Eesti Päevalehe küsimused:
Don’t you think that accusing Estonians has an opposite effect – tolerant people become against Jews?
So what are you suggesting, that we ignore the crimes committed by Estonians during the Holocaust? That is hardly any way to have normal relations. The only way to have a healthy relationship is if these crimes are acknowledged and the guilty brought to trial. In that respect, contrary to the press reports, I NEVER accused all Estonians of crimes against Jews. There are some who are guilty and they should be put on trial and punished.
You have suggested that Estonia should implement Holocaust Day, either on August 7 or January 20. Wouldn’t it be better to have this memorial day on the anniversary forced mass deportation of Estonians – to commemorate all the victims?
The anniversary of the mass deportations by the Soviets deserves its own memorial day in Estonia(and elsewhere) and the Holocaust deserves its own memorial day, as the worst tragedy in the annuals of mankind and a watershed event in human history.
Why have you come out with your statements against Estonia and the Baltic States this year, is it related to the fact that on this fall Estonia can be invited to NATO?
Anyone who has followed the activities of the SWC and myself, knows that we have been active trying to bring Baltic Nazi war criminals to justice from the time that the Baltics restored their independence. In 1992, I visited Estonia and met with PM Laar and other ministers to discuss the case of Estonian Nazi war criminal Evald Mikson.
On which basis works the financing of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre, who are the biggest sponsors and is the financing connected to the results of your work? What is your year income and who pays it?
The SWC is financed almost exclusively by contributions of private individuals, both Jews and non-Jews, mostly from North America.
The Ambassador of the United States in Estonia reproached our authoroties that Estonia investigates war criminals selectively, i.e. only Soviet war criminals are being investigated. Does this mean that Estonia should give up investigating Soviet war criminals or investigate equally Soviet and German war criminals?
It is very important to bring Communist criminals to justice, but it is also extremely important to try Nazi war criminals. Estonia should bring both types of criminals to justice.
From your statements can be concluded that you haven’t undestrood the part of Estonia’s history between 1940 and 1944. The Republic of Estonia was occupied on June 17 1940 and was shortly after that added to Soviet Union, after Nazi-Germany’s campaign to the east in the summer 1941 was Estonia added as province of Ostland to Nazi-Germany. In the fall of 1944 occupied the Red Army Estonia again and this was followed by Soviet occupation. Estonia regained it’s independence in August 1991. Concluding from facts above it should be clear that it is not possible to accuse Estonian state of any crimes between 1940 and 1991. Have you made some of your own conclusions about that juridical and historical fact?
Those historical facts are well-known to me. I have a Ph.D. in the history of the Holocaust. The accusations do not relate to an Estonian STATE but rather to individual Estonians, as clearly shown by the Estonian International Historians Commission.
You have dedicated your life to disclose nazi war criminals. Why haven’t you turned your attention to disclosure of communist war criminals and communist persecutors of jews?
As someone with a Ph. D. in the history of the Holocaust, my expertise is in Nazi crimes not Communist crimes and that is also my own personal interest. I do not understand why there isn’t someone like myself or some institution like the Wiesenthal Center to deal with Communist criminals.
No Estonian who served in German army escaped from the NKVD and it’s sucsessor KGB. Many of them where given death sentence in the Soviet Union based on huge propaganda. Do you think that their research was so ineffective and untrustworthy that you put these results under suspicion?
Based on our experience in different countries, many of those convicted by Soviet courts were indeed guilty of crimes against civilians during WW II.
Estonians, as it applys also to Gypsys, Latvians, Jews etc, is one of the most suffered nations in the World War II. Maybe your authority instead of accusing would help to research and inform the common history of our nations?
We firmly believe that one of the best way to teach about the history of the Holocaust is to see to it that the criminals are put on trial in the countries in which they committed their crimes or in their countries of origin. These trials are the best history lesson imaginable.
Most of the archives and documents about most of the war units of nazi Germany (incl. the archives about Estonian units) was the booty of the Red Army. According to these archives tens of thousands of Estonians, who served in German Army, were sent to concentration camps in Siberia, where many of them died. Have you had a chance to read these materials in Russian archives?
I have not been able to read this material since I never did any research in Russia or the Soviet Union.
Why are many of your accusations based on KGB materials, even though it is widely known that many of them are fabricated?
Much of this material is genuine and quite valuable. You have to remember that the Soviets were the ones who investigated the crimes shortly after they took place so they were in the best position to collect important evidence.
Many of Estonias, who served in Red Armys Estonian corps, became members of the communist party. Still there are no facts that Estonians who served in the German army would have joined the nazi party. What would you conclude from this historical fact?
Absolutely nothing. They were not allowed to join the Nazi Party.
Have you seen war with your own eyes?
I served in the Israeli Army as a reservist for many years and was nearly killed by a Palestinian terrorist who murdered my commander in 1991 in the Jordan Valley.
Based on which documents (besides Jakobson commission report) are you saying that 36th police battalion took part in killing jews in Novogrudok?
I based my request for the investigation of the members of the 36th Battalion on the findings of the Commission.
Is it true that you come originally from Russia?
Both my parents and I were born in the United States. One set of grandparents is from Lithuania, the other from the Ukraine.
How do you comment the quote from Max Jakobson that his commission has no concrete proof of the 36th police battalion taking part in killing of Jews in Novogrudok?
If that is the case, how could he have written that they did participate in those killings? I spoke to Nicholas Lane, who is a member of the commission and he said that there is concrete evidence on the participation of men from the 36th in the murders in Nowogrudok.
Do you think that Soviet occupation in Estonia was legitimate?
How do you evaluate the actions taken by the KGB in investigating the nazi crimes?
Much of the material collected by the KGB about the cases of Nazi war criminals and collaborators is 100% reliable. The problem is in those cases in which the charges were political.
What is your attitude towards the current Israeli-Palestinian conflict? Do you see that there is a solution to it that does not include the total annihilation of the Palestinians by the Israeli state? Is there war between Palestinians and Israelis and if so, is either party committing any war crimes?
