Chapter 12 – Sweden welcomes Baltic Nazis
by Peter Cohen
Trade between Swedes and other peoples around the Baltic Sea dates back thousands of years. By 800-900 AD Swedish merchants had extended their operations into what became the Baltic provinces and had penetrated deep into what is now Russia. The Baltic Sea and the societies that developed on its perimeter were seen by the nascent Swedish ruling class as their natural domain, and they were in constant competition with Germans and Poles who had similar ambitions.
Sweden developed into a major European power late in the 16th century and dominated the region, including Finland, until Peter the Great of Russia broke its power about 1720 and incorporated the Baltic provinces into his empire. The final blow to Swedish political influence came in 1809, when Finland became part of Tsarist Russia.
Commercial ties persisted, however, not least with the Baltic provinces, and were expanded to some extent when they became independent countries after the Russian Revolution. After the Soviet Union annexed them in 1940, the allegedly unhappy fate of the Baltic peoples under the Communist yoke was repeatedly evoked in Sweden by both Social Democrats and the bourgeois political parties.
Local talent drives the Holocaust in the Baltics
When Operation Barbarossa was launched in June 1941 there were about 250,000 Jews living in Lithuania, 95,000 in Latvia and 4,500 in Estonia. In little more than one week, the Germans occupied Latvia and Lithuania, and about two months later the Red Army was forced to retreat from Estonia.
Jews participated in rear-guard actions against the Wehrmacht and the armed bands of local Nazis as either irregulars or members of the Red Army, according to Professor Dov Levin of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, who was was born in Kovno, Lithuania. He was in the anti-Nazi underground movement in the Kovno ghetto, and then joined a partisan group in the countryside.
Many Jews, combatants and non-combatants, fled to the USSR as the Germans advanced. In a lecture in New York on 23 October 2001, Professor Levin stated (http://www.jewishgen.org/Yizkor/lithuania1/lithuania1.html):
Sixty percent of Estonian Jews, 15 percent of Latvian Jews, and 8 percent of Lithuanian Jews — some 30,000 men and women in all — managed to escape into the Soviet interior in this manner (amidst heavy bombardments and attacks by the Germans and their local accomplices).
Notably, the act of escape was not only an example of activism par excellence. Eventually, it also allowed many Jews to enlist for systematic warfare in regular armies!
8,000 of them intended to enlist for active combat with the Baltic national divisions and other units in the Red Army. In the 16th Lithuanian Rifle Division alone, nearly 5,000 Jewish soldiers and officers saw action during the war. Since most of them joined infantry units, they had frequent opportunities to directly confront German soldiers, whom they considered personal and national enemies. In these engagements, 2,000 Jews were killed and many were wounded. Jewish fighters were awarded medals and decorations for their outstanding service at the front and in the enemy’s rear.
Much the same happened in the Latvian divisions, in which 3,000 Jews fought, and the Estonian divisions, in which 300 Jews saw action. Additional Baltic Jews fought in other Red Army units and in the Polish army.
If one includes these, the number of Jewish soldiers who found ways to oppose the Nazis and their allies in active warfare climbs to 10,000.
Thousands of relatives of soldiers and other Jews found themselves in the Soviet Union, either as deportees to Siberia as “enemies of the people” or as refugees (“evacuees”) on the kolkhozes and in villages and towns of central Asia. Some of them suffered severely and a few even died of starvation, cold, typhus and subhuman living conditions. However, most of them survived and joined the war effort.
The Baltic Jews were not alone in finding shelter in the Soviet Union. The recovery of the western areas of Belorussia and the Ukraine by the USSR in September 1939 protected their sizeable Jewish populations from the Nazi advance, and many of them were later able to escape eastward.
According to Nathan Weinstock in Le zionisme contre Israel (1969):
Much has been written about the lingering of anti-Semitism in Soviet society as well as in the internal political struggles of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, but Western Jewry has not been attentive to the fact that in the years 1935–43, it was the ‘Evil Empire’ that gave shelter to the majority of European Jews fleeing the Nazi genocide. While the United States and Britain allowed only 6.6 percent and 1.9 percent of Jewish immigrants respectively, 75.3 percent of the Jewish refugees from Europe, that is close to two million, found refuge in the Soviet Union.
