Guardian

Simply Shocking


Of all the CiF threads I have written about since joining CiF Watch, I’m afraid that the comments on Yorkshire Post journalist Peter Lazenby’s article of December 21st were for me the most difficult and shocking. Peter Lazenby wrote an appropriately sensitive piece about the theft of the sign from the Auschwitz concentration camp which displayed both empathy for the victims of the Holocaust and an understanding of the real lessons of that part of history.

Many of the comments below the line displayed the exact opposite. Some were even decidedly perverse; I cannot put this down to mere ignorance.

There were those who tried to diminish the scale and meaning of the Holocaust.

troweliton

21 Dec 2009, 11:08AM

Bad thing to do .

BNP did not nick it.

Maybe Peter Lazenby would like to write about many of the symbols such as colliery wheels and factory gates that got melted down when our means of employment and cultural heritage was destroyed, particulary those that represent genuine hardship suffering and sacrifice of our own people.

Maybe we just suffered too quietly to be noticed.

I would like my cement mixer returned by whoever thieved it with an old heavily ladened pick-up truck , because buyng a new one equates with a lot of food on the table in hard times.

Aliboy

21 Dec 2009, 1:13PM

Personally I say no to Holocaust exceptionalism. I’m against Lazenby on that.

There were lots of comparable genocides, even if none identical. Stalin killed more. The Tutsis also targetted for complete elimination.

No doubt I will be shouted down; that is the tendency of CiF these days

There were those who tried to equate Israeli actions of self-defence with Nazi acts during the Holocaust.

ThePrompter

21 Dec 2009, 11:21AM

Peter Lazenby –

“The Holocaust was a terror of such magnitude that it’s repercussions still drive the actions of people not born when the crematoria of Auschwitz and other camps belched forth their obscene fumes”

I agree completely Peter, what the Nazis did was in-human and must never be forgotten or excused in any way, it’s just a pity that the Palestinians have had to suffer for the past 61 years as a result of those ‘repercussions’.

zombus –

“Just as well they got it back”

It certainly was, a representative of the Israeli authorities, speaking on the day the sign was stolen, was calling the theft ‘an act of war’. I was having visions of Israel invading Poland.

Clunie

21 Dec 2009, 11:33AM

Hear hear usini and ThePrompter. We’ve failed to learn from this horrific part of history. Reading about Italy’s ”White Christmas” operation was deeply unsettling – the heirs of those who created that hell are going strong.

nusadua: Read the news today at http://www.imemc.org (it’s okay, plenty of Israeli journalists write for it too, including Amira Hass and Gideon Levy) – Israeli Army invades northern Gaza, Army invades Bilin, etc. You can get the weekly list of Israeli killings, injuries, kidnappings of Palestinians from the PHRC there too. I don’t think Palestinians are too taken with the Israeli hell actually. I thought the one thing everyone would have learnt from the horror of the holocaust was that mono-ethnic states never lead to peace and harmony.

ThePrompter

21 Dec 2009, 1:24PM

Locotillo –

“Isn’t it a shame that Europeans didn’t seem to care about Jews untill it was so obviously too late to help them?”

You are right Locotillo, it was a shame, in the truest sense of the word. Don’t you agree though that it’s good that some of us Europeans have learnt from that appalling mistake and are determined not to repeat it as far as the Palestinians are concerned?

Exodus20

21 Dec 2009, 5:27PM

Sign or no sign does not diminish the horror of what had been done by the Nazi.

From that we msut learn to identify and prevent other holocausts in our time and in the future. Holocaust is holocaust whether it is done with gas, guns, deprivations, diseases or neglect.

There was the usual description of Israel as an apartheid state.

Mach1

21 Dec 2009, 10:45AM

The preservation of Auschwitz is vital. It is the world’s most powerful remaining symbol of the ultimate outcome of racism.

The apartheid state of Israel is also a powerful symbol of racism as any Palestinian or Arab Israeli will tell you.

There were those who accuse Jews of ‘over-reacting’ and dwelling too much on the Holocaust.

Arcane

21 Dec 2009, 10:56AM

I think you might just be reading far too much into this. OK, the holocaust was horrible and we should not permit it to happen again. Unfortunately after Cambodia, Rwanda and Kosovo such hopes for people not carrying out acts of genocide seem overly optimistic. However, the people who took the sign may not have had an anti-Semitic orientation, perhaps they were just a bunch of yobs seeking to souvenir something? I think the district police chief?s comments that there seems to be no connection with neo-Nazi groups is worth taking onboard. Perhaps someone might suggest ? god forbid ? that the reaction from Jewish groups over this entire affair is over the top!

scoobysnacks

21 Dec 2009, 1:17PM

I agree with Aliboy. The genocide in Rwanda was chilling and horribly effective. 800,000 people hacked to death in 2 months yet we don’t hear much from the Rwandans on CIF, they are trying to move on as best they can. I am visiting Cambodia in 2010, another genocide now overlooked, the holocaust was a dreadful stain on our history, one of many, yet we fail to learn from them.

There were those who are unable to differentiate between legitimate and illegitimate criticism.

paul939

21 Dec 2009, 1:59PM

I’d like Israel a whole lot better if they stopped shouting “Anti-Semite” at every criticism directed at them. I don’t have a problem with the people, it’s their government that I detest.

And there were those who had things to say about the ‘Holocaust industry’ and ‘propaganda’.

Polymorph

21 Dec 2009, 1:15PM

No respect – that for me is the chilling part. I’m very equivocal about aspects of the Holocaust “industry,” ie the endless stream of films that increasingly retread the history without illuminating further, but the camps stand as a monument to human folly and the depths of depravity plumbed by a terrible regime. Therefore…

@Damntheral

… well it’s hardly a holy relic, is it?

in a strange way it is, and I think you are wrong to dismiss this act in the way you have.

