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WJC urges Ukrainian Orthodox Church leader to act against glorification of Nazi soldiers

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  • Bill Samsonoff
    http://www.worldjewishcongress.org/en/news/13869/wjc_urges_ukrainian_orthodox_church_leader_to_act_against_glorification_of_nazi_soldiers WJC urges Ukrainian
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 24, 2013
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      http://www.worldjewishcongress.org/en/news/13869/wjc_urges_ukrainian_orthodox_church_leader_to_act_against_glorification_of_nazi_soldiers

      WJC urges Ukrainian Orthodox Church leader to act against glorification
      of Nazi soldiers

      22 August 2013

      The Ukrainian Orthodox Church should work to stop clergy from
      participating in neo-Nazi events in Ukraine, the World Jewish Congress
      said today in a letter to the head of the church. WJC President Ronald
      S. Lauder asked Patriarch Filaret in a letter to speak out against
      events glorifying the Nazis. Lauder referred to a recent ceremony near
      Lviv marking the 70thanniversary of the creation of the Galician
      division of the Waffen SS, in which Ukrainians fought on the side of
      Nazi Germany.

      The WJC president wrote: “I was horrified to see photographs […] of
      young Ukrainians wearing the dreaded SS uniform with swastikas clearly
      visible on their helmets as they carried the caskets of members of this
      Nazi unit, lowered them into their new graves, and fired gun salutes in
      their honor. I was especially troubled by the participation in this
      ceremony of a priest of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church that appeared to
      give a religious legitimacy to the rehabilitation of the SS.”

      In late July, Ukrainians wearing SS uniforms were photographed trudging
      through trenches and fire rifles in a reconstruction of a key battle
      against the Soviets during World War II. An Orthodox priest led a
      ceremony for fallen soldiers of the Nazi unit, sprinkling his blessing
      over several men sporting swastikas who lowered a coffin in a ritual
      reburial.

      In his letter, Lauder expressed hope that Filaret would use his “moral
      authority to prevent any further rehabilitation of Nazism or the SS, and
      that you will call on the clergy of your Church not to participate in
      any future ceremonies or events that glorify or legitimize a uniform
      that epitomizes the evil of genocide.”

      Lauder also mentioned that Oleg Pankevich, a lawmaker for the
      extreme-right Svoboda party, took part in the reburial ceremony.

      “As you know, leaders of Svoboda, like their counterparts in Jobbik in
      Hungary and Golden Dawn in Greece, frequently engage in anti-Semitic
      rhetoric that has ominous implications,” Lauder wrote the church leader.

      He said that the World Jewish Congress would hold a meeting of its
      Executive Committee in Kiev next year and invited Patriarch Filaret to
      attend the gathering.

      Full text of the letter of Ronald S. Lauder to Patriarch Filaret

      Your Excellency:

      I vividly recall the evening you and other Ukrainian religious leaders
      spent at my home in April of 2012. I also know from Rabbi YaakovBleich
      of your longstanding friendship with him and with the Jewish community.
      I greatly admire both your commitment to strengthening the bonds among
      Ukrainians of different faiths your opposition over the years to
      anti-Semitism and other forms of racial and religious prejudice.

      It is in this spirit I am writing to you today to express the deep
      concerns of Jews throughout the world at the recent glorification of the
      Ukrainian Halychyna (Galician) Waffen-SS division during a reburial
      ceremony in the village of Gologory in Western Ukraine on July 28. I was
      horrified to see photographs, some of which I enclose with this letter,
      of young Ukrainians wearing the dreaded SS uniform with swastikas
      clearly visible on their helmets as they carried the caskets of members
      of this Nazi unit, lowered them into their new graves, and fired gun
      salutes in their honor. I was especially troubled by the participation
      in this ceremony of a priest of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church that
      appeared to give a religious legitimacy to the rehabilitation of the SS.

      As you know, men and women wearing the uniforms of the SS and the
      Waffen-SS committed unspeakable atrocities against Jews and members of
      other religious and ethnic groups during World War II. As you so wisely
      and sensitively said in your remarks following your visit to the United
      States Holocaust Memorial Museum in May of 2012, while the inhumane
      Holocaust atrocities are unlikely to be repeated in the future, “the
      evil can happen in another form if people are indifferent to its
      emergence at the beginning.”

      We are also deeply troubled by the fact that Oleg Pankevich, a deputy
      from the ultra-nationalist Svoboda party, also took part in theGologory
      reburial ceremony. As you know, leaders of Svoboda, like their
      counterparts in Jobbik in Hungary and Golden Dawn in Greece, frequently
      engage in anti-Semitic rhetoric that has ominous implications. Urging
      Ukrainians to join the Halychyna SS division in 1943, Volodymyr
      Kubiyovych, the head of the Ukrainian Central Committee, declared that:

      “The long-awaited moment has arrived when the Ukrainian people again
      have the opportunity to come out with guns to give battle with its most
      grievous foe — Muscovite-Jewish Bolshevism. The Fuehrer of the Great
      German Reich has agreed to the formation of a separate Ukrainian
      volunteer military unit under the name SS Riflemen’s Division
      “Halychyna” … You must stand shoulder to shoulder with the unbeatable
      German army and destroy, once and for all, the Jewish-Bolshevist monster.”

      In this context, the frequent references by Svoboda leader Oleh
      Tyahnibokto a “Moscow-Jewish mafia” take on a sinister significance.

      I hope that you will your unique moral authority to prevent any further
      rehabilitation of Nazism or the SS, and that you will call on the clergy
      of your Church not to participate in any future ceremonies or events
      that glorify or legitimize a uniform that epitomizes the evil of genocide.

      I hope to have the opportunity to meet with you again soon. The World
      Jewish Congress, which represents more than 100 Jewish communities
      throughout the world, is planning to hold a meeting of our Executive in
      Kiev in 2014, and it will be our privilege to have you with us as our
      honored guest on that occasion.

      As we approach the most sacred time of the Jewish calendar, allow me to
      extend my best wishes to you and all the members of your Church.

      Respectfully yours,
      Ronald S. Lauder
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