as a genocide directed against the Ukrainian génos and projecting an aura of victimization at the hands of Russians/Soviets, which further fuels anti-Russian sentiment in Ukraine itself and the West (where Russia and USSR are synonymous).

Why when Bush visited did Yushenko take him to the Holodomor memorial and leave out the monument to the struggle against fascism? Is it because Yushenko is a crypto-fascist?

(US actions are not irrelevant, because it has been sponsoring dirty wars and genocide against Communists and anti-corporatists throughout the globe for the past 60 years. Given its domination of the information space, however, discussion of these goes against respectability in the MSM and almost never occurs. The only reason Armenia hasn't been completely forgotten is because they have a big lobby in Washington.)

17 April, 2008 19:11  
Blogger Pēteris Cedriņš said...

The historian Stanislav Kulchytsky wrote a six-part series detailing how the Holodomor was genocide, available here.

Re the "crypto-fascist" remark -- one of the principal reasons for the increased focus on Soviet crimes in recent years is that they were subject to lies and concealment for decades. Russia remains in denial about the Holodomor and other crimes against humanity. Germany doesn't deny the Holocaust, and Holocaust deniers are rightly marginalized (seminars in Tehran aside).

It's darkly amusing that you employ the phrase "genocide against Communists and anti-corporatists" (they're a γένος?) but engage in acrobatics with the definition of genocide when it comes to Ukrainians.

18 April, 2008 07:11  
Blogger Taras said...

Thank you for bringing up the Holodomor issue, Pēteris!

To keep history from repeating itself, the world needs a “no genocide left behind” history textbook.

This history textbook should certainly include the Holodomor, one of the most horrendous crimes against humanity — and the “soul” of the Soviet experiment.

The Holodomor paved the way for the collectivization of agrarian Ukraine, and relying on “price scissors,” semi-slave labor, and resource rich land thrust Ukraine into the epicenter of Soviet industrialization.

But first and foremost, the Holodomor converted the breadbasket of Europe into the graveyard of up to 7 million Ukrainians.

Why Ukrainians? In 1932/33, one could hardly find statistically significant numbers of other ethnic groups living in the affected areas of rural Ukraine. (Even today, after decades of Russification, the vast majority of people living in the eastern Ukrainian countryside identify themselves as Ukrainians.) Urban populations, too, suffered, albeit to a lesser degree.

The Holodomor did the “dirty work” for the “immaculate” ideology of communism. One can look at it as the missing link between Ukraine’s collectivization, industrialization, Sovietization, and Russification.

One can hardly separate the political economy of the Holodomor from its clear-cut ethnic makeup. Stalin, who had cut his teeth as Commissar of Nationalities, did not go after the kurkuli (kulaks) alone. He starved millions of peasants along the way. He then crushed most of the prominent Ukrainian intelligentsia. A onetime seminarist, he perfected genocide into a religion. The master plan was to drain Ukraine’s gene and intellectual pools, leaving them with as few national icons and potential dissenters as possible. It worked.

Stalin’s “ethnic planning” would script Ukrainian society for generations to come.

The post-Holodomor “price scissors” would be perpetually clipping the earnings of collective farmers, making rural Ukraine a slave for industrialization and, later, the arms race. Collective farmers — the “forgotten half” of the Soviet military-industrial complex — had no internal passports until the 70s.

Young people, like my parents, did their damnest to flee to cities, where they had no choice but to speak Russian, the lingua franca of the Soviet Union. It took a strong sense of national identity for them not to unlearn Ukrainian while having an inferiority complex projected on them in all walks of life.

In this regard, Soviet urbanization supplies a good synonym for Russification. And guess what? The Kremlin can’t seem to get enough of it.

Unlike Germany, and even Austria, which have taken moral and financial responsibility for the Holocaust, Russia, the sole successor to the Soviet Union, has refused to take any responsibility for the Holodomor.

Well, the Duma’s recent statement on the Holodomor marks a new sales pitch in its genocide denial. It amounts to something like this: “OK. You win. We did kill you by the million, but it was a tragic mistake. In fact, some of our people nearly starved, too. Besides, we’re not the USSR anymore. We don’t do these things anymore. And don’t forget that Stalin was a Georgian! Now can we please change the subject and talk about the genocide against Russian-speaking people in Ukraine?”

