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Concern Raised over Reports of Anti-semitism in Estonia

Troubling reports of widespread anti-Semitism in the newly independent republic of Estonia has prompted a Jewish protest to the Estonian Parliament.

Shimon Samuels, European director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, wrote to Arnold Rutter, chairman of the Presidium of the Estonian Supreme Soviet, warning these incidents “not only threaten the Jewish community but also the credibility of Estonia’s movement toward democracy.”

Efforts by the new Estonian regime to rehabilitate Nazi collaborators who helped murder and torture Estonian Jews during World War II were reported last month by the Jewish Cultural Society in Tallinn, the Estonian capital.

The reports were accompanied by an appeal for Western assistance in lobbying the Estonian government to halt such efforts.

Samuels said there have been calls in Estonia for legislation to rehabilitate war criminals and collaborators. He cited reports that veterans of former SS units responsible for the mass slaughter of Estonian Jews have held reunion meetings all over Estonia recently.

The Jewish cemetery in Tartu, where one of the meetings occurred, was desecrated. The city was the site of a wartime concentration camp.

Samuels referred in his letter to articles in the Estonian press that he said incited hatred against the country’s 3,000 surviving Jews.

A similar situation existed in Estonia’s Baltic neighbor, Lithuania, where a campaign to rehabilitate war criminals seems to have been canceled as a result of international protests.

Jean Kahn, president of CRIF, the representative council of French Jewish organizations, met recently in Strasbourg, France, with Lithuanian President Vytautas Landsbergis, who promised that war criminals in his country would not be pardoned.

The JTA Daily News Bulletin will not be published on Thursday, Dec. 26.

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