Christopher HaleHitler's Foreign Executioners: Europe's Dirty Secret
Assessment | History serving systemic bias
The history of the Holocaust in the Baltics and Eastern Europe is not "fanatic support" by all the peoples lying between Russia and Germany for the extermination of their centuries-old Jewish neighbours. Nor did Eastern Europeans bludgeon their Jewish neighbours to death in the most horrific manner, then sit atop their piled-up still-warm bodies playing folk ditties. Nazi-manufactured accounts that the Eastern Europeans had an appetite for brutality that shocked even the Germans served both German and subsequent Soviet propaganda—and continue to do so today as both German and Russian historians fall over each other to advocate for the spontaneous "Germanless" Holocaust.
The true diminishing of the Holocaust is that Hitler's incomprehensible industrial eradication of Jewry has been a pawn in politics and regime-serving narratives from the very moment of its depraved envisioning. As soon as the Nazis invaded the USSR, they sent "news" out through their collaborators in Sweden reporting that all Eastern Europe had risen up spontaneously to murder the Jews. To report hundreds if not thousands of Lithuanians "cleansing" Jewry when, in fact, it was German police travelling the countryside making sure to slaughter Jews in every shtetl they encountered. (A letter back to Berlin explained how it would look bad for Germany if the truth got out, contradicting official reports.) Today, seventy-five years after the liberation of Auschwitz, Nazi-tarring rhetoric has only grown in stridency as Latvians, in particular, have become a tool exploited in Europe's cynical liberal-versus-conservative gutter politics and in Russia's ongoing campaign to destroy European unity.
The Latvian culture ranks among the oldest surviving Indo-European cultures. It has remained intact through a millennium of foreign incursions, conquests, and decimations through the tenacity of the Latvian people and their dedication to preserving their culture. The first Soviet occupation did more to destroy Latvian society and culture in one year than Baltic German hegemony had in the prior seven hundred. If survival hinged upon taking up German arms to save one's culture, so be it. That does not signify siding with Hitler or Himmler or supporting their genocide.
For those with a genuine interest in the Holocaust in Latvia, ready to move past the Nazi conspiracy mill, we recommend Professor Ezergailis' web site: The Holocaust Archives of Latvia in the USA.
Hale mistakes a fleeting—on a timeline spanning four millennia on the Baltic Sea—alliance with one enemy (Germans) against a centuries-old mortal enemy and recent brutal occupier (Russians) for deeply rooted Nazi sympathies and shared motivations. But it's not enough to suckle up to Kremlin-backed propagandists and to side with the anti-Latvian rhetoric of Kremlin denouncements. Hale derides Latvians as deluded for believing a Latvian state has ever existed—calling the very notion a scam. Hale's own creditable research clearly shows the Latvian Waffen-SS did not fight for the Nazi cause. Yet, that conclusion lies beyond his grasp. Hale's interpretations he self-identifies to be contrary to mainstream scholarship emanate from his personal dogma and prejudices—demonstrably immune to historical fact.
For the useful bits before Hale gets it all wrong.
Updated: May, 2017