No EU member state should be honouring members of the biggest
Jew-killing machine in world history.
This morning, 16 March, a 47-year-old British woman, Monica Lowenberg, placed
a wreath at the foot of the Freedom Monument
in Riga, Latvia. She was dressed in the ghetto
garb the Nazis forced Riga's Jews to wear.
Many of her family died at the hands of Germans
and their Latvian collaborators.
She stood in silent witness as marchers arrived to celebrate the Latvian Legion
of the Waffen-SS, the biggest Jew-killing
machine in world history. Latvians pushed
Ms Lowenberg to one side to place their own
large insignia of the Latvian Waffen-SS in
front of the Freedom Monument.
is an open letter that Ms Lowenberg wrote
to the government and parliament of Latvia
to explain why in 2012 she believes, rightly,
that no EU member state should be honouring
members of the Waffen-SS in an open public
ceremony in a European capital city.
Open letter to the government and parliament
of Latvia on the eve of the Waffen-SS commemoration
name is Monica Lowenberg and I am the only
child and daughter of Ernest Lowenberg, a
German Jewish refugee who managed to leave
Nazi Germany five days before the outbreak
of war in 1939. He was 16. His mother, my
grandmother Marianne Loewenberg (née Peiser),
born in Leipzig, a violinist and opera singer,
managed with the help of the Hinrichsens,
owners of the music publishing firm C F Peters,
to leave Germany in April 1939 on a domestic's
the rest of the immediate Peiser and Loewenberg
family did not manage to escape in time and
were brutally murdered in the various camps
or shot. My grandfather David Loewenberg
or Levenbergs, born in 1877 in Libau in Latvia,
was one of eight children, as I discovered
only last year in the Latvian Historical
State Archives in Riga. His two elder twin
brothers also left Latvia, like himself,
Moishe for Paris (his children worked in
the French Resistance and were murdered by
the Gestapo) and Abraham for Tehran. My grandfather
was, from what I could gather, the only Levenberg
who went to university and studied in Dresden,
later making a life for himself in Berlin.
He was an engineer and an inventor whose
factory was taken away from him by the Nazis
in 1935, forcing him to place his two sons
in an orphanage.
other brother and three sisters stayed with
their parents, Minna and Lazzers (Lazzers
had been a soldier), in Libau and most likely
helped them out in their furniture shop.
From what I have read, I must conclude that
my Levenberg family who stayed in Libau were
all murdered by Latvian Arajs commandos and
auxiliary police in the Libau massacres of
many years of searching for family members
and even devoting ten years of my life to
studying the Holocaust formally at MA and
then DPhil level, working at Sussex university
and the Wiener Library as an academic and
education officer, I decided to go to Riga
for the first time last year and try to establish
what had happened to my uncle Paul, my father's
brother born in Halle, Germany, 20 January
who was a year older than my father, had
not managed to get out of Nazi Germany and
therefore found himself trying to leave for
Palestine with the help of a Jewish youth
movement. He worked first of all on a farm
in Denmark before going to Riga to work in
1940. The last letter my grandmother received
from him was dated 8 September 1940. In the
Riga archives, I discovered that Paul had
been sent to the Riga ghetto on 4 October
1941. There are no records of what happened
to him. I must assume that he was killed,
aged 19. In 1941 and 1942, 90 per cent of
Latvia's pre-war 62,000 Jews were killed,
Latvian commandos and auxiliary police taking
a leading role in their extermination.
I am sure you can appreciate, discovering
these facts has been exceptionally distressing.
However, it was equally distressing to discover
that the men actively involved in the mass
murders of Latvia's Jews joined the 15th
and 19th Divisions of the Latvian SS in 1943.
