Tuesday, 26 February 2019

BALTIC MARCHING SEASON IS HERE AGAIN!

WILL ANY OTHER VOICES FROM THE WEST SAY NO?





 

March 16 2019 

The Longest Running Horror Show in Europe-

 For the nineteenth year SS veterans and their supporters strut down an EU, NATO, OSCE capital with swastikas and SS Totenkoepfe!

 


AROUND 1000 TAKE PART IN 16 MARCH CENTRAL RIGA PARADE GLORIFYING LATVIA’S WARTIME NAZI WAFFEN SS

Delfi.lvDPA;  HaaretzJerusaem Post;  Jüdisches Forum (video)LSM.lv;  Times of Israel

See detail of the day at

http://defendinghistory.com/

'All those who glorify Nazis and their collaborators by marching or otherwise are inciting hatred, plain and simple'  Robert Singer- World Jewish Congress 17 March 2019
http://www.worldjewishcongress.org/en/news/world-jewish-congress-calls-for-decisive-government-action-after-renewed-neo-nazi-marches-in-lithuania-and-latvia-3-0-2019?fbclid=IwAR3IsD1cFD-gaHuaaqCmTgVm9LY68hxkY2JjipRZsY3VQJc1KR9ttGY-BkY




Amy Mills, a spokeswoman for Global Affairs Canada, said the Canadian government seeks to promote tolerance and respect for human rights. “Canada is strongly opposed to the glorification of Nazism and all forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia, intolerance and extremism,” Mills said. ”That is why we condemn the parade  to commemorate the Latvian SS Brigade held in Latvia on March 16th.”       20 March 2019

https://www.thewhig.com/news/canada/canada-condemns-annual-latvian-parade-that-honours-nazi-ss-unit/wcm/af72e844-544e-4c68-a07f-22fea885e3dd

https://ottawacitizen.com/news/national/defence-watch/canadian-government-condemns-parade-in-latvia-to-honour-nazi-ss-unit  with photos courtesy of  Jewish Forum for Democracy and Against Anti-Semitism (JFDA)/JDFA video on YouTube)
We must challenge those who distort historical records on governments, military units or organizations that fought with, supported or sympathized with the Nazis during World War II. This includes government leaders who acquiesce in, or fail to condemn, a process of Nazi glorification that amounts to Holoc.aust distortion. This cannot be tolerated.
Michael Mostyn  Chief Executive Officer of B’nai Brith Canada   15 March 2019



Orwellian times indeed when a country has sympathy for the collaborator and the perpetrator, when people can only see their own suffering through their own clouded lens and refuse to see the suffering they committed on others.  A tragic day indeed  when one loses sight of who  the true victims were: civilians who were Jews , Roma and Sinti, Communists who did not have guns to protect themselves  when they were shoved into ditches and shot.  Civilians who were targeted by the Nazis and their Latvian collaborators in 1941, collaborators who later VOLUNTEERED to join the Latvian SS 15 and 19 divisions, collaborators who worked for the most genocidal regime the world has ever known. 

There is nothing to be proud of, there is nothing to honour and celebrate.  Remembrance services for those who fought for the Nazis should be held in private not in public spaces for the world to view.

 In 1941 when the Nazis entered Riga they were greeted with flowers, today their Latvian colleagues are met with the same.  Orwellian times indeed.

The Belgians want to be remembered for their chocolate,  the French for their food and the Swiss for their clocks and the Latvians, well the Latvians for their SS!  Really?  Is this really what Latvian grandfathers who fought in the Latvian 15th and 19th SS divisions want to be remembered for?  To be remembered for fighting for the most genocidal regime the world has ever known?  Is this the kind of message young Latvians deserve and is celebrating the SS in an EU, NATO, OSCE capital good PR for its citizens?  We who peacefully protest beg to differ.  Do you?