Calling Yushchenko a crony capitalist makes sense under certain circumstances, but the “crypto-fascist” label just doesn’t add up. I believe that, in his heart of hearts, President Yushchenko wants Ukraine to be independent. His weakness comes from his frequent failure lto act independently of his inner circle.

President Putin acts even funnier. He who traces the Russian Federation’s statehood to Kyivan Rus calls Ukraine a “non-state.” Wasn’t Ukraine the state that gave up the world’s third-largest nuclear arsenal?

He talks about targeting Ukraine with IRBMs. A few weeks later he talks about partitioning Ukraine. What did Ukraine do to drive him so mad?

Ukraine never occupied Russia. Ukraine never crammed Muscovites or St. Petersburgers with Ukrainian. Ukraine never slaughtered Russians or deported them to the Carpathians. Ukraine never had any claims on Russian territory. Ukraine never had much success in opening at least a handful of Ukrainian schools in Moscow, Voronezh, Kuban, Siberia, and the Far East, regions with significant ethnic Ukrainian populations. Is Ukraine’s melting pot treating Russians worse than Russia’s melting pot is treating Ukrainians?

Moscow was founded by a Kyiv ruler, but Kyiv’s rule over Moscow didn’t last long. In contrast, Moscow’s rule over Kyiv lasted for centuries. Does Moscow want to rule Kyiv forever? Why not live and let live?

Sadly, the international community has failed to produce a universally accepted white book on genocide. Geopolitical clubs always come into play: Russia vetoes the Holodomor; the US vetoes the Armenian Genocide.

That's not the way it should be. Countries that recognize their wrongdoings and do everything in their power to prevent such events from recurring make humanity more humane.

18 April, 2008 18:23  
Blogger stalker said...

The historian Stanislav Kulchytsky wrote a six-part series detailing how the Holodomor was genocide, available here.

And? There are many accounts of the Holodomor, from the Robert Conquest and Ukrainian nationalist types who have a Soviet planned genocide of 7mn people (to which taras, it seems, subscribes) to those who deny it happened at all (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0919396518/qid=1078623525//ref=sr_8_xs_ap_i1_xgl14/104-4496305-4787157?v=glance&s=books&n=507846). More recent and professional estimates with the aid of newly opened archives put excess deaths at around 2.6-3.5mn. But lets look at the statistics rather than the rhetoric.

Almost the entire famine occured in 1933 (1.5mn excess death in Ukraine - other 2mn in Kuban and Kazakhstan). Note that cereal exports (tons) were:

1930 - 4,846,024; 1931 - 5,182,83; 1932 - 1,819,114 (first half of 1932 - approx 750 000, from late April grain also imported - approx. 157,000 tonnes ); 1933 - 1,771,364 tonnes (first half of 1933 - 220 000 [57], late March grain also imported[58]).

So actually the authorities massively cut grain exports in 1932 and 1933, but tragically not by enough.

Let's look at the particular circumstances of the early 30's. The USSR has long-term contracts to sell grains to Western markets so as to use the hard currency to buy modern machinery. Defaults would result in massive loss in income, which was in any case necessary to agricultural mechanization and further guaranteeing food security. But for a variety of reasons - adverse climatic conditions; the disconnect between the Communist apparatus and peasants and the distrust between them; most importantly, the kulaks' gratuitous and self-defeating slaying of half the Soviet livestock in resistance to collectivization, can all be blamed for the Holodomor.

IMO, calling the Holodomor an anti-Ukrainian Soviet (or Moskal) genocide is about as historically fair as calling the Irish famine of the 1840's a British-engineered genocide of the Irish people. Were Soviet and British reactions incompetent, perhaps criminally so? Very likely. Were they "any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:...."? I don't think so.

Russia remains in denial about the Holodomor and other crimes against humanity. Germany doesn't deny the Holocaust, and Holocaust deniers are rightly marginalized (seminars in Tehran aside).

