When “Mein Kampf” fell into the public domain on January 1 this year, enabling it to be freely printed, often those that choose to do so justified it as the publication of a historical document. The merits of that argument were undoubtedly dubious although the German edition, published for the first time since World War II, included critical annotations by historians.
However, on Saturday, a right-wing Italian newspaper was giving away free copies of Adolf Hitler’s anti-Semitic manifesto in a move which, unsurprisingly, has sparked both shock and condemnation.
“Know it in order to reject it” was the weak justification given by conservative tabloid Il Giornale. Known for its right-wing position, notably over the question of immigration, Il Giornale has a circulation of around 200,000.
Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi quickly denounced the initiative on Twitter, writing: “I find it sordid that an Italian daily is giving away Hitler’s ‘Mein Kampf’. I embrace the Jewish community with affection. #neveragain”
It was also denounced by Italy’s 30,000-strong Jewish community, “It is a vile act, light years away from any in-depth learning or study about the Holocaust,” said Renzo Gattegna, president of the Union of Italian Jewish Communities, describing the initiative as “indecent.”
The paper said the text was being freely distributed alongside the first of a series of eight history books on the Nazi Third Reich.
For 70 years, the German state of Bavaria which was handed copyright of the book in 1945, refused to allow it to be republished out of respect for the victims of the Nazis and to prevent incitement of hatred.
The city of Amsterdam will give its Jewish community $11 million as compensation for taxes imposed on Holocaust survivors who returned home to the Dutch capital following World War II.
Upon their return, according to an article in The Telegraph on Monday, the survivors were made to pay a tax because their homes were left empty during the Holocaust. They also had to pay back taxes for the years they had been taken away from the city, as well as insurance fees.
The taxes were discovered by a student in 2013, and that year, Amsterdam Mayor Eberhard van der Laan said the city should “put it right,” according to The Telegraph. On Friday, the city said it would pay the $11 million — an estimate of the total taxes paid by survivors following the war.
“Amsterdam has 5 million to 10 million euros in its coffers that it doesn’t want, and we have no right to it, so we want to give it back to the Jewish community to be used for important projects,” a spokesman for the mayor said, according to the Telegraph. “Finding the individual people or their relatives would be very costly and complex, and that is not the idea.”
The city has suggested the money be put toward a Holocaust memorial monument or community programs.
Western mainstream media had been fully geared up to cover the expected victory of the far right presidential candidate, Norbert Hofer, in the recent Austrian election. The win of the Green party candidate, Alexander Van der Bellen, robbed them of the opportunity to cover what they had been predicting as the first European post-Second World War far right head of state election victory.
Yet, the rise of far right European parties and candidates into the established international realpolitik, rather than their traditional fringe position, is something that has been and is being fundamentally overlooked.
In France, the far-right National Front won 6.8 million votes in regional elections in 2015 – its largest ever popular endorsement.
The far-right Jobbik party who polled third in Hungary, organises patrols by an unarmed but uniformed “Hungarian Guard” in Roma (Gypsy) neighbourhoods.
In Denmark, the government relies on the support of the nationalist Danish People’s Party and has the toughest immigration rules in Europe.
While, the leader of the nationalist Finns Party is the foreign minister of Finland, after it joined a coalition government last year.
Less than a year after Poland elected Andrzej Duda, a previously little-known right-wing politician as president, Warsaw’s nationalist government moved to strip a leading Jewish Holocaust scholar of a national honour for asserting simply what the previous Polish presidential incumbent, Bronislaw Komorowski, acknowledged. Namely, that Poland was in part responsible for Nazi war crimes against its Jewish population during World War II.
Perhaps one of most shocking situations currently exists in Croatia. During World War II, Croatia was ruled by the Ustashi, an axis-aligned regime that was every bit as bad as the Nazis. The Ustashi killed over 600,000 people, 500,000 of which were Serbs. The Ustashi-ruled Independent State of Croatia had a population of around 6.3 million, meaning the Ustashi killed around one in 10 of its own people. Eighty percent of the nation’s Jews were murdered.
Now the Ustashi are making a comeback. It has now penetrated cabinet ministers and the mainstream media. Ognjen Kraus, the leader of Croatia’s Jewish communities, said that the government “is simply not doing anything” and that it “does not want to.”