Lithuanian Nazis began murdering Jews within a few days after the German invasion. The subsequent Holocaust in the Baltics was a horror story in a class of its own. Estonia was pronounced cleared of Jews (judenrein) in December 1941. More than 95% of the Jews remaining in Latvia and Lithuania were killed.
The distinguishing feature of the Baltic Holocaust was that most of the killing was done by native Fascists. In other occupied countries in Western Europe, the Germans exterminated Jews by rounding them up and shipping them to concentration camps. But the Balts displayed a unique and effective initiative.
The following text is from The Failure to Prosecute Nazi War Criminals in Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, 1991-1998, by Efraim Zuroff, published by the Center for Information and Documentation on Israel, summer 1998, Volume II, Number 1. Zuroff is director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Jerusalem. The original sequence of the texts has been modified, and emphasis has been added.
The active involvement of Lithuanians, Latvians, and Estonians in the murders took various forms. Probably the most pernicious was their service in special killing units established by the Nazis expressly for the implementation of the mass murder of ‘enemies of the Reich’. Units such as the Lithuanian Ypatinga burys(Vilnius Sonderkommando) and the 12th Auxiliary Police Battalion, and the Latvian Arajs Kommando each carried out the murder of tens of thousands of Jews, and the latter two formations were even sent outside their respective countries to carry out mass executions which earned them considerable notoriety. In addition, local police units throughout the three countries were active participants in the annihilation of local Jewish communities, as were vigilante gangs of local fascists who in some cases, particularly in Lithuania, began their physical attacks on Jews even before the Nazis occupied their homeland.
Local administrators played a role in the various stages of the persecution and murder of the Jews (and the confiscation of their property), and the role of propagandists should also not be ignored. Given the relatively large number and particularly high percentage of Baltic Jews murdered – especially in Lithuania (212,000 Jews killed which constituted 96.4% of the Jews living under Nazi occupation), but to a certain extent in Latvia as well (67,000 Latvian Jews which constituted 95.7% of the local community) – and the murder of at least several thousand, primarily Central European, Jews in each of the three countries, as well as the active participation of numerous Balts in the killing of Jews in Byelorussia and Poland – it becomes clear that the number of Lithuanians, Latvians and Estonians who played a role in the annihilation of European Jewry is extremely large and quite significant by any standard.
Many of these perpetrators were brought to trial by the Soviet authorities during the initial decade following the end of World War II, but others were never held accountable. A considerable percentage of those in the latter category escaped prosecution by emigrating to the West, in many cases to countries like the United States, Australia, Canada and Great Britain which had fought against the Nazis. Ironically, within less than a decade after the conclusion of the hostilities the former allies had admitted at least hundreds, if not thousands, of Balts who had collaborated with the Nazis.
As we have seen, virtually none of the Baltic Nazis who found refuge in the US and the UK were prosecuted for their crimes. Instead, they were recruited as warriors in the crusade against Communism.
New careers in Sweden
During the last months of World War 2 Baltic Nazis also fled to Sweden, where they discovered that they would live happily ever after. The following texts are from Sweden‘s Refusal to Prosecute Nazi War Criminals: 1986-2002, by Efraim Zuroff, published in Jewish Political Studies Review 14:3-4 (Fall 2002) (Emphasis has been added):
Toward the end of World War II, an unspecified number of Latvian and Estonian Nazi war criminals escaped to Sweden among a wave of Baltic refugees fleeing the advancing Soviet Army. Although the Swedish government established a special commission to investigate their wartime activities, no legal action was ever taken against any of these escaped Holocaust perpetrators…
Swedish authorities had refused to extradite Nazi collaborators to their countries of origin (because they feared that they might be subjected to summary trials and face a death sentence)…
Swedish governments obviously shared the view of the British and the Americans, who refused on the same grounds to extradite Nazis to Poland and the Soviet Union. Future historians will undoubtedly be impressed by the humanitarian compassion that was shown for the Nazi butchers. Zuroff also writes (emphasis added)
…although the Swedish authorities investigated all the arriving refugees, they adopted a lenient attitude toward escaped Baltic Nazi war criminals, who were regarded as having cooperated with the Nazis out of patriotism, and whose heinous participation in the murder of Jews was generally overlooked or ignored. In such cases, the Swedish authorities tended to regard evidence concerning war crimes in the Baltics from Communist – and even to some extent from Jewish sources – as questionable or motivated by “personal enmity.” Under such circumstances, it is hardly surprising that not a single Baltic war criminal was ever prosecuted in Sweden and that at least several others whose wartime activities were revealed during the investigations were allowed to freely emigrate elsewhere.