Well, a pity Germany is the exception rather than the rule, then! But quite apart from the fact that Russia doesn't deny 2.5-3.5mn people died of family in 1933, but its designation by American neocons and Ukrainian nationalist circles as genocide...Recommendation: if you want to critisize countries for whitewashing human rights abuses, perhaps you could start closer to, well at, home. Say, Latvian Collaboration and the Holocaust and Continuing Fascist Sentiments in Latvia. How's that as a suggestion for your next post?

(As an aside, however, if I was a German I wouldn't agree with the policy of compensating Jews who suffered in the Holocaust. There's no such thing as national responsibility, only individual, and any other opinion is a sympton of the ugly collectivism people like peteris or taras would profess to despise.)

It's darkly amusing that you employ the phrase "genocide against Communists and anti-corporatists" (they're a γένος?) but engage in acrobatics with the definition of genocide when it comes to Ukrainians.

Oh, sorry, I forgot. Only Westerners have the divinely-given right to label other cultures as genocidal. How bad of me...

Or more to the point, semantics is a game in which two can tango.

President Putin acts even funnier. He who traces the Russian Federation’s statehood to Kyivan Rus calls Ukraine a “non-state.” Wasn’t Ukraine the state that gave up the world’s third-largest nuclear arsenal?

He talks about targeting Ukraine with IRBMs. A few weeks later he talks about partitioning Ukraine. What did Ukraine do to drive him so mad?


1. Nuclear weapons don't make a state.

2. The comments were rationa and predictable. Obviously if Ukraine accepts imperialist NATO military installations then they will be targeted. His (alleged, I'd like to add) comment about Ukraine ceasing to exist as a state if it joins NATO, meaning that Russia will partition the Ukraine, is only your interpretation of his words, taras. Another interpretation would be that he was speculating that the East and South of the country will not accept being occupied by NATO and will try to secede.

20 April, 2008 23:51  
Blogger Pēteris Cedriņš said...

Recommendation: if you want to critisize countries for whitewashing human rights abuses, perhaps you could start closer to, well at, home. Say, Latvian Collaboration and the Holocaust and Continuing Fascist Sentiments in Latvia. How's that as a suggestion for your next post?

Latvia was occupied by the Soviet Union in 1940; there was no government with which to collaborate when the Germans invaded a year later.

I have written about these issues -- and Russian disinformation and propaganda anent them -- for instance here, here, and here.

The historian Aivars Stranga: "The fact that Russia has not properly assessed its own history and the crimes which it committed against its neighbours is not really much of a challenge against democracy. Instead, it proves that the type of democracy which exists in Russia is not really democratic at all."

(From "A Few Words About History, Russia and Latvia.")

21 April, 2008 06:11  
Anonymous Snork said...

Stalker,

>>But lets look at the statistics rather than the rhetoric.

These numbers are meaningless. OK, grain exports fell, so what? The question is, did it happen because the Soviet government was trying to alleviate starvation. I suspect that exports fell because there was simply too little grain to export. And that happened, in no small part, due to the government’s policy of expropriating as much grain as possible in the previous year – including, in many cases, grain that was allocated for sowing. This was coupled with the reduction of the agricultural labor force following the deportation of ~1.8 million peasants. Add the various inefficiencies in the central planning, and you get the reduction in crops. No wonder exports have fallen.

Again, I am not saying the whole thing was genocide (it wasn’t much better, though). But regardless of how you call it, there is no question that the famine was caused by Soviet policy, that the idea of suppressing the “kulaks” was part and parcel of the Soviet ideology of the time, and that a few million dead bodies were not seen as something unacceptable by the Soviet decision-makers of the 1930s. Hell, I think even the Russian government admits it.

>>IMO, calling the Holodomor an anti-Ukrainian Soviet (or Moskal) genocide

I don’t think anybody here is saying that the Russian nation is responsible for Holodomor. Well, at least I am not claiming it, and I have not heard of any statement to that effect from official Ukrainian (or other countries’) sources. Not to mention the use of the “Moskal” term. It seems to me that defenders of Uncle Joe try so hard to paint their opponents as Russophobes that they use that word more often than the most radical Ukrainian nationalists.

Oh, and I’d love to hear more about the US-sponsored “genocide against anti-corporatists”.

