World War II 70 years ago
Archived Articles 18 Sep 2009  EWR
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September 2009 marks the 70th anniversary of the outbreak of the Second World War. The Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact and its Secret Protocol, signed on 23 August 1939, opened the way for a joint attack on Poland by Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, launched on 1 September 1939 and 17 September 1939 respectively.

The years of war that followed brought about the bloodiest tragedy in the history of mankind. Millions of people perished in the horrors of World War II, and several states lost their independence.

The Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact places the responsibility for the outbreak of World War II on the shoulders of its two contracting states: Nazi Germany and Stalinist Soviet Union. Whereas both the international community and the post-war Germany condemned the crimes of National Socialism immediately after the end of World War II, the crimes of the Stalinist regime still remain to be unanimously condemned both at international level and by the Russian Federation. Conversely, the recent law of the Russian Federation made “ falsification of history” a criminal offence.

Today the divergent view of history is showing the dividing lines within Europe with nearly unprecedented acuteness. As we know, the regained freedom and the opening of archives 20 years ago gave Eastern Europe back its suppressed memory, and this memory says that the crimes of communism were not one iota lesser than those of Nazism. In 2006, the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly acknowledged this; this year the European Parliament and the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly did so as well. Yet in spite of these clearly expressed positions, Russia is taking actions at the state level in order to justify the signing of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, the invasion of Poland on 17 September 1939 and the illegal occupation and annexation of the Baltic States, which took place on a total of two occasions – at the beginning and at the end of the World War II. The rhetoric is aggressive, accusatory and menacing to Russia’s neighbours. It has even accused Poland, the first victim of the war, of not giving in to “reasonable demands” on the part of Germany, thus throwing Europe out of an expected equilibrium.

One explanation mooted in mutual discussions by “bolder” Russian politicians as well as by those Western politicians who hesitate to condemn the crimes of communism, is simple: Russia’s pride as a traditional empire was severely wounded by the collapse of the Soviet Union and every effort must be made to refrain from pouring salt on those wounds. But the only thing being sought here is the mere historical truth.

Could anyone imagine Hitler being extolled in today’s Germany in the same manner in which Stalin is lauded in Russia? Stalin may have committed all sorts of crimes, it is conceded, but at least he put Russia back on its feet. No one would dare to use such demagoguery when talking about Hitler, even though there are ample historical parallels. While Russia still sees those who stood for Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian freedom as enemies, would it be imaginable for the French Resistance to be regarded as the enemy in today’s Germany? Certainly not.

In fact today’s Germany is a good example of how a clean break has been made with the legacy of totalitarianism and sphere-of-influence politics, in favour of a dedication to securing the future of Europe.

Lasting cooperation is unimaginable in Europe unless all sides come to view historical events in the same open and truthful way. It is time to understand that a proper assessment of the totalitarian communist past, and in particular of the Stalinist crimes, could lead to a deeper understanding and sound future integration of all European nations.

World War II and the denunciation of totalitarian crimes

Written declaration

This written declaration commits only the members who have signed it


September 2009 marks the 70th anniversary of the outbreak of the Second World War. The Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact and its Secret Protocol, signed on 23 August 1939, opened the way for a joint attack on Poland by Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, launched on 1 September 1939 and 17 September 1939 respectively.

Whereas both the international community and the post-war Germany condemned the crimes of National Socialism immediately after the end of WWII, the crimes of the Stalinist regime still remain to be unanimously condemned both at international level and by the Russian Federation.

In this regard, the undersigned call upon the Parliamentary Assembly to:

continue to assess and judge the crimes of Communism from the legal, moral, political and historical point of view, upon the understanding that providing an objective and comprehensive assessment about the communist totalitarian past, and in particular the Stalinist crimes, could lead to a deeper understanding and sound future integration of all European nations;

assist Russia in carrying out a comprehensive public debate on the crimes of the Stalinist regime.

Signed:

HERKEL, Estonia

BENDER, Poland

BERZINS, Latvia

CIRCENE, Latvia

DOBELIS, Latvia

EÖRSI, Hungary

FRUNDA, Romania

GABASHVILI, Georgia

HERASIMYUK, Ukraine

LINDBLAD, Sweden

LIPINSKI, Poland

LOTMAN, Estonia

MINASHVILI, Georgia

OMELTCHENKO, Ukraine

POURBAIX-LUNDIN, Sweden

POURGOURIDES, Cyprus

SAAR, Estonia

SASI, Finland

TAKTAKISHVILI, Georgia

VAREIKIS, Lithuania

ZINGERIS, Lithuania

Source: http://www.herkel.net/index.ph...
 
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