The Palestinians are currently engaged in an attempt to destroy the State of Israel. The only possible solution for the conflict is one in which they accept a Jewish state in the Middle East.
At this point, it is not clear if they will ever be willing to do so.
The conflict at present is not all-out war, close to it.
What is a goal of your work at this moment (55 years after WWII ended)- is it just pure revenge: "Eye to eye..." or does your work include message "it should never happening again"? Revenge I can understand but message...?It has happened again and again - in Bosnia in Croatia even in Palestina and in many other places!
Revenge is going out and killing or injuring Nazi war criminals. We are calling for them to be put on trial.
When the Nazi war criminals will be dead we will deal with Holocaust education and continue to fight against anti-Semitism.
1. Do you approve Sharon's actions and decisions about ongoing Israel - Palestinian crises?
2. Should Sharon step down? If yes then why? If no then why?
3. Why majority Sharon’s actions are not approved by other peaceful Middle-East nations (for example Jordan)?
4. Sorry for a silly question but what do you think how long Arafat will live/stay in power?
5. Sir, you are talking about (if I have understood correctly) how different people have repressed Jews. How do you explain the situation in Israel, do you agree that Israel is repressing (at least to some extent) Palestinians?
6.Please explain – do you think that “fighting fire with fire” will work in the case of Israel - Palestinian crises? And has it been successful since now?!
PM Sharon has the support of the overwhelming majority of the Israeli public.
He is not liked by Arab states because they will never forgive him his successes as a general against the Arabs and because they want Israel to be as weak as possible.
Whatever measures Israel is taking against the Palestinians are being taken to stop Palestinian terror-suicide bombers and killers.
The history of the Middle East to date has shown that the best defence is a good offence.
You have said that time was running out and if operation "Last chance" failed, probably no Nazi war crime cases could reach Estonian courts. What is your primary -- goal to bring criminals to justice or to have a Nazi case in an Estonian court?
Our goal is to bring as many Nazi war criminals to justice as possible.
We think that it is particularly important for such trials to take place in the countries in which the crimes were committed or in the countries of origin of the killers.
What do you can say about:
Benighted, misguided Jews.
What is the future of the Wiesenthal centre ? What happens when the last old nazis will be extinct?... you will most probably loose your funding... where will you apply for a job and what kind of job? Is there any hope that you will deal with neo-nazis around Europe? Don't you think that national-socialist ideas that are possibly growing are actually more dangerous ?
Fighting anti-Semitism is the main activity of the Simon Wiesenthal Center worldwide today and will probably continue to be for many years.
Why do you like to deal so much with consequences, anyway. It's just revenge, not more. How about prevention?
The best prevention is punishing those guilty of such terrible crimes.
When are you going to start the operation "Last Change" in Russia?
We hope to expand “Operation: Last Chance to many additional countries, including Russia.
Some peopel in Estonia are acusing you in hunting down sick and old men who shuld be left alone.Our dp you think that people who commited war crimes againts juws in the second world war should be broght to justice and be judged ewen if they are old and sick or even dead.
If someone murdered a child of yours or your parent or grandparent and 20 or 30 or 40 years went by without the person being caught and then all of a sudden he was caught would the fact that the criminal was 70 or 80 stop you from wanting him to be brought to justice?
Did someone help You to write the article about Estonian media that was published in Postimees on Tuesday? Who?
I wrote it myself and Postimees translated it from English.
does the archive of Department of Justice in the U.S. really contain subsequent new information about Estonian nazis committing war crimes against Jews or has the information been exhausted during the current "Last Chance" campaign?
I was astonished You were not able to provide anything substantial against Mr Harry Männil despite promising rethorics.
We believe that the material provide by the US in the Mannil case was important. Contrary to what has been published in the press, the evidence against Mannil is quite solid.
Which University did you graduate and what is your speciality?
Do you have children?
Do you drink alcohol?
Why do you have such an evil look in your eyes?
I did a BA in history at Yeshiva University in New York; and completed a MA and Ph.D. in Contemporary Jewry(modern Jewish history) at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
I am married and have 4 children-2 sons and 2 daughters.
So far various Estonian media choose to purposely publish very unflattering photos of me, so I often look mean and angry, but I don’t think that those photos reflect my personality.
Did You pay attention to the answer our Kaitsepolitseiamet issued after Your critisism? Is resignation of General Director Jüri Pihl still something You consider vital?
Just to remind: Kaitsepolitseiamet claims that none of the 16 participants of Novogrudok operations mentioned in Max Jacobson report are currently residents of Estonia.
I do not think that the reply of the Kaitsepolitseiamt is satisfactory and I have written to Juri Pihl to explain why. I can only hope that they will reassess their decision.
In addition to Jyri P.'s question: On Monday Eesti Päevaleht published a story about an old serviceman Vassili Arula, who served in the 36th police battaillon and actually was in Novogrudok. Despite of that fact Kaitsepolitsei said that none of the participants of 36th battaillon live in Estonia. This means that kaitsepolitsei, a structure of Estonian government, has publicly lied to you and to the whole world. It's not actually important wheather they deliberately lied and hid the war criminal or they just cannot do their job, I wonder, what are you going to do now when it's proved that at least one of Novogrudok criminals actually live in Estonia? Do you apply for extratiction or do you want the case to be heard in Estonia? And how do you feel that Estonian government has actually LIED to the world community?
That is not accurate. They said that none of the 16 men on our list were living in Estonia. Vassilli Arula was NOT on our list.
Do you understand that your actions are viewed by most Estonians as direct promotion of hostility between nations?
How close contact do you have with the local Jewish community in Estonia and do they approve your viewpoint and activities?
Life goes on and in another 10 years there will be nobody to search for in this context. What next?
Your assessment of our work is, I hope, incorrect.
I am in close contact with the Estonian Jewish community and try to work together with them.We do not agree on everything, but we usually agree on the importance of the Wiesenthal Center’s goals.
