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Dealing with the Past in 'New Europe'

Guardian correspondent Jonathan Steele has an interesting piece about the different significance Lithuania attaches to the victims of Communism and of Nazism. He describes walking through the 'Museum of Genocide Victims':
But as I moved from room to dismal room, I had a growing sense something was missing. Vilnius was once known as the Jerusalem of the North. What about the Jews? Did their fate not merit remembrance? In a corridor I eventually found a placard with a brief, though telling, mention. It gave estimates for the victims of Lithuania's Soviet occupation and of the Nazi one as well. The number summarily shot, or who died in prison and during deportation in the Soviet period, reached 74,500. During three years of Nazi rule from June 1941, those killed amounted to 240,000, "including about 200,000 Jews".
It is worth noting that this is a general issue throughout the former communist countries of Europe. It is not hard to predict that countries will tend to play up their own victimhood and not discuss their complicity in a genocide. This was also the initial reaction of the West European countries that were occupied by the nazis. Over time, however, that has been replaced by a more critical narrative.

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franchie on :

"countries will tend to play up their own victimhood " can't see that there, but more an opportunist sense of business Who would think to go to Vilnius ? only a Goulag attraction will make it, people are fancying on extrem emotive sensations. http://www.balticsww.com/stalin_world.htm Well, about the jewish victims, this is not something they are proud to show off, neither any EU states.

Nanne on :

Proud to show off has the wrong overtones. It's more like something you wish were honestly displayed. Anyway, in, say, France, Sarkozy [url=http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/955859.html]floated the idea[/url] a few months ago that 10 year old children should symbolically adopt a similarly aged Jewish child who was deported from France and murdered by the Nazis (wonder what happened to that).

franchie on :

OK, Nanne, my english vocabulary is a bit weak About the Sarkozy's idea, one knows how french education world is touchy with its prerogatives, therefore it made what it knows the best : the duty of disobediance. Dunno if a few teachers followed the injonction. The argumentation was that one shouldn't traumatise a child to live with another dead child hollow. Even the ex-surviving-deportees didn't find the idea very clever, saying that they still visit the classes and talk of their experience with the children, and that more sane if one can discuss of it rather than lives with it. I also agree with them.

Pat Patterson on :

I seem to remember, without any citations, that one of the things the newly installed Communist governments did was to blame the previous governments for the camps and the deaths. Absolving themselves, the population, of any reponsibility because it was the other guys who did it. Thus in East Germany the murders were the reponsibility of not only the Nazis but the Nazi successor state in the West. Or the Polish communists blaming the deaths on the Polish Government in Exile or the former leaders of the Sanacja Movement. Those guys or better known as them!

Zyme on :

Adopting killed jewish children? My goodness, at least we are spared with such ideas here. Hopefully. What the educational masters seem to enjoy here is to send jews from school to school so that pupils can listen to their personal stories from first hand. The problem is that this has not only become very tiresome for the pupils, but also for the younger teachers. Even they admitted that this should stop. Great educational concept when in the end everyone agrees that this is futile. And that was five years ago. Of course we were not allowed to critizise anything at the event itself. Instead we were told to sit still, listen, not eat/drink and not laugh. This we did. Everyone knew that he/she would be into big trouble when behaving contrary. But when ordered by the jew to ask questions after he finished telling, nobody had any. This drove him crazy, he was almost jumping up and down, shouting we should ask questions. When the tension became unbearable, some girl raised her finger and asked someting about Israel´s policy today. He almost freaked out, shouting how she could move to this subject, and that he wanted to answer different questions. I won´t forget that bizarre moment. It seemed to be a quite sobering experience to him - and we were so relieved when the show was over.

Joe Noory on :

[i]Ordered by "the Jew" to ask questions [/i] ?

Zyme on :

Yes ordered - how else can you interpret a man shouting at a hundred pupils again and again "Ask questions! I want you to ask questions!" Just like he stood in front of a group of dogs ordering them to sit or jump and the dogs just won´t follow. He repeated it that often that people found it offending. This was also the moment when the directorate was most nervous - as it was clear that some of the more provocative natures among the pupils would soon ask questions - about the use of this entire show. And a show it was, taking place at the school theater, with the jew on the stage. Because of the pressure from the directorate and the presence of local press recording the event it was a chilling experience, clearly reminiscent of ideological education one had expected to be long gone in this country. I knew for sure that it would be best to simply stay calm and not open my mouth. This was our last year at school - and you don´t want to risk your future.

Don S on :

frustration? Passion? He wanted you to care about what had been done to his people - and it is obvious from my reading that none of you did. 'Ancient History, nan' - 'Whatever'. Kids are like that. The one 'question' was not about the holocaust but seemed aimed at pointing out supposed 'similarities' between the Third Reich and modern Israel, which seems to be a blood sport in Germany these days. There are a few profound differences of course. Israel tends to kill in retail, not wholesale quantities, usually as a response to some outrage, and what they are doing can't be described as genocide. Apart from those things they are of course the same. I feel sorry for that poor Jew. You drove him nuts.

