July 03rd 2012 09:06:12 PM
Good for Elie Wiesel. (Though I don’t agree that there should be Holocaust-denial laws, the suggestion of which undermines the strong stance he is taking here. Such laws shouldn’t exist in free societies.)
Elie Wiesel renounces Hungarian award, claims Nazi past ‘whitewashed’
Nobel Peace Prize laureate renounces a state award he received in 2004; accuses Hungarian authorities of honoring memory of pro-Nazi writer. (Haaretz, June 19)
Nobel Peace Prize laureate Elie Wiesel has renounced a Hungarian state award he received in 2004 in protest against what he said was a “whitewashing” of the role of former Hungarian governments in the deportation of Jews during World War Two.
In a letter to Hungarian Parliament Speaker Laszlo Kover, Wiesel, 83, said he was furious that Kover had participated in a ceremony honoring a writer who was a loyal member of Hungary’s WW2 far-right parliament, an act he suggested reflected the authorities’ willingness to gloss over the country’s dark past.
“It has become increasingly clear that Hungarian authorities are encouraging the whitewashing of tragic and criminal episodes in Hungary’s past, namely the wartime Hungarian governments’ involvement in the deportation and murder of hundreds of thousands of its Jewish citizens,” Wiesel wrote in his letter.
According to Budapest’s Holocaust Memorial Centre, 500,000 to 600,000 Hungarian Jews were killed during the Holocaust, with most of them deported to death camps after the country’s occupation by Nazi Germany in March 1944.
The Nazi Arrow Cross party, which led the Hungarian government from October 1944, was responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of Hungarian Jews, local historians say.
Wiesel, a survivor of the Nazi camps who has chronicled his suffering in numerous books, told the Hungarian parliament during a 2009 visit that the country should consider banning Holocaust denial to improve its image abroad.
But in his letter, that was dated June 7 and was published by [a] Hungarian website late on Monday and cited by a leading newspaper Nepszabadsag on Tuesday, he said the authorities had since gone in the opposite direction.
“I do not wish to be associated in any way with such activities. Therefore, I hereby repudiate the Grand Cross Order of Merit of the Republic of Hungary granted to me on June 24, 2004, by the President of Hungary,” he wrote.
In the letter, Wiesel angrily complained that Kover and a senior Hungarian government official had attended a ceremony in Romania honoring writer Jozsef Nyiro.
Nyiro, who is a popular writer in the parts of Romania where ethnic Hungarians live, was a member of Hungary’s WW2 far-right parliament dominated by the Arrow Cross Party. The present conservative Hungarian government has made him part of the official school curriculum.
“I found it outrageous that the Speaker of the Hungarian National Assembly could participate in a ceremony honoring a Hungarian fascist ideologue,” Wiesel wrote.
Wiesel, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986, also said it was distressing that public spaces were named after Miklos Horthy, Hungary’s head of state when the country allied with Nazi Germany.
On Saturday, about one thousand Hungarians attended the unveiling of a statue of Horthy in a village with activists in paramilitary outfits flying the flags of the far-right Jobbik opposition party and various nationalist groups.
The government says the debate about Horthy’s role in Hungarian history is an academic one in which it has no role.
Notice that countries which still pine for their fascist days and still get away with honoring elements of their Axis past — such as Hungary and Croatia — are also countries that are on the march today. Like Croatia, Hungary still nurses pretensions toward expanding its territory. There’s Vojvodina in Serbia, and one imagines that something is or will be afoot with the above-mentioned part of Romania where Hungarians dominate. (I don’t follow Romania, so I’m ignorant on this.) Albania also belongs to this list, as it too was never asked to apologize for its Axis past and, sure enough, its expansionism is on the march toward Greater Albania.
My main point here, however, is that Mr. Wiesel’s outraged reaction would be multi-fold and much more frequent if he were to follow developments in Croatia. This sort of thing (the Hungarian ‘indiscretions’) is a regular feature of Croatia, and the country gets away with all of it, continually flying under the radar. The world — and especially Elie Wiesel — should not have a stronger radar for Hungary than it does for Croatia. Especially since we now know it’s possible that Six Million Jews died for a Catholic Croatia. Here is the full version of the letter sent me by my friend Melana (excerpted a few days ago), who discovered the possible connection. She and I were engaging in a back-and-forth about the enigmatic nature of Croatia’s WWII Archbishop of Zagreb, Aloysius Stepinac — about whether he was a “monster,” or merely a “company man” who went along, in the interest of the Church’s ascendance. Either way, he presided over the Orthodox and Jewish genocide in his country. Herewith, Melana’s take:
Interesting chapter [in The Catholic Church and the Holocaust, Indiana University Press]. One of the things pointed out was that Stepinac and the Vatican were so concerned with making the Ustasha succeed that they missed the opportunity to condemn genocide BEFORE Hitler started carrying out his plan for the Jews. This is ultimately THE answer as to why Pope Pius XII never spoke out against the Holocaust. Pg. 39:
“…The Croatian genocide is significant historically because of its timing and the circumstances surrounding it. By failing to speak out publicly against genocide in Croatia, the Holy See lost an opportunity to condemn it in 1941, just months before the Holocaust began. The circumstances are equally important. Since the main victims of Ustasha genocide were Orthodox Serbs, Pope Pius XII forfeited an opportunity to denounce a genocide that did not involve Hitler’s plans for Jews which had not yet been worked out in detail. Among the Axis powers, the Italians found the brutality of the Ustasha murderers horrifying and the Germans saw it as economically disruptive. The summer of 1941 would have been the right moment in time for the Holy See to exercise moral leadership.
