According to a new report on how EU member states address the legacy of the Holocaust, several Central and East European countries are experiencing historical revisionism and downplaying World War II-era crimes. The report was published on January 25, two days before International Holocaust Remembrance Day, which marks the anniversary of the liberation of Nazi Germany’s most notorious death camp, Auschwitz-Birkenau, where hundreds of thousands of Jews were murdered.
The report, which was published by the Holocaust Remembrance Project, Yale University, and Grinnell College, suggests that Holocaust revisionism is worst in the newer EU member states, particularly in Croatia, Hungary, Lithuania, and Poland. In these countries, World War II collaborators and war criminals are being rehabilitated with their complicity in exterminating Jews minimized.
“But not all Central Europeans are moving in the wrong direction,” the report’s authors write. “Two exemplary countries living up to their tragic histories are the Czech Republic and Romania.” In fact, the report recommends countries duplicate the Romanian model of appointing an independent commission to study the Holocaust. “Under the leadership of Romanian-born Holocaust survivor and Nobel Prize winner Elie Wiesel, the government commissioned an independent committee. It discovered and publicized the fact that at least 280,000 Romanian Jews along with other groups, were massacred in Romanian-run death camps,” according to the report. It is important to point out, however, that the Romanian government’s official stance and that of many Romanians is at odds with this work, as the recent film “I Do Not Care If We Go Down in History as Barbarians” shows so poignantly.
The report of the Holocaust Remembrance Project comes a month after the EU’s Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) published the results of its anti-Semitism survey. The survey showed that almost 90% of respondents feel that anti-Semitism is worsening in their country, especially online. Almost 30% of the respondents had been harassed and over one-third of respondents considered emigrating from the EU. “The results of the reports shows a frightening reality of what it is like to be Jewish in the EU today. It serves as a powerful indication of the views of almost the entire Jewish population living in the EU,” said FRA Director Michael O’Flaherty.