22 April, 2008 02:54  
Blogger stalker said...

@peteris,

Well I'm not talking about unofficial collaboration between Latvians and Nazis. Just from the wiki article on "History of the Jews in Estonia there are two quite revealting quotes".

Survivor accounts sometimes describe how, even before the Nazi administration began persecuting the Latvian Jews, they had suffered from antisemitic excesses at the hands of the Latvian activists... Latvian-American Holocaust historian Andrew Ezergailis argues that there was no "interregnum" period at all in most parts of Latvia, when Latvian activists could have engaged in the persecution of Jews on their own initiative.
...
At the instigation of the Einsatzgruppe, the Latvian auxiliary police carried out a pogrom against the Jews in Riga. All synagogues were destroyed and 400 Jews were killed...


When Latvia left the USSR,

Two desecrations of Holocaust memorials, in Jelgava and in the Bikernieki Forest, took place in 1993. The delegates of the World Congress of Latvian Jews who came to Bikernieki to commemorate the 46,500 Latvian Jews shot there, were shocked by the sight of swastikas and the word Judenfrei daubed on the memorial. Articles of antisemitic content appeared in the Latvian nationalist press. The main topics of these articles were the collaboration of Jews with the Communists in the Soviet period, Jews tarnishing Latvia’s good name in the West, and Jewish businessmen striving to control the Latvian economy. A dangerous phenomenon in the country is the continuing whitewashing of the collaboration of some Latvians with the Nazis during World War II, including complicity in the annihilation of Jews. While these collaborations did occur, the majority of Latvians were caught in the midst of two giant powers fighting for domination of the region.

The growth of antisemitic occurrences and nationalism contributed to a mass exodus of Latvian Jews, mostly to Russia, the United States, and Israel. In the early 2000s, after a decade of mass emigration, around 9,000 Jews remained in Latvia, mostly in Riga, where an Ohr Avner Chabad school was in operation.


Wherever your own sympathies lie, peteris, digging in your head under the ground like an ostrich and attributing these "issues" to "Russian disinformation and propaganda" is not going to get you far except in the circles of neo-fascists, Russophobic hypocrites and neocon imperialists.

Finally, neither I nor 99% of other Russians care an iota for what this Aivars Stranga chap thinks about our democracy. As I said, Germany is the exception rather than the rule for having carried out an indepth analysis of its less glamorous history. Almost nobody else, from Japan to Turkey to Russia to Latvia itself, has (yet all those countries other than Russia are considered democracies by the neocons who you seem to adore so much). As with you, he should consider the wisdom of throwing rocks from a glass house.

@Snork,

These numbers are meaningless....

I more or less agree with what you said there. I was merely pointing out that this is not a one-dimensional issue of anti-Ukrainian genocide and the importance of taking a broad view.

Not to mention the use of the “Moskal” term. It seems to me that defenders of Uncle Joe try so hard to paint their opponents as Russophobes that they use that word more often than the most radical Ukrainian nationalists.

Really? Why don't you take a look at some of these delightful Ukrainian posters in the Russian "Russophobia" wiki.

http://ru.wikipedia.org/wiki/%D0%A0%D1%83%D1%81%D0%BE%D1%84%D0%BE%D0%B1%D0%B8%D1%8F

Oh, and I’d love to hear more about the US-sponsored “genocide against anti-corporatists”.

Certainly. Here's two introductory texts.

http://www.serendipity.li/cia/cia_time.htm

http://www.serendipity.li/cia.html

The US can only be admired. It commits the worst crimes and walks away, the myth of its moral superiority intact, as can only be gauged by the extent of US-worship in their vassal states like Poland, Baltics, Georgia and I'm sad to say, Ukraine.

(The latter of which has sunk so low that it is now in the process of the rehabilitation of Hitler - http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/7362161.stm. One can only wonder when American nuclear weapons will thunder down on Russian cities and NATO's black hosts resume their Drang nach Osten).

25 April, 2008 18:09  
Blogger Pēteris Cedriņš said...

Well I'm not talking about unofficial collaboration between Latvians and Nazis. Just from the wiki article on "History of the Jews in Estonia["]...