The nation’s new right-wing coalition that came to power at the start of the year is responsible for much of this change. As part of that coalition, Zlatko Hasanbegović became Croatia’s culture minister in January. He was once a member of a small far-right, pro-Ustashi party.
Since taking office, Hasanbegović has cut funds for progressive groups and independent media and has endorsed a revisionist documentary film that denies the scale of the crimes committed by Croatia during its alliance with Nazi Germany in the 1940s.
Reporters Without Borders, the Simon Wiesenthal Center and Serb and Jewish groups in the region have all condemned the new government.
The government’s tolerance of such a man as a minister in government is creating a climate of fear throughout the country.
Croatian soccer fans frequently chant Nazi-era slogans during games with only indirect criticism from the government. During one game with Israel, fans were heard to shout, “We Croats! Ustashi! Ustashi!”
Efraim Zuroff, the director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s office in Israel and Eastern Europe, warned that Croatia is “a country where manifestations of fascism and anti-Semitism are very common, especially in the local soccer stadiums, but not easily identifiable by those ignorant of the country’s World War II and Holocaust history.”
In the UK much of the media coverage of anti-Semitic issues has focused attention to the political left following the storm that has engulfed the Labour Party. Equally, many in the western media, following mass immigration stories and terrorist outrages, have, unsurprisingly, concentrated on radical Islamist matters and any associated anti-Semitism. Yet, if world history, our history, tells us one thing, we cannot afford to ignore or overlook the rise of the far right. If the mainstream media will not do it we shall have to do it for ourselves.
The decision by the newly elected London Mayor Sadiq Khan, to attend a Yom Hashoah commemoration event as his first public engagement was met with anger by some Twitter users, who responded with virulently anti-Israel and anti-Semitic comments as well as Holocaust denial.
After the event, Khan tweeted, “So important to reflect, remember and educate about the 6 million Jewish lives lost in the Holocaust.”
As of Monday evening, the post had been widely ‘liked’ and shared. However, there were other responses which were not so kind and included blatant Holocaust denial, including a comment that “much of the so-called ‘holocaust’ has been faked, including the post-1945 Auschwitz construction,” suggesting that much of the Auschwitz site was built after World War II.
Others responded with the usual anti-Semitic conflation between supporting Israel and the “Jewish lobby”.
While another Twitter user was more blatant in their hatred, despicably suggesting on Yom Hashoah, “Like who cares about Jewish suffering!”.
Another commentator wrote, “Have you plucked that figure of 6 [million] out of thin air? What was the total population of Jews in 1940? Don’t distort history. Max 1 [million].”
Khan received a warm welcome from London’s Jewish community at the end of Sunday’s Yom Hashoah ceremony, which brought together thousands from London’s Jewish community, including more than 150 Holocaust survivors and a combined choir from five Jewish elementary schools.
Now it has happened to one of their own, perhaps Labour will now start to properly comprehend the reality of anti-Semitism in society and, therefore, take the necessary action to address it within their own party?
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Considering the concern over soaring anti-Semitism in Europe and further afield, you would perhaps imagine that the United Nations would be doing all it could to reassure world Jewry of its decisive and committed action to help stamp out this evil.
Unfortunately, as AntiSemitismWatch has frequently reported, the United Nations has shown itself an unprincipled conspirator in aiding and abetting the perpetration of anti-Semitic lies and falsehoods by freely playing host to those who engage in such behaviour.
In the latest vile example, Israel was accused on Friday in the United Nations of preparing a ‘final solution’ for Arabs from the Palestinian Authority.’
“What is Israel planning to do with the Palestinians?” asked Venezuela’s UN Ambassador Rafael Ramirez. “Do the Israelis want the Palestinians to disappear? Is Israel preparing a ‘final solution’ for the Palestinians similar to that which was perpetrated against them?”
Shockingly, Venezuela presently holds one of the hugely significant ten rotating seats on the UN Security Council.
The comparison, drawing a link between Israel and Nazi Germany, drew immediate outrage from Israel’s Ambassador to the UN, Danny Danon.