UndergroundMan

21 Dec 2009, 1:40PM

The theft of the Arbeit Mach Frei sign which greets those on entry to the Nazi death camp was orchestrated by theives on the make for a profit from Nazi memorabilia collectors or even scrap meta.

There does not appear to be any ulterior Neo-Nazi plot or Holocaust Denial and statemen are blowing the incident out of proportion in orfder to reaffirm political propaganda points.

As was clear when Avner Shalev, director of Israel’s Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial, said the theft “constitutes a true declaration of war”. Well, no it does not. It was a crass act of petty criminality.

Shalev went on “We don’t know the identity of the perpetrators but I assume they are neo-Nazis.” The Krakow police dealing with the case, that is with the facts, think otherwise.

Yet some acts of vandalism are “worse than others despite the fact that Auschwitz is fetishised as a unique symbol of man’s inhumanity to man for a number of reasons

Firstly because Hitler’s Third Reich has become a symbol of undoubted demonic evil in a secular world where evil has lost the religious dimensions it once had.

Mass murder in the name of racism is the ultimate act of ‘political correctness’ and genocide peddled out routinely as a way of justifying NATO actions against the Serbs, Saddam’s Iraq etc etc

Secondly, Auschwitz is part of the propaganda inherent in the worldview of those promoting the geopolitical ambitions of self righteous victim nations as Poland and Israel demonstrate.

Thirdly, the victim mentality and the idea the theft of the Auschwitz sign was part of a conspiracy and “worldwide symbol of the cynicism of Hitler’s executioners and the martyrdom of their victims” ( Kaczynski) is hypocritical.

Not one word of condemnation has been forthcoming from any leader in Israel or Poland with regards Saskashvili’s decision to blow up a second World War memorial to the Soviet War deadThe pretext reads like those Nazis who wanted to turn Synagogues into granaries and so on, the excuse being that destroying it was necessary to make way for a new parliament building in the provincial town of Kutaisi.

It was a historical fact that Soviet troops that actually liberated Auschwitz in 1945. The Second World War was won on the Eastern Front but there has been barely any coverage of this act of vandalism.

The Arbeit Mach Frei sign can be replaced but the he 46m (151ft) concrete and bronze monument to the Soviet war dead, including 30,000 Georgians has been totally razed.

Moreover Saakashvili’s actions killed two people in the process, An eight-year-old girl and her mother were killed by debris hurled from an explosion. But Saakashvili was unrepentent. As Reuters reports,

One part of the monument, a statue of a naked Georgian horseman in front of the main concrete structure, has already been removed. Authorities said it would be relocated within Kutaisi, 236 km (147 miles) west of the capital Tbilisi.

Municipal construction official Jemal Tsuladze told Reuters the bronze sections of the monument, built in 1982, would be kept in storage, but the main structure was too big to move.

“It was a government decision and we are just implementing it,” he said. Kutaisi city officials could not confirm Russian media reports that the main structure – designed by Georgian sculptor Merab Berdzenishvili – would be blown up on 21 December, the birthday of Saakashvili which he shares with Josef Stalin.

Understandably the Russian government is angry.

The Russian Defence Ministry issued a statement saying it was “concerned”, and Duma deputy and former prime minister Sergei Stepashin said it was “sacrilege”. “The […] criminal nature of such evil acts must be raised at all international events,”

History is too important to be left to politicians whose standards are not always that far from the ultimate logical extension of cruelty and psychopathological evil evident in the creation of Aushwitz but also of everyday camp life.

The best witness to Auschwitz was the great Polish writer Tadeusz Borowski who saw in Auschwitz merely an intensified microcosm of the barbarism and cruelty that all humans inglict on one another when they compete pathologically over resources.

This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen, and Other Stories banishes the moralising cant prated by politicians.

?The first duty of Auschwitzers is to make clear just what a camp is. ? But let them not forget that the reader will unfailingly ask: But how did it happen that you survived? ? Tell, then, how you bought places in the hospital, easy posts, how you shoved the ?Moslems? [prisoners who had lost the will to live] into the oven, how you bought women, men, what you did in the barracks, unloading the transports ? tell about the daily life of the camp. ? But write that you, you were the ones who did this. That a portion of the sad fame of Auschwitz belongs to you as well.?

Strangely enough, the above comment was not deemed ‘off topic’, but other comments which do not fit in with the GWV were deleted.

monnie

21 Dec 2009, 4:13PM

MiddleEnglandLefty:

Auschwitz stands as a reminder of the evil engendered by racist politics, no wonder the racists of today would rather it was forgotten

Who is it who attacks Jews today, Lefty?

It’s no longer just the far right. I think you have to put your own house in order first (and I don’t mean you personally, but those in your political camp).

monnie

21 Dec 2009, 4:21PM

Lefty:

Now, question for you, do you think Anti-Semitism in POLAND OR CENTRAL EUROPE is more likely to be found in leftists and the abundant muslim population there, or, in the racist far rightist kindred of the BNP?

Anti-semitism in Poland is on both the left and right.

In Europe in general, it’s on the left, right and in the Islamic communities.

I would say that it’s a far bigger problem today from the left/Islamic alliance.

You want to sweep that under the carpet?

I think the last word on this is best left to Gill Seidel, from the book ‘The Holocaust Denial’.

“Just as ‘Jewish Bolshevism’ was seen by the Nazis as part of the international Jewish conspiracy theory whereby Wall Street financed the Russian revolution, in the Israeli debate ‘Zionist racism’ and ‘Zionist Nazism’ invite similar ‘solutions’, transporting the trauma of extermination to the Middle East and to the Diaspora communities.”

21 replies »

  1. At times, I think I’ve seen it all but then at others, I can barely believe what is in front of me. This excerpt from the revisionist comment Israeli nurse re posts here, particularly sticks in the throat.