I take it you mean "official" rather than "unofficial," just as you mean "Latvia" rather than "Estonia"...

Above, I gave three links to posts I have written about these issues (which posts, in their turn, contain references and links), and a link to an article by Stranga that dicusses the relevant difficulties Russia has with facing its history and "the work of re-evaluating the past [that] has not only been halted at the national level, where there is much too much control over the process, but it has been radically turned backward."

As Stranga writes, "the so-called 'fight against Fascism' in Latvia is being pursued with resources which suggest that this "anti-Fascism" is actually very similar to true Fascism. We are witnessing attempts by a state to fire up hatred and stereotypes against other nations, the state is sponsoring the lies that are being told, it is inspiring 'protest demonstrations' in neighbouring countries, and the like. All of this signals a weakness in democracy and the civil society, a nostalgia for the past – including the segment of the past which is known today as Stalinism. This understanding of history threatens and will continue to threaten Russia's ability to pursue normal relations not only with almost all of its neighbours, but also with the liberal society which exists in the world today. Democracy surely cannot be constructed without a process of moral purification and, if nothing more, then at least true regret for the injustices that have been committed against others."

Wherever your own sympathies lie, peteris, digging in your head under the ground like an ostrich and attributing these "issues" to "Russian disinformation and propaganda" is not going to get you far except in the circles of neo-fascists, Russophobic hypocrites and neocon imperialists.

I didn't attribute these issues to Russian disinformation and propaganda. Read more carefully, please. You snidely suggested a title for a future post ("Latvian Collaboration and the Holocaust and Continuing Fascist Sentiments in Latvia"). As part of my response, I wrote that "I have written about these issues -- and Russian disinformation and propaganda anent them," offering links to posts that directly address these issues. "In Extremis," for example, talks about graffiti and extremism, and is perfectly relevant to what you just quoted from Wikipedia.

I don't make a habit of playing ostrich, Stalker. I don't deny that there was and is anti-Semitism in Latvia, that some Latvians participated in the Holocaust, and that there are serious issues in history, sociology, politics, etc. that need to be addressed. I don't think staging a little propaganda war in blog comments is conducive to addressing them. If anyone is seriously interested in these subjects, I'd suggest serious reading, beginning with Andrew (Andrievs') Ezergailis' monumental study, The Holocaust in Latvia, 1941-1944 : The Missing Center.

In "Folklore versus History: A Problem in Holocaust Studies" (available online here), Ezergailis writes: "Anyone who has followed the recent 'discussion' about the Holocaust in Latvia, if 'discussion' is the right word for it, will have noticed that there are, like oil and water, two incompatible tales, two ships passing in the night. There is the viewpoint that I have characterized as folklore, that originated already during Nazi occupation and started in large part with the Führer’s conversation with Marshal Kvaternik on 22 July 1941. And there is history that bases its conclusions on a variety of sources that include Nazi and Soviet documents and does not exclude the eyewitness accounts of survivors. Unlike the survivors, however, especially with the opening of new archival materials historians can penetrate prison walls, can leap over concentration camp fences, and can enter the chambers of power where decisions were made and orders issued."

Marģers Vestermanis, the director of the Jewish Museum in Rīga, writes: " The conception of Latvia as a country plunged into general anti-Semitism should be unequivocally rejected. The mass passivity was rather determined by the weakness of Latvian democracy, undermined by the Ulmanis authoritarian regime, and the Soviet deportations which affected the liberal intelligencia [sic] and social democrats. The Nazi terror delivered the last blow to the democratic forces."

Re "official," "unofficial," and those glass houses of yours -- Latvia was under occupation from 1940 to 1991, and that was the first thing I pointed out for a reason; the Republic had been destroyed by the USSR a year before the Nazis got here. As a state, Latvia bears no responsibility for the Holocaust. This is quite different from Russia's responsibility for Stalinist crimes. The Russian Federation is the Soviet Union's successor state.

"NATO's black hosts" and Poland and the Baltics as "vassal states"? Spare me, Stalker. We joined NATO voluntarily -- membership was desired by a vast majority -- and we have a voice in NATO. Not a large voice, because we're small -- but a voice nonetheless. Being free is something many Russians simply can't fathom, apparently.

