Christopher HaleHitler's Foreign Executioners: Europe's Dirty Secret

Prague Declaration on European Conscience and CommunismAdvocating for equal value of lives, or equal quantities of evil?

Before continuing our examination of Hale's preface, what does the Prague Declaration actually call for? Is it truly that "red = brown"? The praguedeclaration.org web page which Hale cites is no longer available. We have reproduced the declaration below, followed by our analysis of the declaration as compared to Hale's allegations.

June 3rd, 2008, Prague, Senate of the Parliament of the Czech Republic

PRAGUE
DECLARATION

Bearing in mind the dignified and democratic future of our European home,

  • whereas societies that neglect the past have no future,
  • whereas Europe will not be united unless it is able to reunite its history, recognize Communism and Nazism as a common legacy and bring about an honest and thorough debate on all the totalitarian crimes of the past century,
  • whereas the Communist ideology is directly responsible for crimes against humanity,
  • whereas a bad conscience stemming from the Communist past is a heavy burden for the future of Europe and for our children,
  • whereas different valuations of the Communist past may still split Europe into "West" and "East",
  • whereas European integration was a direct response to wars and violence provoked by totalitarian systems on the continent,
  • whereas consciousness of the crimes against humanity committed by the Communist regimes throughout the continent must inform all European minds to the same extent as the Nazi regimes crimes did,
  • whereas there are substantial similarities between Nazism and Communism in terms of their horrific and appalling character and their crimes against humanity,
  • whereas the crimes of Communism still need to be assessed and judged from the legal, moral and political as well as the historical point of view,
  • whereas the crimes were justified in the name of the class struggle theory and the principle of dictatorship of the "proletariat" using terror as a method to preserve the dictatorship,
  • whereas Communist ideology has been used as a tool in the hands of empire builders in Europe and in Asia to reach their expansionist goals,
  • whereas many of the perpetrators committing crimes in the name of Communism have not yet been brought to justice and their victims have not yet been compensated,
  • whereas providing objective comprehensive information about the Communist totalitarian past leading to a deeper understanding and discussion is a necessary condition for sound future integration of all European nations,
  • whereas the ultimate reconciliation of all European peoples is not possible without a concentrated and in depth effort to establish the truth and to restore the memory,
  • whereas the Communist past of Europe must be dealt with thoroughly both in the academy and among the general public, and future generations should have ready access to information on Communism,
  • whereas in different parts of the globe only a few totalitarian Communist regimes survive but, nevertheless, they control about one fifth of the world's population, and by still clinging to power they commit crimes and impose a high cost to the well-being of their people,
  • whereas in many countries, even though Communist parties are not in power, they have not distanced themselves publicly from the crimes of Communist regimes nor condemned them,
  • whereas Prague is one of the places that lived through the rule of both Nazism and Communism,

believing that millions of victims of Communism and their families are entitled to enjoy justice, sympathy, understanding and recognition for their sufferings in the same way as the victims of Nazism have been morally and politically recognized,

we, participants of the Prague Conference "European Conscience and Communism",

  • having regard to the European Parliament resolution on the sixtieth anniversary of the end of the Second World War in Europe on 8 May 1945 of May 12th, 2005,
  • having regard to Resolution 1481 of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe of January 26th, 2006,
  • having regard to the EPP XVIth Congress resolution of February 5th, 2004, calling for the creation of an independent expert body for the collection and assessment of information about violations of human rights under totalitarian Communism and urging the creation of a memorial museum of the victims of Communism,
  • having regard to the resolutions on Communist crimes adopted by a number of national parliaments,
  • having regard to the experience of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa,
  • having regard to the experience of Institutes of Memory and memorials in Poland, Germany, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, the United States and the museums of occupation in Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia and the House of Terror in Hungary,
  • having regard to present and upcoming presidencies in the EU and the Council of Europe
  • having regard to the fact that 2009 is the 20th anniversary of the collapse of Communism in Eastern and Central Europe as well as the massacre in Tiananmen Square in Beijing,

call for:

