Dienstag, März 19, 2013

For the President of Republic of Latvia Andris Berzinš

Dear Mr. President,

Understanding the idea of national reconciliation in Latvia, we, participants of the round table, organised by a human right movement “Latvia Without Nazism” – human rights activist, public and political activists from 10 countries around the world, believe that the bill currently pending for consideration in Saemia "On the status of persons mobilised during World War Two", not only does not meet the above goal and is contrary to the word and spirit of Nuremberg Tribunal verdict, but also creates privileges for exclusively one group of veterans, namely the veterans of Waffen SS.

First of all, draws attention the fact that according to the bill, rights of SS veterans are equated to veterans of the Soviet army. Meanwhile, it is clear that the former fought with the forces that lit furnaces of Auschwitz, while the latter - fought with the forces that put these furnaces out in 1945, former fought on the side of absolute evil, while the others participated in the liberation of Europe from the "brown plague".

In accordance with the verdict of the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg in 1946, Hitler's Germany is guilty of war crimes, crimes against peace and crimes against humanity. Waffen SS troops, where the Latvian citizens were called to, being part of the Wehrmacht and SS troops, were actively involved in combat operations against the forces of the anti-Hitler Alliance, preventing the liberation of Europe from Nazi occupation.

Legionnaires of 15th and 19th Grenadier (Latvian) Waffen SS divisions in the Wehrmacht participated in the destruction of 138 villages in Vitebsk region of Belarus (February - March 1944), in the massacre of prisoners of war and civilians in Bobryn village in Latvia (6 August 1944), Polish village Podgaje (February 1945).

Regardless of the reasons why the Latvian citizens were drafted into Hitler's army, they willingly or unwillingly participated in the actions that have been identified as criminal by the Tribunal, therefore the equation of their status with the status of veterans of the Soviet army is devoid of logic and common sense.

Furthermore, we are concerned about the fact that the number of beneficiaries under the above mentioned bill can exclude persons who voluntarily entered the ranks of the Soviet Resistance, partisan detachments as well as the Soviet Army, since the mobilisation order throughout the Baltic Military District on 22 June 1941, in reality, was not executed, due to the occupation of Latvia by the Nazi troops on July 1 1941. Consequently, many of the citizens of Latvia, who fought against the Nazis during the Second World War, did so voluntarily, which the current bill considers as grounds to deprive these individuals of privileges.

It is also impossible not to appreciate the contribution made by subversive detachments of the Soviet Special Forces in liberation of Europe from Nazism, who fought behind enemy lines, carrying out acts of sabotage against the Nazi forces. Exclusion of fighters of these units from the list of beneficiaries provided in the bill also appears unjust and illogical.

Based on the above, we believe that the adoption of the bill in the form proposed today is unacceptable. It is aimed at justifying war crimes of the Wehrmacht, revising decisions of the Nuremberg Tribunal and the outcome of the Second World War. This is an attempt to place equal responsibility on Germany and the USSR for the war and war crimes. We believe that one cannot equate the rights of individuals drafted, even forcibly, into the army of the aggressor, guilty of ethnic genocide, with persons drafted into the ranks of the army that fought against this aggression.

In addition, it is clear that in its current form, the bill aims to support, primarily the veterans of Waffen SS, and not the veterans of the Soviet army, many of whom joined its ranks voluntarily. It is also not entirely clear why the list of beneficiaries according to this bill excludes the veterans of the Soviet armed forces, who at the time of mobilisation had no Latvian citizenship under the "Law on Citizenship" in 1919, but who are presently living in the Republic of Latvia, with the status of a citizen or a non-citizen of Latvia.

We also understand that the process of national reconciliation is necessary, but it should not start with an ambiguous law on reconciliation of the Soviet and Nazi army veterans, but with a provision of equal rights for all residents of the Republic of Latvia, including electoral and other rights guaranteed by the Constitution, which today, more than 300,000 permanent residents, most of whom were born in Latvia, are deprived of.

Participants of the Round Table “March 16th in Latvia – Day of honour or shame?” - March 16th 2013:

1 Leonid Bard, chairman of “America Without Nazism”, USA

2 Hon. Richard Brodsky, Former member of the New York State Assembly, USA

3 Hon. Alec Brok-Krasny, member of New York State Assembly, USA

4 Hon. Gert Weisskirchen, MP(1976-2009), OSCE Commissioner on anti-Semitism (2005-2008), Germany

5 Victor Guschin, Historian, Latvia

6 Hon. Tatiana Zhdanoka, MEP, Latvia

7 Hon. Nikolais Kabanovs, MP, Latvia

8 Joseph Koren, Chairman of "Latvia Without Nazism", Latvia

9 Algirdas Paletskis, Chairman of "Lithuania without Nazism", Lithuania

10 Janis Kuzins, Chairman of “Alliance Against Nazism”, Latvia

11 Alexander Pochinok, World Without Nazism", first Vice President, Russia

12 Joel Rubinfeld, European Jewish Parliament, Belgium

13 Hon. Giulietto Chiesa, MEP 2004-2010, Italy

14 Hon. Marina Solodkina, Member of Israel Parliament 1996-2013

15 Hon. Inna Supac, MP, Moldova

16 Hon. Steven Symbrowitz, Member of the Legislative Assembly of New York, USA

17 Valery Engel, "World Without Nazism", first Vice President, Russia

18 Vladimir Sokolov, “Union of Citizens and Non-citizens of Latvia”

19 Michael Nemirovsky, Chairman of the Board of “America without Nazism”, USA

20 Elena Bachinska, “Society for the Honesty and Faimess”, member of the Board, Latvia

21 Alexander Gaponenko, Congress of the Russian Communities, Chairman, Latvia

22 Georg Kuklis-Roshmanis, Public Activist, Latvia

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