In Estonia the 70th anniversary of German invasion of the Soviet Union became a remarkable event first of all for hard-line nationalists and neo-Nazis: as soon as June 22 came they began to celebrate the anniversary of Hitler’s troops’ invasion of different Estonian towns…
The first celebration took place in the town of Viljandi in the south of Estonia. The organizers from the local Sakala community of Estonian military men keep on repeating that German invasion of Estonia in summer 1941 was “the liberation of the country from the Soviet regime”.
Tartu, an old university city, was next on the list. The ceremony marked 70 years since the seizure of the building, where the headquarters of Kaitseliit (a revived militarized nationalist organization) by local “patriots”. That seizure was the beginning of the liquidation of the Soviet regime and preparation of the city for the entry of the Hitler troops. The ceremony was attended by the Estonian Defense Minister Mart Laar, who together with the chaplain grandly opened the memorial board on the building.
Dimitry Klenski, a well-known politician and right activist in Estonia, says that celebrations of the beginning of Nazi German occupation will soon reach the capital of Tallinn rolling down as fast as the Hitler’s army invasion 70 years ago.
The Estonian historical museum has been offering its visitors an exposition dedicated to Tallinn native Alfred Rosenberg, head of Reich Ministry for the Occupied Eastern Territories, who was named among the main war criminals at the Nurnberg tribunal. In response to the criticism of the Estonian Jewish Community, which found the exposition glorifies the Nazi crimes, the museum’s administration said that Rosenberg was honored the exposition as a famous Tallinn resident.
One more fact: recently an annual gathering of the former servicemen of 20th Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS was held in Sinimäe (a place in the north-east of the country). What do the veterans from “the Union of fighters for Estonia’s liberation” and the Estonian legion’s friends society” as well as their “soul-mates” from the Latvian nationalist movement celebrate? They remember how they deterred the offense of the Red Army under Sinimäe and they are also spreading neo-Nazi ideas.
How can this take place in the European country, the member of the UN, which officially recognizes the international legal norms on the condemnation of all forms of Nazism and xenophobia and supports the prosecution of war criminals? The Estonian government claims it is not involved in these events saying that they were the initiative of local authorities and different non-formal organizations. Prime Minister Andrus Ansip regards traditional international gatherings of the veterans of 20th Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS in Sinimäe as “civil campaigns commemorating the victims of the Second World War similar to those which are held in Europe”. He stresses that the governmental officials do not take part in such gatherings”.
Such excuses look sardonic. Wasn’t it the Defense Minister and the ideologist of the hard-line nationalism Mart Laar, who opened the memorial board in Tartu honoring those whose hands were in blood of thousands of Russian and Estonian people? Did not he promise to officially recognize the veterans of the 20 division of SS as “freedom fighters”? Laar’s party associate and parliamentary deputy from the Union of Fatherland and Republic party Trivimi Velliste spoke about it with great satisfaction at the gathering in Sinimäe.
By the order from the Estonian Interior Minister, Finnish human rights activist and chairman of Finland’s Anti-fascist Committee, Johan Backman, was prevented by police from entering Estonia to participate in an anti-nazi rally.He was to attend the Public meeting commemorating victims of Nazism and the soldiers of the Red army who had died for the liberation of Estonia, which was simultaneously held in Sinimäe not far from the place of the gathering of SS veterans at the same time. However, for the entry for Estonia for SS-veterans and their supporters was wide open.
But even if we assume that all those gatherings and ceremonies on the occasion of German Wehrmacht’s victories were held on the initiative of local authorities and public organizations will it justify the government’s non-involvement?
The head of the Simon Wiesentahl center, which investigates Nazi crimes, Efraim Zuroff says: “I would like to underscore that Estonia’s problem with Nazi criminals is in the lack of political will necessary to bring those criminals to Justice”. Zuroff says that Estonia is the shelter for the most terrible associates of Hitler…
In Estonia the protest was voiced only by public organizations – the Estonian Jewish Community, the movement Estonia without Nazism (which is officially regarded as an extremist organization, by the way) and the Klensky list non-commercial association. The Klensky list made a statement drawing attention of the Estonian authorities and people as well as of Russia and the EU to real threats for the entire population of the Estonian republic: “This is the strengthening of ultra nationalist and neo-Nazi sentiments in Estonia, radicalization of extremist-oriented political elite”. Klensky and his associates stress that the silent consent means silent approval to gas cells of the 21st century.
We know that in 1930-s, the Western world preferred to ignore the rise of revanchists and Nazis in Germany, which led to the most terrible war in the history of human race.
Today there is a real risk of the repetition. The West’s loyal attitude and sometimes even an evident interest of certain circles in such sentiments enable neo-Nazis to strengthen positions in the countries, which are proud of their democratic and liberal values.
The EU keeps silence; we don’t hear the voice of the parliamentary assembly, which likes to set standards of democracy for Russia. The states of the former anti-Hitler Coalition (the US, Great Britain and France which fought Hitler and acted as guarantees of the UN in fighting the revival of Nazism) are also staying away from all these issues.
It looks that the Russia’s Foreign Ministry with its official statement condemning the latest acts of glorifying of Nazism and the hope that the criminal loyal attitude of the Estonian government to the organization of such events won’t remain without the attention of Estonia’s partners in the EU and NATO is knocking at the closed door.
Officials in NATO and in the EU are not particular about the means to make pressure on non-democratic regimes in Libya and Syria but they do not want to see the revival of Nazism in “the camp of new democracies” - in Estonia and other countries. They would rather keep in mind that the stake on neo-Nazism and Russo phobia will inevitably give birth to local “Anders Breiviks” and may be even more dangerous monsters.