You're demanding that all the peoples of the world, including Estonia, introduce the Jewish Holocaust memorial day. I'm wondering when will the memorial day for Estonian mass deportations of 1941 and 1949 be introduced in Israel. Do you think that the war sufferings of one nation should be put above others and the sufferings of other nations are nothing to speak of?
Hopefully, if Holocaust Day is implemented successfully in Estonia, you will realize why the Holocaust is significant, not only for Jews, but for the entire world.
I would never belittle the crimes committed against other peoples and would encourage you to do whatever you can to commemorate the crimes against Estonians.
mr. Zuroff do you belive in (or are there any facts that collaborate) the excistance of the so called "odessa" organization as described by frederic forsyth?
It definitely existed and helped Nazi war criminals escape overseas after WW II.
kasin ja korralik
Dear Mr. Zuroff,
please describe Your vision about dealing the Holocaust in Estonian schoolsystem.
1. How old pupils should start to study the Holocaust?
2. Is it necessary to practise this theme throughout preliminary, basic and higher education?
3. Should this topic be cross-curricular theme or is it enough to study it only in History lessons (as a part of the II World War)?
4. Should this topic be separate or combined with other terrible phenomenons of the History of the human kind?
5. Should the pupils in Estonia know more about Jewish history? If YES, then why?
All very good questions, the answers for which can be based on the vast experience in teaching the Holocaust already acquired in Israel and the US.
The best place to start is in junior high or high school.
Estonian pupils should certainly know more about the history of Estonian Jewry and how Jewish history affected world history.
What do You think, is participation in the SS-unit would be enougth to be accused?
Would commuist crimes against humanity diserve same attitude as nazi's?
The SS was declared a criminal organization at Nuremburg. Today, membership would not be enough to have someone convicted, although all such persons should at least be investigated.
Why there is no press releases about situation in Estonian and about so called Estonian nazi-problem on Simon Wiesenthal Center internet site? May be the relations between jewish people and estonians in Estonia are not such as complicated as we can beleave at Your personal manifestations.
Do You mention - there are always more tensions in Estonian press toward SWC activities and Israeli politics after Your personal actions?
May be You can meet better co-opeartion if You are less offensive towards iniscent people and state apparatus?
I have always tried to act in a respectful manner, unfortunately, in Estonia legitimate criticism is often mistaken for hostility. In that respect, the media have in certain cases distorted my comments to make it seem that I blame all Estonians for the crimes of a few.
Dear Mr. Zuroff. Are you planning to take some action against the official authorities of USA. It is no secret they helped a lot of Hitler's war criminals to get away from the justice, as they provided them with essential vital secret political or scientific information. The whole NASA and USSR first space medical programs were greatly based on results of inhuman tests, run in Auschwitz and other concenteration camps. Don't you think the authorities who helped to hide the criminals should be brought to justice, as they in a way had become partners in crime?
Unfortunately, none of these people have ever been forced to pay for those policies.
Since we have limited resources and time, we prefer to try and prosecute the murderers rather than those who helped them escape.
What do you think about methods of KGB and their "special" handling of suspected people?
Do you really beleive that no-one do not sign under fabricated document, if KGB said your life or signature?
I am sure that happened, but in a lot of cases the KGB punished very bad criminals who committed terrible crimes.
What do you get from 80 or 90 years old people???
What?? I really like to know!
Do you want to punish theme?
More thene 50 years has gone.
Isn't it stupid or what....
And what about the latest fact that Jewish people has done crimes against Estonian people?!
Maybe we all should just let it go and leave it to the past-discontinue!
Waiting for your answer!
Ignoring crimes paves the way for additional crimes.
Mr.Zuroff, could you possibly give some comments, why are Jewish organisations (Wiesenthal Centre etc.) so active and pertinacious performing these search for Nazi felonies. Dont you think this search became distended for now ?
Dont you think that Russia should organize some kind of investigation like your is (because there was 27 million killed Russians in World War 2)?
Dont you think that Jews are very special nation, which has been always offended, doesnt matter how Nazis sins was retrieved ?
It is only natural for Jewish organizations like SWC to try and bring Nazi criminals to justice given the terrible crimes they committed against the Jewish people.
SWC apparently uses the expressions "nazi war crimes" and "crimes of the holocaust" as identical. Don't you think there is a difference? Would SWC also pay for the information that leads to the prosecution and conviction of nazi war criminals who commited crimes against the roma (gypsies), czech, polish, russians or estonians? If not, don't you think selective justice only leads to more racism, hatred and intolerance?
We have tried to bring Nazis to justice who committed crimes against non-Jews as well. One example is the case of Jasenovac commandant Dinko Sakic, most of whose victims were non-Jews.
Why do you take so much effort to find some minor suspects (NB!yet not proved guilty)of nazy crimes (who ,if still alive,are in their late 90-ies!!!!)here in small Estonia, having at the same time dramatically more important things to do all over the world? Why do you concentrate so much to the Baltics - doesn't your business look fake and even provocative thisway?
We work elsewhere as well. The Baltics are important because of the high percentage of Jews killed and the large extent of local participation. In addition, Baltic units were sent elsewhere to help implement the Final Solution.
Does your organisation have an official opinion about Estonia's possible membership in the NATO and EU? What do you personally think of this matter?
I think that it is important for all countries joining NATO to have dealt honestly and efficiently with Holocaust-related issues before joining NATO.
Dear Mr. Zuroff.
Can you give us an approximate number of Jews who where killed by gassing.
Why the number of killed Jews varies between 6 million (number which is product of post war de-natzification process in Germany) and ~ 600 000 (based on latest scientific works on Holocaust)?
There has never been even the slightest conclusive proof for such a campaign of promiscuous slaughter on the part of Germany, and, in the meantime, all reliable evidence continues to suggest with increasing volume and impact that this genocide legend is a deliberate and brazen falsification. Therefore, why there isn't any hard evidence, what would confirm the existence of gas chambers for industrial extermination of people (Jews)?
Where the natural physics and chemical laws applicable (in force) during the 1942-45?
