Paris,  14 October 2009

In a letter to European Parliament (EP) President, Jerzy Buzek, the Simon Wiesenthal Centre's Director for International Relations, Dr Shimon Samuels, expressed the Centre's concern that "Lithuanian Parliamentary Speaker, Ms Irena Degutiene, today opened a two-day conference at the European Parliament in Brussels, marking the seventieth anniversary of the Molotov – Ribbentrop pact and its consequences. She is accompanied by officials of the Vilnius-based State Commission for the Evaluation of Nazi and Soviet Crimes, together with other Baltic MPs who, in June 2008, promulgated the 'Prague Declaration' to promote a model of 'two equal genocides' (Nazi and Soviet)."

Samuels clarified that, "while at first glance, this project may appear valid, it is, in fact, an insidious campaign of distortion designed to involve all of Europe in jettisoning the historic concept of the Holocaust and to replace it with the 'two equal genocides' - Nazi and Soviet."

The letter explained that "the true goal of this project is to whitewash the massive participation of the Baltic nations in the murder of their Jewish populations (the rate of Holocaust murder in the Baltics was the highest in Europe)."

Samuels added, "State-sponsored Commissions such as the aforementioned one from Vilnius are this campaign's protagonists on the international scene. Meanwhile, at home in each of these countries, museums present a bogus account of overwhelming Jewish complicity in Soviet rule, the glossing over of local participation in the killings, and increasingly efforts to tarnish Holocaust victims, survivors and resistance fighters with antisemitic stereotypes of 'Jewish Bolshevik conspiracies'. The state-sponsored 'Genocide Museum' in central Vilnius, for example, has almost deleted the Holocaust while permanently exhibiting antisemitic materials. The State Museum of the [Soviet] Occupation in Riga iconizes the Latvian battalion of Nazi volunteer auxiliaries responsible for mass murder of their Jewish neighbours."

He noted that, "in Lithuania, this campaign is even more revisionist, as elderly Jewish resistance fighters are being investigated for trumped-up 'war crimes' for their actions as anti-Nazi (by inference, Communist) partisans against the Wehrmacht and its Lithuanian collaborators."

President Buzek was asked "to ensure that the European Parliament must not be abused for ulterior agendas. While Europe has a responsibility to also commemorate East European suffer ing at the hands of the Soviet Union, that issue must be addressed on its own grounds and not to supplant the particular narrative of the Holocaust. Already in April 2009, the same forces voted for a new European Day of Commemoration of Nazi and Soviet Crimes together - in effect to supplant Holocaust Memorial Day in Europe."

The Centre urged the EP President to "prevent today's conference from serving as a vehicle for further European Parliament resolutions that are tantamount to erasing the Holocaust from history."

"The Wiesenthal Centre is pledged to work with the European Parliament for historical integrity. No people's victimology may be subject to identity theft", concluded Samuels.