Here, in the bloodlands of Belarus, I found hope for the future of Europe
Minsk is, of course, outside the European Union, in a nation where a dictator rules, in something of a grey zone between Europe and Russia. Few people in western Europe know about Belarus, let alone have been there. Yet it should be prominent in our consciences. “Belarus was the worst place to be in world war two,” the historian Timothy Snyder once noted. In his book Bloodlands, Snyder recounts how 14 million people were murdered between 1933 and 1945 in an area that stretches from the Baltic sea to the Black sea, with Belarus worst affected: a quarter of its population were killed as a result of both Stalin’s and Hitler’s policies.
We ignore much about our continent’s history if we overlook the plight of this region, where the two totalitarian systems converged with horrific consequences – at once plotting together and competing as they laid claim to territory and exterminated those living there, or deported people there to die.
Yes, quite, the dream or European Unity is so supported by the slaughter of the two previous attempts at European Unity, isn’t it?