Photo to the Left

Monica Lowenberg in silent protest at the legionnaires march 16 March 2012, Riga Latvia PHOTO: COURTESY OF  DEFENDING HISTORY.COM
http://defendinghistory.com/category/lowenberg-monica



Centre Photo
From left to right  Monica Lowenberg (UK),  Helmut Scholz, (Germany, MEP),  Joel Rubinfeld, president of the European Jewish Parliament (Belgium),   Efraim Zuroff, Director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center (Israel), Tatjana Ždanoka (Tatyana Zhdanok), EP deputy (Latvia), Janis Kuzins,  Chairman of the Board for Associated Diversified Trade Unions ( Latvia)   Joseph Koren, president of the association "Latvia without Nazism" (Latvia),   Hermann Dvorzak, leader of the European Social Forum (Austria), laying down a wreath to the victims of Nazism 16 March 2012 , Riga Latvia  PHOTO: COURTESY OF  DEFENDING HISTORY.COM



Photo to the Right

Volker Beck gives a speech of support to protesters at the Latvian Embassy in Berlin on the eve of the 2017 annual Waffen SS march in central Riga to his left Dr Hans Coppi,  VVN  Berlin PHOTO: LOTHAR EBERHARDT.  http://defendinghistory.com/german-member-of-parliament-volker-beck-joins-protest-at-the-latvian-embassy-in-berlin/87225

                                  


 Cornelia Kerth, chair of the VVN-BdA protesting outside the Latvian embassy in Berlin on 15 March 2016 after having been prevented from boarding a flight to Riga from Berlin with Baltic Air earlier that same day.  The VVN-BdA demanded that her five fellow protesters, who had been allowed to leave the country, only to be arrested on arrival at Riga airport and placed into a Latvian jail, be immediately released.



Time to call a halt…
Stop the 16 March marches and the twisting of history ! 
By Graeme Atkinson  anti-fascist journalist and internationalist  03.03.2019


Annually since 1998, in the centre of Riga, on 16 March, processions have been held to honour veterans of the Latvian Legion of the murderous Nazi Waffen SS for fighting the Allies in WWII.



And, through the media of Latvian government materials and state propaganda film footage, the role of the Latvian Legion is still apologised for or excused while the far-right National Alliance – which sits in the Latvian government – is again loudly demanding that the date be enshrined as an official national memorial day.



Not new: these events have received tacit (and sometimes explicit and public) support from state authorities, including, in 2012, Latvia’s president himself and have been attended by members of the Latvian Parliament, members of the Riga City Council and officials of the Latvian defence ministry. 



Documentary evidence of official complicity in Latvia’s Day of National Shame is copious but astonishingly the ghastly charade of memorialising the SS in Riga, a European capital at the heart of NATO and the EU, goes on, attended by increasing numbers and attracting right-wing extremists and Hitler fans from across Europe, including the UK.



Despite the mounting international input, the rest of Europe just looks on at this unwholesome performance that lauds the members of a proven criminal organisation. It is surely time that Latvia, the UK government, the European Union, NATO and the international community showed some self-respect and pressed for a halt to it.

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Holocaust remembrance project- how European countries face up to their Holocaust pasts published January 25 2019
The first-ever report rating individual European Union countries on how they face up their Holocaust pasts published on January 25 2019 to coincide with UN Holocaust Memorial Day. (Researchers from Yale and Grinnell College and work checked by local representatives from the European Union of Progressive Judaism.)





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Selected News Coverage since 2009 - 2019



On September 27 2019, Latvia's minister of defence, Dr Artis Pabriks, delivered a speech in More parish to commemorate the More battle of September 1944. He stated that "Latvian legionnaires are a pride of the Latvian nation and of the state." Moreover, this quote was chosen as the title of an article on the ministry's website in Latvian and now removed,  https://www.mod.gov.lv/lv/zinas/pabriks-
latvijas-legionari-ir-latviesu-tautas-un-valsts-lepnums
 .  It should be noted the ministry did not proclaim this on their English-language website. 

The Waffen SS Latvian Legion was a collaborationist unit, partly volunteer, partly conscripted.

See the report in Russian at a state-owned news portal LSM.lv:https://rus.lsm.lv/statja/novosti/politika/legioneri--gordost-latishskogo-naroda-i-gosudarstva--ministr-oboroni.a333451/

Mr Pabriks, a political scientist, has long been infamous for having said in 2013, "We are welcoming German boots on the ground here in Latvia ever since 1940." Later, he explained that this was meant to refer to NATO troops. 