    “”?The first duty of Auschwitzers is to make clear just what a camp is. ? But let them not forget that the reader will unfailingly ask: But how did it happen that you survived? ? Tell, then, how you bought places in the hospital, easy posts, how you shoved the ?Moslems? [prisoners who had lost the will to live] into the oven, how you bought women, men, what you did in the barracks, unloading the transports ? tell about the daily life of the camp. ? But write that you, you were the ones who did this. That a portion of the sad fame of Auschwitz belongs to you as well.?””

    Julia Gorin displayed true gumption to write this just a few days ago. Apt, I think.

    http://www.juliagorin.com/wordpress/?p=2275
    Posted by Julia Gorin

    I submitted a letter to the editor at Miami Herald about the writer’s insertion of the adjective “Jewish” to describe the concentration camps at Jasenovac, but in the meantime there is another point to make about the same article, which appeared last month:

    Nazi hunter, speaking in Miami, chronicles his triumphs and frustrations

    Minutes after a judge in Croatia condemned Dinko Sakic in 1999 to 20 years in prison for crimes committed during World War II, a man came up to Efraim Zuroff and told him he only had two words for him: “Thank You.’’

    Zuroff, 61, a Nazi hunter from the Simon Wiesenthal Center, had captured Sakic in Argentina, where the head of Jasenovac, the largest Jewish extermination camp in Croatia, had been living for years.

    The man who approached Zuroff in court was the brother of Milan Boskovic, who Sakic was believed to have executed with his own hands.

    “That was one of the happiest moments of my career,’’ Zuroff said during a three-day visit to Miami to promote his book Operation Last Chance, which chronicles his quest to bring Nazi criminals to justice during three decades.

    Zuroff appeared Monday night at Florida International University…Zuroff, the last of a small legion of men who hunted down Nazis through five continents, is working against the clock, well aware that almost seven decades since the Holocaust, few Nazis remain alive.

    That’s why in 2002, Zuroff launched an offensive called Operation Last Chance, which offers financial rewards up to $10,000 for information that leads to the conviction and punishment of Nazi war criminals. The project has led to the names of 520 suspected Nazi officials, 100 of which have been submitted to local prosecutors.

    One of the most frustrating setbacks of Zuroff’s career occurred last summer, he said.

    For more than two years, he had been following leads on the whereabouts of Aribert Heim — an Austrian doctor nicknamed “Dr. Death’’ because he removed the organs of Jewish prisoners without using anesthesia. The Wiesenthal Center offered a $500,000 reward for Heim’s capture.

    But relatives of Heim’s and other witnesses told The New York Times that in 1992, he had died of rectal cancer in Cairo, where he had lived and converted to Islam — and also changed his name to Tarek Hussein Farid.

    German police confirmed that a suitcase found at the Hotel Kasr el-Madina, in Cairo, where Heim lived, contained letters and legal and financial records that linked Heim to the suitcase.

    Zuroff refuses to close the case because he doubts any information provided by relatives of Nazi officials. […]

    So let’s make a note of yet another Nazi who converted to Islam. What did he see in Islam that was of a kindred spirit for a Jew-hater/killer?

    Indeed, it is well known that in addition to Latin America, the Middle East was also a destination for fleeing Nazis. In the now virulently anti-Semitic regions of Latin America and the Middle East, the Nazis had set about indoctrinating the local populations into the National Socialist ideology, and grooming new leaders. At the same time, according to Chuck Morse, it wasn’t until Hitler met with the Jerusalem mufti that his plan to exile the Jews became a plan to exterminate the Jews. Leading to the question: Who’s been converting whom?

    I opened the post by saying that I submitted a letter to the Miami Herald about the writer’s description of Jasenovac as a “Jewish concentration camp.” It’s been a month since I sent that later and so it’s probably safe to say that it will not be published. So I’ll reproduce it here for the paper’s embarrassment:

    Dear Editor:

    Daniel Shoer Roth’s piece (“Nazi hunter, speaking in Miami, chronicles his triumphs and frustrations,” Nov. 16) included the sentence “Zuroff…had captured [Dinko] Sakic in Argentina, where the head of Jasenovac, the largest Jewish extermination camp in Croatia, had been living for years.”

    Jasenovac, the third-largest concentration camp system of WW2 — and conspicuously the least known — was not a “Jewish” camp. It was set up by the Croatians to liquidate Serbs, more than 500,000 of whom perished there in methods so barbaric that the comparatively humanitarian Germans had to put an end to the madness of their Croatian allies — the Ustashe, as the Croatian regime was called. (The Germans did so because the stories were causing revolts in Yugoslavia’s countryside.) The 40,000 Jews and 10,000 gypsies plus many anti-fascist Croats who died at Jasenovac were mere garnish around the main platter — Serbs. The Croatians were assisted not only by Croatian-Catholic clergy acting as guards and executioners, but by Bosnian Muslims serving at the camps and in their own Nazi divisions, set up by Jerusalem Mufti Haj Amin el-Husseini.

    As a Jew, I take exception to the widespread and concerted effort to cover up the Holocaust of the Serbian people in WWII — a genocide that led directly to the 1990s Balkan wars when, upon Croatia’s and Bosnia’s illegal secessions and border usurpations from Yugoslavia, Serbs living there suddenly found themselves under the rule of the very people who slaughtered their families. Survival dictated seceding from the secessionists. This is what caused the wars, and not some guy named Milosevic, as the thorough indoctrination goes.

