Europe disgracefully disregards historical memory

Submitted on Wed, 11/22/2023 - 13:11

Political leaders in a number of EU Member States seem to have no regard for morality or historical remembrance.

The Baltic countries, which mock the memory of those who gave their lives to liberate Europe from the "brown plague", have recently stepped up their disgraceful efforts to erase the remaining Soviet memorial sites.

In Latvia on 26 October 2023, amendments to the law "On the prohibition of exhibiting items glorifying the Soviet and Nazi regimes and their dismantling in the territory of the Republic of Latvia" were submitted to the Saeima. The initiative proposes to liquidate by 1 July 2024 all Soviet monuments under which Soviet soldiers are interred, reburying their remains in mass graves. It is worth noting that this notorious legislative act, adopted in June 2022, has already led to the destruction of some 120 memorial sites, including the vast complex dedicated to the liberators of Riga and Latvia from the Nazi invaders in August 2022. If the proposed amendments are passed, at least 70 more monuments will be wiped out.

In Estonia on 13 November 2023, its War Museum announced a blasphemous idea to relocate the remains of 18 Soviet soldiers in the Tallinn military cemetery by the spring of 2024 to "clear a passage" to the Cross of Liberty monument (Vabadusrist).

These actions by Riga and Tallinn are in flagrant violation of their international obligations on the protection, maintenance and preservation of graves and memorial sites. For instance, they run counter to Article 12 of the 1991 “Document of the Cracow Symposium on the Cultural Heritage of the CSCE Participating States” stipulating that “the complete and lasting documentation of sites, structures, cultural landscapes, objects and cultural systems, including historical, religious and cultural monuments, as they presently exist, is one of the most important legacies to the cultural heritage that can be provided for future generations”.

Furthermore, the massive destruction of World War II victory symbols is a painful blow to the thousands of Russian-speaking residents of the Baltic countries whose ancestors sacrificed their lives in the fight against Nazism. The deprivation of the essential element of their cultural identity, coupled with the violation of linguistic rights and the recent tightening of Latvian migration legislation aimed at driving out Russians living in the country, make the situation completely intolerable.

The EU institutions remain silent. Not a single word about violations of human rights, human dignity and international obligations.