See https://nra.lv/latvija/101794-pabriks-izteikumu-par-gaiditajiem-vacu-zabakiem-domajis-saistiba-ar-nato-macibam.htm 

In 2013, Pabriks represented the conservative "Unity" party. His current party, "Development"/"For!” is considered "liberal" by Latvia's standards.

In response to Pabriks’ comments, Dr Efraim Zuroff of The Simon Wiesenthal Centre condemned  on October 7 2019 the Latvian defence minister's comments. 
"Given the fact that the Legion fought for a victory of the Third Reich, the most genocidal regime in history, and that among those serving in it were active participants in the mass murder of Latvian Jewry, as well as of German and Austrian Jews deported by the Nazis to Riga, such comments are incomprehensible, let alone deeply offensive, coming from a senior minister of a country with full membership in the European Union and NATO," said the Simon Wiesenthal Center's Efraim Zuroff in response.





Over 1000 supporters of those who fought on Hitler's side attend march 16 March 2019

https://www.haaretz.com/world-news/europe/1-000-veterans-march-in-latvia-to-commemorate-nazi-ss-soldiers-1.7023541


Latvians honor Nazi collaborators in commemoration march - The Jerusalem Post

With swastika and SS Totenkopf: Commemoration of Waffen-SS in Riga  in English and German
https://jfda.de/blog/2019/03/16/gedenken-an-waffen-ss-in-riga/

https://www.instagram.com/p/BvEUo8rnCkT/


https://www.thechronicleherald.ca/news/canada/on-target-terrorists-come-in-all-colours-walks-of-life-294699/

Latvian supporters of the SS Legion make the point that many members of these two combat divisions — 120,000 personnel in total — were forcibly conscripted by the Germans. That is a historical fact, which is not in dispute.
However, I will argue that if you were forced to wear an SS uniform against your will during the Second World War, it is unlikely that you would dig it out of your closet to proudly wear it down the streets of Riga 45 years later.'


http://vestnikkavkaza.net/articles/From-Nationalism-to-Collaborationism.html

https://wiadomosci.onet.pl/swiat/lotwa-w-rydze-maszerowali-dla-uczczenia-weteranow-waffen-ss/r89tjp2#slajd-2

https://iz.ru/857222/2019-03-17/posolstvo-rf-nazvalo-pozorom-natcistskoe-shestvie-v-rige?fbclid=IwAR2PZ5MiRTXOaJOh6Fe4wtYwNG6EN-Bmb11X0WcNsps2F3RS8pQqKiXr-i8


https://www.5-tv.ru/news/243708/vrige-sostoalos-sestvie-ekslegionerov-vaffenss-pocemu-takoe-voobse-vozmozno/?fbclid=IwAR0ek7gGsmL6ZPvDc998gvKC0aMOKwuG6gIADn_zGWGLZ9M6giKqsw5Cmtc   with  6 minute video  in Russian containing old archival footage and images of the 2019 March

https://www.urdupoint.com/en/world/over-1000-people-took-part-in-waffen-ss-vete-572120.html


https://btnews.online/latvia-thousands-march-glorifying-nazism/?fbclid=IwAR2rkmoMnHI49Oi0hp5z469_xKn3rOJuyMDu44sDAxqCrBrBE2JNiBCCwB4

https://www.apollo.lv/6546523/tiesraides-arhivs-riga-notiek-16-marta-pasakumi   link with video to the horror show  ( 43 mins)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VMs6uT0lGHM&feature=share


Holocaust Obfuscation in Action
https://www.baltictimes.com/there_is_a_risk_of_provocations_on_march_16_but_no_reason_for_great_worries_-_kuzis/

 https://bnn-news.com/latvian-security-service-expects-provocations-during-legionnaires-remembrance-day-198240


https://eng.lsm.lv/article/society/society/usual-march-16-legion-routine-for-latvian-police.a312559/
'Ķuzis said it should be taken into account that the European Parliament elections in May are drawing near and consequently certain people may attempt to use the March 16 parade to draw attention to themselves. ' -  Chopped logic in action!  When the SS are allowed to march down the centre of an EU, NATO , OSCE capital the only people drawing attention to themselves are the SS veterans and their fans.  No European Parliament elections can compete with such a  gruesome spectacle !