    One has to wonder about the insertion of the adjective “Jewish” before the words “concentration camp” to begin with, particularly when its absence would have rendered the sentence entirely inconspicuous. Call it an error, but please note that it’s thanks to the diligent placement of inaccuracies and omissions like this over the past 20 years of Balkans coverage that we arrived at the very surreal point of wartime Croatian president Franjo Tudjman and Bosnian president Alija Izetbegovic being invited to the 1993 dedication ceremony of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. The latter was a recruiter for Hitler in his youth and wrote a supremacist tract titled “The Islamic Declaration.” The former was a Holocaust minimizer who in his book The Wastelands of Historical Reality blamed Jews for their fates at Jasenovac, and who as president praised the Ustashe and tried to re-bury their remains at a memorial where Jewish victims lay. At the Holocaust Museum itself, none of the Croatians’ or Bosniaks’ handiwork — either against Jews or Serbs — was visible among the extensive displays. Instead, the museum’s walls depicted Croatians and Bosniaks as the exclusive victims of the current wars in their region, and Serbs as the exclusive culprits. Imagine: a Holocaust museum promoting a contemporary agenda.

    But Mr. Roth deserves credit for not shying away from mentioning that the Nazi whom the hunter still seeks — the possibly deceased Austrian doctor who removed Jewish organs without anesthesia — moved to Cairo and converted to Islam. Indeed, it was shortly after his meeting with the Jerusalem mufti that Hitler’s plan to exile the Jews transformed into a plan to exterminate them instead.

  2. Thank you for this, Israelinurse. You are right that this is shocking, but more surprising is that anything that CiF does should offend! We should expect this sort of hate-filled discourse from them.

    I am remembering from my childhood how many of my parents’ and grandparents’ friends were Holocaust survivors. An unspoken rule was never to ask how they survived – it was well enough that they had – and yet troweliton above, like the rat he undoubtedly is, descends to the gutter with his remarks and insults their memories. In fact he is asking “…why are you still alive then?” as if the Nazis should have killed everyone.

  3. IsraeliNurse – your article highlights what a short step it has been for the Guardian from merely allowing Nazi analogies referring to Israel to permitting actual neo-Nazis to post on its site.

    I wish I could say I am surprised. But I’m not.

  4. Thanks once again, Israelinurse for your trenchant analysis of the way in which these comments go through the gamut of anti-semitic takes around Israel/Nazi/Apartheid analogies.

    Is it worth copying John Mann MP, ( mannj@parliament.uk ) each time you do one of these posts, to complain and ask him if the Parliamentary Committee can take on this issue of CiF tolerance of/denial of anti-semitism on both comments and some of the opinion pieces?

    Back in 2002, when there was an absolute storm of the most hateful anti-semitic bilge sweeping the Guardian comment boards day after day, I collected up a whole load of them and forwarded them with a complaint to the Press Council. I got back a reply saying they don’t consider that web versions of the newspapers fall under their jurisdiction! This too is something that it would be good to take up.

    It’s sad to see so many commenters resigned to the view that nothing can be done about the Guardian’s role in giving a platform to anti-semitism. I think we should be trying to look for other ways to use the system to combat it.

  5. Parrotting words like Holocaust Denial and anti-semitism in relation to individuals like myself ( undergroundman ) who make it quite clear that the Holocaust was a definite and undeniable fact is more and indictment of your own Stalinoid style smear tactics.

    I made it clear and have in every article I have written comparing Saakashvili’s ideological state vandalism of the Kutaisi monument with the theft of the Auschwitz sign that direct comparisons should and ought to be made for reasons those who are against anti-semitism should agree with.

    The double standards are in my view

    1) The Theft of the sign was not ideologically motivated. The crooks who stole it intended to pass it on to a Swedish Nazi memorobilia collector, at least as far as the Polish police investigations have so far revealed. The demolition of the Kutaisi War monument was ideological

    2) Avner Shalev, director of Israel’s Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial, said the theft “constitutes a true declaration of war”, he made it into an ideologicval act of violence which it was not, despite how offensive the theft was.

    3) Saakashvili demolished an entire war monument, wiping out the entire memory of the joint Russian and Georgian struggle against Nazi Germany. The Arbeit Mach Frei sign was recovered. The demolition of the war monument was not news in the West

    4) Free thinking people have every right to challenge this without paranoid ideologues accusing those who criticise Israel’s geopolitics as being “anti-semites”. The same is true of those thought policemen who have accused me of Islamophobia for criticising Islamism.

    5) Disagreement is possible. There should be no hierarchy of victims nor politicisation of either the Holocaust nor of the fact many Red Army soldiers died in defeating Nazism and had no choice but to fight the regime.

    6) That such nuance, subtlety and the universal value of all human life whether Jewish or Russia or Arabic is beyond you is clearly something both vulgar and unbecoming of honourable people. Anti-semitism, Jew hatred is repugnant. So is hating Muslims or Russians.

    Got it ?

  6. I am Undergroundman.

    On my website I have exposed the far right anti-semitic backround to organisations backed by the West, including Lib Dem Baroness Nicholson who were behing Moldova’s Twitter Revolution. To smear me as an anti-semite is a propaganda technique without substance.

    You really are just very stupid people. Yes, there are those who scrawl “Zionazism”propose conspiracy theories etc and their arguments should be dissected. To label anybody who questions the way the Holocaust has been commemorated as anti-semitic is to devalue the concept.

    Karl Naylor.

  7. And by the way, relax. Both my comments on Lazenby’s thread were removed for some reason. Beinf off topic , maybe. Even “offensive” for not trotting out the “politically correct” line. I am now on pre-moderation.

    A great victory for fighting anti-semitism is getting someone banned who has repeatedly drawn attention to the way neo-Nazism has been curried in the Baltics because of stimulus of anti-Russian nationalism.

    Fools.

  8. AbeT

    ”The first duty of Auschwitzers is to make clear just what a camp is. ? But let them not forget that the reader will unfailingly ask: But how did it happen that you survived? ? Tell, then, how you bought places in the hospital, easy posts, how you shoved the ?Moslems? [prisoners who had lost the will to live] into the oven, how you bought women, men, what you did in the barracks, unloading the transports ? tell about the daily life of the camp. ? But write that you, you were the ones who did this. That a portion of the sad fame of Auschwitz belongs to you as well.?”

