The Seventy Years Declaration is an historic document symbolically signed on 20 January 2012, the 70th anniversary of the Wannsee Conference when the Nazi leadership adopted its Final Solution plan to exterminate European Jewry. The Seventy Years Declaration was signed by a symbolic 70 European parliamentarians from 20 East and West European countries, and from across the political spectrum (Conservatives, Labour, Liberals, and Social Democrats)
The Seventy Years Declaration opposes a new Holocaust Revisionism that attempts to “equalise” Nazi and Communist crimes through the notion of “double genocide”. Based on the 2008 Prague Declaration on European Conscience and Communism, double genocide has emerged in Eastern and Central Europe in recent year, diminishing and obfuscating the Holocaust by emphasising Stalinist crimes at the expense of Nazi atrocities.
Initially a response to the emergence of double genocide in Lithuania, the Seventy Years Declaration was the first serious effort in European parliamentary circles to oppose the 2008 Prague Declaration. With the spread of double genocide to other countries, it is now the primary campaign to counter double genocide globally. The Seventy Years Declaration has now been signed by major Jewish organisations and provides an opportunity for organisations and individuals to join the ranks of those opposing double genocide by saying no to this rewriting of history.
The Prague Declaration on European Conscience and Communism was adopted in the Czech capital in June 2008 by a group of East European politicians and intellectuals.The Prague Declaration has distorted and dramatically downgraded the Holocaust by disingenuously drawing an inaccurate equivalence between the Nazi and Soviet experiences. As such, this offers a revisionist history known as “double genocide”, which in practice emphasises Stalinist crimes at the expense of the Holocaust. It also entails the rehabilitation of Nazi collaborators and local war criminals and the vilification of those who resisted the Nazis.
The Prague Declaration mentions the word “same” five times in comparing Nazism and Communism. Such attempts are a distortion of the true history and undermine the important historical lessons drawn from each of these distinct experiences. If the Prague Declaration were to be realised, the way the Holocaust is remembered would be undermined, and indeed decades of work for appropriate memorialisation would be negated through the distortion and diminishing of the Holocaust.
The Prague Declaration and double genocide is supported by multiple governments and political parties in Central and Eastern Europe. Double genocide has become mainstream in Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia , and Hungary , and is gathering momentum in the Ukraine, has gained traction in the European Union & and even to America where it has gained support in Congress.
The distortion of the Holocaust is seen in the Genocide Museum in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius, which has three floors devoted to Soviet genocide and one room to the Holocaust. On the ground floor near the Museum’s entrance is a revealing exhibit which, as is shown in the table below, compares the number of victims of Soviet occupation with the victims of German occupation without providing any context to the numbers. With double genocide predicated on the redefining of genocide, the total number of Lithuanians listed is greater than the total number of Jews. Categories of state action like “arrested, interrogated, imprisoned” i.e. non-lethal and inherently incomparable with genocide are heavily included in the numbers, which distorts the meaning of the figures of the number of victims presented. The numbers on their own do not tell the whole story. While Lithuanian Jews were almost totally eliminated during WWII, the total Lithuanian population actually grew.
In addition to double genocide becoming mainstream in Eastern and Central European countries, the Prague Declaration campaign targets the European Union where at the initiative of the Prague Declaration group, the European Parliament in 2009 passed a non-binding resolution calling for a single day for the commemoration of victims of Nazi and Soviet Totalitarianism, 23 August, the anniversary of the Hitler-Stalin Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact’. As a sign of the Prague Declaration’s political success, the 2009 double genocide resolution threatens the continuation of the moral and intellectual battle long fought for Holocaust recognition. The Government backed Prague Declaration campaign continues, having gained support in the American Congress.
Double genocide is backed by legislation and intimidation, as the Hungarian Latvian, Lithuanian Governments have enacted laws making it a criminal offence to dispute the double genocide.
Double genocide entails the glorification of anti-Soviet nationalists, many of whom independently or in collaboration with the Nazis were active in the destruction of European Jewry. This is seen with the annual parade of the Waffen SS in Latvia.
Double genocide is also linked to the worsening problem of racism and anti-Semitism in contemporary Europe.
The Seventy Years Declaration was formally presented to Martin Schulz, president of the European Parliament, in a 14 March 2012 ceremony. Within minutes of The Seventy Years Declaration’s release it was vehemently attacked by the incumbent Lithuanian Foreign Minister, who said “It is not possible to find differences between Hitler and Stalin except in their moustaches (Hitler’s was shorter)“.
As double genocide had spread since the 2012 signing of the Seventy Years Declaration, so too has its opposition. In 2013, Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Wiesel returned a national medal he had been given by Hungary as a protest against what he sees as the ‘white-washing of a tragic and criminal episode in Hungary’s past.’
The Seventy Years Declaration believes the awful crimes of the Soviets must be recognised but not at the expense of the truth about the Holocaust.
Double genocide is rewriting history. If history is rewritten, lessons are not learnt and its tragic events can be repeated.
Individuals and organisations are encouraged to join the growing list of those who have taken a stand and said “no” to double genocide and have signed the Declaration.
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