Op-ed: Lithuania claiming that Communist crimes equivalent to those of the Nazis
Two weeks ago, Lithuanian Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius visited Israel at the
head of a large delegation of public figures and businessmen. The
visit was virtually ignored by the Hebrew-language media, but this
is not particularly surprising given the fact that visits to Israel
by the prime ministers of small, and ostensibly unimportant, countries
are a common occurrence. There are, however, countries which played
a significant role in Jewish history and therefore receive more public
attention than their current political status would normally warrant,
and Lithuania is one of them.
And why was Kubilius' visit supposed to be of special
significance? During the past few years, Lithuania has invested much
effort in an attempt to obtain international recognition for its
false claim that Communist crimes are equivalent to those of the
Nazis and deserve the same response. These efforts are increasing
and gaining momentum and increased support in Europe, thereby endangering
the special status of the Holocaust as a unique historical tragedy
in the annuals of mankind.
The opening salvo of this campaign was launched two
and a half years ago with the publication of the "Prague Declaration" - a manifesto signed by 40 public figures and intellectuals from post-Communist
East European countries, headed by former Czech President Vaclav
Havel. According to the document, "Europe will not be united until it is able to...recognize Communism and Nazism
as a common legacy," and calls for the designation of August 23 as a joint day of commemoration for
all the victims of totalitarian regimes, i.e. Nazism and Communism.
This date was chosen to attribute equal responsibility
for the crimes of the Shoah and the tragedies of World War II to
the Soviet Union (along with Nazi Germany.) In addition, the "Prague Declaration" calls for the rewriting of all the textbooks and history books, taking into
account the equivalency between Communist and Nazi crimes, demands
which will reduce the Holocaust to just another tragedy among many
In order to understand the motivation for these demands, it is important
to remember that in Eastern Europe, collaboration with the Nazis
included active participation in the mass murder of Jews, a fact
which these countries, and especially the Baltic states, are trying
as hard as possible to hide or at least minimize.
The acceptance of their demand for equivalency between
Communism and Nazism will help mitigate the criticism of their Holocaust
crimes, as if Communism and Nazism are equal, it means that the former
also constitutes genocide, and if that is the case, Jews (who were
part of the Communist establishment) were also guilty of genocide,
and therefore have no right to criticize the nationals of these East
European countries for their Holocaust crimes.
In other words, if everyone is guilty of genocide,
no one is guilty of such crimes, and these countries can change their
status from "nations of perpetrators" to "nations of victims," with all the concomitant benefits of reparations and restitution in the wake
of such a transformation.
No country has invested more efforts and resources
in promoting the "Prague Declaration" than Lithuania, whose nationals collaborated with the Nazis in the mass murder
of Jews to the widest extent possible, a fact which contributed very
significantly to its astronomical percentage of Jewish victims, 96.4%,
the highest in Europe.
Lithuania is doing everything possible to refrain
from honestly confronting its Holocaust crimes, and I therefore believed
that the visit of Prime Minister Kubilius to Israel would be an excellent
opportunity for our leaders to make clear to the guests that promoting
the "Prague Declaration" is simply unacceptable and that the State of Israel will view the continuation
of the efforts to implement its recommendations as a particularly
After all, if the Jewish state will not object, the path to establishing this
false symmetry as the historical truth, with all the accompanying
negative consequences, will be clear.
To my great chagrin, despite the fact that all the
relevant material regarding this problem was prepared in the Foreign
Ministry prior to the visit, our leaders did not raise the issue
of the promotion of the "Prague Declaration" in their meetings with PM Kubilius and his entourage. Thus, from the Lithuanians'
standpoint, the visit went very smoothly and pleasantly and they
could return to Vilnius quite pleased with its results, and with
the path cleared for the distortion of the history of the Holocaust
and the erasure of their horrific crimes. What a shameful embarrassment.