    This was written by Tadeusz Borowski in a masterpiece of Polish and world literature.

    Borowski was an inmate of Auschwitz. You were not. He knew what he saw. He was a Pole and his work This Way to the Gas Ladies and Gentlemen is an excoriating attack on the way Auschwitz became a normal way of life.

    Most Polish and Jewish literary scholars regard this book as a great work of art and searing description of Auschwitz. Your ignorance on the Holocaust is a metter for deep concern if you think quoting Borowski is an act of anti-semitism. Deeply, deeply stupid

  9. You ignorant SOB, Naylor, AbeT is referring to your interference with Tadeusz Borowski’s work, for which there are no words. He’s countering the lies in many of those comments on CIF, that far from Jews trying to own the Shoah, some fight even now for the recognition of other victims, hence Gorin’s article. There isn’t anything else you’ve said I care to comment on.

  10. Karl Naylor (Undergroundman)

    Well said — a robust and thorough piece of self-defence there. And as far as CiF goes — they just can’t stomach any comment which is too controversial. It could of course just be a lack of insight by poorly educated ‘moderators’.

    I will be checking out your website later this morning.

  11. “You ignorant SOB, Naylor, AbeT is referring to your interference with Tadeusz Borowski’s work, for which there are no words.

    He’s countering the lies in many of those comments on CIF, that far from Jews trying to own the Shoah, some fight even now for the recognition of other victims, hence Gorin’s article. There isn’t anything else you’ve said I care to comment on”.

    Well, he can counter as many lies as he wishes so long as he does not distort or misrepresent what I have said. I have the right to respond and defend myself from smears and false allegations of anti-semitism. I’m not an expert on the Israel-Palestine question which is complex.

    There is no “interference” with Borowski’s work, whatever “interference is supposed to mean. The reason you won’t comment on the rest and resort to abuse is simply the reaction of the uneducated mind frightened by one that puts forward an argument that is logical and clear.

    The historical vandalism of the Glory Monument is one erected to commemorate the defeat of Hitler’s Nazi Germany. The regime that initiated the Final Solution. It was not a commemoration of Stalin but of the Red Army soldiers who died.

    The destruction of the monument was an unnecessary act of state driven vandalism based on ideology and an insult to the 300,000 Georgians who died in World War II.

    This kind of iconoclasm is part and parcel of the same attempt to wipe out history and rewrite it, erasing all traces. The kind of nationalism of which Nazism was the most extreme version. There is nothing remotely anti-semitic in pointing that out.

    Salome Zurabishvili, who formerly served as foreign minister under Saakashvili, said the demolition showed blatant disregard for Georgia’s wartime sacrifices. The monument was demolished. The Polish government said nothing about an act as disrespectful as the theft.

    Why are you so bigoted and closed minded that you cannot see the double standards. The reason is that Israel is an ally of Saakashvili and even though Georgia has allied with ‘revisionist’ right wing governments in the Baltics, anybody who points out that is “anti-Israeli”.

    Some years back Ariel Sharon, hardly the most popular Israeli leader, paid homage to the Jewish contingent in the Red Army that liberated Auschwitz. It would not be too much to ask for leading Israeli politicians to reprimand Saakashvili.

    Imagine in Poland if an entire monument to the Jewish ghetto Rising was simplt demolished. That would rightly mean an international condemnation. But Soviet lives lost in a struggle along with Russia to free Europe from genocidal anti-semtic Fascism mean nothing.

    Zurabishvili attacked the president as a “barbarian” and saaid “This is a memorial to those people who fought for freedom against Nazism. Georgians and non-Georgians, Europeans and Jews who were killed in World War II,”.

    The Auschwitz theft was appalling but the demolition of this Glory Monument was non new, though it killed Eka Tsutskhvashvili-Jincharadze and her daughter Nino when flying chunks of concrete caused by the blast hit them.

    Saakashvili has made no secret of his dislike for the Glory Monument’s creator, 82-year-old sculptor Merab Berdzenishvili, an 82 year old artist whose previous sculpture of King David the Builder was moved from central Tbilisi to an outlying street several years ago by presidential order.

    It is shocking that those who remember the Holocaust have nothing to say about the destruction of the Glory Memorial, which featured an armed horseman stabbing a Nazi with a spear, an image reminiscent of St. George, a patron saint in Georgia, slaying the dragon.

    The Dragon is Nazi Germany. As the artist stated, “It’s an antiwar statement. It’s a very complex composition, with a lot of interwoven motifs. Every epoch has its dragons. And for the 20th century, it was fascism.”

    If anything is shocking it is that those who claim to care about the Holocaust for its cruelty and mass murder feel wholly incapable of condemning this action merely because of the lucrative arms contracts and geopolitical alliance Israel has with Georgia.

    Condemning people who oppose the particular foreign policies of governments as “anti-semitic” is close to those who labelled opponents to Hitler “unGerman”. It is a way of smearing legitimate criticism of double standards.

  12. Karl Naylor. The context in which you used the quote is the bugbear. Here’s another example of why I said I didn’t care to comment further.

    “Why are you so bigoted and closed minded that you cannot see the double standards. The reason is that Israel is an ally of Saakashvili and even though Georgia has allied with ‘revisionist’ right wing governments in the Baltics, anybody who points out that is “anti-Israeli”.

