We can, as Lenin liked to say, and therefore must. Our population is four times greater, we have nuclear weapons, the Dutch don’t, let’s march.
“But why must we?” I hear you say. Do I detect doubt? Then wait till you’ve heard this.
During the Nazi occupation, 20,000 young Dutchmen enlisted in the Waffen-SS. Per capita, that was more than in any other country. Do I need to tell you what cause the Waffen-SS served?
Also, Many Dutchmen collaborated with the Nazis even without donning that cute Hugo Boss uniform. It was a Dutch snitch who betrayed Anne Frank, and Dutch policemen who arrested her. Did you know that 75 per cent of Dutch Jews were murdered by the Nazis and their local stooges?
And do you know that even some of today’s Dutchmen are neo-Nazis? They even have their own party, the Dutch People’s Union, that stands in local and national elections. QED. Let’s send what’s left of the Royal Navy to the Hook of Holland.
Every fact I have mentioned is true, but the conclusion is hardly logical, is it? Yet that’s precisely the logic Peter Hitchens co-opts in defence of Putin’s aggression against the Ukraine.
According to him, those who oppose massive violence in the middle of Europe spread falsehoods, such as “the ridiculous cartoon idea that Russia is like Mordor in Lord Of The Rings, an utterly evil country ruled by a Dark Monster. And that Ukraine, its current enemy, is by contrast a shining Utopia, pluckily defending itself against the orc-like hordes of Moscow.”
Do you get it? The trick has been pulled out of the bag; the stage is set for a hey, presto moment. Show that the Ukraine isn’t a “shining utopia”, and a credulous reader will assume that Putin’s Russia isn’t a “Dark Monster” either. Job done, Vlad’s your uncle.
The blatant non sequitur doesn’t deter Hitchens. This isn’t about rhetorical purity. It’s about loyal service to what he once called “the most conservative and Christian country in Europe”.
Just as I did in pretending to call for an invasion of Holland, he cites correct facts. Thus Hitchens spies with his little eye the insignia of a Ukrainian Waffen-SS unit on the shoulders of some of today’s militiamen.
From this he draws the irrefutable conclusion that some Ukrainians (just like some Dutchmen) are neo-Nazis. As such, they are guilty by association of the crimes committed by Ukrainian Nazis during the war:
“This unit is still famous for murdering 200 people in Serbia, for a massacre of 920 Jews in Minsk, now in Belarus, for hanging 99 people in retaliation for French Resistance operations in Tulle… “
All true. Moreover, I too believe in guilt by association. That’s why I can’t help noticing that Col. Putin himself and most of his ministers are proud and unrepentant officers in history’s most murderous organisation, the KGB. It’s ‘are’ rather than ‘were’ because, as Col. Putin once explained, “There’s no such thing as ex-KGB. This is for life.”
If Ukrainian neo-Nazis are retroactively complicit in the crimes mentioned by Hitchens, then Putin and his jolly friends are equally guilty of some 60 million murders committed by their sponsoring organisation. The analogy isn’t quite accurate though.
Those Hitchens correctly identifies as “bigoted racialist thugs” may indeed “have an influence way beyond their numbers in that country”. But they don’t run it. Russia, on the other hand, is run, in effect owned, by direct descendants of the CheKa/OGPU/NKVD/KGB ghouls (I have skipped a few nomenclatures).
Rather than repenting the crimes of their alma mater, they are acting in the same spirit and in the same manner. I shan’t bore you with a list of crimes committed by Putin’s Russia, each either ignored or dismissed as irrelevant by his Western acolytes. Suffice it to say that there are more political prisoners in Russia today than there were in Brezhnev’s Soviet Union, which Ronald Reagan accurately called an “evil empire”.
Hitchens’s indictment of the Ukraine would be more valid if he could show the same line of descent there, demonstrating that the neo-Nazis are in control. But he can’t.
Neo-Nazism exists in the Ukraine, especially in the west of the country. But it survives only on the margins of society – witness the fact that Ukrainians elected a Jew as their president. That, indeed their free elections themselves, wouldn’t have happened if admirers of the OUN (the Organisation of Ukrainian Nationalists) and of its wartime leaders, Messrs Bandera, Melnyk, Shukhevych et al., carried any political weight.
The OUN was indeed a fascist group, committed to creating a Ukraine on the Nazi model. Extermination, or at least expulsion, of Jews was thus a ubiquitous plank in all their draft constitutions, along with the cult of the Leader, state control of the economy, territorial expansion, racial purity and so on. And they acted accordingly.
When the Nazis advanced into the Soviet Union, there was a two-day interregnum in Lvov, the capital of Ukrainian Galicia. The Soviets had already left, but the Nazis hadn’t yet moved in.
The OUN declared its own provisional government and went into action. Its thugs sadistically murdered several thousand Jews and, as you can see in the picture above, they did so joyously, almost playfully.
However, before the Soviets left Lvov, the NKVD had hastily murdered thousands of prisoners held there, including those in remand prisons. The difference today is that the Ukraine is trying to redeem her past sins, while Putin’s KGB gang are perpetuating theirs.
I wonder how far Hitchens is prepared to go in his insistence that we mustn’t “interfere in this very complex problem”. No, of course not. Instead we should sit back and observe with dispassionate neutrality as Putin rapes one former Soviet republic after another, rebuilding the evil empire by evil means.
For the Ukraine isn’t the only former Soviet colony whose denizens collaborated with the Nazis and their Final Solution. All three Baltic republics bear that stigma, as does just about every other Eastern European country, with the partial exception of Hungary. Would Hitchens be using that history to justify Russia’s invasion of all those lands?
Any why stop there? Holland, France, Belgium all had their murderous collaborators – and don’t get me going on the subject of Germany herself. Hitchens would have a hard time explaining why his logic wouldn’t apply there.
The Ukraine is far from being what the Russians call “white and fluffy”. But she is trying to be our friend, and she is certainly not an implacable enemy of the West.
Putin’s Russia is just that, in word and deed. Hence, even if the Ukraine were the devil incarnate, which she isn’t, we should still treat her as an ally – the way Churchill treated Stalin’s USSR, a country he cordially loathed.
Stalin was an enemy of Britain’s enemy, Nazi Germany. That made him our ex tempore friend. Using the same rudimentary logic, whose friend is Peter Hitchens?