Eastern Europe’s Hitler nostalgia
WARSAW, Poland — In the Baltic States they celebrate their liberation from the Soviet Union in the middle of March....
Among those who march are groups who honor those who fell wearing the uniform of the Waffen SS, the military arm of the notorious Nazi paramilitary unit. These SS veteran marches are not fringe events. Thousands march and thousands more turn out to cheer them on....
The official tolerance for marches honoring those who fought with the SS is part of a general trend in the Baltic States and all along the eastern borders of Europe: an embrace of a form of exclusionary nationalism that belongs to the 19th century, rather than the globalized 21st. It is the kind of nationalism that underpinned Hitler’s theory of “One People and One Reich.”...
The reason for this resurgence in ugly ultra-nationalism is an unanswered question of history: who was worse, Hitler or Stalin? This may seem like a question for the seminar room, but not here. In the countries between the Baltic and the Black Sea the question is deeply emotional. It has been rephrased this way: Does the blood of someone killed fighting the Soviet Union cry out louder from the grave than someone who died fighting with the Soviets against the Nazis? And what about those who were simply murdered without taking up arms?...
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