The 15th Division was the most decorated
out of all Himmler's SS divisions. In an
EU country, these men are today held as "heroes" by many Latvians.
current Latvian prime minister feels we should "bow" our heads to these Waffen-SS klillers. I also find it of deep concern that British
Conservative MEPs in the European Parliament
work with the Latvian MEP Roberts Zile and
have made an unholy alliance with the party
to which he is connected.
year two Latvian politicians, Dzintars Rasnacs
and Raivis Dzintars, participated in the
march to honour the Waffen-SS, the greatest
Jew-killing machine in world history. Raivis
Dzintars belongs to the national association "All For Latvia!" and was a member of the ultranationalist For Fatherland and Freedom/LNNK party,
to which Mr Zile is still linked.
must also add that another party comrade
of Mr Zile told the Latvian parliament that
LNNK has always been against the trial of
Konrads Kalejs and other Latvians accused
of Nazi crimes. Kalejs was a close assistant
of Viktors Arajs, chief of the bloody Arajs
Commando, responsible for guarding and finishing
off those Jews who were still alive in the
ditches into they fell after mass shootings.
Some survived and tried to escape but the
Latvians were on hand to kill them.
raise concern about these Latvian politicians
and the Waffen-SS, I launched a petition,
started on the anniversary of my uncle's
birthday – 20 January 2012 – 70 years to
the day of the Wannsee conference when the
Final Solution of exterminating the Jews
was planned. The petition was called "Stop the 16 March Marches in Riga and Latvians Revising History", as I sincerely believe glorification of pro-Nazi armed forces during the Second
World War has no place in a country that
is a member of the European Union, Nato,
the OSCE and the Council of Europe.
little over a month, the petition has gained
over 5,500 votes from around the world, indicating
that I am not alone in believing that such
glorification is terribly wrong. One should
add that the ECRI, the European Commission
against Racism and Intolerance, had already
in 2008 explicitly stated: "All attempts to commemorate persons who fought in the Waffen-SS and collaborate
with the Nazis should be condemned. Any gathering
or march legitimising in any way Nazism should
be banned." The ECRI reiterated the same in its most recent report about Latvia, dated 21
Latvian apologists and their friends in British
politics who refuse to dissociate themselves
from Mr Zile should consider the following:
Many of the worst Latvian killers served
in the Latvian Security Police prior to joining
the SS Legion. Honouring such persons would
be a travesty of justice and a whitewash
of their heinous crimes.
The Legion fought under the Nazi high command
for victory of the Third Reich. They do not
deserve to be honoured for fighting for a
victory of the most genocidal regime in human
history. Ironically, such a victory would
have been a disaster for Latvia because the
Nazis had no intention or plan to grant Latvia
About one-third of those who served in the
Legion were volunteers (two-thirds were drafted)
and many of them had served in Latvian Security
Police units that actively participated in
the mass murder of Jews in Latvia and in
Belarus, such as the infamous Arajs Commando
When Latvian SS killed Soviet soldiers, they
allowed Nazis on the western front to kill
British and American soldiers in turn and
thus made it possible for Auschwitz and other
concentration camps to continue their heinous
crimes against humanity.
Democratic Latvia should not glorify those
willing to give up their lives for victory
of the Third Reich. The Latvian Righteous
Gentiles would make much better role models.
The ultranationalists who support the march
are the ones who are seeking to rewrite the
accepted narrative of the Holocaust in Latvia.
Their efforts will help hide the crimes of
local Nazi collaborators and promote the
canard of equivalency between communist and
Ceremonies in churches and cemeteries are
also forms of honouring the deceased (whether
they deserve it or not). Witness the masses
held in Zagreb and Split, Croatia, last December
in honour of the Croatian mass murderer and
leader of the Ustashe Ante Pavelic.
these men march from the main Latvian Lutheran
Church towards the symbol of Latvian independence
– Freedom Monument in Riga's central square
on 16 March – will any of these men and politicians
spare a thought for their Latvian murdered
compatriots who happened to be Jewish? Will
they remember how 25,000 of them, in the
autumn of 1941, over two weekends, were marched
down Riga's streets from the ghetto to Rumbula,
shot and thrown into pits using the "sardine method"? Will they say a prayer for them?