US Returns to Ashes of 1945

by Finian Cunningham

US Vice President Mike Pence used his speech at the Holocaust memorial last week to bang a war drum at Iran. It revealed a deplorable lack of dignity and understanding of the event, despite Pence’s efforts to appear solemn.

But not only that. It showed too how out of touch the United States – at least its political leadership – is with the rest of the world and a growing collective concern among others to ensure international peace.

Maybe that’s why Britain’s Prince Charles appeared to snub Pence, declining to shake his hand while attending the commemoration of the Holocaust and 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. Charles warmly greeted other dignitaries, including Russian President Vladimir Putin and France’s Emmanuel Macron. It was curious how he blanked Pence.

But there again, maybe not that curious. Pence and the Trump administration seem to be hellbent on starting a war with Iran. A war that would engulf the entire Middle East and possibly ignite a world conflagration.

Washington’s wanton threats of violence against Iran and its recent assassination of one of Iran’s top military leaders stands as a shocking repudiation of international law and the UN Charter. It’s the kind of conduct more akin to an organized crime syndicate rather than a supposedly democratic state.

The UN Charter was created in 1945 in the aftermath of the Second World War precisely to prevent repetition of the worst conflagration in history and all its barbaric crimes, including the Nazi Holocaust. Over 5o million people died in that war, and nearly half of them belonged to the Soviet Union.

The prevention of war is surely the most onerous responsibility of the UN Security Council. Yet the United States is the one power that routinely ignores international law and the UN Charter to unilaterally launch wars or military interventions. Washington’s threats against Iran are, unfortunately, nothing new. This is standard American practice.

Britain's Prince Charles speaks to U.S. Vice President Mike Pence during the World Holocaust Forum
© REUTERS / RONEN ZVULUN

Snub or No Snub? Netizens Laugh Off Prince Charles’ Explanation After Not Shaking Hands With Mike Pence

When world leaders addressed the Holocaust memorial held in Israel last Wednesday it was obvious – albeit implicitly – from their words that the US has become an isolated rogue state owing to its inveterate belligerence.

Putin, Macron, Prince Charles and German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier all invoked the need for collective commitment to international law and peace. They implied that such a commitment was the best way to honour those who were killed in the Holocaust and the Second World War; the surest way to prevent the barbarity of fascist ideology and persecution ever to be repeated.

Those speakers one after another denounced the ideology of demonizing others which fuels hatred and wars. How pertinent is that to the way Washington routinely demonizes other nations and foreign leaders?

In sharp contrast, when the American vice president made his address, his apparent solemnity was contradicted by a blood-curdling call to arms against Iran, which he accused of being the “leading state purveyor of anti-semitism”. Pence urged the whole world “to stand strong against the Islamic Republic of Iran”, spoken as if he was spitting out the words like venom.

There is little doubt that Pence was formulating a rationale for military confrontation with Iran. That has been the consistent policy of the Trump administration over the past three years.

It was no surprise that Pence’s speech was in sync with the usual bellicose rhetoric from Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu towards Iran. But what was arresting was just how out of sync Pence and the Trump administration are with the rest the world.

US Vice President Mike Pence speaking at the fifth World Holocaust Forum, 23 January 2020.
© SPUTNIK / ALEXEY NIKOLSKY

World War II for Dummies? US Vice President Hails Liberators of Auschwitz Death Camp, ‘Forgets’ to Name Them

It was an odious spectacle to see Pence don a somber face as he talked about the victims of the Holocaust, while his own state wages war against any foreign nation whenever and wherever Washington deems. At an event that was supposed to reflect on the horror and evil of war, Pence showed he had no understanding or self-awareness.

That’s what is perplexing about many American politicians. They seem ignorant of history (Pence gave no acknowledgement to the Soviet soldiers who liberated Auschwitz and other death camps); they are consumed by self-righteousness and arrogance like a puritan preacher without an ounce of humanity.

Anyone who reflects on the horror of war would surely be advocating the respect of and adherence to international law, commitment to peace, and the earnest pursuit of dialogue and partnership among nations.

Russia’s Putin has repeatedly called for the members of the UN Security Council to urgently get together in order to guarantee a multilateral commitment to peace. Putin has also repeatedly appealed to the United States to get serious about negotiating renewed arms control treaties. Washington has ignored those latter calls.

Participants in the Jewish event of Holocaust remembrance walk in the former Nazi German World War II death camp of Auschwitz shortly before the start of the annual March of the Living in which young Jews from around the world walk from Auschwitz to Birkenau in memory of the 6 million Holocaust victims, in Oswiecim, Poland, Thursday, May 2, 2019

© AP PHOTO / CZAREK SOKOLOWSKIIf One’s Outraged by Words About Polish Anti-Semitism, One Should Delve Into History – Ex-Polish MP

The American national myth, evolved over recent decades since 1945, views itself as “exceptional” from all other nations. That translates as the US presuming to be “superior” and “above the law that others are bound by”.