Can you comment on the human Soap (RIF) story, which was brought up by individuals such as Simon Wiesenthal and Stephen Wise, organizations like the World Jewish Congress, and the victorious Allied powers, none of whom has ever apologized for promoting this vile falsehood. In April 1990, professor Yehuda Bauer of Israel's Hebrew University, regarded as a leading Holocaust historian, as well as Shmuel Krakowski, archives director of Israel's Yad Vashem Holocaust center, confirmed that the human soap story is not true. Camp inmates "were prepared to believe any horror stories about their persecutors," Bauer said. Deborah Lipstadt, a professor of modern Jewish history, similarly "rewrote history" when she confirmed in 1981: "The fact is that the Nazis never used the bodies of Jews, or for that matter anyone else, for the production of soap."
Thanks for your attention.
The Holocaust is the most-documented genocide in history and therefore your comments that there was no campaign of mass murder are outrageous and constitute Holocaust denial.
As far as your statement on the production of soap from Jewish victims, it is true that this apparently did not take place, but that in no way diminishes the extent and scope of the Nazis’ genocidal campaign against the Jewish people.
In 1999, Croat Zoran Vukman wrote in "Slobodna Dalmacija" (http://www.cdsp.neu.edu/info/ students/marko/slodal/slodal13.html)
"It should not be forgotten that Zuroff even had intolerant reaction when Pope John Paul II last year beatified a Jew and a Catholic nun Edith Stein who was murdered in 1942 in Auschwitz. Zuroff sees that as a provocation which means that he reacts as a political and religious fanatic, for whom it is even offensive that a Jew can be proclaimed a Catholic saint."
Mr. Zuroff, if the facts of this claim are correct, how do you explain your objections to the beatification of these two people. What is your position towards the Catholic Church?
One of the persons was a Jewess who had converted to Christianity and was being touted by the Catholic Church as a model victim of the Holocaust, something offensive to all Jews. The second was Pope Pius the 12th who did almost nothing to stop the mass murder of Jews during the Holocaust, and therefore in our opinion is not worthy of the honor.
What about double standards? Lithuanian government asked Israel a few weeks ago do extradite a former NKVD (soviet security agency) officer Nahman Dushanski. According to the Lithuanian prosecutor the man had been directly involved in killings of Lithuanian prisoners in 1941. Israel refused, claiming it's based on racial prejudice. It was not the first time Israel did so nor an isolated case. In such cases would it be wise for Lithuania (or any other country facing similar problems) to conduct an PR campaign in Israel and to offer publicly money for any additional information, which might lead to the conviction or exradiction of the person involved? crimes against humanity are universal after all...
Israel’s refusal to extradite Dushansky was based on the fact that Lithuania had made no attempt to prosecute 21 Lithuanians of higher rank than Dushansky who were involved in the same alleged crimes, which seemed to point to a politicaly-motivated investigation.
first of all, i'd like to say that i fully agree with the point that all war criminals and criminals who have committed crimes against humanity (especially those that have taken part in mass murders) should be prosecuted for their deeds, no matter how much time has passed since. but at the same time i agree with the people who say that all doubts should be investigated throughly, all conclusions should be based on strong arguments and documentation. we should not forget the principle of "innocent until proven guilty".
so here are my questions:
1. would You agree with the statements I made above ("criminals against humanity should be prosecuted" and "innocent until proven guilty")?
2. how would You comment on the situation now that the Estonian International Commission for Investigation of Crimes Against Humanity (EICICAH) has in its Conclusions part said that "The 36th Police Battalion participated on August 7, 1942 in the gathering together and shooting of almost all the Jews still surviving in the town of Novogrudok." (source: http://www.historycommission.ee/temp/conclusions_frame.htm),
but at the same time the Estonian Security Police Board has not found the documents the EICICAH has used to be enough to conclude that the members of the 36th Police Battalion did actively participate in the killings in Novogrudok?
3. this question derives right from the last one: have You (and Your organization, the Simon Wiesenthal Center) had any private investigations on the cases stated in the EICICAH conclusions? if yes, have you come to the same conclusions as the Commission? have you found any more/other documents about the incidents that would further prove the praticipation of the 36th Police Battalion in the killings in Novogrudok? also: do You see all the documents having equal "weight"? what about the papers of the Soviet-era interrogations, do You see them as 100% valid?
4. the 36th Police Battalion is the current case, the EICICAH has in its Conclusions also mentioned the 286th, 287th and 288th Police Battalions. are You planning to also raise the question of these battalions and maybe also questions about incidents that the EICICAH has not mentioned? is there (so to say) more to come?
5. the final question... a short preword: i know i'm somewhat of a fanatic when discussing or arguing about racism (antisemitism) and tolerance in Estonia. i agree that there is a bit too much of the first and too little of the latter in Estonia. but i also agree that in my "fanaticism" i have overviewed and misjudged some information, making some not-so-very-right/true conclusions.
how do You feel about yourself? do You think You can take a neutral stand about the incidents You are investigating or do You agree that You are at least a bit fanatic (and therefore seeing answers the way You'd like them to be)? or maybe You'd agree with the point that such fanaticism wouldn't even be a negative trait in You position?
good luck in Your work. and keep it up, i believe that a bit of shock therapy can do not only bad.
First of all, thank you for your support.
I agree with your statements.
As I explained, we accepted the findings of the Commission and saw no need to carry out an independent investigation.
The other battalions who committed crimes should definitely be investigated.
I like to think that I am objective in dealing with the historical facts, but I feel that I have to be very insistent/tough in pushing for prosecution of Nazi war criminals, because it is difficult to get governments to take action in such cases.
Bishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa, who was awarded the 1984 Nobel Peace Prize, has said: "The Israeli government is placed on a pedestal [in the US], and to criticize it is to be immediately dubbed anti-Semitic," he said. "People are scared in this country, to say wrong is wrong because the Jewish lobby is powerful -- very powerful."