25 April, 2008 22:03  
Anonymous Snork said...

Stalker,

>>Just from the wiki article on "History of the Jews in Estonia there are two quite revealting quotes".

Yes, Jewish cemeteries and Holocaust memorials are occasionally desecrated in Latvia. These incidents are disgusting, but they happen in practically every country, including Israel.

And there are much better sources on anti-Semitism than Wikipedia articles of dubious accuracy. For example, The Stephen Roth Institute for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism and Racism under the Tel Aviv University has a much more thorough report on anti-Semitism in Latvia and other Baltic states (http://www.tau.ac.il/Anti-Semitism/asw2006/baltic.htm , scroll down for Latvia).

The report makes it pretty clear that

Antisemitic incidents in Latvia occur only occasionally.

and that

The Latvian Committee of Historians (11 members, including historians from the Faculty of History and Philosophy of the University of Latvia, the State History Archives of Latvia and the Museum of Occupation, as well as representatives from the presidential office), conducts research and organizes international conferences on the period of the Soviet (1940−41) and German (1941−44) occupations of the country. In late 2006 the Committee published volume 18 of its research, The Holocaust in Latvia, the fourth volume dedicated to the mass murder of Jews in Latvia during World War II.

On 20 February, during her visit to Israel, Latvian President Vaira Vike-Freiberg apologized to Israeli President Moshe Katsav for the collaboration of Latvians with the Nazis during World War II and condemned all forms of antisemitism or racism in her country.


That’s slightly different from the traditional picture of the “resurgent Baltic Nazism” that the Russian media gives, isn’t it?

By the way, the report on Russia, that bastion of anti-Fascism (http://www.tau.ac.il/Anti-Semitism/asw2006/russia.htm) is both longer and lists more incidents, including violent ones.

But you knew this, didn’t you? Or do I need to bring up the examples? Like an anti-Semitic poster rigged with explosives (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/2116454.stm), the knife attack on worshippers in a Moscow synagogue (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/4603296.stm ), or a letter (signed by hundreds of people, including almost 20 State Duma members) that demanded a ban on all Jewish organizations, equated Judaism with Satanism, and even mentioned the blood libel and accused Jews of ritual murders (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/4271783.stm ).

I am not writing this to engage in Russia-bashing, or to deny that anti-Semitism is an issue in Latvia. I am just saying that the claim that anti-Semitism in Latvia is uncharacteristically strong is simply not correct, especially compared to the scale of the problem in some post-Soviet states – and I can bring up examples from Ukraine, Belarus, etc. besides Russia, but I hope you get the point.

>> Certainly. Here's two introductory texts.

Some bizarre conspiracy theory website that claims that Kennedy was murdered by the CIA and that the 1956 Hungarian uprising was organized by Radio Free Europe? No, thanks. And even this website does not say anything about the thousands of murdered “anti-corporatists” (who are they, anyway, anti-globalists?)

To be sure, U.S. has done many horrible things. But “genocide against anti-corporatists” is not one of them.

>> One can only wonder when American nuclear weapons will thunder down on Russian cities and NATO's black hosts resume their Drang nach Osten).

Surely it will happen soon. Launching World War III, conquering Russia, and killing all of her people is the dream of every single European, not to mention the bloodthirsty Americans. NATO and Nazis are one and the same after all – even the first two letters are the same, what more evidence do we need? The only way to avert the invasion is to support the true patriots of the United Russia party and the glorious Nashi movement.

26 April, 2008 00:50  
Blogger stalker said...

I take it you mean "official" rather than "unofficial," just as you mean "Latvia" rather than "Estonia"...


No, I meant unofficial. The numerous instances of pogroms committed by ordinary Latvians, with no interference and indeed in advance of the Nazis.

But yes, I did mistype Estonia instead of Latvia. Not a particularly grievous mistake, I would think, considering pretty much the same can be said for both of them.

