EU halts move to downgrade Shoah

By Michel Zlotowski, December 29, 2010

The EU's rejection last week of the demand by foreign ministers from Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania and Romania to "treat Communist crimes according to the same standards" as those of Nazi regimes has been welcomed by Simon Wiesenthal Israel Director Efraim Zuroff.

Mr Zuroff said that this attempt to push the "so-called double genocide law… reeks of antisemitism".

The campaign was launched in 2008 by a group of 40 Eastern European leaders and intellectuals, among them Vaclav Havel and Emanuelis Zingeris. The latter, said Mr Zuroff, "has done more to harm Jewish interests in Lithuania than any other person. The aim is to institute a false equivalence between Communism and Nazism."

Led by the Lithuanian foreign minister, the group urged Viviane Reding, the European Justice Commissioner, to support the law. They were told that the EU does not have legal grounds for this. The EU justice commissioner's spokesman, Matthew Newman, said that laws regarding cross-border crimes - including those related to race-hate and xenophobia - do not mention totalitarianism and that the commission rejects the idea of double genocide. "The bottom line is, obviously, what they did was horrendous, but Communist regimes did not target ethnic minorities," he said.

For the time being, the EU has thwarted this attempt to relativise the Holocaust, destroy its unique status and turn it into just another tragedy, according to Zuroff.

"This is an intent to turn everything topsy-turvy," said Zuroff. "If Communism equals Nazism, then Communism is genocide, which it is not. If Communism is genocide, then Jews committed genocide because among the Communists, some of them were Jews. If Jews committed genocide, then obviously it does undermine the arguments of Jews against the peoples in Eastern Europe, who helped the Nazis mass-murder the Jews. In other words, this is designed to deflect the criticism of Nazi collaboration in Eastern Europe which was far more lethal than Nazi collaboration anywhere else."

Last updated: 3:35pm, December 29 2010