1. Mr. Zuroff, do you believe that there is a knee-jerk reaction in Israel and the U.S. toward criticism of Israel?
2. Do you agree that many Israeli officials, including from the Wiesenthal Center too often dismiss legitimate criticism of Israeli policies and disregard of UN resolutions, conveniently labeling such criticism as "anti-Semitic"?
3. Finally, what do you think of the view that overzealous Nazi-hunting in Estonia is "anti-Estonian", and promotes racial hatred?
There is no such thing as overzealous Nazi hunting because in order to achieve results in this field, we unfortunately have to be very zealous since too many governments prefer to let the Nazis die of old age and thereby solve their problem.
As far as Israel is concerned, far too many people apply different standards in evaluating the parties in the current conflict. If the Palestinians were held to the same standards as Israel, the world would be demanding Arafat’s ouster years ago.
Why are Israel acting like Nazi-Germany (we all know, that Israel occupied Palestinian country)?
You obviously have no idea of what Nazi Germany was like if you make such baseless accusations against Israel. If anything, Israel’s civilian population is being targeted by Hamas, which is acting in a manner quite similar to the Nazis and with the same target.
Has the current occupation changed your character? Isn't the occupational hazard in your field of business obviously paranoia, with all its consequences?
Do you ever smile (not just when having spotted/nailed another alleged nazi war criminal)?
Is there some room left for private life?
How long do you think will Israel, the SWC or any other Zionist driven organisation endure in the vicious circle of double standards, hypocrisy and violence?
You can fool some people all the time and all the people for some time, but you can't fool all the people all the time (or something like that).
I totally support real Jews in their struggle against Zionism. Sela!
I would be very curious to know who those “real Jews” are??
Dear Mr. Zuroff,
1. Are their any witnesses or evidence in Israel or anywhere in the world which can confirm the participation of Estonian police batallion in Novogrudsk atrocities?
2. Now, it appears that there is a member of that infamous police batallio still alive. Do You think he should be immediately questioned by Israeli and Estonian investigators?
3. And a personal question: What motivates You in Your hard work?
1.Perhaps. This is something which should be checked.
3.The memory of the victims, their tragic fate and my commitment as a Jew.
There are a lot of jewish people living in America (as I am sure in other places). Would you consider that your actions might embarrass them? In this critical time of anti-Israel sentiment, do you think that people like you serve any positive purpose?
The last thing I would want to do is embarrass Jews. Is trying to bring the murderers of Jews to justice embarrassing for other Jews? Only for those Jews embarrassed by their Judaism.
Are you married?
In a lots of questions here people often try to turn Your attention to Russia, communists, suffering of Estonian nation under occupation(s) often forgetting that Your organization deals with Nazi crimes against Jewish people. What do You think could be done in Estonia for people to understand that such atrocities against *Jews commited by Estonian war criminals* can never be forgotten and such criminals must be prosecuted?
One of the best ways to achieve that goal would be for one or more of those criminals to be prosecuted in an Estonian court. Otherwise, it is a question of education and the attitude of Estonia’s leaders.
How does it feel to be most hated foreigner in estonia?
That would depend on why I was the most hated. If it is for a legitimate reason, that is a small personal price to pay to achieve justice and bring mass murderers to trial.
What is the backround of your first and last name? who were relatives, genealogy ...
Efraim was the son of Joseph the son of Jacob and Rachel in the Bible. I am named for my great uncle Efraim Zar who was murdered in Lithuania in the Holocaust.
The name Zuroff comes from the Hebrew word for goldsmith Tzoreff, which was distorted when my grandfather immigrated to the US in 1907.
With regard to your aim to combat antisemtism and to inform people about the crimes committed against millions of Jews and to keep the memories of these innocent people alive I wonder if you chose the right way.
1) After all the massive attacks and criticism, do you still believe that your specific line of action in Estonia was the right choice (e.g. campaign "last chance")?
2) How's your feeling if people voice critical remarks saying that your campaign was politically motivated? Wouldn't you agree that this is a misjudgement of the whole situation?
3)How do you judge the situation if you see that people instead of being motivated to assist you in your work feel attacked and get infuriated? Did you expect such a reaction?
4) Wouldn't you agree that maybe the campaign did not achieve its original aim in informing people about the holocaust?
5) Taking into account the reaction in Estonia would't you agree that it maybe would be better to revise your strategy in Estonia and launch another campaign, aiming foremost on education and information, mainly in schools?
Our intention was not to irritate, but to motivate and educate.
It is too early to know if we have succeeded, only time will tell.
We also hope to do some educational work in Estonia, but the most pressing current priority is bringing Nazi war criminals to trial because that is something that cannot be done 10 years from now.
Dear Mr. Zuroff,
First, I would like to say, that there is not much anti-semitic people in Estonia. Most of our people are against the Israeli occupation in Palestine and the genocide against the palestinian people. Estonians have suffered a lot during the history, we know what the occupation means. What do you think about this: You`ve been kicked out of your house, your money has been taken, you relatives have been killed and you friends are in jail. They have taken everything you ever had. How does it feel? I must say, that I hate, when innocent people are killed, but I understand the palestinians, when they are going to blow themselves up. These people have lost everything, so they have no will to live on. I understand it, when a repressed man wants to take some occupants with him. So what do you think about Mr. Sharon and his actions?
Secondly, when I read your articles, I always see that there is something that says that the jews are better than the other nations. Do you think so? If you really think so, then I think that you are not competent to take these actions to find the nazi war-criminals.
I have nothing more to say. (at the moment)
Oh, one more thing:
Do you think, that the communists were not so bad people, only because they didn`t kill so much jews?
In this case, you are a nazi yourself. Don`t you know, that about sixty years ago, some people also thought the same way, that they are better than the others. And what happened to them? They lost.
A lot of very good and wise jews are living in Estonia. Like Eri Klas, Eino Baskin etc. And we honour them, because they have given us so much. So don`t you think, that at the moment, your actions are repressing their image?
Since you obviously have trouble comprehending my articles, let me be clear:
COMMUNIST CRIMINALS ARE BAD. THEY SHOULD BE BROUGHT TO TRIAL.