Nanne on :

This thread seems to be shot through with second language issues. I hope. Personally, I don't find Sarkozy's proposal that crazy. I could imagine a programme that is based children of 11 imagine that their classroom would be Jewish and born in 1930 -- and what would happen. Certainly it is better than having a survivor or spokesperson visit classrooms out of the blue. Such visits would still be possible, and it should be better possible to fit that into the educational programme.

franchie on :

there have been many movies with jewish children, such as "aurevoir les enfants" from Louis Malle "Monsieur Batignole" from Gérard Jugnot... photos exhibitions... The pics impress more children's mind than the impersonation of one "unknown" child, which remains abstract.

David on :

"Hitlerjunge Salomon" was a pretty effective film on the topic, but I guess it fizzled in Germany. As "Europa,Europa" it went on to become a hit in the US.

Zyme on :

"but I guess it fizzled in Germany." Not so sure about that. I saw it once on TV and had a quite positive impression. It certainly was better than most movies on the subject.

Joe Noory on :

[url=http://www.lefigaro.fr/actualite-france/2008/06/22/01016-20080622ARTFIG00028-un-jeune-juif-dans-le-coma-apres-une-agression-.php]Bof. Mais c’est comme ça[/url]...

Zyme on :

pourquois.. :D

franchie on :

parce que : "Cinq mineurs originaires de cet arrondissement et de la Seine-Saint-Denis" (muslimsland)

franchie on :

It also appears that this young jewish person belongs to a radical "gang" that was in use to fight with the magrebin communauties : http://www.lexpress.fr/actualite/depeches/infojour/reuters.asp?id=73639

Joe Noory on :

Gang violence. Gee, I wonder what this mysterious "organization" was doing other than trying to defend itself from happy-slappers?

franchie on :

once more your extrapoling : this young jewish belongs to the Milice "Betar", which is an extremist and sionist group, therefore not a "victim" : http://www.lemonde.fr/web/article/reactions/0,1-0@2-3224,36-1061455,0.html see how these "milicians" are trained : http://www.recherches-sur-le-terrorisme.com/Documentsterrorisme/betar-toledano.html

Joe Noory on :

This is "proof"? [i]lepoint.fr : Selon Le Figaro, le garçon serait proche de la Ligue de la défense juive et du Betar, une organisation de jeunesse de la droite sioniste. Pouvez-vous confirmer ? M. S. : Au sein de la communauté juive, aucune information ne peut prouver son appartenance à l'un ou l'autre de ces mouvements. Dans cette affaire, deux pistes ont été évoquées : une possible agression antisémite et un règlement de comptes entre bandes organisées. D'où la référence au Betar.[/i] [i]lepoint.fr: According to Le Figaro, the boy might be close to the Defence Jewish League and the Betar, a youth organization of the Zionist right. Can you confirm? Mr. S. : Within the Jewish community, there is no information to prove he belongs to one or other of these movements. In this case, two lines of thought were mentioned: possible anti-Semitic aggression or a settling of accounts between gangs. Hence the reference to Betar.[/i] So someone analyizing all the possibilities throws that out there, and suddenly this 17 your old is the moral equivalent of [url=http://blog.wired.com/defense/2008/02/insurgents-remo.html]anything else[/url] that might come to mind. This is just typical French media yak-yak-yak with a little extra Thierry Meyssan thrown in there.

franchie on :

what do you want to prove ? same old rant from you, prout prout ! you have to wait the result of the investigation

Pat Patterson on :

Maybe you should have heeded your own advice, to wait, before commenting on a gang connection?

franchie on :

dear Sir, I didn't comment, your fellow did without knowing the full story, BUT I brought some paper links, unlike you don't like them ! you should be glad, that, for once, I have some LINKS

Joe Noory on :

The Betar theory was completly speculative generateed by someone saying that "it could be gang related" as a hypothetical possibility. What's so worng about pointing that out after YOU came to the conclusion that the kid was some kind of 17 year old time bomb out ? - or just thugging it to score himself a fine piece of schiksa? Besides, it's a theory from the [url=http://www.justiceforjews.com/narrative.html]neuf-trois[/url] we're talking about anyway.

franchie on :

http://www.rtl.fr/fiche/591401/agression-d-un-jeune-juif-indignation-et-incomprehension.html a witness talk about "gang" fights

Joe Noory on :

How dare they defend themselves!

franchie on :

n'importe quoi mon pauvre gars, take your pills, don't pretend you understand french

influx on :

I second Joe's question. What the hell are you talking about? You had to be told not to laugh at the story of a persecuted jew? You were surprised that when he talked to your class about his experiences he didn't feel like talking about contemporary politics?

Zyme on :

Well really when you hear the same things over and over again, you become hardened about it. This a general attitude especially here in the south. People like to make fun of others, as it makes it easier to come to terms with bad memories or (in this case) historical burdens. When my younger sister told me jokes about jews she heard at school in the 5th grade, I found that very harsh in the first moment. Those were 10 year olds after all! But soon I realized that some things don´t change at all, as we laughed about the same jokes at the same age. This is why I think that these subjects should not be omnipresent at school. It provokes a counter-sentiment and therefore is counterproductive for the authors of such programs.

influx on :

omnipresent? from what i understand, this was a one-time visit. there's a fine line between being disinterested and being disrespectful, zyme.

Zyme on :

It was a one-time visit. With omnipresent I was thinking of the permanent presence of the Third Reich in various subjects at school.

Joe Noory on :

If your instinct was to laugh, then you missed something. 6 millions things in fact. This was not a problem in the 80s. Germans seem to have been a lot more squared-away with history 20 years ago. This is a new-found ignorance.

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