Like Simpson and Bower, Zuroff confirms the reliability of Soviet information on Baltic war criminals, which was the basis for the list of names that he sent to the Swedish government (emphasis added).
In 1986, the Simon Wiesenthal Center exposed the presence in Sweden of several Baltic Nazi war criminals and asked the Swedish government to investigate the entry of Nazi collaborators into the country and to take legal action against those who could be brought to trial. The Swedish authorities refused to investigate, let alone prosecute these cases, citing the existing statute of limitations which prohibited the prosecution of any crimes more than 25 years after they were committed.
This has remained the position of the Swedish government even after it was revealed in 2000 that those who had participated in Nazi atrocities were alive and living in Sweden. All the efforts to induce a change in Swedish policy on this issue have hereto failed. Sweden is currently weighing the abolition of the statute of limitations on genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes but will not do so retroactively, so there is no chance that any Nazi war criminal will ever be prosecuted in Sweden.
The Swedish government’s refusal in 1986 to investigate Baltic Nazis resident in Sweden came from none other than the Social Democrat prime minister Ingvar Carlsson.
He explained that the government had consulted a team of Swedish lawyers who had come to the conclusion that “It is impossible to judge from the sources available how far native collaborators (i.e. Baltic Nazis) participated in the German genocidal actions and deportations.” In fact there was and is considerable evidence showing that they did so. The lawyers also wrote that “To initiate an inquiry into the matter in the present situation would be dubious from the standpoint of principle and from the material point of view hardly meaningful.”
However, Carlsson did not want to give the wrong impression. His letter finishes:
The war crimes which were committed during the Second World War constitute one of the darkest chapters in the history of mankind. It is important that these war crimes do not fall into oblivion. Knowledge of what happened in the shadow of the Second World War must be an important lodestar for existing and coming generations. Such events must be condemned and must not be repeated. The fact that the Swedish Government has now decided not to take any action in regard to your request must, therefore, under no circumstances give the impression that the Government does not fervently oppose all kinds of war crimes. However, the rule of law must be upheld. I am convinced that you understand that an amendment of the Swedish law would be contrary to fundamental principles which have been of guidance in legislation in our country for a long time.
Carlsson did not mention Sweden’s role in supporting the Nazi war machine, as described in Chapter 5. He did not express any regret that since 1945 Swedish governments had consistently refused to investigate resident war criminals, long before the statute of limitations went into effect. Nor did he explain that despite the Swedish government’s fervent opposition to “all kinds of war crimes”, Stockholm had never protested officially against the crimes against humanity committed by the Western powers since 1918, such as the murder of millions of Soviet civilians by the Germans, the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, or the bloodbaths in North Korea and Indonesia (see Chapter 13).
In 1997, the then Social Democrat prime minister Göran Persson announced the launch of the Living History project, which was supposed to deal with “issues such as humanitarianism, democracy and the equality of people, starting with the Holocaust during the Second World War”, according to the Holocaust Book that was published by the Swedish Government Offices.
Zuroff calls Persson’s initiative a “surprising development”, in that Sweden ”had never played a significant role in any global Jewish issue”. Persson announced that his government wanted to coordinate education about the Holocaust on an international scale. He convened a conference in Stockholm in 1998 for this purpose. Efraim Zuroff was a participant, and he
called upon the Swedish government to change its existent policy and investigate Nazi war criminals and establish a legal mechanism to enable their prosecution. Although this appeal was presented as a means to enhance and reinforce Holocaust educational activities in Sweden, it found no specific expression in the conference resolutions, nor was the author (Zuroff) ever invited again – in any capacity – to subsequent meetings and conferences of the task force for international cooperation to spread knowledge about the Holocaust.
