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The Eastern European Nazi problem
How the Canadian parliament scandal was even possible in the first place?
The scandal with a Nazi collaborator in Canadian parliament highlighted an important issue: almost whole Eastern Europe has a “Nazi problem”. Including Russia, of course.
For people in the West, this topic is almost always a huge surprise. Since Hitler is rightly perceived as the ultimate evil incarnate, how could a person collaborate with him? They must also be evil, right?
Sometimes in popular culture this topic is used as a surprising plot twist for unsuspecting Western viewer. One of the best James Bond villains turns out to be a “Lienz Cossack”, a Russian Nazi collaborator, who always secretly despised the West (mostly, England!) for being deported to Soviet Union after World War II.
Since it is actually a good plot twist, I refrain from revealing you who is this person in “Goldeneye”, a 1995 James Bond movie, filmed partially in the former Soviet Union - for the first time in history. So instead just enjoy 007 in a T-55 tank.
Pierce Brosnan driving one of the most unusual vehicles in the history of the whole franchise (publicity still from MGM/UA)
“Lienz Cossacks” were Nazi collaborators who surrendered to the British in Austria. When disarmed, they were “repatriated” to Stalin - in order to be slaughtered, including women, children and old people.
Many of them weren’t even Soviet citizens, because they escaped the Bolshevik regime in the 1920’s. There was no pity for them, no respect for their human rights, because - after all - they collaborated with the ultimate evil.
This is the main difference between the East and the West. For the people in the West, Stalin is seen either as lesser evil or even actually just a nice old chap looking so convivial with his trademark pipe. He does not look like a genocidal maniac, does he?
And yet he killed more innocent people than Hitler. His rule was also much longer, so in terms of megadeath per annum, Hitler still wins the first prize. Let us avoid the absurd calculations of their genocide scores in “transferable Tamerlanes” and simply put them on par with the third most horrible mass murderer of twentieth century - Mao Zedong.
The historical evidence is overwhelming. That’s why we in Eastern Europe watch with bewilderment Western double standards regarding our genocidal maniacs.
While Holocaust denialism is generally seen as a big “no-no”, sometimes even forbidden by law - Gulag denialism, Holodomor denialism, Ribbentrop-Molotov denialism, etc., are still somewhat legitimate in the West. It’s almost as if it was still unclear and debatable whether Stalin actually murdered millions of his own people.
For us in Eastern Europe, it is not. Even those of us who don’t read history books and they don’t know the hard evidence - usually heard some stories from their grandparents. Hidden family stories that were prohibited by censorship during communism, but they were passed from generation to generation. For me, it was actually a kind of surprise that the family legends turned out to be true - when I could finally confront them with actual history after 1989.
Eight decades ago our great-ancestors were either conquered and enslaved by Hitler or Stalin, or forced to make a choice, when those two former allies started to fight in 1941. This choice was hardly truly voluntary - most of us would prefer to stick with the Versailles order of Europe and be friends with the Western allies, but the Versailles order collapsed in 1938. Largely due to the actions of the then-leaders of France and England, Daladier and Chamberlain.
Poland was the only country in the region that said hard “no” to both Stalin and Hitler. The price for this stubbornness was so horrible that nobody did that ever again on political level - every country ended up collaborating with one or other. While some individuals maintained the “two enemies” approach (and again, usually also paid a horrible price for it), majority opted to either work with the German occupation administration, or the Soviet occupation administration, or both. Some of the worst war criminals in Baltic states were actually the former members of the Soviet collaboration administration.
Still from “Katyń” Andrzej Wajda (2007). Polish refugees run in panic from German army in 1939. On a bridge they encounter a similar group running in panic from Russian army. At the time, it was impossible to predict the survival rate - both occupiers exterminated Polish population, but with slightly different methods and priorities. If you were a wealthy lawyer of Jewish origins, the former will kill you for being Jewish, the latter for being a bourgeois, and you have hours to decide…
Again, this is true for all nations of Eastern Europe, including ethnic Russians. They formed various formations collaborating with Hitler, notably the infamous Russian Liberation Army and the even worse Russian National Liberation Army.
All these formations committed horrible crimes against the largely defenceless Polish population - just like their Ukrainian counterparts, such as the Ukrainian Insurgent Army. That was the price Poland paid for refusing to collaborate with Stalin and Hitler: neither was willing to supply weapons for self-defence to the local population and they were OK with letting someone else do the ethnic cleansing.
What I find unfair though is picking just only one country - as if there was something special or unique about Ukrainian collaboration. This is Russian propaganda in action - first they pretend there was no Russian collaboration (which is blatantly not true), and then build a thesis like “Finns, Estonians, Latvians, Lithuanians, Ukrainians, Belorussians, Romanians, Bulgarians, Hungarians, Czechs, Slovaks and of course Poles are genetically Nazi”. As absurd as it sounds, it’s a daily staple of Soloviev, Skabayeva and Simonyan propaganda on Russian TV.
Of course, nobody is “genetically Nazi”. But both genocidal maniacs have had extensive lists of people they wanted to exterminate. People from these lists welcomed the approaching army (be it Red Army or Wehrmacht) as deliverance from imminent death, if not exactly liberation.
The case of Ukraine is perhaps the most painful. In early 1930s
., Stalin reduced its population by artificial famine - a particularly cruel method of killing.
If you are interested in the mundane details: how do you starve to death people living on fertile farmlands, I recommend a great book by Anne Applebaum to you. Some people might dislike her for her association with right wing politics and neoconservatism, but I never saw criticism of her work, research or sources, only criticism of her person. I see this as corroboration (if they could attack what she actually wrote, they would).
So how do you starve a farmland population? You simply confiscate at gunpoint all the food they produced and then send small search groups walking from house to house, seeking everything that might be hidden - and then destroying it for the sake of it.
One of the most common murder weapons during Holodomor was a long stick with a sharp end - the Komsomol activists used it to poke through walls and roofs, just in case there might be a sack of flour behind. They usually had no means to take this flour with them, but they had clever ways to contaminate or destroy it - burning the house if they had to (the family living there would be deported to Gulag anyway, for the crime of hiding a sack of flour).
Those Ukrainians who managed to survive until 1941 did not necessarily saw Hitler as someone worse than Stalin. You can’t blame them for that (but, again, of course you can and you should blame the particular persons and organisations for the crimes they committed).
So while I agree that the whole invitation for Yaroslav Hunka was a mistake, I disagree that it changes or proves anything. If anything, it is the lack of understanding of Eastern European history in Canada and elsewhere.