“This statement by the Venezuelan ambassador is straightforward anti-Semitism against the Jewish state,” said Danon, according to a statement by the Israeli mission to the UN. “His remarks are a direct continuation to the Palestinian representative’s statement a few days ago comparing Israel to the Nazis,” Danon said, adding the remarks were “unequivocally condemned” by the U.S., the UK and France.
In what has become the trademark reaction to those exposed for perpetrating anti-Semitic rhetoric, Ramirez subsequently apologized to the “Jewish People if they were offended by the remarks,” according to the statement.
“The Palestinians are bringing anti-Semitism into the halls of the UN and are legitimizing racists and crass language in the parliament of nations,” Danon noted.
Last month Palestinian Authority representative to the UN Riyad Mansour drew a parallel between the Jewish resistance fighters during the Holocaust and the Arab attackers in the current wave of terror.
AntiSemitismWatch will continue to expose the dreadful reality that is the United Nations, campaigning to ensure that it returns to the core principles of its establishment in the aftermath of World War II. We shall also further hold to account those countries like the US, France and the UK, who should be leading the urgent necessary reform of the UN in order to deliver that change.
A Romanian watchdog group on anti-Semitism has exposed the mayoral candidacy of a Bucharest politician who said local Jews lied for money about the number of their brethren killed in the Holocaust.
Marian Munteanu of the National Liberal Party, Romania’s second largest, made the accusation in a press statement he co-signed in 1994, when he was part of the Christian-nationalist Movement for Romania organisation.
Jewish groups put the number of Romanians killed in the Holocaust at 420,000 to “obtain illicit moneys from Romanian people through disinformation and manipulation of public opinion, with the complicity of treacherous elements who infiltrated the Romanian institutional structures,” the statement read, the online edition of Evenimentul Zilei reported on Thursday.
The Elie Wiesel National Institute for the Study of Holocaust warned that Munteanu “presents a concern” not only because of his nationalist rhetoric and “statements minimizing or denying” the Holocaust, but also for “misrepresenting” reality today, according to the Agerpres news website.
The institute cited an April 13 statement by Munteanu, who, in criticising legislation from last year which proscribes anti-Semitic speech and Holocaust denial, said the law itself was anti-Semitic because it singles out Jews.
In Romania, he said, “there is hardly anti-Semitism, rather xenophobia. We are all philo-Semites because we are Christians.”
Romania, where Jews were killed during World War II by troops loyal to Ion Antonescu, Adolf Hitler’s ally, has seen numerous cases of Holocaust denial, including in academia and government.
In 2012, a politician who denied that Jews had suffered in Romania during the Holocaust was appointed to a ministerial post despite protests by Jewish groups. The politician, Dan Sova, later apologized and said his statement was the result of ignorance.
A few months later, a Romanian member of the European Parliament denied the Holocaust on television. The following year, a prominent historian said it was a “huge lie” that large numbers of Jews were killed in areas under Romanian control during the Holocaust, leading to his firing from a teaching post at a German university.
Also that year, a Romanian state television channel was fined for broadcasting a Christmas carol celebrating the burning of Jews.
Jean-Marie Le Pen, the founder and former head of France’s far-right National Front party, has been convicted of denying crimes against humanity for repeating that the Nazi gas chambers are a “detail” of World War II history.
A Paris court convicted Le Pen on Wednesday and sentenced him to a 30,000-euro ($34,000) fine. He also will have to pay a total 10,000 euros in damages to three associations that were plaintiffs in the case, and the court ordered that the ruling be published in three major French newspapers at his expense.
Le Pen, 87, was convicted of the same offense in 2012 for claiming the Nazi occupation of France was not “particularly inhumane.”
In the past, Le Pen was sentenced twice, in 1991 and 1999, by civil courts for saying and then repeating that the gas chambers were “a detail of the history of the Second World War.” He first used the description in 1987.
A year ago, Le Pen said in a TV interview he did “not at all” regret saying that “the gas chambers were a detail of the war history.”
This time, the case went to a criminal court.
The Paris court rejected his lawyer’s argument that Le Pen was protected by his immunity as a member of the European Parliament and that he couldn’t be tried.
Le Pen didn’t attend the verdict in a crowded courtroom full of elderly members of victim and relative associations, with well-known activists and Nazi hunters Serge and Beate Klarsfeld and their son Arno, a lawyer, also present.
