The role of the USSR and the Red Army in the liberation of Europe from fascism was once indisputable. In the recent years, European parliamentarians keep bringing on new “discoveries.” The campaign to re-write history commenced 20 years ago with a publication of the book called “Icebreaker,” written by a fugitive Soviet intelligence officer Victor Rezun (Suvorov) who defected to the UK military base. He was the first one to place an equal sign between Hitler and Stalin and Wehrmacht and the Red Army.
Russia is fiercely resisting the revisionists and falsifiers. Yet, it seems that deafness and memory lapses are the signature diseases of the European parliamentarianism that started out as a focal disease under Napoleon and spread out like an epidemic during the Crimean War. On the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz (Osventsim) concentration camp, a reporter from Komsomolskaya Pravda has discovered that Russia had authoritative and uncompromising allies in the struggle against falsifiers. They include Moshe (Vyacheslav) Kantor, the President of the Russian Jewish Congress. We began our conversation with the Holocaust tragedy, the tragedy of the specific nation, but then realized that this tragedy could not be singled out and separated from the history of Europe and Russia, no matter how great the temptation.
"Sixty five years later we learned a few lessons from those events. Obviously, the role of the Red Army in the liberation of Auschwitz is underappreciated in Europe and the world in general. We have to take advantage of the fact that we still have living witnesses, the soldiers who participated in the liberation. In November, I addressed the Russian President asking him to give awards to all liberators. I hope they will receive their awards by the 65th anniversary of World War II Victory. My father was a soldier of the Red Army. For me, the Holocaust is a personal issue since the majority of my family has died from it. I am mostly interested in the lessons we learned from that tragedy. I would name four lessons. First, the Holocaust was a tragedy that united Europe. Second, during every crisis, tolerance is the most sought-after quality. Third, all fanatic regimens fail, as it happened in Europe. Fourth, the only existing safety is that of global nature."
“Who brought about the Holocaust and who finished it?”
"A number of times I made proposals that could help putting an end to attempts to re-write World War II history. I proposed to re-name the Holocaust Memorial Day into the Day of Liberation of Auschwitz by the Red Army. I was told this proposal is being considered. On the other hand, the Holocaust is not a topic that could be brought to light by politics. Art is the only thing that can bring it to light as it addresses human emotions instead of consciousness. I met a woman who went through four concentration camps. The first camp was the scariest, for nursing women. It was located in Eastern Europe and had three hundred women imprisoned. They would nurse in the morning and leave for work to come back in the evening. Once they came back and the kids were not there. They were told that the children were used as donors. This woman told me she had no fear left after that happened.
"Not that long ago, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe acknowledged the resemblance of the two totalitarian systems, “brown” and “red.” Do you agree with this position?
"Historically, everyone can be compared to everyone. But this is the question of who paid the highest price for holocaust in terms of human lives. There is a certain deceit in the attempts to compare Hitler and Stalin. We are not talking about historic personas; we are talking about the role of the Red Army in World War II. I believe that Russia paid the highest price for the liquidation of the civilized catastrophe."
“We should fight with governments and regiments, not peoples.”
"For many years Russia has been fighting the revival of Nazism in former Baltic Republics. I think you have a very good idea of how Russian veterans are treated there. After another court hearing in Latvia involving veterans, we initiated the so-called “anti-sprat” movement. With the help of our readers, we were able to decrease the export of canned sprats from Latvia. Latvian businessmen wrote an open letter to the government asking to re-consider relationship with Russia. This proves that we can fight. For some reason, we never hear voices of influential Jewish organizations condemning such lenient and amicable attitude of the Baltic governments towards the Third Reich. Why?
"The main revisionists are Estonians followed by Latvians and then Lithuanians. This is a general attitude in the Baltic countries. We do condemn them. Yet, I am not convinced that economic boycotting is a right decision for the countries we would like to improve the relations with."
"What are other possible levers?"
"Political. Although there are no problems in the relations between Europe and Baltic republics, there are many Russians living and working in these countries. In October I visited one of our communities in Estonia and was astonished by the strong opposition these people felt against the Estonian government. The same happens in Latvia. In the presence of ideological intolerance we have to leave at least one channel where we can come together."
"So nothing can be done?"
I saw the people who would be the victims of an economic boycott. We should fight with governments and regiments, not peoples. I will tell you a very important story. Five years ago I was in Krakow, Poland, and wanted to pray on Sabbath. I went to Kazimierz district that had all attributes of Jewish culture but no people since they all had died in concentration camps. There is one working synagogue left that barely has enough visitors, mostly tourists. After the prayer, I talked to the head of the community, and he told me that their keeper was the last from the “Schindler’s list.” I talked to this keeper asking him about the events of those days in his life in a ghetto. He told me that he was hung by a ghetto policeman who was Jewish. A German passing by saw it and said “How dare you hang him without my permission? Take him off !” This policeman was Roman Polanski’s father. This story is another proof that you cannot judge people collectively and generalize. Details matter."
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