  1. reaching an all-European understanding that both the Nazi and Communist totalitarian regimes each to be judged by their own terrible merits to be destructive in their policies of systematically applying extreme forms of terror, suppressing all civic and human liberties, starting aggressive wars and, as an inseparable part of their ideologies,  exterminating and deporting whole nations and groups of population; and that as such they should be considered to be the main disasters, which blighted the 20th century,
  2. recognition that many crimes committed in the name of Communism should be assessed as crimes against humanity serving as a warning for future generations, in the same way Nazi crimes were assessed by the Nuremberg Tribunal,
  3. formulation of a common approach regarding crimes of totalitarian regimes, inter alia Communist regimes, and raising a Europe-wide awareness of the Communist crimes in order to clearly define a common attitude towards the crimes of the Communist regimes,
  4. introduction of legislation that would enable courts of law to judge and sentence perpetrators of Communist crimes and to compensate victims of Communism,
  5. ensuring the principle of equal treatment and non-discrimination of victims of all the totalitarian regimes, 
  6. European and international pressure for effective condemnation of the past Communist crimes and for efficient fight against ongoing Communist crimes, 
  7. recognition of Communism as an integral and horrific part of Europe’s common history 
  8. acceptance of pan-European responsibility for crimes committed by Communism,   
  9. establishment of 23rd August, the day of signing of the Hitler-Stalin Pact, known as the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, as a day of remembrance of the victims of both Nazi and Communist totalitarian regimes, in the same way Europe remembers the victims of the Holocaust on January 27th,  
  10. responsible attitudes of National Parliaments as regards acknowledgement of Communist crimes as crimes against humanity, leading to the appropriate legislation, and to the parliamentary monitoring of such legislation,  
  11. effective public debate about the commercial and political misuse of Communist symbols,   
  12. continuation of the European Commission hearings regarding victims of totalitarian regimes, with a view to the compilation of a Commission communication,
  13. establishment in European states, which had been ruled by totalitarian Communist regimes, of committees composed of independent experts with the task of collecting and assessing information on violations of human rights under totalitarian Communist regime at national level with a view to collaborating closely with a Council of Europe committee of experts;
  14. ensuring a clear international legal framework regarding a free and unrestricted  access to the Archives containing the information on the crimes of Communism,   
  15. establishment of an Institute of European Memory and Conscience which would be both - A) a European research institute for totalitarianism studies, developing scientific and educational projects and providing support to networking of national research institutes specialising in the subject of totalitarian experience, B) and a pan-European museum/memorial of victims of all totalitarian regimes, with an aim to memorialise victims of these regimes and raise awareness of the crimes committed by them,   
  16. organising of an international conference on the crimes committed by totalitarian Communist regimes with the participation of representatives of governments, parliamentarians, academics, experts and NGOs, with the results to be largely publicised world-wide,
  17. adjustment and overhaul of European history textbooks so that children could learn and be warned about Communism and its crimes in the same way as they have been taught to assess the Nazi crimes
  18. the all-European extensive and thorough debate of Communist history and legacy, 
  19. joint commemoration of next year’s 20th anniversaries of the fall of the Berlin Wall and the massacre in Tiananmen Square.

 

We, participants of the Prague Conference "European Conscience and Communism", address all peoples of Europe, all European political institutions including national governments, parliaments, European Parliament, European Commission, Council of Europe and other relevant international bodies, and call on them to embrace the ideas and appeals stipulated in this Prague Declaration and to implement them in practical steps and policies.


Founding Signatories:

Václav Havel, former dissident and President of Czechoslovakia / the Czech Republic, Czech Republic
Joachim Gauck, former Federal Commissioner for the Stasi archives, Germany
Göran Lindblad, Vice-president of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, Member of Parliament, Sweden
Vytautas Landsbergis, Member of the European Parliament, former dissident and President of Lithuania, Lithuania
Jana Hybášková, Member of the European Parliament, Czech Republic
Christopher Beazley, Member of the European Parliament, United Kingdom
Tunne Kelam, Member of the European Parliament, former dissident, Estonia
Jiří Liška, Senator, Vice-chairman of the Senate, Parliament of the Czech Republic, Czech Republic
Martin Mejstřík, Senator, Parliament of the Czech Republic, Czech Republic
Jaromír Štětina, Senator, Parliament of the Czech Republic, Czech Republic
Emanuelis Zingeris, Member of Parliament, Lithuania, Chairman, International commission for the assessment of crimes of the Nazi and Soviet occupation regimes in Lithuania, Lithuania
Tseten Samdup Chhoekyapa, Representative of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Geneva, Tibet, Switzerland
Ivonka Survilla, Exile President of Belorussia, Canada
Zianon Pazniak, Chairman of the People’s National Front of Belorussia, Chairman of the Belorussian Conservative Christian Party, United States
Růžena Krásná, former political prisoner, politician, Czech Republic
Jiří Stránský, former political prisoner, writer, former PEN club chairman, Czech Republic
Václav Vaško, former political prisoner, diplomat, catholic activist, Czech Republic
Alexandr Podrabinek, former dissident and political prisoner, journalist, Russian Federation
Pavel Žáček, Director, Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes, Czech Republic
Miroslav Lehký, Vice-director, Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes, Czech Republic
Łukasz Kamiński, Vice-director, Institue of National Remembrance, Poland
Michael Kißener, professor of history, Johann Gutenberg University, Mainz, Germany
Eduard Stehlík, historian, Vice-director, Institute for Military History, Czech Republic
Karel Straka, historian, Institute for Military History, Czech Republic
Jan Urban, journalist, Czech Republic
Jaroslav Hutka, former dissident, songwriter, Czech Republic
Lukáš Pachta, political scientist and writer, Czech Republic

Analysis

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A thorough reading of the declaration reveals neither "equating" nor any evidence that the "authors of the Prague Declaration grossly distort the historical record and seek ultimately to tear down the unique moral status of the Holocaust." There is no creation of "double genocide." Indeed, the resolution takes particular care to advocate that Hitler's and Stalin's crimes be judged independently: "both the Nazi and Communist totalitarian regimes each to be judged by their own terrible merits."

