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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. 11, 2009 / 22 Elul 5769

History Made to Order

By Paul Greenberg




http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | At the outset of the great break-up of the Soviet Union, many of us hoped Russia would emerge as a free country, if not an ally then a friend. Looking back, any outcome so idyllic was about as realistic as Russia's becoming something other than Russia. Instead, the new Russia that emerged looks a lot like an old one, specifically the tsarist one.


One hallmark of Russia's long night under Stalin and his successors remains essentially unchanged: a tendency to airbrush the past to suit the political needs of the present. Note some recent comments from Russia's new tsar and old KGB man, Vladimir Putin — former president, current premier and future whatever-he-wants-to-be. Making a ceremonial appearance in Warsaw on the 70th anniversary of the outbreak of the Second World War, he couldn't help but repeat a standard feature of the old regime's custom-tailored history: The war was the West's fault. KGB reflexes die hard.


Not that Comrade and now Mister Putin denied that Stalin's Russia brought on the war by signing an alliance with Hitler's Germany. For that alliance meant the Nazis could invade Poland without having to worry about being challenged from the East, so they could proceed to turn the full force of their war machine against the West.


But the Russian leader had to go and compare the Nazi-Soviet Pact with the Western powers' earlier appeasement of Hitler at Munich: "Without a doubt there are full grounds to condemn the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact of August 1939, but after all, a year earlier, France and England signed a well-known agreement with Hitler in Munich…"


But after all, while the British and French offered up a small country — Czechoslovakia — in hopes of bringing Peace In Our Time, they didn't join the Nazis in splitting it up, the way the Soviets did Poland. For, just as promised under the secret clauses of the Nazi-Soviet Pact a month before, the Russians grabbed half of Poland as it fell to the Nazi onslaught. An always-shrewd bargainer, Stalin would also get the Baltic republics as lagniappe, assuring they would become Soviet satrapies for half a century. The Nazi-Soviet Pact made war certain, and it would prove the greatest war in history, costing some 40 million lives ad casting whole nations into Soviet captivity.


In touching up Soviet history, Vladimir Putin overlooked a key difference between Neville Chamberlain's naive belief that he could do business with the aggressor and Josef Stalin's cold-blooded decision to join the aggression, and split the booty. At the time, the official Soviet line was that Russia had occupied the eastern half of Poland only to keep order on its borders. The Kremlin also used the opportunity to wipe out the Polish officer corps in the Katyn Forest, a massacre it would blame on the Nazis when it came to light. The Germans were already planning to exterminate millions; why not chalk up another 20,000 or so Poles to their account? Who would know the difference? And so, to all of Communism's countless victims, add history. And now Vladimir Putin continues to distort it even while acknowledging it. By now it's a Russian tradition.


Let there be no misunderstanding. Let's not pretend Western history is some objective, abstract exercise divorced from the passions of the day. History seldom if ever is. For history is not the same as the past but a selective view of it. Often enough our history has been another branch of our politics. The fight for history is conducted not just in police states. At least since Hamilton's and Jefferson's day, each of America's competing parties has offered a different version of the past in order to attract voters to its different vision of the future.


For example, the current administration keeps comparing the recession the country is slowly climbing out of with the Great Depression of the 1930s, although there can be no real comparison. Just look at the unemployment figures from each era, let alone those old photographs of soup kitchens and bread lines.


But in this country there's an opposition and a free press and mid-term elections, complete with a secret ballot, to check the party in power and its authorized history. But in an authoritarian state, the past is just one more nationalized industry. When those who should be correcting the record are silenced, the Stalins and Hitlers are free to remodel history according to their likes. And so are the Putins. Which is why this latest attempt to twist history should not go unchallenged.

Paul Greenberg Archives

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JWR contributor Paul Greenberg, editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, has won the Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing. Send your comments by clicking here.

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