    What’s relative to the subject of the Lazenby piece and your fury over an Israeli-Georgian alliance? How does responsibility for this alliance transfer to me ?
    How could you possibly know I’m a closed minded bigot who operates dual standards ? Did you ever consider to ask me or anyone else here what I, they think about Saakashvili or that conflict ?
    My lack of a reply had little to do with your ‘superior intellect,’ more to do with it being New Years and this being an unearthly hour for me. You seem to have made your mind up, and I, “closed minded bigot” shan’t have to mind too much.

    Happy New Years

  13. The reason is that you made it clear from the opening salvo that there was nothing to discuss other than what you considered the fact of my total guilt in having used Borowski to peddle some anti-semitic agenda.Writing

    “You ignorant SOB, Naylor, AbeT is referring to your interference with Tadeusz Borowski’s work, for which there are no words.”

    …is hardly the best way of showing another person that your mind is open. I do not know who Julia Gorin is and having my quotation from Borowski ripped out of context is a misrepresentation as is the original premise that the response to Lazenby was “anti-semitism”.

    The reason I accused you of bigotry ( I ususually try to avoid it as like anti-semitism it’s a word misused to slam a person whose view another does not like ) is that saying there “are no words” with which to discuss “my interference” with Borowski’s work proves that I had distorted it.

    The simple fact in my defence is that I had not.

    In Borowski’s Auschwitz stories, the concentration camp is a distilled microcosm of the cruelty of the master and slave dialectic that runs throughout History, where victor nations ( Germany ) use the slaves from defeated ones as the raw material on which to build their Empire.

    Auschwitz was primarily a site of suffering for the Jewish people but also the Polish nation which had been scheduled for elimination from history by the Nazi Drang Nach Osten no less that the European part of Russia. Which is why Russians and Ukrainians were transported to Auschwitz too.

    Which means that it is not unreasonable to ask why the demolition of a monument to the defeat of the Third Reich is supposed by a sign of anti-semitism. By the fact I have neen censored for wring on the Guardian website for that view is curious.

    The phrase that could have stuck in the craw of dedicated anti-semitism seekers where there is, in fact none, is probably this one,

    “Yet some acts of vandalism are “worse” than others despite the fact that Auschwitz is fetishised as a unique symbol of man’s inhumanity to man for a number of reasons”.

    Notice that I call it vandalism ( as did those condemning the action ) and the word “worse” was phrased ironically to indicate a scale of importantce attached to various forms of iconoclasm. But the real problem could be with the word fetishise.

    Well, firstly Auschwitz was not unique. Only each and every life lost there. Concentration camps such as Belzec, Sobibor and Treblinka were more obvious centres of and better symbols of the Nazi’s intention of completely exterminating Europe’s Jews.

    Secondly, it has become an icon of “why the war was fought” from as allied perspective to “stop fascism” and invoked as part of the uncritical Good War mythology that still is used to justify the NATO bombing of Serbia in 1999, Afghanistan in 2001 and, most controversially Iraq in 2003.

    Yet, whatever arguments can be advanced for later wars, they are based on a mythology. The Allies did not go to war to protect the Jews. It was not much of a consideration at the time and Stalin, who was himself anti-semitic, did not care about the extermination of the Jews.

    That was a main point along side the fact that the Auschwitz theft was used to write a cliched article by Lazenby where he was unsure of whether neo-Nazis were behind it but proceeded to grandstand on how racism leads to concentration camps, the BNP and so on.

    Again, racism did lead to Auschwitz but the theft was not ‘racist’ so to imply it was or show anti-Holocaust credentials on the fact crooks stole the sign for monetary gain was an inappropriate pretext just to discuss the Holocaust and flash one’s anti-racist credo in a self promoting way.

    Timothy Garton Ash subsequently in the Guardian something far more sensible.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/dec/23/poland-catholicism-nazis-difficult-past

    What I wrote was to counter Lazenby’s lazy platitudes. Most people know about the gas chambers, the sneering Nazi officials who shepherded civilians into them and then burnt then in crematoria on a mass scale. Rehashing that because of a news item about the theft of the sign is lazy

    In comparing that theft with the systematic demolition of the Soviet War monument and erasure of history in the act was important because the Nazis were intent on rewriting and eradicating symbols of the past and rewriting history too.

    That happens because new NATO states like Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania are led by those who buy into the moral equivalence thesis between Nazism and Communism in order to rationalise their wartime collaborators as “freedom fighters” against the Soviet Union.

    Erasing monuments dedicated to the struggle against Nazi Germany is an attack on memory, part of the ethnocentric nationalism that Saakshvili has encouraged to shore up his crumbling support base. It’s an important point of comparison to make.

    The lack of reply from you is up to you. But calling me an “ignorant SOB” is not something that could be left unchalllenged any more than the accusation here of anti-semitism for which I want CiF to retract and apologise for unconditionally.

    Karl Naylor

  14. Karl, I didn’t accuse you of anti Semitism but I did use the word revisionist in relation to the way the original article’s comment section, in places anyhow, ended up. I could have been clearer. Reading your comments here, which I’ll finish up later, I’m heartened by much of it. Under the circumstances, I’m more than happy to apologise if my small referral to your original comment upset you.
    In view of what you’ve written here about the former Yugoslavia, much of which I agree with, I tried to look at your blog but it didn’t connect for some reason. At some point I’d like to add a few comments of my own about the Russian invasion of Poland, about which, I’m not romantic. I’d like to take that up later and on your blog if I can . I take it that will be ok with you.
    If you look at what Julia Gorin wrote she goes after those people who bend history and rightly condemns them.

    Brian, thanks. I could have been clearer in any event. Happy New years to you all.

  15. Karl Naylor

    “..the accusation here of anti-semitism for which I want CiF to retract and apologise for unconditionally.”