In a damning indictment of the Croatian government, its Jewish community has declared it will boycott the country’s official Holocaust commemoration events this year in protest over inaction to curb neo-Nazism.
Every April, Croatia honours the victims of the Jasenovac death camp, operated by the pro-Nazi Ustasha regime of World War II. The camp is termed as Croatia’s Auschwitz. The Coordinating Committee of the Jewish Communities of Croatia has said it would instead hold its own commemoration “in line with Jewish tradition” rather than participating in the government one.
The committee’s president, Ognjen Kraus, told the Voice of America radio station the decision was derived at following cases of open anti-Semitism, including chants by demonstrators of pro-Nazi slogans at an anti-government march in January and during a soccer match between the Israeli and Croatian national teams last month.
“The state is simply not doing anything about it and does not want to,” Kraus said.
The Croatian government has yet to respond to the Jewish community’s decision.
Over the last 12 months there has been an escalation in rows over historical memory related to the Second World War and the glorification of some of those with highly suspect records. They predominantly relate to Eastern European nations the most recent of which was Hungary.
Now the small town of Moletai in Lithuania has come under fire for its announcement that it intends to name a street after Jonas Zvinys, a local priest accused of organizing a gang that murdered the city’s Jews in 1941.
Lithuanian writer Ruta Vanagaite launched an investigation into Zvinys at the behest of Simon Wiesenthal Center Nazi hunter Dr. Efraim Zuroff, with whom she recently co-authored a book on Lithuanians and the Holocaust.
Speaking with The Jerusalem Post from Vilnius on Thursday, Vanagaite said that after searching through KGB archives she discovered that the priest indeed set up the gang in question, one of whose leaders was his own brother, who would later confess to his role in the massacre.
At Vanagaite’s urging, local news portal delfi.it investigated the matter as well, discovering that Zvinys had been awarded a colonelcy in 2002 by the office of the president at the behest of the country’s state-sponsored Study of the Genocide and Resistance of the Residents of Lithuania.
Delfi asked the center about Zvinys and was referred to the president’s office and the Moletai municipality, with the local mayor, who is related to Zvinys, asking why there should be a problem in honoring him if he was already feted by the government.
“They were all throwing the ball to each other and no one wants to investigate without somebody else asking for it,” Vanagaite said. “I think it’s good because it shows that the whole system doesn’t work because there is nobody who takes responsibility to investigate without anybody asking for it and nobody asks for it.”
“The media exposure that this case has generated may serve as a deterrent to other towns interested in glorifying Holocaust collaborators”, she said.
AntiSemitismWatch has previously reported on the seemingly regular inappropriate attempts at glorification in Hungary of its World War II past. In the latest twist, Hungarian Jews have protested a new government plan to honor a Holocaust-era politician who supported anti-Semitic legislation.
The controversy that unfolded Tuesday between the Mazsihisz umbrella group of Jewish communities and the government concerns a statue scheduled to be unveiled in Budapest in the presence of government officials on Wednesday of Gyorgy Donath – a lawmaker who supported discriminatory laws against Jews that historians say served as the legal foundation for their persecution by the German Nazis and their Hungarian collaborators.
This “far-right, anti-Semitic politician deserves no statue in Hungary,” Mazsihisz wrote in a statement published Tuesday.
The unveiling of a statue of Donath follows earlier scandals including a plan to commemorate Balint Homan, a Hungarian Holocaust-era minister who supported and promoted the same laws. In December, following protests by Mazsihisz, the Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, said that the plans by a nonprofit organization dedicated to Homan’s legacy to erect the monument in his honor in Szekesfehervar near Budapest will not come to pass.
In 2014, Mazsihisz briefly suspended its talks with Orban’s center-right government in protest of its support of yet another controversial commemorative project – a statue dealing with Hungary under the rule of Nazi Germany and its pro-Nazis collaborators.
Unveiled in July that year in Budapest, it is a statue of an angel being attacked by a German eagle – a design which critics say glosses over Hungary’s active role in sending some 450,000 Jews to their deaths during the Holocaust. The Hungarian government disputes the interpretation, arguing the figure attacked represents all victims of fascism and not the Hungarian state.