But by 1999 Persson was making a name for himself on the international scene in the Holocaust industry, and decided that in 2000 the government would arrange a Stockholm International Forum on the Holocaust, to which about 45 heads of state and international opinion-builders would be invited. Preparations were well under way in the spring of 1999, when the second Waffen-SS demonstration was held in Riga. As indicated in Chapter 2, the incident was not worthy of comment by Persson.
Unwelcome news was in store however. In Svenskarna Som Stred For Hitler (Swedes Who Fought for Hitler), 1999, the Swedish journalist Bosse Schön revealed that more than 250 Swedes had served in the German Waffen SS during the war. At least one of them had been stationed at the Treblika concentration camp, and was alive and well and living in Sweden. A documentary based on the book was shown on Swedish TV in December 1999. This generated an uproar that included protests by opposition parties on both the right and the left, none of whom had had anything to say about the British and American terror-bombings of Iraq that had been in progress since 1992.
Persson immediately announced that he was thinking about setting up “a commission, research project or some other method to find out exactly what the Swedish Nazis did.”
In June 1999 NATO concluded its 78-day terror-bombing of Serbia, which was a war crime according to the Nuremberg Principles.
Walter J. Rockler, who had been a prosecutor at the Nuremberg War Crimes Trial, pointed out in an article in the Chicago Tribune, 23 May 1999 that the bombing constituted a war of aggression, the supreme crime according to the Nuremberg Principles. Rockler also pointed out:
From another standpoint of international law, the current conduct of the bombing by the United States and NATO constitutes a continuing war crime. Contrary to the beliefs of our war planners, unrestricted air bombing is barred under international law. Bombing the infrastructure of a country – waterworks, electricity plants, bridges, factories, television and radio locations – is not an attack limited to legitimate military objectives. Our bombing has also caused an excessive loss of life and injury to civilians, which violates another standard. We have now killed hundreds, if not thousands, of Serbs, Montenegrins and Albanians, even some Chinese, in our pursuit of humanitarian ideals.
In addition to shredding the UN Charter and perverting the purpose of NATO, Clinton also has violated at least two provisions of the United States Constitution. Under Article I, Section 8, of the Constitution, Congress, not the president, holds the power to declare war and to punish offenses against the law of nations. Alexander Hamilton in The Federalist No. 69 pointed out one difference between a monarchy and the presidency under the new form of government: A king could use his army as he pleased; the president would have no such unlimited power. Under Article VI of the Constitution, treaties, far from being mere scraps of paper as we now deem them to be, are part of the supreme law of the United States. Of course, these days a supine Congress, fascinated only by details of sexual misconduct [by Clinton], can hardly be expected to enforce constitutional requirements.
No protests against the criminal bombing of Serbia were heard from Göran Persson’s government or from other Swedes who claimed to be concerned about war crimes committed 50 years previously during World War 2.
In a statement to the Swedish Parliament on 19 January 2000 Persson said:
The Swedish Security Service is in possession of documents containing information about Swedes who collaborated with Nazi Germany during the war, as well as information about suspected war criminals who fled to Sweden. Researchers already have access to this type of historical material. However, as a result of recent discussions, the question of how long documents should be classified has arisen. The Government is prepared to examine this matter once again.
Like many other people, I too am tormented by the thought that Swedes who have been a party to Nazi Germany’s crimes against humanity have been able to go free in our country without the competent judicial authorities taking steps. The shame of our past is something that we Swedes must bear together.
The Government is well aware of the very difficult legal problems and matters of principle that are involved when instituting legal proceedings for crimes that fall under the statute of limitations, but will nevertheless reconsider the matter as and when the occasion arises. In addition, the Government will shortly be appointing a committee of inquiry assigned with the task of abolishing the statute of limitations for inter alia war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity.
Overcome by his mental torment, Persson did not explain that “we Swedes” was code for “Swedish governments and the Swedish ruling class”. He did not explain that possible changes in the statute of limitations would not be retroactive, and therefore investigation and prosecution of Nazis in Sweden would continue to be impossible.
Zuroff calls Persson’s bluff
On 6 January 2000 Zuroff wrote to prime minister Persson, requesting an official government inquiry into crimes committed by Swedish and Baltic Nazis, as well as Sweden’s role relative to the Holocaust. He pointed out that a statute of limitations “should not apply to genocide and crimes against humanity”.
