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OP-ED COLUMNIST
‘The Suffering Olympics’

By ROGER COHEN
Published: January 30, 2012

VILNIUS, LITHUANIA — The “double genocide” wars that pit Stalin’s crimes against Hitler’s are raging in wide swathes of Europe and every now and again along comes a gust from the past to stoke them. The 70th anniversary this month of the Nazi adoption at Wannsee of annihilation plans for the Jews provided one such squall.

Yes, the past is still treacherous beneath Europe’s calm surface. Memory swirls untamed in the parts of the Continent that the American historian Timothy Snyder calls “Bloodlands,” the slaughterhouses from Lithuania to Ukraine that Hitler and Stalin subjected to their murderous whim.

To mark the Wannsee anniversary, over 70 European Parliament members, including 8 Lithuanians, signed a declaration objecting to “attempts to obfuscate the Holocaust by diminishing its uniqueness and deeming it to be equal, similar or equivalent to Communism.” It also rejected efforts to rewrite European school history books “to reflect the notion of ‘double genocide.”’

All of this was too much for the Lithuanian foreign minister, Audronius Azubalis, a conservative, who blasted the Lithuanian social democrat signatories as “pathetic.” His spokeswoman declared that the only difference between Hitler and Stalin was the length of their mustaches. She said legal qualifications of the crimes they committed were “absolutely the same”: genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.


Roger Cohen

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Category : Opinions



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