Jonathan Freedland has problems with the Baltic States:
Even if the authorities were rigorous in maintaining a balance, and telling both stories honestly, I would still reject this \”double genocide\”. For the symmetry here is false. No one wants to top the persecution league table, but nor can one accept that those who were \”arrested, interrogated and imprisoned\” – to quote the Vilnius museum – suffered the same fate as those Jews who were murdered, despite the exhibit\’s attempt to equalise them under the bland umbrella term \”losses\”. The oppression of the Soviet years was terrible, but it was not genocide: to be arrested is not to be shot into a pit. They are different and to say otherwise is to rob \”genocide\”, a very specific term, of all meaning.
Part of the problem is in insisting in seeing the whole appalling tale as starting in 1939, or 1940, or ending in 1956 with Stalin\’s death.
It all actually started in 1917. There were \”Red\” revoluitions in the Baltics and yes, the bourgeoisie were shot out of hand. Then there were various attempts by the newly Soviet Russia to impose Soviet rule upon those formerly parts of the Russian Empire. In which, yes, the bourgeoisie were shot out of hand.
To the point that at times having hands which had no callouses, indicating that one was not a worker with hands, was a death sentence. As Gulag Archipelago tells us (or at least as I recall it doing so) even \”fine bones\” could be taken as evidence of an aristocratic breeding and earning you that 9 grammes.
There were invasions (variously, from Germany, Poland and that Soviet state) which moved back and forth over the lands with, each time the front changed, the supporters of the other side getting shot.
What happened in 1939/40, what went on happening under Stalin, what was still happening under Brezhnev for God\’s sake (yes, the deportations for being \”nationalist\”, something as simple as vociferously protesting that one be allowed to use one\’s own language carried on that long) were not the beginning at all. They were the continuation of something that had started only 2 decades before.
No, this most certainly does not excuse the genocide of the Jews: but nor does it excuse the deliberate and planned wiping out of the intelligentsia, the \”nation\” if you wish, of those Baltic States.
We should apportion blame equally for, as I\’ve said before, it\’s the killing of people that\’s wrong. Whether you kill them in the name of some lunatic racial or religious theory or some equally crackpot class war and internationalist one is irrelevant. You\’re still murdering people in the name of your insane political theories and you\’re just as guilty as the other bloke murdering in the name of his.
The only possible moral response to the 20th century history of those countries is a pox on all their houses.