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Holocaust: past or future?
16.04.07
MOSCOW. (RIA Novosti political commentator Marianna Belenkaya)

Can the Holocaust happen again, in Russia or anywhere else in the world? This question was in the focus of the recent Marathon of Memory, dedicated to the six million Jewish victims of Nazism and Resistance heroes, held in Moscow.
In Israel and in Jewish communities round the world the Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Day is commemorated annually on the anniversary of the 1943 Warsaw Ghetto Rebellion. This day was established as a national holiday by the Knesset (the Israeli parliament). In Moscow, the memorial events started on Sunday April 15, when students of 11 Moscow schools visited the memorial museum of Holocaust Victims and Jewish Historical Legacy at the Synagogue on the Poklonnaya Hill. The students met with former Ghetto prisoners and Righteous Gentiles – people who risked their lives to save Jews during World War II.
A memorial meeting followed in the evening, organized by the Holocaust Foundation with the assistance of the Israeli Embassy, the Moscow government, the International Union of Public Organizations of Jews - Former Prisoners of Nazism (MSEBUF) and other major Jewish associations of Russia. The event will end on April 16, also on the Poklonnaya Hill, with another memorial meeting held by the Russian Jewish Congress. We must preserve the memory of the victims and prevent history from repeating itself: these words sounded as a keynote at all of the Moscow events.
Still, many of the speakers admitted that a new holocaust is possible today. Russia’s Chief Rabbi Berl Lazar and Israel’s Immigrant Absorption Minister Ze'ev Boim, who was in Moscow for the event, both said the Iranian president’s policy is fraught with a new Holocaust. Boim even likened him to Adolf Hitler, and the current events in Iran to developments in Germany in the 1930s.
Boris Nemtsov, one of the leaders of Russia’s Union of Right Forces, said that for the Russian people signs of Nazism in their own country should be more worrying than the situation in Iran. He said that the Young Guard, a youth movement guided by United Russia, the ruling party, is seriously considering adopting the slogan “Russia for Russians.” Nemtsov said that they planned to take it over from the radical nationalist movements in order to win in the elections. So far, this idea has only been discussed informally, but who knows what the repercussions will be if it is implemented?
The footage videotaped by human rights activists during meetings and rallies held in Moscow by nationalist and chauvinist associations, and shown at the memorial meeting, speaks for itself. It looks like a horrible follow-up to Nazi Germany documentaries. One can imagine what effect these videos had on the former Ghetto prisoners and WW II veterans present at the meeting.
MSEBUF president Yefim Gologorsky, a former Ghetto prisoner, said he was alarmed by the results of a recent live public opinion poll conducted by Ekho Moskvy radio, Russia’s largest private news-based station. Around 30% of the audience supported the idea of expelling non-Russians from Russia. A similar percentage of voters initially supported Nazism in Germany, Gologorsky reminded.
According to human rights activists, xenophobic slogans like “Russia for Russians” are frequently employed in local election campaigns in many Russian regions; mainly marginal parties use them so far, which is encouraging.
Political passions are running high, predictably sending shockwaves through society. Alexander Brod, who heads the Moscow Human Rights Bureau, told a news conference at RIA Novosti earlier this month that 13 people have been killed and 50 injured in the 49 nationalistic attacks on non-Russians registered in the first quarter of 2007. To compare, 22 such attacks with one person killed and 36 injured occurred in the same period in 2005.
At the same news conference, sociologists presented results of the surveys they had conducted at Moscow schools in 2005 and 2006. Director of the Center for Educational Sociology Vladimir Sobkin said the share of teenagers indifferent to migration issues has plummeted since 2002. Negative attitudes to migrants from the CIS and other countries have grown among schoolchildren. A Russian Academy of Sciences Sociology Institute’s study presented by Dr Vladimir Shapiro suggests that teenagers seem tolerant when discussing general attitudes (for example, “a person cannot be judged by his or her ethnicity.”) However, this judgment is immediately reversed when it comes to specific situations. In this sense, Russian teenagers differ greatly from their counterparts from other ethnic groups. For example, 59% of Russian schoolchildren think the number of people from certain ethnic groups living in Russia needs to be restricted, while 46% say those groups should not be allowed to occupy g
overnment positions. Overall, every 4th or 5th Russian teenager supports popular Nazi ideas like ethnic cleansing.
In this environment, preserving the memory of the Holocaust is increasingly important. There is more to it than mourning the tragedy that befell the Jews over 60 years ago; it can happen to any ethnic minority in today’s Russia.

The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s and do not necessarily represent those of RIA Novosti. –0-