http://www.bbc.co.uk/whodoyouthinkyouare/past-stories/stephen-fry.shtml

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a3PyWGrFQbE 






http://www.kalle-der-rote.de/Tag_der_Kollaborateure.pdf





 You tube clips where Monica is interviewed by Salford City Radio and Russia Today

 Monday 8 July 2013,  'Jewish Hour' on Salford City Radio  94.4FM
Interview with Monica Lowenberg speaking about her trip to Latvia and the annual SS marches that take place in the capital of Riga.


  Nazi Heroes-  Waffen SS hailed in Latvia
Nazi Heroes-  Waffen SS hailed in Latvia . Joel Rubinfeld co-chairman of the Jewish parliament in Brussels, Monica Lowenberg and Glyn Ford MEP, UK Labour Party, Brussels,'Any government that endorses this kind of action is cause for concern'.VIEWS:  233,950  March 2018
  You Tube clip with Dr Efraim Zuroff of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre, Israel
Photo reportage covering all three Baltic Neo-Nazi marches this year.  The reportage is accompanied by an interview with Dr Efraim Zuroff on Salford City Radio, 24 March 2014 and MEP Richard Howitt's speech condemning the SS march in Riga, read out on Salford City radio station,17 March 2014. 
















Latvia’s Nazi Nostalgia

(FIRST PUBLISHED BY 2G fORUM October 2012)





By Monica Lowenberg





Now, Woody Allen isn’t to everyone’s taste but every so often he does manage to come out with a golden nugget that makes you roar in the aisles if not chuckle.  In his film Midnight in Paris there is one such nugget.  When speaking about which era they would most like to live in, the central character says in a dead pan voice, ‘I am a little nostalgic about La Belle Époque, sans tuberculosis.’





La Belle Époque, the ‘beautiful era’ a period in French history starting in 1890 and ending when World War 1 began, when peace and prosperity in Paris allowed the arts to flourish and Zola, Picasso and  Gauguin,  amongst other greats, met their friends for un cafe in Maxims, or so we believe. However, on scratching the surface, we find the era was not so belle. Time and the desire to forget trauma have a  curious way of making us distort facts and see only what we want to see, unless one reads Zola’s ‘J’accuse’ one would forget the Dreyfuss affair that highlighted French anti-Semitism during the Belle Époque, one would forget government corruption and one would forget urban poverty riddled with tuberculosis.





Nostalgia is a dangerous thing as often it is wrapped in illusions, illusions that feel more comfortable to deal with than reality. Without first hand witnesses on hand it is easy to discard historical facts, primary and secondary sources if one so chooses.  It is also easy to even distort facts particularly if one has the backing of the powers that be, as Milan Kundera so clearly pointed out, "The struggle of man against power," he wrote, "is the struggle of memory against forgetting.”




 


And so in view of these facts,  when I tell you that since 1998 on the 16th of March each and every year, in the very centre of Riga, Latvia, a member of the EU since 2004, a NATO and OSCE country, marches have been regularly held to praise the ‘heroism’ of the former Latvian Legion, i.e.Waffen SS veterans in their combat against the allies during the Second World War and that each year these events are receiving tacit (and sometimes very explicit and public) support from state authorities, this year from the president himself who stated the Latvian SS are not criminals but should be ‘bowed down to’ , you are perhaps not surprised?  Perhaps, it will also not surprise you that our very own British conservatives, the presumed heirs of Churchill, perhaps as an antidote to the French revolution, perhaps as a summer Valentine’s day, joined up forces on the 14 July 2009 with Robert Zile, a Latvian MEP whose associations support Nazi marches?