Two days later, when it seemed as if Persson had after all decided that Nazi war criminals living in Sweden would be investigated, Zuroff wrote another letter praising Persson’s decision and urging that those who had committed war crimes would “ultimately be held accountable”.
Six months later, on 11 July 2000, after the conclusion of the Holocaust Forum in Stockholm and the third annual Waffen-SS march in Riga, Persson replied to Zuroff’s letters. After lamenting the existence of the Swedish statute of limitations, Persson explained that (emphasis added):
The Swedish Government has also thoroughly considered the possibility of reintroducing criminal responsibility for crimes during the Second World War, for which the periods of limitations have expired in some cases more than thirty years ago. Any legislation reintroducing the criminal responsibility would come in conflict with the general principles of the Swedish judicial system. It is not possible for the Government to suggest such legislation.
Since Sweden has no possibility of reintroducing the criminal responsibility for these crimes, no accusations against individuals can be tried by the Swedish judicial bodies. Any official investigation, established by the Government, could be said to evade the current legislation and to risk a conflict with the purpose behind the law on this point.
The Government has therefore decided not to take further action in response to your request to establish an official governmental investigation concerning crimes against humanity during the Second World War. It is my hope that you will understand the situation in which we find ourselves….
Persson also wrote that his government would appoint a commission to consider future Swedish legislation against war crimes, as well as the elimination of the statute of limitations for such future crimes. He informed Zuroff that preparations were in progress for a permanent Forum for Living History which would serve as “a center for remembrance, research and dialogue about the many atrocities of the Holocaust”. The next-to-last paragraph in his letter reads:
As stated above the Government today decided not to take any further actions in response to your request. However, I can assure you that we are doing our very utmost to take other measures within our power to secure that the atrocities of the war will never be forgotten and to prevent these horrible events from ever occurring in the future.
Göran Persson was voted out of office six years later in 2006. It may be superfluous to add that in the following six years he never protested against the US-British attacks on Afghanistan or Iraq, or against Israeli crimes against humanity.
In a letter to Persson written on 17 July 2000, Zurhoff expressed his deep disappointment about Persson’s decision not to take legal action against Nazis in Sweden. He pointed out that this was “the worst possible” signal to the post-Soviet governments in the Baltics, who had consistently refused to prosecute their native Nazis. He urged Persson (emphasis added):
“Think back for a moment to the shameful speeches delivered at the Stockholm Living History Forum in January of this year by Lithuanian Prime Minister Kubilius and Latvian President Vike-Freiberga. Both tried to deny or drastically minimize the extensive participation of their countrymen in the crimes of the Holocaust. Both are currently facing concrete decision regarding the prosecution of their nationals for the crimes of the Holocaust. What effect do you think Sweden’s decision last week not to prosecute such criminals will have on Latvia and Lithuania? Such a decision will obviously hardly encourage them to undertake the difficult, but morally imperative, decisions that I assume you yourself would want them to take.
As far as I know, the Swedish mass media had nothing to say about the “shameful speeches” by the Baltic heads of state at the Living History Forum.
Zuroff also pointed out that other countries such as Canada, Australia and the UK had revised their statutes of limitations to enable prosecution of Nazis, and that a leading Canadian jurist had stated that “in the case of genocide, international law takes precedence over national law, thereby ensuring the possibility of prosecution of Nazi war criminals, even in Sweden”.
Obviously, Persson had had enough. He never answered Zuroff’s letter.
Rehabilitating Nazis in the Baltics
There was good reason for Zuroff to call Persson’s attention to the effect that the Swedish refusal would have on the governments of the Baltic countries. The effect was to encourage their efforts to help Baltic Nazis evade justice.