Is that clear enough?
1)Do you and on what conditions could make a peace with jewish and WWII history?
2)Don't you feel yrself being on comperable job as natzists were in the WWII, constantly spotting and making somebody to run or hide?
3) Have you ever thought about the taste of revenge, do you really thirst for that?
4) What about Your own Karma, don't you be afraid?
5) Do you sometime feel any kind of uncertanty, how the next generations could revaluate yr desperate actions, hunting for the aged persons offering the money.
I am very concerned how history will judge my efforts.
How can you compare those seeking to bring murderers to trial to the killers? This is really not reasonable.
The best thing for the karma of all of us will be if killers of innocent men, women, and children will be punished.
1) What is your favourite food?
2) do you celebrate christmas?
Dr. Zuroff, I applaud your courage to answer estonian's questions regarding this matter.
Do you believe that criminal responsibility is collective, meaning are all estonians are responsible for war crimes committed by estonians, or by occupying powers in Estonia during WWII? Please explain. Do you agree with the israeli government's apparent policy of assigning collective responsibility to the families of palestinian suicide bombers who kill citizens of Israel?
One day the last soldiers who fought in WWII will be dead. What will be the mission of SWC then become? Would not SWC benefit from adapting a policy to bring to justice perpetrators of genocidal crimes regardless of whether jews were involved or not? Does SWC help the victims of Rwanda genocide or is this an unimportant clearing of accounts between two dark-skinned peoples in an impoverished banana republic far, far away?
Finally, are you acquainted with the cultural autonomy law of pre-war Estonia which was of benefit to jewish-, russian-, german- and swedish minorities in Estonia? That was our Estonia, not the nazi's or the soviet's Estonia. That was our free choice.
VERY IMPORTANT-WE ARE AGAINST COLLECTIVE RESPONSIBILITY
I personally went to Rwanda twice to help the government with its efforts to prosecute mass murderers
It is really difficult work to find war criminals after so long time and having so few facts-documents. Also it means that there is really big dangerous to make mistakes - to indict innocent people. And even old Wiesenthal is not absolutely clear of this sin.
Let's just speculate, when it will be discovered that the 36-th police battalion did not participate in crimes against Jews (in Belarus), what's then? What do you say then to us - Estonian?
Have you self made any of such mistakes by hunting nazis during your career? Could you look into your self and say that you are absolutely clear person? I really hope that you are otherwise I will be very disappointed in you!
If it will emerge that the 36th Estonian Battalion did not help murder Jews, I will apologize publically. My information in this regard was based on the Estonian Historians commission established by President Lennart Meri. One would assume that they know what they are doing.
From where did you get your PhD and what was the object of your scientific research if any?
Hebrew University of Jerusalem in 1997.
My thesis was on the response of Orthodox Jewry in the US to the Holocaust and it focused on a “Rescue Committee” established by American Orthodox rabbis in 1939 which tried to save Jews-and especially rabbis and talmudic scholars- from the Nazis.
1) Different from mr. Ivanov i would still ask about russian anti-semitists - it is not much a secret, that in the german army several russian units fighted. Is the SWC investing also possible war-crimes committed by them?
2) Are You seeing all the people, who fought voluntarily on the german side, as "collaborators" or antisemitists? Or are You recognizing, that for many groups in eastern europe the nazis were actually the eazier and more liberal occupants from two possible? And so the voluntary fighting is not a sign about antisemitism or pro-german/pro-nazi symphaties, as well it is not a sign about readiness to committ warcrimes.
3) How justified is the presumption of guilt instead of innosence by an organization, which is making public statements (not just investigating)?
4) On the SWC web-pages is a lot of information about Estonia, which is quite strange, obvious - and serious - misinterpretations and misunderstandings. You self have at least even at 1998 (article in "Anti-semitism Research") given a "historical background" about Estonia declaring in there, that during 1930s antisemitist Omakaitse units gained strength in Estonia. (actually at the first years of 1930s the vapsid gained strength; they were (some secondary-rank leaders like Mäe excluded) not much antisemitists; they were not "units" in the sense of omakaitse; Omakaitse was founded at 1941 by the german powers to organize paramilitaries; it was no way a successor of vapses; it (Ok) was not a political movement; it included a lot of people (over 30 ths.) who mainly were watching railways, factories etc., only a very minor part were antisemitists or war criminals).
Question from it: Do You have becomed more competent on these matters; and when not (or even when yes), then: would'nt it be better to consult always with the local jewry, before starting to make that kind of statements about a society?
5) The most important question: from some of Your remarks (a la "young estonians are not responsible for their grandparents") there emerges an image, that You are placing the pre-war Estonian society into the same ranks with its eastern and southern neighbours. The point here is, that different from them there is never been any pogrom in Estonia, no judicial limitations (a la Latvia-Lithuania) and even no strong actual antisemitist movement.
So: what is Your opinion about pre-war Estonian society, and about possible links between it and whats happened here at WWII? To be more exact:
5a) If one would declare something like: "The holocaust in Estonia was a local product, the estonians only used the presence of the germans to destroy their jews", then would You agree with it or not?
5b) If one would declare something like: "The holocaust was not a local affair, but the already existing tradition of widespread agressive antisemitism made estonians ready to committ warcrimes", - agreeing or not?
When agree with one or other question: could You have consultations about these matters with the local jewry?
6) How deep research does SWC makes before starts to make statements? In the last list-of-16 there were several names ("Wasüi", "Woohnaa"), which are absurd in estonian. Also the estonian sources give, that at least 9 of them are dead already, inthere 4 died during the war.
7) Are You knowing the fact, that there were no people at the top of the Estonian forces or administration during the WWII, who had held a high position in pre-war Estonia. None is by its position in pre-war society even not comparable with the norwegian Quisling or french Petain.
