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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Sept. 1, 2009 / 12 Elul 5769

The Polish Prologue

By Anne Applebaum

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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Seventy years ago today — at 4:45 a.m. Sept. 1, 1939, to be precise — the German battleship Schleswig-Holstein began to shell the Polish military base near Gdansk. For Germans, for Poles, and for the British and French, who immediately declared war on Germany, that was the beginning of World War II. The Soviet Union, having signed a secret agreement with Nazi Germany, did not declare war but was itself preparing to invade Poland and the Baltic states. Which it did, two weeks later, on Sept. 17.


None of these basic facts is in dispute. And two generations have passed since the war ended. Nevertheless, all of its signature events continue to be remembered, contested and commemorated in every anniversary year ending with 5 or 0. I remember joking with a friend on May 8, 1995, the 50th anniversary of the Nazi capitulation, that now, finally, we had reached the end of the anniversaries. But we had not. On Tuesday, the chancellor of Germany and the prime ministers of Russia, Poland, France, Britain and 20-odd other European countries will meet near Gdansk to launch the cycle of 70th anniversaries — with those of the 65th barely over. Why?


The answer cannot lie in the personal experiences of any of the statesmen involved, since none was alive at the time. It lies, rather, in the way that memories of the war have come to be central to the national memory and, therefore, to the contemporary politics of so many of the countries that fought in it.


Certainly everything about modern Germany is the way it is because of the war, from its devotion to the European Union and its pacifism to the architecture of its capital city. War guilt is built into the political system, and it only becomes controversial when some Germans seem to want to abandon it: The new wave of interest in the fate of Germans who fled or were expelled from Central Europe after the war, for example, or the popularity of books about Allied bombings of German cities, worries many in the region. Hence, Angela Merkel's presence in Gdansk (and she was the first to confirm): No German chancellor wants any of Germany's neighbors to doubt that Germany is still very sorry about 1939 (even if some are rather indifferent). And none wants Germany's neighbors to fear German aggression today.


For Poles, this 70th anniversary has a different significance: It's the first time this particular event has been commemorated by a Polish government that is firmly a member of both the European Union and NATO. The British and the French will be there for the same reason — Central Europe in general and Poland in particular now have a large number of votes in European institutions. By and large, they have to be taken more seriously than they used to be. Senior U.S. politicians presumably will be absent because they, by contrast, have no special reason to take Central Europeans seriously and increasingly don't mind demonstrating that fact. Generally speaking, the former Allies prefer to remember the bits of the war — D-Day, for example — that contribute to their memory of the 1945 Triumph of Democracy, preferring to forget that the war's initial raison d'etre, the independence of Poland and the freedom of Central Europe, was not really achieved until 1989.


The Russian prime minister, Vladimir Putin, seems to have rather different reasons for attending. Last weekend, Russian state television ran a long documentary essentially arguing that Stalin was justified in ordering the 1939 invasion of Poland and the Baltic states — and in making a secret deal with Hitler — on the grounds that Poland itself was in a "secret alliance" with the Nazis. Putin will probably not defend this startling and ahistorical thesis himself — judging from an article he has written for the Polish media — though he may well try to "contextualize" the pact between Hitler and Stalin by comparing it to other diplomatic decisions. Lately other Russians have expressed similarly positive views of the events of 1939 in a well-coordinated attempt to justify the Hitler-Stalin pact. (That is, if they have any views: The majority of Russians, a recent poll shows, do not know that the Soviet Union invaded anybody that year.)


But from the perspective of the Russian ruling elite, such interpretations make sense: By praising Stalin's aggression toward the Soviet Union's neighbors 70 years ago, they help justify Russia's aggression toward its neighbors today, at least in the eyes of the Russian public. Certainly they serve to make Russia's Central European neighbors anxious — precisely the opposite of the effect Merkel hopes to achieve. Thus can the same event have multiple meanings, thus do Germans and Russians express their radically different feelings about their place in Europe — and thus do the anniversary celebrations carry on, every five years, without fail.