Many Baltic Nazis had been tried and convicted by Soviet courts after the war. When the Baltics became independent countries in connection with the dismemberment of the USSR 1989-91, a number of the war criminals who had fled to the West returned home. The Baltic governments initiated a rehabilitation program that closely resembled the treatment of war criminals in occupied Germany and the BRD. Once again, Lithuania was typical. Zuroff, writing in 1998 (emphasis added):
Shortly before attaining independence, the Lithuanian judicial authorities began to issue rehabilitations to individuals convicted during the Soviet regime, a process which included financial compensation and the return of property confiscated upon conviction. Although the rehabilitation law passed on May 2, 1990 specifically forbade the granting of pardons to those who had ‘participated in genocide,’ at least several dozen, but probably many more, Nazi murderers were granted rehabilitation. Ever since this phenomenon was revealed on September 5, 1991 by Stephen Kinzer of the New York Times – based on materials obtained from the Simon Wiesenthal Center – the two issues of the prosecution of Nazi war criminals and the cancellation of the rehabilitations granted to the killers of Jews have been irrevocably linked. But whereas a minuscule amount of progress has recently been made regarding the latter issue, not a single Nazi war criminal has ever been put on trial, let alone convicted, in independent Lithuania…
The Lithuanians’ inability to honestly deal with the extensive scope of their participation in the murder of the Jews can also be clearly seen from the manner in which they have handled the rehabilitation issue. In the wake of the revelation that pardons had been granted to Nazi murderers, a joint Lithuanian-Israeli commission of inquiry was established by the two governments to investigate the process. An initial delegation from Israel examined over 100 files in early February 1995 and submitted a list of approximately 90 cases in which rehabilitations had been illegally granted to individuals who had participated in the murder of Jews.
The response of the Lithuanians was incomplete, patently incorrect in certain cases and unclear in others, and as a result the Israeli delegation refused to return to Vilnius to continue the investigations. If we add the fact that the Lithuanians reneged on a promise to grant the Israelis access to all the names of those who had been granted rehabilitations and later failed to fulfill their reduced commitment to at least make available the names of those granted pardons who had been convicted for murder, it becomes clear that there is little political will in Vilnius to deal with this issue in a forthright manner.
The policies of the post-independence governments in Latvia and Estonia have been similar. The rulers of Latvia have gone a step further and since 1998 have authorized the annual march of the native Waffen-SS veterans, as documented in Chapter 2. The governments of all three countries insist that the Soviet Union was a criminal aggressor, and that the Baltic Nazis were fighting for their homelands, like anyone else would have done. They have repeatedly prosecuted Soviet officials and war veterans.
For example, Zuroff writes:
The prosecution of Nazi collaborators has to date not been a major issue in Latvia. To the best of our knowledge, the Latvian judicial authorities have never independently initiated any attempt to investigate, let alone prosecute, residents of Latvia for Nazi war crimes, although Alfons Noviks, the former head of the KGB in Riga was put on trial and sentenced to a prison term at the age of 87.
The case of Vassili Makarovitch Kononov shows unequivocally that the rulers of the Baltics are determined to continue their active service in the crusade against Communism, which was said to have expired in 1991. Kononov was born in Latvia in 1923 and grew up there. He joined the anti-Nazi partisans after the German invasion, and later operated behind German lines as a member of the Red Army. He received several decorations for heroism, including the Order of Lenin. On 10 October 1998, at the age of 75, almost exactly seven months after the first Waffen-SS parade in Riga, he was arraigned for “war crimes” in a Latvian court and declared guilty. He was released from jail in April 2000.
In 2004 Kononov appealed the verdict before the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). In 2008 the Court dismissed all the charges against him and stated that Latvia had no legal right to try him.
However, in 2010 the Latvian government appealed again to the ECHR, which confirmed the verdict against Kononov. He died in March 2011. Had he been a member of the Latvian Waffen-SS he would be considered a national hero.
Compassion for Baltic warriors
Swedes have shown compassion in several ways for Baltic warriors who fought in German uniforms against the Soviet Union, and one event in particular has been a re current element in Swedish anti-Soviet propaganda for more than 60 years.
Several thousand of Hitler’s soldiers fled in uniform to Sweden in the closing months of World War 2, most of whom had been on the Eastern Front, and they included 150-200 Balts. Early in June the Soviets formally requested that the Swedish government extradite them to the USSR, in line with the surrender document signed by the Germans in May 1945, which stipulated that uniformed Fascist military personnel in neutral countries were to be returned to their own countries and/or to the front where they had fought.
In November 1945 it became public knowledge that about 160 Baltic soldiers were to be returned to the Soviet Union, which ignited extreme indignation in the bourgeois media and among the many Swedes who had supported the Fascist crusade against Communism. Among other things it was charged that the Balts were being sent to certain death at the hands of the bloodthirsty Reds, since they would be regarded by Moscow as traitors.