Of course marches take place all the time and why should one get upset about a few SS men being heralded as heroes and offered flowers?  As the Latvian ambassador wrote to me, when February this year I asked him to sign the petition I had set up against the 16 March marches in Latvia with the support of Dr Barry Gardiner (Labour MP) and Bob Blackman (Conservative MP), ‘There are no war crimes attributed to the Latvian units of the Waffen SS which was formed in 1943. Members of the notorious Arajs Komando constituted less than 1% of those enlisted and in most cases they were duly prosecuted after World War II.  All the above mentioned was recognised by western allied authorities, including the UK government, when admitting former legionnaires to their territories.  In a twist of irony, some were even enlisted by the US army to guard Nazi war criminals at the Nurnberg Tribunal...  In light of the aforementioned I cannot see how your petition would help in bringing justice to the victims of war crimes or crimes against humanity, including the Holocaust.  On the contrary, it would simply replicate some of the old but recently reheated Soviet propaganda about ‘those Fascist Latvians’.  I can only regret that your research into the history of the Latvian legion was limited to communicating with Mr.  Feigmanis (sic Mr Feigmanis is actually a historian and has a PhD) and some left wing politicians in Latvia’.  Both sides of my polite debate with the Latvian ambassador are reproduced in full by DefendingHistory.com at: http://defendinghistory.com/monica-lowenberg-in-dialogue-with-latvias-ambassador-to-the-uk/32025





Curiously enough, on the  very same day and within a few hours of receiving this email from the Latvian ambassador, Mr Martin Callanan, the chief whip, at the time, of the conservatives in the European Parliament, also wrote to me expressing very similar sentiments ,

‘It is very unfortunate that your purpose does not seem to be to clarify the historical facts about the Latvian Legion or to honour victims of the Genocide against the Jewish population, which is why I cannot sign your petition.’  A few hours after sending this email to myself Mr Callanan publicly announced that he would be leaving his post as conservative chief whip, 


"It has been a privilege to serve as Leader of Conservative MEPs for the last 16 months. It has been a tumultuous time for the EU and a fascinating time to lead the delegation. I am proud of the successes that Conservative MEPs are achieving and the hard work that we put in to defend the national interest. I would love to stay on but my commitment as the newly-elected chairman of our wider European grouping requires my full-time dedication. It was an enormous privilege to have been elected leader of the ECR last December’


So, who is telling stories here?  Maybe it is time to get a few facts straight.



It is a sad and important fact to remember that a substantial number of the same Latvian Waffen SS (the “legionnaires”) had, prior to joining the Latvian SS legion, been members of the worst Jew killing machine the world has ever known, killing with the Nazis in the summer-autumn of 1941 some  75, 000 Jews.  To honour such men, no matter how many were involved, is a travesty of justice. The legionnaires who were mobilised into the Latvian Legion, against their free will, are in some respects victims but as the video clips of this year’s march which I protested at (see links below) reveal, their descendants do not perceive them as such as they desecrated the wreath to the victims of Nazism and hissed anti-Semitic statements.

 Aside from any EU regulations that strictly forbid days that commemorate and glorify Nazism, (see Report on Latvia by the ECRI (European Commission Against Racism and Intolerance  published 21 February 2012) for let us not forget Latvia is since 2004 a member of the EU, NATO and OSCE , apologists and supporters of the march would be wise, on seeing the You tube clips and the international petition site that I set up in January 2012 against the SS marches http://www.petitions24.com/stop_the_16_march_marches_and_latvians_revising_history littered with anti-Semitic, homophobic and xenophobic sentiments,  to concede  that days that commemorate Nazism and any associations with Nazism will simultaneously generate anti-Semitic, homophobic and xenophobic sentiments. All the flowers in the world will not dismiss this and the above mentioned tragic facts. 

As Dr Efraim Zuroff stated in The Guardian already in 2009 http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/oct/14/conservatives-poland-right-wing   ‘The results speak for themselves. Although there were numerous Nazi war criminals who could still be brought to trial, not a single one was ever punished in the Baltics, which had the worst record of local collaboration, and only two have been punished in democratic Eastern Europe. Although various leaders issued public apologies (usually in Israel, almost never at home), they failed to deliver in terms of prosecution, restitution, education and documentation. Even worse, Holocaust-related issues became the main cause of renewed local anti-Semitism, which threatened the minuscule remnant Jewish communities in these countries. 