Even more - some of them (Ain Mere) have been discovered as active soviet agents at 1940/41. Can these people be the reason to make decisions about the generation of the grandparents? Is'nt it possible in every country by a foreign power to find a similar (1/1000-1/2000) share of anti-social persons, to put them to top positions, give them weapons, remove the impact of social anticipation of the majority, and so use them by making crimes? And the high percentage of holocaust-victims in Estonia should not be linked to estonian nationalism or societys attitudes, but simply to the situation, where the local self-regulation system is surpressed.
8) Have You noticed that the history-commission is not as much declaring "was ..." but rather makes statements "it is possible, that ..."?
9) Why the SWC does not show interest on finding Martin Sandberger. An estonian columnist has easily got information about his presence in Stuttgart. Are You knowing whats written in the article by weekly Eesti Ekspress at 6.June (not 100% shore about the date) by Tiit Matsulevitsh.
While we recognize the reasons why many East Europeans preferred the Nazis to the Communists, the fact remains that they chose to fight for a Nazi victory, which makes them collaborationists, among whom were many who also participated in the mass murder of Jews, and that makes them Nazi war criminals.
The fact that there were no pogroms in pre-WW II Estonia, doesn’t mean that Estonians could not and did not murder Jews during the Holocaust. Unfortunately, some did. The sad truth is, that the Nazis created a set of conditions under which Estonians carried out terrible crimes against Jews-local and foreign.
Sandberger was already convicted for his crimes in Estonia. We checked this out.
Could it somehow be possible to have a world without hate and revenge? Estonians, at least a part of them are christians. We believe in forgiving and mercy. Could it be possible that Jews would accept those values? Or will it be an eye for an eye until the end of our world?
For your information, when the Old Testament(Jewish Bible) writes an eye for an eye, it means, according to Jewish law, financial compensation, not taking one’s eye out.
Your organization deals with Nazi crimes against Jewish people.
Why not to deal with the Soviet crimes against Jewish people during Stalin period as well? Or do you deal with those crimes already?
Do you have any data or estimates about the number of Jews, who were killed, deportated, repressed, tortured by Stalin?
During 1930-ies Stalin killed millions of people by starving in Ukraine. What could be the percentage of Jews among those starved to death in Ukraine?
The Holocaust is our main priority because of its terrible scope and effect on the Jewish people. Communist crimes are definitely worthy of investigation and prosecution, but they were not as injurious to the Jewish people as those of the Holocaust.
Could the term HOLOCAUST be further defined as follows:
The HOLOCAUST was the killing, deporting and/or torturing the Jews both by the Hitler's Nazi regime and by the Lenin-Stalin's Communist regime.
The term Holocaust is applied only to the Nazis’ attempt to totally annihilate European Jewry.
Who was Konstantin Päts?
The leader of Estonia before WW II.
Why did you start your campaign "Last Chance" so late, as most of the accused are dead or too old to be dragged to court? Why coudn't you start in 1988 or 1990, for instance?
We could have. We should have. It is a shame that we didn’t.
Do you believe that punishment will prevent future crimes?
(Why doesn't it work in reality, especially in Israel - nor punisment, not even death is not able to prevent Palestinians from blowing up innocent people? Maybe the whole philosophy (to punish wthout mercy) of your organization is wrong? Maybe you should prevent the spreading of nazi and communist ideas in the world - as they are responsible in driving the whole nations to commit crimes?)
We believe in the effectiveness of justice.
Historican Leo Dribinin says in an article
that on the 14th of June 1941 20700 people, of whom 5000 were Jews, were deported from Latvia to Siberia.
(Also, if I have understood the Dribinin's statement correctly, both in Latvia and in Siberia over 15 000, the Yews among them, were killed by the Soviets)
Will the SWC deal in future with the citizens of the former USSR, who deported (and killed?) those ca 5000 Latvian Jews?
Not all the Jews deported to the Soviet interior were murdered. Many survived.
I doubt it due to lack of resources and time before they die.
Thank you for making yourself available for an online interview
on this contentious topic. Your responses are most appreciated.
1. If the Estonian government doesn't prosecute and punish these alleged
war criminals to SWC's satisfaction, will you or SWC
lobby any or all NATO member countries (officially or unofficially)
against Estonia's admission into NATO or the EU?
2. When will the SWC publish its evidence (in its entirety) against
these alleged war criminals, either members of the 36th
police battalion, Mr. Henry Mannil, or any other
alleged Nazi war criminals? If not, why not?
3. Please explain that if unsubstantiated claims of culpability in Nazi war crimes is
not slander, then what would characterize slander in your view?
4. What plans does the SWC have for a similar "Last Chance"
program in Russia or Belorussia? If there are no such plans, why is
this the case?
5. Jews understandably have passionate feelings regarding the prosecution of alleged Nazi war criminals as do Balts have regarding the prosecution of alleged Soviet war criminals. What are your personal & official reactions to the Israeli government's refusal of Lithuania's official request for extradition of Nahman Dushanski, an alleged Soviet war criminal, to face a war crimes trial in Lithuania? Is there any sense of equivalence between alleged Nazi war criminals and alleged Soviet war criminals? If not, why not?
6. Please explain why has Estonia's Jewish community has been silent on the
issue of prosecuting members of the 36th police battalion?
Is it your or SWC's view that the Estonian Government or Media officially or unofficially
7. Please describe the level of involvement and support from
U.S. Government officials in this matter.
How much has the SWC relied on the intervention of U.S. Government officialss with Estonian authorities in this matter or similar ones?
8. Please characterize how much of SWC's documentary evidence regarding these alleged
war criminals comes from Soviet-era or Russian sources.
9. Please characterize the current level of cooperation between SWC and Russian government officials in this case.
10. In your opinion, did Estonia have a right to self-defense during periods of
Soviet & Nazi invasion or occupation? If not, why not?
11. Was Estonia's suffering during the years of Soviet rule justified by some of its citizens' participation (either voluntary or involuntary) in German military units during WWII? If so, why?
12. How does the SWC respond to charges of harboring an anti-Estonian bias?
Are there plans or strategies to counter this charge?
