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May 22, 2004
Estonians To Build Nazi Memorial?

The European Union's new member, Estonia, has just handed them their first major cultural challenge. Estonian veterans of World War II, which consist of men who fought for Nazi Germany's notorious SS, plan on building a memorial to Estonian SS soldiers who fought the Russians:

The Society of Fighters for Estonia's Freedom, which includes, among others, veterans of the Estonian 20th SS division, has initiated the opening of a monument to Estonian SS fighters who fought for Nazi Germany during WWII, Russia's Interfax quoted the Postimees newspaper as reporting on Saturday.

The initiators plan to install the monument in Tallinn's district of Maarjamae, about fifty meters away from a memorial in honor of the Soviet forces who fought in Estonia, in July this year, Interfax said.

Three large crosses are already installed at the site. The new monument is intended to include plaques bearing the names of 16 Estonian units that fought for the Wehrmacht. There will also be flagpoles, a plaque with explanatory text in four languages, and a cast-iron map of Estonia indicating the places where the SS units fought against the Soviet army, the Russian news agency reported.

After the fifty-year Soviet domination of this small Baltic nation, I understand why the Estonians would honor their partisan veterans who fought against the Russians as a matter of Estonian survival -- a battle they lost, obviously, which consigned Estonia to its thraldom under the Iron Curtain. However, the SS were much more involved in the terrible crimes of the Nazi regime, including the management of the concentration camps that dotted Germany and all of the occupied territories. Indeed, at least a dozen such camps were established in Estonia, such as Dorpat, Lodensee, Reval, Klooga, and others.

Why honor these men? Have the Estonians forgotten that the Nazis were also conquerors, bloody, vicious, and evil ones at that? Surely the Estonians could not have survived decades of Soviet tyranny just to celebrate the only possible regime that could make the Soviets look decent by comparison. Instead of building monuments to their association with the Nazis, you'd think they would prefer to keep it quiet.

Here's hoping clearer heads prevail. In the meantime, expect France, Poland, and other victims of the Nazi evil -- probably Germany too, as they understand the dangers of honoring that menace -- to loudly protest this development through the EU Parliament. (via Memeorandum)

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at May 22, 2004 7:20 PM

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