For some reason, these issues, which should have been highly significant in determining the candidacy of these countries for European Union and NATO membership, were apparently not taken into account. Suddenly, these countries have the legitimacy of those memberships without having fully internalised the concomitant values. Miliband is correct in pointing out the obvious flaws of the Conservatives' new allies. But they are only the tip of the eastern European right wing, which is determined to rewrite the history of the Second World War in a way that no self-respecting European should accept. By joining forces with parties such as Fatherland and Freedom and Law and Justice, the Conservatives are granting important legitimacy to a false narrative that seeks to whitewash war crimes and erase the heroic victory of those who saved the world from Hitler and the Nazis.’ 

Latvian nationalists and apologists who argue that the legionnaires should be seen as distinct from the German SS, as one they were acquitted of crimes by the American courts in the 1950’s and two they guarded at the Nurnberg trials, forget two very important points:

  1. 95.6% of Latvia's pre-war Jewish population was murdered in 1941 and 1942 by German Nazis and Latvian Arajs commandos and auxiliary police, many of whom subsequently, in 1943 and 1944 freely joined the Latvian SS Legion,  the 15th and 19th divisions, the 15th becoming the most decorated out of all SS divisions. It is true that the Latvian Legion per se did not murder, virtually all of their Latvian compatriots; who happened to be Jewish, but a substantial number of them prior to joining the legion had been mass murderers of the worst kind. (The main core of the Waffen SS legion Lettland was created in 1943 from 16 battalions of Latvian police which in 1941-1942 participated in the Holocaust in not only Latvia but also Russia, Belorussia and in the executions in the Warsaw ghetto.) 
  2. With regards to the Latvian Legion guarding at the Nuremberg trials the reality is that only a third of them did so, in the exterior ring not because they were innocent of crimes but because they spoke good German!  Other rings were composed of Americans, allied troops and police.  One should also question the following, Ivan Demyanyuk, also like the Latvian legionnaires, worked for the Americans immediately after the war, does this mean he is not a criminal?

Other facts to consider are the following:

1.  The legionnaires participated in the defense of the Reich’s Chancellery in Berlin in April-May 1945, right next to Hitler defending him from Soviet attacks.  Now, if that is not collaboration what is? 

2. The Legion fought under the Nazi high command for a victory of the Third Reich. They do not deserve to be honoured for fighting for a victory of the most genocidal regime in human history. Ironically, such a victory would have been a disaster for Latvia since the Nazis had no intention or plan to grant Latvia independence. Historians know very well of the Nazis’ plans to do away with the Latvian (among other Baltic) peoples after the planned-for victory. There would have been no Latvia to become independent in 1991.

3. About one-third of those who served in the Legion were volunteers, many of them those who had served in Latvian Security Police units which had actively participated in the mass murder of Jews in Latvia and in Belarus, such as the infamous Arajs Commando mass murder squad.

4. When Latvian SS killed Soviet soldiers they in turn allowed Nazis on the western front to kill more British and American soldiers and in turn allowed Auschwitz and other concentration camps to continue their heinous crimes against humanity. During the years of the Latvian Holocaust, the Soviet Union was in alliance with Great Britain, the United States and other Western democracies, whose ranks Latvia has now joined.

5. Democratic Latvia should not glorify those willing to give up their lives for a victory of the Third Reich. The Latvian Righteous Gentiles would make much better role models for today’s young people in Latvia and for future generations.

6. The ultranationalists who support the march are the ones who are seeking to rewrite the historic narrative of the Holocaust in Latvia in order to hide or downgrade the crimes of local Nazi collaborators and promote the canard of equivalency between Communist and Nazi crimes.

7. Ceremonies in churches and cemeteries are also forms of honouring the deceased (whether they deserve it or not). Witness the masses held in Zagreb and Split, Croatia, last December in honour of the Croatian mass murderer and leader of the Ustashe Ante Pavelic.


Anyone still feeling nostalgic?








 Other articles on the Conservatives unsavoury allies, written already in 2009



I knew the day of Holocaust 'debate' would come. Just not in my lifetime



Why is it left to the US to confront the Tories on an alliance with those who distort historical truth and defend Nazi collaborators?