“Why then did Pope Pius not address this moral issue? It was not because it did not occur to him. Cardinal Eugene Tisserant had smelled genocide in the air at the beginning of WWII and had suggested to Pius at that time that he address the issue in an encyclical. Rather, it was because the Holy See preferred to bring diplomatic pressure on the Ustasha government instead of challenging the fascists publicly on the immorality of genocide. [Croatian fuehrer] Pavelic’s diplomatic emissaries to the Holy See were scolded gently by Monsignors Tardini and Montini…”
I now know why Pope Pius XII and the Vatican remained silent on the moral issue of Hitler’s slaughter of 6 million Jews. Because the genocide of Serbs and Jews in Croatia happened first — before Hitler started The Final Solution — and the Vatican was intent on keeping Catholic Croatia as a state so they didn’t want to rock the boat by “condemning genocide” as a moral issue because it would damn Croatia and might even reflect badly on the Catholic Church given how religiously motivated the Ustashe were. They had their Catholic Croatia and they wanted to keep it.
If Pius had condemned the genocide in Croatia in 1941 while Hitler’s plan for the Jews was still on the drawing board, Pius would have been condemning genocide as “a moral issue” before Hitler even really got rolling. Auschwitz wasn’t even built until 1942. But to save Croatia, Pius remained silent on the moral issue of genocide. Once Pius remained silent about genocide in Croatia, Hitler had Pius over a barrel — what kind of “moral high ground” could Pius have condemning Hitler killing Jews when he’d never opened his mouth on what was happening in Catholic Croatia? Pius was screwed — and so was Stepinac, no matter how he felt.
If you look at the the quotes from Stepinac about “saving Jews,” most were about saving Jews who had converted to the Catholicism, likewise the handful of Serbs that he spoke for. Stepinac hand-picked the priests on the “Conversion Board” and as one Bishop noted, most of those priests would have been “more suited to carrying a revolver than a crucifix.” How does one explain that if Stepinac was just a “poor tortured soul”?
I now think that what happened in Croatia was primarily a Religious Crusade, set against the backdrop of a World War (not the other way around). Stepinac might have disagreed with some of the methods used, but not the aim — an Independent Catholic Croatia — and he held his nose as to what it took to get that. He may have saved some people here and there to assuage his conscience, but saving his dream of a Catholic Croatia was more important to him — and to the Vatican. And when you realize just how many people suffered for that dream — not just in Croatia — but beyond it, it’s almost beyond all belief.
Jasenovac, the only death camp in Europe not run by Nazi Germany but rather by the Croats themselves, was built almost a year before Auschwitz. I had always assumed that the Croats had seen Germans sending Jews to death camps so they joined in by building Jasenovac, but based on the timeline, it was the other way around. Croatia’s Jasenovac was actually the model for Auschwitz, right down to having a railway close by to transport people. Of course, the Germans were into efficiency so they killed with less bloodletting, but Croatia led the way with a camp totally devoted to murdering its inmates.
It’s true that Dachau was built in 1933, before the war began, but Dachau began primarily as a concentration camp to house political prisoners — mostly Christians. But Auschwitz was a killing factory, just like Jasenovac that preceded it.
There was already a World War going on when the Ustashe took power in Croatia. Hitler had invaded Czechoslovakia in 1939. He invaded Yugoslavia in April, 1941. A few days later, the Ustashe NDH [Independent State of Croatia] was established.
I don’t necessarily think that ALL the Jews would have been saved if Pope Pius spoke out against genocide, but I do think that Hitler would have run into much more resistance from Catholic Germans and Poles in implementing The Final Solution had Pius denounced genocide before Auschwitz was built. But the Pope couldn’t speak out on genocide, without sinking his Catholic Croatia project.
Meanwhile, the Bosnian Muslims were already serving as “honorary Croats” in the Ustasha regime well before the Mufti of Jerusalem established the Bosnian-Muslim SS Handzar/Hanschar Division in Feb. 1943 [revived in the early 90s by Sarajevo’s “Western-facing, multi-culturalist Democrat,” the fundamentalist wartime Bosnian president, Alija Izetbegovic.
