Defenders of the exceptionalism of the Jewish Holocaust seem to be moving in pace with the Kremlin in campaigning against the “falsification of history.” Writing in the Jerusalem Post, Yehuda Bauer, one of the foremost scholars of the Holocaust, delivers a fierce attack against European efforts to recognise the crimes of Stalinism, which he sees as a “mendacious revision” of history:
[Today] many countries mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day, established by the UN in 2005. Yet at the same time, there is a movement afoot to proclaim another day to commemorate the victims of the Nazis, but in this new movement to commemorate them along with the victims of Stalinism.
There is ground for deep concern about repeated attempts to equate the Nazi regime’s genocidal policies […] with other murderous or oppressive actions, an equation that not only trivializes and relativizes the genocide of the Jews perpetrated by the Nazi regime, but is also a mendacious revision of recent world history.
[There] was brutal and murderous oppression [in the Soviet Union], but not genocide either toward [the Jews] or toward the other ethnic groups. […] A certain proportion of the persecuted […] had in fact been Nazi collaborators. However, to compare this with the murder of many millions of Europeans by the Nazi regime is a distortion of history.
The greater threat to humanity was Nazi Germany; […] the Soviet army liberated […] and saved Europe from the Nazi nightmare. […] World War II was started by Nazi Germany, not the Soviet Union, and the responsibility for the 35 million dead in Europe […] is that of Nazi Germany, not Stalin. To commemorate their victims equally is a distortion.
If today East Europeans can enjoy membership in the EU, it is due to the fact that they were oppressed and ruled for 45 years by a basically inefficient, corrupt and barbarous dictatorship, but not by the Nazis. They were liberated by the Soviets. The West recognizes that, and so do many East Europeans.
One certainly should remember the victims of the Soviet regime, and there is every justification for designating special memorials and events to do so. But to put the two regimes on the same level and commemorating the different crimes on the same occasion is totally unacceptable. Not only to Jews.