(JTA) — A town in Estonia unveiled a plaque honoring a Waffen SS officer, spurring protests from the Jewish community.
A nonprofit unveiled the plaque in Mustla for the local Nazi collaborator Alfons Rebane, who fought with the Germans against the Russians as part of the Nazi armed force.
Across Eastern Europe, collaborators with the Nazis, including perpetrators of the Holocaust, are celebrated as heroes, often for their fight against what many in the region consider Soviet occupation.
There is no evidence that Rabane was involved in the murder of Jews, Alla Jakobson, the chairwoman for the Jewish Community of Estonia, told JTA. But men who served in “an organization recognized as a criminal by the Nuremberg International Tribunal,” she said of the SS, “is hardly worthy of commemoration.”
Separately, in Lithuania, the official website of Vilnius, the country’s capital city, advertised a nationalist group’s motorcycle parade through the old city last week to celebrate a rebellion led by a militia that was responsible for spreading anti-Semitic literature and then killing many Jews during World War II.
The celebration was for the June 23, 1941, uprising staged by the Lithuanian Activist Front. Many scholars of the Holocaust say this was the beginning of the Holocaust in Lithuania, in which locals, some affiliated with the Lithuanian Activist Front, began butchering Jews even before the German troops arrived to wipe out nearly the entire Jewish population of that country with help from collaborators.
The Defending History group, which monitors Holocaust distortion in Eastern Europe, on its website called the parade a show of “extraordinary insensitivity” by the city authorities.