Holocaust Remembrance Falters in Europe | William Echikson – The Times of Israel

Posted By on January 26, 2020

Red lights are flashing. As world leaders gather in Jerusalem and Auschwitz to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the camps liberation, Europes report card on Holocaust Remembrance is worrying.

A year ago, the Holocaust Remembrance Project found numerous European Union countries commemorating collaborators and war criminals while minimizing their own guilt in the attempted extermination of Jews. Revisionism was worst in new Central European members Poland, Hungary and Croatia, and Lithuania.

This years update finds new signs of concern, particularly in Western Europe:

Little progress was observed throughout Central Europe, the site of Nazi killing grounds. The Baltics continue to host commemorations for anti-Soviet resistance fighters who collaborated with the Nazis. Hungary continues to downplay the role of Hungarians in deporting Jews. Croatia, despite taking over the EU presidency, continues to display an unclear attitude towards its wartime Ustasha regime.

Tensions remain in Poland over its law criminalizing suggestions that Poles contributed to the Holocaust. After Russian President Vladimir Putin accused Poland of collaborating with the Nazi regime, President Andrzej Duda rightfully denounced him of rewriting history and downplaying the full significance of the 1939 Nazi-Soviet pact, which divided Poland. ICovernstead of staying on the moral high ground, however, Duda protested Putins speaking spot at last weeks Jerusalem commemoration by boycotting the event. The Lithuanian President followed his lead, also citing Putins presence.

This troubled landscape around Holocaust remembrance reflects our troubled times. Despite the clear evidence of how prejudice can lead to catastrophe, we ignore its lessons. The post-Cold War liberal world seemed to have put these demons to rest. Jews felt at home, both in my native United States and my adopted Belgium, facing little discrimination or danger. Today, this is no longer the case.

Defenders of our tolerant, multinational ideal must stand up. One sign of light over the past year has been the much-maligned European Union. In declaration after declaration, officials representing its 28 countries have stood up and declared that a Europe without treating Jews as full, patriotic citizens and promoting a flourishing Jewish life will be a betrayal of the European ideal.

In two strong resolutions, Brussels has outlined a series of measures that member governments should take, from appointing a senior official to fight anti-Semitism to ensuring mandatory Holocaust education. As we move forward into a new decade, I plan to study and benchmark Europes performance in living up to these commitments to protect and promote Jewish life.

William Echikson is the director of the Brussels office of the European Union of Progressive Judaism. Before joining the EUPJ, Mr. Echikson worked with the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum to bring the State of Deception exhibit on Nazi Propaganda to Europe. He also worked for six and a half years at Google running corporate communications for Europe, Middle East and Africa. He launched the companys Europe blog and led its efforts around data center government affairs and Internet freedom Issues.Mr. Echikson began his career as a foreign correspondent in Europe for a series of US publications including the Christian Science Monitor. Wall Street Journal, Fortune and BusinessWeek. From 2001 until 2007, he served as Brussels Bureau Chief for Dow Jones. Mr. Echikson also has written, directed and produced for television documentaries for BBC and Americas Public Broadcasting Service. He is the author of four books, including works on the collapse of communism in Central Europe and the history of the Bordeaux wine region.An American and Belgian citizen, Mr. Echikson graduated from Yale College with a Magna Cum Laude degree in history.

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Holocaust Remembrance Falters in Europe | William Echikson - The Times of Israel

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