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APPLEBAUM'S LATEST
Gulag: A History  

Nearly 30 million prisoners passed through the Soviet Union's labor camps in their more than 60 years of operation. This remarkable volume, the first fully documented history of the gulag, describes how, largely under Stalin's watch, a regulated, centralized system of prison labor-unprecedented in scope-gradually arose out of the chaos of the Russian Revolution. Fueled by waves of capricious arrests, this prison labor came to underpin the Soviet economy. JWR's Applebaum, a former Warsaw correspondent for the Economist and a regular contributor to the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post, draws on newly accessible Soviet archives as well as scores of camp memoirs and interviews with survivors to trace the gulag's origins and expansion Sales help fund JWR.

Comment on JWR contributor Anne Applebaum's column by clicking here.


Previously:

08/20/09: Why Afghans Need a Vote
07/29/09: No Burqa For Clinton
07/14/09: The Summit of Green Futility
07/09/09: Obama Puts Medvedev Ahead of Putin
06/30/09: In Morocco, an alternative to Iran
06/23/09: An overlooked force in Iran
06/16/09: Some good in a bad election
06/09/09: Why Is the Right Doing So Well in Europe?
06/02/09: Is China Pulling Strings in North Korea?
05/26/09: What a Member of Parliament Deserves
04/22/09: The Twitter Revolution That Wasn't
04/14/09: Do we really need interactive exhibits to bring Jefferson to life?
04/07/09: No Nukes? No Thanks: Obama's odd obsession with universal nuclear disarmament
03/31/09: What's Loud, Unnecessary, and Costs $75 Million?
03/23/09: Ctrl-Alt-Diplomacy
03/03/09: European Disunion
02/24/09: Who cares what Hillary Clinton says to China's leaders about human rights?
02/17/09: Witless protection
02/10/09: Our Ticket Out of Afghanistan
01/27/09:Why some foreigners can't believe Obama won the presidency fair and square
01/20/09: A Flight Test for All of Us
01/14/09: Europe's New Cold War
01/07/09: Pointless Peace Proposals
12/30/08: The magnificent rhetorical legacy of the Founding Fathers
12/23/08: Do riots in Athens portend demonstrations in Paris and Cincinnati?
12/16/08: Breach of Trust: Bernard Madoff's massive fraud will cripple American capitalism
12/09/08: In praise of charismatic politicians
12/03/08: Moscow's Empire of Dust
11/20/08: Getting Past Mythmaking In Georgia
11/12/08: In Praise of Political Rock Stars
10/03/08: Election Day myths you must resist
09/30/08: Not just a metaphor: Lehman Brothers was economic's 9/11
09/04/08: Class of '64
08/28/08: Did Hillary really help the Barack cause?
08/27/08: ‘Show of Power,’ Indeed
08/19/08: What Is Russia Afraid Of?
08/13/08: When China Starved
08/11/08: Two of the world's rising powers are strutting their stuff
08/05/08: How Alexander Solzhenitsyn's The Gulag Archipelago changed the world
07/29/08:‘The Hour of Europe’ Tolls Again But are European politicians up to the task?
07/15/08: Why Does Obama Want To Campaign in Berlin?
07/01/08: Citizen Athletes: How did a guy who can't speak Polish end up scoring Poland's only goal of Euro 2008?
06/24/08: Why do we expect presidential candidates to be kind?
06/17/08: Pity the Poor Eurocrats
06/12/08: Is the World Ready for a Black American President?
05/28/08: The Busiest Generation: America seems to value its children's status and achievements over their happiness
05/20/08: Leave Hitler Out of It: The craze for injecting the Nazis into political debate must end
05/13/08: A Drastic Remedy: The case for intervention in Burma
05/07/08: A Warning Shot From Moscow?
04/23/08: Radio to stay tuned to
04/17/08: China learns the price of a few weeks of global attention
04/01/08: Head scarves are potent political symbols
03/26/08: The Olympics are the perfect place for a protest
03/19/08: Could Tibet bring down modern China?
03/12/08: Have political autobiographies made us more susceptible to fake memoirs?
03/05/08: Why does Russia bother to hold elections?
02/20/08: Kosovo is a textbook example of the law of unintended consequences
02/06/08: A Craven Canterbury Tale
02/06/08: French prez' whirlwind romance reminds voters of his political recklessness




© 2009, Anne Applebaum. By permission of the author

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