Mike Pence’s menacing words and attitude at the Holocaust memorial showed a disturbing and pernicious disconnect with the need for preventing war and genocide. It was a disgraceful dishonouring of victims.

Out of sync with the world, the US has returned to the ashes and lawlessness of 1945.

The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

On Holocaust Memorial Day US Embassy Falsely Claims America Liberated Auschwitz

By Alan Macleod

Source

he United States Embassy in Denmark has apologized for a statement it made earlier this week that incorrectly claimed that it was American troops that liberated the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. In fact, Red Army troops reached its gates on January 27, 1945. “We acknowledge the important contributions of all Allied Forces during WWII and remember the 6 million Jews who perished during the Holocaust,” the correction read.

U.S. Embassy Denmark

@usembdenmark

I går skrev vi ved en fejl, at Auschwitz-Birkenau blev befriet af amerikanske soldater. Det var selvfølgeligt sovjetiske soldater. Vi anerkender alle de allierede styrkers vigtige bidrag under Den Anden Verdenskrig og mindes de 6 millioner jøder, der døde under Holocaust.

U.S. Embassy Denmark

@usembdenmark

Yesterday, we inadvertently wrote that US troops liberated Auschwitz-Birkenau. It was of course liberated by Soviet troops. We acknowledge the important contributions of all Allied Forces during WWII and remember the 6 million Jews who perished during the Holocaust.

The incorrect statement was immediately met with scorn online from those who felt this was another example of Soviet erasure and an insult to the enormous sacrifice the U.S.S.R. made to defeat fascism in Europe. Users replied with pictures of Red Army troops liberating the camp. Those same people would likely be unimpressed at the news that Wikipedia has been removing those same pictures, a fact discovered by Lithuanian journalist Vladimir Vodo. While the encyclopedia’s administrators argued that they might not technically be in the public domain, erasing images of the Russian liberation of Auschwitz on Holocaust Memorial Day is not an optically wise move.

The Soviet Union is responsible for killing about four of every five Nazis during the conflict and suffered around 95 percent of all Allied Army casualties. The scale of their loss was enormous; the current Russian government estimates the Soviet losses at 26.6 million dead – around sixty-three times the total American sacrifice in both Europe and the Pacific. Even comparatively tiny states like Latvia and Lithuania lost a similar number of people as the entire United States. 

This is far from common knowledge in America; a 2015 poll found that just 11 percent of Americans knew that the Soviet Union contributed the most to the defeat of Nazi Germany, with the large majority who answered picking the U.S. as the most important nation. This finding was replicated all over Western Europe, except in the United Kingdom, where Britons incorrectly believed they primarily defeated the Soviet Union.

This, argued Vox’s Dylan Matthews, is part of a “successful 70-year campaign to convince people the USA and not the USSR beat Hitler.” He notes, for instance, that in 1945, 57 percent of French citizens recognized the U.S.S.R. to have contributed the most to the effort to beat Nazi Germany. This, despite the fact that the French had virtually no contact with the Soviet Union, and that both the U.K. and the U.S. fought bitter and protracted wars across most of Northern France. By 2004, however, only 20 percent knew the U.S.S.R. was the most important in Germany’s defeat, with 58 percent choosing America. Decades of Cold War hostilities meant that any sympathetic portrayal of Russians for their suffering was politically inexpedient. Therefore, the 26.6 million dead were consigned to the trashcan of history.

Fear and mistrust of Russia continue to this day as its president Vladimir Putin is widely accused of being the mastermind behind Donald Trump’s 2016 election victory. Generalized anti-Russian xenophobia is common in popular culture in a way that would not be tolerated for other groups. Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, for instance, claimed that Russians are “genetically driven to co-opt, penetrate” and “gain favor,” while media in 2018 was full of scare stories about Russian anchor babies in the U.S. Despite the fact that Putinism is an expressly anti-communist, neoliberal ideology, commentators feel free to use words like “Russian” and “Soviet” interchangeably, describing senior Putin officials as communists, drawing from a deep well of resentment built up over the past 100 years. The latest Gallup poll found that the majority of Americans see Russia as a “critical threat” and 73 percent see the country unfavorably – a figure three times higher than during the last days of the Cold War.

Located in southern Poland, Auschwitz is the name given to a complex of dozens of concentration and extermination camps where over one million people were exterminated, the majority of them Jews. The incorrect statement was immediately met with scorn online from those who felt this was another example of Soviet erasure and an insult to the enormous sacrifice the U.S.S.R. made to defeat fascism in Europe.Other groups exterminated there, however, included Soviet prisoners of war – a practice only ended by the arrival of the Red Army. All but 92 of the estimated 15,000 Soviets who entered the camp were exterminated. As with their comrades who liberated it, their memory is politically inconvenient for the powerful.

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