    Have CiF accused you of anti-Semitism — or are you referring to CiF Watch here..? If you’re talking about the Guardian’s CiF then I certainly look forward to you receiving an apology from them (you won’t get one from this crew). The ‘community moderators’ ineptitude on this matter is irritating to say the least! I have just had my account withdrawn without any prior consultation because they considered my nom de plume — ‘cellblocknumber9’ — to be an anti-Semitic reference the to Nazi death camps. It is in fact a line from an old American r ‘n’ b number !!!

    Being one of the world’s best web forums, they do have a big responsibilty to maintain high standards — but all too often, they do tend to “throw the baby out with the bathwater”, because the staff just can’t handle too much depth on a number of controversial issues.

    Good luck.

  16. Pardon me I meant CiF Watch had accused me of anti-semotism. CiF itself offered no reason but I was put on pre-mod ( I’m still in pre-mod limboland )after the Lazenby article. Let’s just call this spat a day and move on. But Freddie you’re right they are OTT with “moderation”.

    They are only minor journalists. Sounds patronising from a blogger but then many amateur bloggers are sometimes better than the “above the line” commentators but in Guardianland they tend to prefer annoying PC pieces these days just to get hits.

    I’m leaving it alone so they’ll just restore me back to full commenter status. It happened once before when I got drunk and wrote something silly on one blog. I grovelled to be let back in but this time I said I would not retract a word nor apologise.

  17. Karl Naylor: you obviously do not understand the offensive nature of the comment you wrote, so allow me to try to explain why Jewish people, very many of whom lost family in the Holocaust and some of whom still live every day with the reminder of the Nazi death camps tatooed upon their arms, might object to your words.

    ‘There does not appear to be any ulterior Neo-Nazi plot or Holocaust Denial and statemen are blowing the incident out of proportion in orfder to reaffirm political propaganda points.’
    Jewish, and non-Jewish, people the world over were shocked by this incident. To suggest that anyone is trying to reap political gains from it is simply crass and obscene.

    ‘Yet some acts of vandalism are “worse than others despite the fact that Auschwitz is fetishised as a unique symbol of man’s inhumanity to man for a number of reasons’
    Your use of the word ‘fetishised’ here is highly offensive. The Holocaust is the most comprehensive, cynical and industrialised attempt at genocide the world has ever seen. Two thirds of European Jewry were murdered. Auschwitz is one of the few physical reminders we have left of the sheer extent of the depravity which lead to the deaths of six million Jews. Any decent person would respect that.

    ‘Secondly, Auschwitz is part of the propaganda inherent in the worldview of those promoting the geopolitical ambitions of self righteous victim nations as Poland and Israel demonstrate.’
    This is even more offensive. To accuse a nation almost annihilated within living memory of cynically using their attempted genocide to further political aims by employing a ‘victim status’ is quite simply sick.

    ‘Thirdly, the victim mentality and the idea the theft of the Auschwitz sign was part of a conspiracy and “worldwide symbol of the cynicism of Hitler’s executioners and the martyrdom of their victims” ( Kaczynski) is hypocritical.’
    Again, this is very offensive. If the bee in your particular bonnet is Georgia, that’s fine, but a thread about the theft of the sign from Auschwitz is not the place to get on your soapbox, particularly not by being delibarately offensive to those upset by the event. Six million people were murdered simply for being what they were. It is a great pity that instead of respecting that fact you choose to trash their memory in order to further your own agenda.

  18. Israelnurse: you obviously do not understand the nature of how victim mentalities are used to justify anything that politicians want to do now by appeals to a faux sense of outrage that is designed to make them seem incorrigibly virtuous and those who disagree ‘evil’.

    That is very hand when wanting to deflect attention away from the real geopolitical logic behind politics now, whether Israeli policy over the illegal settlements, Poland’s insistence on having Patriot Missiles, Britain’s pretext for invading Iraq and so on.

    This claim is specious

    “Jewish, and non-Jewish, people the world over were shocked by this incident. To suggest that anyone is trying to reap political gains from it is simply crass and obscene”.

    No, just isn’t crass and it was not obscene. It is the kind of hysterical reaction and sensationalism that is vulgar. It Israel’s Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial director Avner Shalev who was obscene in attempting to advance a conspiracy theory for which he had no evidence.

    This detracting from the rise of real anti-semitic acts and incitement that exists and that people who genuinely care about spend their time looking at. And not using it to morally blackmail Europe ito uncritically accepting that Jews are under threat more than any other minority today.

    Listen again to what Avner Shalev said. He claimed the theft “constitutes a true declaration of war”. Are you seriously suggesting that a bunch of petty theives who stole the sign were “declaring war” and what was the purpose of making such a hysterical claim?

    Shalev went on “We don’t know the identity of the perpetrators but I assume they are neo-Nazis.”

    In other words, Shalev based an assumption on zero evidence which is precisely what propagandists do. This is serious when it comes from the director of an organisation that claims to maintain historical truth and separates open democracies from the lies that totalitarianism lives off.

    So yes, statesmen were blowing the incident out of proportion. It is essential that they get their facts correct first before blurting off about “warlike” intentions. The action was offensive so address the spleen to the five caught. Not to those interpreting the action.

    ‘Yet some acts of vandalism are “worse than others despite the fact that Auschwitz is fetishised as a unique symbol of man’s inhumanity to man for a number of reasons’

    Your use of the word ‘fetishised’ here is highly offensive.

    To those craving to take offense in order to make political points then the term fetishise might be. Yet the word is exact,precise and accurate in describing the way Auschwitz has become valued above all other genocides when it sybolises one evil amongst many in history.

    That is not to say that you are incorrect when you state

    “The Holocaust is the most comprehensive, cynical and industrialised attempt at genocide the world has ever seen. Two thirds of European Jewry were murdered. Auschwitz is one of the few physical reminders we have left of the sheer extent of the depravity which lead to the deaths of six million Jews. Any decent person would respect that”.