I didn't attribute these issues to Russian disinformation and propaganda. Read more carefully, please. You snidely suggested a title for a future post ("Latvian Collaboration and the Holocaust and Continuing Fascist Sentiments in Latvia"). As part of my response, I wrote that "I have written about these issues -- and Russian disinformation and propaganda anent them," offering links to posts that directly address these issues. "In Extremis," for example, talks about graffiti and extremism, and is perfectly relevant to what you just quoted from Wikipedia.

Yes. I have read them. I failed to see a single instance of Russian "disinformation and propaganda". Just a lot of whining about the media, whether Western and Russian, exercising its right of free speech by covering the Baltics' less savory aspects (how dare they!) and a lot of whining over various disparate comments by Russian public figures, usually taken out of context.

But more to the point, Russia has no obligation whatsoever to engage in a guilt-orgy German-style and I am absolutely opposed to the idea, as are the vast majority of Russians thankfully (which shows that the Western information war against us has not been 100% successful). Where does it say under international law that Russia has "responsibility for Stalinist crimes"? Did Turkey apologize, or even admit to the Armenian genocide? No. Did Japan for its atrocities in China? No. Russians are the Jews of the 21st century. They are singled out as a group for crimes they never committed. But we are morally strong and will resist this Western aggression aimed at demeaning us and our history.

We have far better things to do as of now than that sentimental nonsense, which in any case the West has twisted and dramatized out of all proportion. Such as focusing on the economy, public health and rebuilding our sphere of influence. With the US mired in Iraq and on the brink of a major economic downturn; with the oil peak approaching and Europe ever more dependent on Russian gas; with global warming opening up new oil reserves and transportation routes in the Far North, it is not a good idea for small neighboring countries to alienate Russia.

The really ironic thing is that if the Baltics weren't as consistently Russophobic but followed a rational path of understanding and cooperation with Russia, there would hardly be any enmity between them (as is the case today with, say, Hungary and Slovakia, to take two other EU East European countries as an example). Instead, your smug sense of moral superiority over non-Western cultures, especially Russia, some Westerners' calls for our "moral purification", "true regret", your claims that you are free and we're not (coming from within a cage that is invisible to you - hello! We're all in the matrix, pal!) - we laugh at all that in their faces!

26 April, 2008 00:57  
Blogger stalker said...

By the way, the report on Russia, that bastion of anti-Fascism (http://www.tau.ac.il/Anti-Semitism/asw2006/russia.htm) is both longer and lists more incidents, including violent ones.

Considering Russia's population is about 60 times larger than Latvia's, that is not surprising.

In fact, according to that same Stephen Roth Institute, in 2006 in "Major Violent Incidents", there were 30 in Russia and 6 in the Baltic countries. So Baltics have 5% of Russia's population but 20% of its anti-Semitic incidents. In other words, Balts are 4 times as anti-Semitic per capita than Russians. British, French, Canadians are also much more anti-Semitic.

Some bizarre conspiracy theory website that claims that Kennedy was murdered by the CIA and that the 1956 Hungarian uprising was organized by Radio Free Europe?

It doesn't say "organizes", it says "incites". It makes no claims about Kennedy's assassination.

No, thanks. And even this website does not say anything about the thousands of murdered “anti-corporatists” (who are they, anyway, anti-globalists?)

Anyone with passing familiarity with Latin American history in the past decade would be aware of its neo-colonial exploitation by the US and the fusion that developed between the CIA, American business like United Fruit Company and the region's bloodthirsty rightwing dictators who "disappeared" hundreds of thousands of labor activists, liberals, Communists, etc.

As it is the glorius US that is behind it the accusations of "bizarre conspiracy" are sad but quite predictable and further confirm the depth of Western deception and hypocrisy.

Surely it will happen soon. Launching World War III, conquering Russia, and killing all of her people is the dream of every single European, not to mention the bloodthirsty Americans.

I suspect you're right, although I doubt supporting UR would make much difference one way or the other. The most important thing is to continue and accelerate the modernization and expansion of missile defence and strategic deterrants. Because for all its sweet words about liberalism and democracy, brute force is the only thing the West understands.

26 April, 2008 01:19  
Anonymous Snork said...

>>other words, Balts are 4 times as anti-Semitic per capita than Russians. British, French, Canadians are also much more anti-Semitic.