13. Please characterize SWC's view on an appropriate curriculum for the proposed Holocaust Remberance Day in Estonia.
Thank you, again, for your responses to these questions. I look forward
to reading them.
1.We have not yet decided.
2.That is a possibility to be considered.
3.It is slander.
4.We hope to expand to other countries, including Russia and Belarus.
6.You have to ask them.
7.The US government is quite active on these issues without our involvement. It obviously helps our efforts if they agree with our objectives and work toward their fulfillment.
10.If self-defense means the murder of Jews –NO.
11.One crime does NOT justify another.
12.Ridiculous. How do you explain the fact that we have done more or less the same thing in many different countries?
Does your recent pursuit against Estonians have anything to do with the debates over the monument to Estonian soldiers, which has been brought down in Pärnu city?
They started before and will continue after.
Do you know, that Estonia was (probably) the first state in the world, that had given autonomy to other nations - including jews - who lived in Estonia?
Other countries-Lithuania, Latvia- did so as well at about the same time.
Do Palestinians have a right for their own country and independence? Why don't they have it?
Don't You think they use violence against Jews because they have lost hope to obtain their own country in a reasonable way?
They were offered independence and their own country. All they had to do was to renounce terror and accept the State of Israel as their neighbor. Instead they launched a massive wave of violence against Israeli civilians and clearly demonstrated that their real goal is to destroy Israel. That is the basic reality of the current Middle East conflict.
In 2001, The Simon Wiesenthal Center asked Israel's Supreme Court to stop a concert of the works of Richard Wagner, saying the deceased composer was a symbol of Hitler's regime. Moreover, you asked the court to order a halt to government funding of the annual Israeli Festival if the work is played.
"Hitler himself said that anyone who wants to understand National Socialism should just listen to Wagner," you said.
Do you believe that your actions were justified? Do you believe that once a pariah, war criminal, or dictator, likes a certain artist, the works of that artist should be banned? Do you believe that people will be bombarded with Nazi ideology when they listen to Wagner?
Our campaign was based on the fact that many Israelis found it offensive that public funds were subsidizing concerts of the music of a terrible anti-Semite. No one thought that anyone would be brainwashed by the music.
Do you know that many nasty questions have been removed from this online chat. That means that EP sends you only those questions that are almost politically correct.
Do you find this action justified. I personally think that you should have a possibility to answer all the questions posed by Estonian readers even if they are a direct insolt towards you?
That is EP policy. Not my decision.
Dear Dr. Zuroff,
The background of your activities in the Estonian media is as transparent to an informed observer as can be. It is clear that the international prestige of the Israeli state is in real danger in these days because of unsubstantiated destroying of Palestinian settlement. The people of Baltic states are more alert to these repressions than other countries because we have suffered of serious repressions during the last 60 years. Therefore you have an order to critisize the Estonians, Latvians and Lithuanians of a "holocaust" committed by our nations, in order to direct our attention away from the contemporary your shef A. Sharon and others. Have you any comments?
Your assessment borders on the anti-Semitic. Learn a bit about the history of the Baltics, the Middle East, and fundamentalist Islam and reassess your position.
I would like to add one comment that will serve as an answer for several people who may have not received a reply.
To all those who expressed a desire to see some equivalent recognition of Estonian suffering at the hands of the Communists after Estonia has chosen to have an official memorial day marking the Holocaust,I would like to clarify several points which I think are critical for this discussion:
1.The Holocaust was an attempt to completely annihilate an entire people spread out all over the world simply because they because they were born to a certain people whom the Nazis considered RACIALLY INFERIOR,without any regard to their behavior,beliefs,citizenship(many were German citizens),loyalty(many had fought for Germany in World War I and had even been decorated for bravery with the Iron Cross;15,000 German Jews had died in the ranks of the German Army in WWI)and even religion(many of those persecuted by the Nazis as Jews were born and believing Christians who had the misfortune of having Jewish grandparents).The murders were carried out in many cases in an "industrialized" manner,using the latest advances of science to improve efficiency and cost effectiveness,making the Holocaust the epitome of modern mass murder.The fact that the Nazis were able to take over almost all of Europe and implement their fanatic and immoral racial poilicies was a tragedy for all of mankind,but especially for the Jewish people who were nearly completely annihilated.In fact,had the Nazis,G-d forbid,won World War II,that would have been one of the results,and those who fought for a victory of the Third Reich have to realize the horrific implications of joining forces with Nazi Germany.
2.The horrific results of the Holocaust and their sinister implications are the reason that the civilized world has over the past three decades became increasingly interested in the subject of the Holocaust,with more and more people wanting to learn more about that period to help prevent such horrible tragedies in the future.(Not that there are any guarantees about prevention,but the practically universal feeling in North America and Western Europe is that there are very important lessons to be learned from the Holocaust.)This is especially true in those countries that had any DIRECT connection to those events,including even countries like Sweden that were neutral during World War II.That explains the tremendous work being done by the Holocaust Education Task Force and the International Conference in Stockholm two years ago,attended by high-level delegations from some 40 countries.
3.ESTONIA IS DIRECTLY LINKED TO THE EVENTS OF THE HOLOCAUST:
a.ESTONIA'S JEWISH CITIZENS WERE MURDERED IN THE HOLOCAUST,IN SOME CASES BY ESTONIAN NAZI WAR CRIMINALS AND COLLABORATORS;
b.FOREIGN JEWS FROM CZECHOSLOVAKIA,LITHUANIA,AND LATVIA WERE MURDERED IN ESTONIA,IN SOME CASES WITH THE ACTIVE PARTICIPATION OF ESTONIANS;
c.ESTONIAN UNITS PARTICIPATED IN THE PERSECUTION AND MURDER OF JEWS OUTSIDE ESTONIA-IN BELARUS,POLAND AND LITHUANIA
This means that the Holocaust is an important chapter of Estonian history and has to be dealt with,even if it is extremely unpleasant.Believe me,it is far more unpleasant for the victims.
4.The crimes committed by the Communists in Estonia caused terrible suffering for many Es