In January 1942 about 150 Baltic soldiers were put aboard a Soviet ship that transported them home. As mentioned above, some years later the Swedish author Per Olov Enquist was curious enough to investigate what happened to them afterward. He found that three or four were convicted of crimes and given relatively short prison sentences, while the rest went free.
However, the facts of the matter were as usual irrelevant to the standard-bearers of the crusade against Communism, and the deportation is normally described in the mainstream media as a shameful episode in Swedish post-war history.
As recently as 2004 the Regional Museum of the city of Kristianstad in southeast Sweden prepared an exhibition that was purportedly designed to present a true picture of the dark blot on the Swedish escutcheon under the title “Deportation of the Balts – a Swedish trauma in the shadow of World War 2” (Sw.Baltutlämningen – ett svenskt trauma i andra världskrigets skugga). The exhibition was quickly borrowed by the Forum for Living History, in line with its mandate to expose “the crimes of Communism”, and displayed on the ground floor of the Forum’s offices in Stockholm.
The exhibition was a travesty. The entrance was dominated by a chair about 4 meters high, made of rough-hewn wood and suggesting a watch-tower. The floor beneath the chair was strewn with large photographic portraits of Hitler and Stalin, obviously intended to reinforce the popular mythology that they were partners in villainy. The only other objects in the room were a series of wall-panels with text and photographs devoted to the background of World War 2 and focusing on the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact. The text suggested that the Soviet Union was responsible for the war, a message that was reinforced by a large picture of Soviet troops charging forward on a battlefield.
The facts presented in Chapter 9 of this book on the background to World War 2 were totally absent. The financial, material and ideological support provided to Hitler by Western capitalists was not mentioned.
As far as I recall, the Munich pact was not mentioned either. There was no reference to Leibovitz and Finkel’s documented analysis of the Munich pact as collusion with Hitler, not appeasement. The only mention of the Munich pact that I could find at the Forum for Living History’s web site is a misleading article which states that “In the beginning appeasement of (Hitler) Germany was seen as more or less justified. [By who?] When Hitler’s foreign policy became more aggressive in 1938-1939, appeasement became a means of trying to rescue Europe from a new war”. The British and French threats which forced the Czechs to capitulate, and the subsequent abandonment of Czechoslovakia to Hitler did not deserve even a footnote.
The rest of the exhibition contained detailed descriptions of the Baltic soldiers who had been interned in Sweden, complete with photographs reflecting their grief, as well as models of the internment camps. The deportation was described as a trauma, a term that was used repeatedly by the young man who guided visitors through the exhibit.
The role of the Balts in the Holocaust was omitted from the exhibition, although the facts presented to the prime minister of Sweden by the Wiesenthal Center were and are readily available. The Forum for Living History’s own Holocaust Book contains a page with a map showing coffins and numbers of Jews killed in the Baltics and the Ukraine, but plainly suggests that it was Germans and not Balts who were responsible.
Unsurprisingly, the exhibition offered no information about what actually happened to the Baltic soldiers after they returned to the Soviet Union. The visitor was obviously intended to assume that they were sent to their doom, as the craven Swedish government capitulated to the ferocious cries for revenge from the USSR.
There were no hints that Baltic Nazi criminals had found pleasant new lives in Sweden, or that Swedish governments had consistently refused to investigate and/or prosecute them. The rehabilitation of Nazism and Nazis in the Baltics since 1991 was not mentioned.
It should be repeated that the Forum for Living History is a government agency at the same organizational level as the tax authority, which means that it dispenses propaganda at public expense, and with the approval of the government. Neither Göran Persson nor the current Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt has ever protested against the Waffen-SS marches in Riga, the glorification of Nazis in Ukraine, or the refusal of the Baltic governments to prosecute domestic war criminals.
Ignoring pre- and post-Holocaust holocausts
The exhibition was emblematic of the mainstream narrative of the 20th century. It was a gross distortion of historical fact in terms of both the origins of World War 2 and the role of the Baltic Nazis. Three basic techniques are normally applied for construction of this narrative.
One: The existence of socio-economic classes must never be admitted. The interests of the members of such classes can therefore be totally ignored. History is driven by Good or Evil Men (occasionally by Good or Evil Women) and/or The Spirit of the Times and/or small bands of conspirators. In modern times the conspirators are usually identified as mentally unbalanced fanatics who have been influenced by the so-called teachings of Karl Marx, who was wrong about nearly everything.