Given that we don’t know what is meant by “violent incidents’, given that the sample is too small, and given that I was originally speaking about Latvia and not the Baltics, this way of calculating “anti-Semitism per capita” is imprecise, to put it mildly. At any rate, I think the country reports are more informative than raw numbers. But you are welcome to prove me wrong and give some examples of anti-Semitic manifestations in Latvia (say, in the last 5 years) that would be comparable to the incidents in Russia that I brought up.

Although I would agree that in recent years, Russian neo-Nazis have been too busy murdering Azeris, Tajiks, etc. to focus on Jews.

And again, don’t take it as Russia-bashing. As opposed to some Russian journalists speaking about Latvia, I am not trying to say that Russia is a Nazi country. Many countries have a bigger problem with anti-Semitism and xenophobia in general.

>>It doesn't say "organizes", it says "incites".

Whichever way it phrases it, the fact is that attributing the events of 1956 to Western incitement oversimplifies those events to the point of being ridiculous

>>It makes no claims about Kennedy's assassination

It includes the assassination into its “timeline of CIA atrocities”

>> Anyone with passing familiarity with Latin American history…

Oh, so we finally have some facts. Well, yes, U.S. behavior in its Latin American backyard was far from clean. And they did support some rather horrible regimes. But the American support for those dictators does not mean that U.S. committed genocide there – just like the Soviet support for Hitler in 1939-40 and for Mao prior to 1960 does not make the USSR responsible for the Holocaust or the Great Leap Forward.

And I still can’t see how you can call political murders by Latin American regimes genocide, while insisting that Holodomor isn’t genocide.

Again: there are plenty of horrible things that the U.S. did (and backing murderous regimes is among them). But genocide just isn’t one of them, unless you want to talk about Native Americans.

>>As it is the glorius US that is behind it the accusations of "bizarre conspiracy" are sad but quite predictable and further confirm the depth of Western deception and hypocrisy.

This is quite simple. There are bad things that the U.S. did – support for dictators, firebombing of Tokyo, invasion of Iraq, etc. There are also bad things that the U.S. didn’t do – Kennedy assassination, incitement of the Hungarian uprising, etc. Accusing U.S. of the former is a valid argument. Accusing U.S. of the latter is bizarre conspiracy theory. It is useful to consider these facts before accusing your opponent of hypocrisy.

>>I suspect you're right, although I doubt supporting UR would make much difference one way or the other. The most important thing is to continue and accelerate the modernization and expansion of missile defence and strategic deterrants.

Since according to some, Russian strategic deterrent and conventional forces have actually deteriorated under UR’s enlightened leadership (for the nuts and bolts, check here: http://nvo.ng.ru/armament/2008-02-08/1_army.html), I guess supporting them does make some difference.

26 April, 2008 03:03  
Anonymous Snork said...

Stalker,

Returning from this discussion (which is getting more and more off-topic anyway) to the Holodomor question that started it all: I agree with you that some radical elements of the Ukrainian society can (and do) use the issue to push forward nationalist agenda. However, I think that recognition of the tragedy by the Russian government should not be related to this. Of course, you can say that this is all “sentimental nonsense” as you put it, but refusal to discuss historical sentiments important for others makes it quite hard for Russia to demand sensitivity to its own past – e.g. to its sacrifice in World War II.

Moreover, steadfast refusal to admit that Holodomor happened only gives ammunition to radicals in Ukraine and elsewhere. Denial of Holodomor immediately pushes Russia into defending Stalinism in general, and this certainly does not improve Russia’s image in Ukraine or in the West. Of course, you can say that the West will always dislike Russia, but this is a rather naïve position.

I think you are right in saying that the Soviet famine of the 1930s is often misrepresented as Ukrainian-only tragedy – and this is sometimes (but not always) done by nationalist groups with sinister agenda. But the only way Russia can hope to counter them is by admitting that a tragedy did happen, and that Stalin’s regime was responsible for it. Denying it will not convince anyone – Holodomor is an important event in Ukrainian collective memory, and no amount of denial will erase it – and will only reinforce anti-Russian sentiment. I think neither Russia, nor Ukraine or anyone else needs it.

26 April, 2008 05:00  

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