The Guardian,



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At the Nuremberg trials of 30 September 1946, it was crystal clear: there were no heroes among the SS, there were no divisions that were deemed better than others but rather the SS as a whole was defined as a “criminal organisation.”

Stated the Nuremberg judgment and worth quoting at length:

Much of the evidence and the argument has centred around the question of whether membership in these organizations was or was not voluntary; in this case, it seems to the Tribunal to be quite beside the point. For this alleged criminal organization has one characteristic, a controlling one, which sharply distinguishes it….When an individual became a member of the SS, for instance, he did so voluntarily or otherwise, but certainly with the knowledge that he was joining something.  Many of these men have made a mockery of the soldier’s oath of obedience to military orders. When it suits their defense they say they had to obey; when, confronted with Hitler’s brutal crimes, which are shown to have been within their general knowledge, they say they disobeyed. The truth is that they actively participated in all these crimes, or sat silent and acquiescent, witnessing the commission of crimes on a scale larger and more shocking than the world has ever had the misfortune to know. This must be said.
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British MEP Richard Howitt, European Parliament Spokesperson on Human Rights, Issues Statement on Riga Waffen SS March

Richard Howitt, British Labour Member of the European Parliament, and spokesperson for the European Parliament Human Rights Sub-Committee today issued the following text of his statement which will be read out in Riga this Sunday March 16th.


Today brings the seventeenth annual march in Riga, Latvia glorifying Waffen SS forces from the Nazi era which brought death and destruction to our continent and which today’s European Union was supposed to consign to history.
I am pleased to hear that the Latvian Government has forbidden Ministers from attending the march this year, but condemn the Latvian High Court’s decision of 2013, forcing the Riga Mayor to apologise for all the years of trying to ban it.
Coming from Britain, I am saddened that the governing Conservative Party from my country chooses to ally itself in a common European Group with the Latvian “For Fatherland and Freedom Party,” whose Member of the European Parliament is on record as supporting this sickening celebration, even supporting its previous status as a public holiday in the country.
I am also shocked at the report that the British Conservative MEP who was head of his European group in 2012, is reported to have personally refused to sign the petition against the celebration , despite 7,000 people worldwide having done so.
The party of Government of my country should not sit with a party which has proposed the Waffen SS troops be renamed “liberation fighters.”
They are a scar on my own country.
What they should remember is that almost all of Latvia’s 70,000 Jews were murdered during the Holocaust.
Whether local boys were forced to don the SS uniforms or were eager volunteers, celebration of their actions not only insults the memory of the victims but also honours Nazism itself.
Today, the British Labour Party stands with all victims of the Second World War, all who condemn fascism, all who oppose antisemitism and other forms of racism, to express our horror at those who seek to rewrite history in order to justify those who would spread bitterness, hate and division in a new century.
This year sees the 100 years centenary since the beginning of the First World War, and people throughout Europe will come together to remember the horrors of both wars of the twentieth century and celebrate the fact fascism was defeated and not victorious.
When survivors of Nazi concentration camps in 1945 stood holding signs saying “never again,” they could not have foreseen what is happening today in Riga. These are the people we should be commemorating and this is the message we should remember.
RICHARD HOWITT MEP
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Report on Latvia by the ECRI calling a halt to all forms of
Nazi glorification February 21,2012

In the framework of its statutory activities, ECRI conducts country-by-country monitoring work, which analyses the situation in each of the member States regarding racism and intolerance and draws up suggestions and proposals for dealing with the problems identified. In the report on Latvia published on February 21, 2012 ECRI expresses concern as regards the authorisation of certain public events to commemorate two incidents and the authorities’ reaction in this connection. As concerns the first incident, every year, on 16 March, a gathering commemorating soldiers who fought in a Latvian unit of the Waffen SS is held in the centre of Riga. In this connection, ECRI regrets that, in spring 2010, an administrative district court overruled a decision of the Riga City Council 27 prohibiting this march. Moreover, ECRI is concerned that the speaker of the Latvian Parliament allegedly publicly expressed regret for the formal prohibition of this event and that certain MPs have voted for the restoration of March 16 as day of remembrance.




















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