The causes of historical events can therefore be revealed through quasi-psychological studies of such individuals and groups. Or, as in the case of the Holocaust, historical events can be declared incomprehensible, in line with the “teachings” of Karl Popper.
Two: Events that are admitted into the narrative must be stripped of their historical context (see below) and discussed or analyzed in isolation. For example, the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact must be disconnected from the Soviet Union’s continuous attempts to form an alliance against Hitler-Germany (see Chapter 9) as well as the encouragement Hitler received from the Western powers.
Three: Events or processes which do not fit the narrative must be either misrepresented or in major cases disregarded, so that they become non-events. This involves ignoring a large part of recorded history, such as the War of Intervention in Russia, which if mentioned at all is usually referred to as the Russian Civil War.
The falsification of history that is inherent in the Forum for Living History and the sources from which it obtains disinformation follows naturally from the standard treatment of the Holocaust, which strips the mass judeocide of its historical context by:
- Concealing the nature of Fascism as a capitalist phenomen, focused on promoting imperialism and destroying Communism.
- Reducing Nazism to anti-Semitism and ignoring other Fascist movements, e.g. in Italy and Spain.
- Concealing the core of Fascist anti-Semitism as a special form of anti-Communism, i.e. Jews identified as bearers of the Bolshevik plague.
- Ignoring the shameful role of the Zionists 1933-1945 in connection with the Holocaust.
- Ignoring the role of the Soviet Union in protecting Eastern European Jews.
- Minimizing or ignoring the importance of Jewish (and non-Jewish) slave labor for ensuring high profit levels in German- and Western-owned corporations.
- Ignoring the rehabilitation of Nazis after 1945 and their enlistment in the crusade against Communism. Ignoring the rehabilitation of Nazis in former Communist countries post-1991 is an inevitable consequence.
- Defining the judeocide as a unique event with no parallels in history (see Chapter 5).
For anti-Communist ideological warriors, continuous highlighting of the Holocaust devoid of its real context enables construction of false analogies between Fascism and Communism, as shown in the exhibition reviewed above. It also enables the warriors to perform continuous moral massage, as they express their heartfelt and boundless sympathy for murdered Jews, and often for Roma, homosexuals and the mentally deficient as well. Protesting against those such as Faurisson and Irving who deny the Holocaust adds welcome warmth to the massage. It also currently serves as a convenient pretext for justifying sanctions and/or war against Iran.
Nevertheless, the sincerity of the anti-Communist warriors at the Forum for Living History and other institutions is highly questionable because they are in constant denial of other holocausts. Among the holocausts that are contemporary or nearly contemporary with the Holocaust are the First World War, the War of Intervention 1918-1922, the slaughter in Abyssinia by Mussolini’s armies, the assault on China by Japanese capitalists 1937-1945, the slaughter of 15 million or more Soviet citizens 1941-1945, and the obliteration of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
The occurrence of these holocausts is often denied by omission. They are sometimes mentioned in textbooks, where they receive limited attention. Denial consists in disregarding their content and their context.
Why and for whom did all those soldiers die in World War 1? Why did the forces of 14 nations invade Soviet Russia? Why did the Western powers allow the Italian and Japanese capitalists to commit large-scale murder? What was the real reason for the decision to drop the atomic bombs? Close examination would generate many uncomfortable questions, and many disconcerting answers.
However, one early 20th-century holocaust has received a good deal of attention in recent years – the slaughter of Armenians by the Turkish forces in 1915. The reason for such attention is not clear, but I suspect that it is linked to a general tendency to blacklist Middle Eastern nations, with the exception of Israel.
On a much larger scale, the anti-Communist warriors are not willing to label the atrocities described in Chapter 8 as holocausts, since to do so would call in question the nature of market economies in general and capitalism in particular.
Several other holocausts such as the mass slaughter of the Irish and the Scots by the British ruling class 1640-1800 will be discussed in Chapter 16.
The next two chapters are be devoted to a discussion of the post-1945 capitalist holocausts in North Korea, Indonesia and Vietnam, as well as the capitalist holocaust in general.