    Yes, and any decent person who was not actually in Auschwitz would care to be careful not to use it to score political points or to pretend that the unique scale and genocidal intent behind the Holocaust ought not to act as a permanent warning to the human race.

    That it was “comprehensive” is obvious, that it was “cynical” makes it no less evil that Stalins’s Gulag or the Spanish extertermination of the Indians in Latin America and that it was “industrialised” is important because it happened in the 1940s when the technology was available

    The Holocaust is now a historical event and the way it is to be interpreted must be open and not concsripted to fit some Holocaust orthodoxy which is why the Austrian authorities persecuting David Irving is so stupid and foolish. Richard J Evans destroyed his “case” for denying it happened.

    Yet though comparing the theft of a sign, iconic as it is to the world and especially Jews, to the demolition of an entire War Monument to the Red Army’s effort against Nazi Germany seems like the misuse of the theft to score a point against Saakashvili it is not.

    The case to be made is this ( and it conclusive dismantles you third cheap assertion that comparing the theft to the demolition of an enitire monument is itself mere point scoring-um, look in the mirror chump )

    1) TheSign was not Destroyed. It was a gross violation of a UNESCO monument but it was found. The Kutaisi monument was flattened and to those whose comrades had been killed by repelling the Nazi invasion it was sacrilegious.

    2) The Theft of the Sign did not wipe out an Entire Monument to the Holocaust, as if the Austrian period barracks had been flattened by budozers in order to build a new car park or, as Saakashvili insisted on demolishing the monument to build a new parliament building.

    3) Wiping Out History and rewriting it is what Saakashvili was doing just as the Nazi’s flattened places of religious and spiritual significance to them to make space for car parks. Those who derive universal warning from the Holocaust would see that

    4) Ethnocentric Nationalism caused the Holocaust and is present in Saakashvili’s brand of policy though it will and would never be pushed to the level on which Nazi Germany pursued it and yet the Holocaust is still wheeled out to stop ‘ethnic cleansing’ in Kosovo by NATO forces.

    5) The Israeli model of using Past Atrocities to justify current policies is becoming more normalised by those Israel considers strategic allies. So much for their belief that the Holocaust was unique then. Saakashvili in Jeruselem 2006 compared Georgians to the Jews.

    Nobody found that statement flippant, stupid or offensive , despite it being specious bullshit and pure propaganda. As is Viktor Yushchenko’s attempt to portray the Ukrainian Famine or ‘Holomodor” to the Holocaust in his propaganda war with Putin and to shore up domestic support.

    Then Saakashvili after comparing himself to a leader of Jews and the David against Goliath figure he wants to pretend to be launches a war in August 2008 which murders South Ossetians and on losing decides to blow up a monument to the victory over Nazi Germany.

    6) The Argument from Authenticity does not work logically either in claiming the Kutaisi monument was just one Red Army monument that can be replaced whilst the sign from Auscwitz could not be. A sign is far easier to replicate than a whole monument.

    Moreover, Poland is friendly with Israel and so the security of Jewish heritage sites can be assured, hopefully better in the future. No such guarantee can be given to those that have meaning and value to ethnic Russians in the Baltic Republics whose monuments are trashed.

    The same as in Georgia. There is no moral difference between blowing up the Kutaisi monument and stealing the Auscwitz sign. Saakshvili’s action was sacrilege on a larger scale. Do the rights of Jews grieving over lost relatives triumph over those whose children never returned ?

    7) Auschwitz was for Civilians and Not a Monument to Combatants. Again this argument is illogical as Red Army soldiers were not from Kent. They could not refuse to fight, not only because they would have been shot be the NKVD but also as their country was under attack from Hitler.

    Now it could be argued Georgians had no business in fighting for the Russian dominated Soviet Empire that snuffed out their freedom in 1921 and Hitler had no genocidal intent against Georgians as opposed to Slavic Russians who were, you might care to recall, also put in Auschwitz.

    This would be a strange argument from a pro-Israeli perspective given that the universal cause of defeating Nazism is supposed to be a good fight taken up by people who are non-Jewish as well. Yet that generosity of spirit is wholly devoid from your mindset.

    Which brings me back to the point: media coverage of Kutaisi destruction was minimal to non existent whilst coverage of the theft of the Auschwitz sign was given blanket coverage all over ‘the West’. It was not a conspiracy ( before you suggest I think it was ).

    It is just that in the grand narratives that underpin geopolitics in the early21st some historical victims and dead are privileged over others when the future of avoiding nationalism, killing and war is to stress that one group is not inherently better than another because of “who” they are

    Which I do believe was a point you were trying to make from within the confines even of your own constipated little worldview.

  19. So, Karl Naylor, to cut a long story short, what you are basically saying if I understand you correctly is that you don’t give a damn if Jews find your comments offensive because they have it too good anyway. Thanks for clearing that up and making your position sparklingly clear.

  20. No, it isn’t “basically” what I’m saying. But if “some” Jews find it “offensive” I couldn’t care less. If anybody finds it “offensive” they can stay “offended” until eventually they tire of it, listen to the truth with an open mind and learn to challenge received platitudes which pass as wisdom.

    So read it again and/oraccept you lost the argument. And retract the baseless accusation of anti-semitism.

    I can’t comment on whether Jews have it too good because I’m not Jewish but certainly some Jews suffer at the hands or Hamas rocket attacks. On the whole, they tend to live safely in advanced nations,like The USA, in Europe or Israel ie.the WEst.

    Russians and Georgians who oppose Saakashvili I suppose are not living in the West even if 300,000 people died in liberating Jews from Nazi Germany.If you are indifferent to that fine. You don’t have to feel anything you don’t feel.

    But stop making daft assertions that comparisons can’t be made between the way the Auschwitz theft was Big News and the far more destructive demolition of a large Red Army memorial in a zone where there was a major conflict in 2008 is not at all news.

    It is and should be.