Hale, who thanks Zuroff for his contributions[1], echoes Zuroff's position on the "canard of equivalency." However, Hale misquotes and misrepresents the Prague Declaration to make his case.

It is offensive to suggest Eastern Europeans seek to dilute the horror of Hitler's industrialized genocide. But if not "diluting" equivalence, as is alleged, then what does the Prague Declaration actually seek?

Hale demonizes the Baltic and Eastern European pweoples for colluding to white-wash their Nazi-embracing past, to paint Holocaust perpetrators as anti-Soviet patriots. But Hale is fundamentally mistaken, ascribing his personal interpretation to be Baltic and Eastern European motivation. The two narratives could not be more diametrically opposed.

One only has to examine popular culture in the post-Soviet era to see, clearly, the issue at hand. Hitler and Nazi Germany are an anathema, yet admiration and nostalgia for Soviet glory continues to thrive. Nazi memorabilia is spurned, its sale often prohibited, yet Soviet era mementos are more popular than ever, untainted by the deaths of millions. One need only check eBay for "nazi medal" and "soviet medal" listings—none for the former, hundreds upon hundreds for the latter.

Hitler's industrialization of human slaughter was unprecedented. Yet, when it comes to an innocent life brutally cut short, would anyone actually argue that riding to one's death in Stalin's cattle car is less tragic, less worthy of our commemoration than were it in Hitler's cattle car?

What the Baltic and Eastern European peoples plead for is recognizing and acknowledging the equal and universal worth of life of both Hitler's and Stalin's victims.

The Kremlin Agenda

We have mentioned World Without Nazism is a Russian front hijacking the cause of anti-Nazism to serve the Kremlin's agenda. And so, we wondered, what does the Kremlin say about the Prague Declaration?

The process that had developed after the Prague Declaration in 2008 declares the equal responsibility of the communist and the Nazi regime for crimes committed in the twentieth century (especially the outbreak of World War II), calls for recognition of August 23 as a European Day of Remembrance for the victims of totalitarian regimes.

1The equation [sic.] of the two totalitarian regimes - communist and Nazi is nothing more than an attempt of some countries of Eastern Europe to whitewash the criminal regimes who collaborated with Hitler, to shift responsibility for the genocide only to Germans, to present those by whose hands were committed the mass murder of thousand and millions innocent people as "fighters against the communist regime".

It is not difficult to see among those who called for "condemnation of communism" - right-wing political forces, social movements, pseudo-scientific research centers and museums, self-proclaimed spiritual and political successors of collaborators, 2Legionnaires' Waffen SS, Forest Brothers, Bandera, and other supporters of the Nazis.

It is no coincidence that the tendency to equate Soviet and the Nazi regime against a background of 3rapid nazification and radicalization of social consciousness in the former communist bloc. ...© 2011 Russian Embassy[2]

Contention versus Fact

As we have written, the issue is the equating of lives. Stalin's victims are no less worthy of our commemoration than Hitler's. No one seek to diminish the unique status of the Holocaust. But it is only political compromise that left mass extermination of political and social classes out of the official U.N. definition of "genocide" thus saving Stalin from guilt. That omission rendered Stalin's deportations and slaughter of Eastern Europeans including Jewry "not a genocide" based on a technicality.

The Waffen SS fought only against the reinvading Soviets. The Forest Brothers were partisans who fought against Soviet power in the Baltics for decades after WWII was over. And Stepan Bandera was jailed by the Nazis for his Ukrainian nationalism. None of those the Kremlin names supported Nazism.

We arrive at the heart of the Kremlin position. Anti-Sovietism in the former "communist bloc" and occupied Baltic states is an attack on the "history" of the Soviet "liberation" of eastern Europe from fascism. Anti-Soviet = anti-(anti-fascist heroes) = pro-fascist = Nazi. The more vociferous the denunciation of Soviet subjugation, the more vituperative the Kremlin's accusations of Nazism.

While science eventually proved the chicken came before the egg, in the case of alleged "equation [sic.]," who uttered the accusation first, whether activists, the Kremlin, or Hale himself, is not material. What matters is that every repetition of the lie that the Waffen-SS Latvian Legion supported Nazism is a new lie.


[1]viz. Hale's acknowledgements: "At a critical stage, Ephraim Zuroff and Dovid Katz made valuable contributions."
[2]Archived content retrieved at webcitation.org, 14 March 2016. Note that laws, ordinances, official decrees and notices, constitutions, court decisions and grounds thereof, and other official works do not enjoy copyright protection under Russian copyright law.

Updated: May, 2017

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