P.S. For 50 post-WWII years preceding 9/11, the WWII Nazi-Islamic link was completely ignored — virtually no one mentioned the Mufti in connection to the Holocaust. The focus then was on “why didn’t Pope Pius speak out against the Holocaust?” The pressure was really on the Catholic Church. But post 9/11, the Mufti Amin al Husseini’s link to Hitler and to the Holocaust has been rediscovered and is totally in the forefront. The heat has been taken off the memory of Pope Pius. Just for an example, here’s an article called, “Hitler’s Mufti, Not Hitler’s Pope.” Most everything is geared toward looking at the Mufti as having spurred on Hitler to complete the Final Solution. In Western eyes, Pope Pius is pretty much off the hook for the WWII Holocaust….That said, the Mufti really was the biggest influence on incorporating Nazi thinking into Islam post-WWII to produce the kind of Islamic terrorism we are seeing today and he did it by giving fleeing German Nazis a home in the ME.
Here’s another one for the “Catholic Croatia at all costs” file: “Cardinal Francis Spellman, the Archbishop of New York meets with the Croatian Ambassador to the Vatican during WWII.” [The link, http://www.jerusalim.org/cd/biblioteka/pavelicpapers/vatican/va0006.html, is no longer available.] Croatia was at war with the US at the time, and Cardinal Spellman was the best-known Catholic Bishop in the US, but there is Spellman supporting them.
Let me make it clear that the purpose of the last two paragraphs is not to compare the Mufti and the Pope. The Mufti was evil, whereas the Pope was deficient. Both men are worth examining in their own right. One does not cancel out the other. Especially since, again, there was no comparison between them. They should be examined independently, without using one to let the other off the hook.
So, before there was a holocaust of Jews in WWII, there was a holocaust of Serbs. Similarly, the Kosovo scenario is a precedent for Israel, including the specter of ethnic cleansing and genocide.
As Victor Sharpe wrote in “Serbia and Israel — Two Nations Under Islamic Duress“:
Although Serbs living in enclaves within Kosovo are still holding on from being completely driven from their homes, the price of creating a Muslim Palestinian state is the expulsion — the ethnic cleansing — of all Jews from its proposed territory. In other words, it is even worse for the Jews as a new Arab state called Palestine will be judenrein — the forcible removal of Jewish villages and their inhabitants. And this unthinkable outrage of ethnic cleansing will be sanctioned by President Obama and the immoral United Nations under cover of the misnamed peace process.
Jordan is historically in possession of nearly 80% of Mandatory Palestine and its population is over 75% Palestinian. There already thus exists a de facto Palestine. Israel is a mere 40 miles wide from the Mediterranean Sea to the River Jordan and it is within this narrow strip of land that a new Arab and Islamic state would be carved from the biblical Jewish heartland. The world demands that Israel returns to the highly vulnerable armistice lines that existed before June 5, 1967 when it was only nine miles wide at its most populous region. [Similarly, there already exists an Albania, so as with Israel’s case, a single ethnicity of Muslims is getting two countries while further reducing what little the Serbs — like the Jews — have. That’s in addition to the question, Why are Albanians are entitled to two countries and Israel to not even one? (Two countries which, of course, will be combined into one big one.)]
During the Balkan Wars of the 1990s, the Croatians expelled some 250,000 Serbs from their homes in the Krajina district. As soon as the [Albanian] Muslims in Kosovo received autonomy in 1974, they drove out 400,000 Serbs. At the same time a vast influx of ethnic Albanians fleeing Communist rule flooded across the border to take the place of the disinherited Serbs. Albanian Muslim birth rate was so high that within 60 years the Kosovan population within Kosovo grew from 70,000 in 1947 to 2,000,000 by 2004. Similarly, the Arab Muslim population within Israel has grown from 200,000 in 1950 to 1.2 million in 2010.
The Serbian people have been reduced to only 10% of their original population in Kosovo. Ethnic cleansing against the Serbs began long before the Western press ran their lurid stories of Serbian ethnic cleansing against the Bosnian Muslims…
The lesson for Israel is that foreign powers have conspired to strip the expendable Serbs of their ancestral heartland and give it to the Muslims. In doing so, these same western powers believe that by placating and ingratiating themselves with the oil rich Arab and Muslim world they enrich their own economies. After all, Serbia does not possess any known oil reserves.
Israel, too, has been until quite recently bereft of meaningful reserves of oil. It too is thus expendable. The pressure upon Israel to give away its own ancestral, historic, spiritual and biblical heartland in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) grows relentlessly and insidiously.
And a comment found under the 2011 article “Serbia: Shame of the West” by Royston Jones for WalesHome.org:
…[I’ve] actually been to the Field of Blackbirds monument (we had to pick our way up the first flight of stairs because an Albanian nationalist has recently tried to blow the building up). I’ve always said that holy peoples are a pain in the backside, but it is really worth going to the Field of Blackbirds to understand what motivates most Serbs. Imagine a moment so crucial to the history of Wales – crucial enough to believe that national identity hangs on it – and it was located somewhere like Worcestershire. That’s what you have in Kosovo. […]